OUT THIS WEEK
Joe Ely, “The Lubbock Tapes: Full Circle” (Rack ’Em). Still making new music well worth hearing — 2015’s “Panhandle Rambler” is among Austin’s best records of this decade — Ely’s also been digging into his archives lately, revisited 1984’s “Hi Res” a couple of years ago. Now comes this entirely enjoyable 15-track compilation of previously unreleased demos from 1974 to 1978, documenting the moment Ely’s music began to take shape before his first solo record as well as a period before his third album that shows a shift toward a more rocking band and style. Songs by Ely’s early-’70s Flatlanders bandmate Butch Hancock dominate the early portion, from the burning honky-tonk rocker “Road Hawg” to the boot-scootin’ Western scene-setter “Standin’ at a Big Hotel” to the swaying country-folk twang of “Windmills and Watertanks” (released by the Flatlanders, with Jimmie Dale Gilmore singing, under the name “You’ve Never Seen Me Cry”). Hancock’s “Down on the Drag” kicks off the second portion, but from there on out all the songs are Ely originals; he’d clearly grown more prolific as a songwriter, while the addition electric guitar powderkeg Jesse Taylor and accordionist Ponty Bone further pushed Ely’s music toward new horizons. “I Keep Gettin’ Paid the Same” is a working-class anthem that still resonates today; “Joe’s Cryin’ Schottiche” played to the band’s dance-hall environs and emphasized Bone’s squeezbox playing; and “I Had My Hopes Up High” showed off the smart songwriting that has made it one of Ely’s most enduring numbers. Lloyd Maines, who recorded the tracks at his Caldwell Studios, shines throughout on pedal steel, his runs bonding the early tracks to the later ones. In terms of historical/reissue projects from Austin acts this year, this one’s going to be hard to top.
Nakia, “Blues Grifter” (Kiachia). If the general public mostly became aware of soulful Austin singer Nakia Reynoso from his strong showing on NBC’s “The Voice” a few years ago, it’s worth remembering that he’d begun to kick up a storm locally with a band called the Blues Grifters before that star-turn development. He’d always wanted to make a record of the blues classics the band played at its live shows, and after laying down the Allman Brothers’ incendiary “Whipping Post” for a 2016 All ATX compilation, he and the Grifters regrouped to record this set (which features eight songs plus two CD bonus tracks). Nakia’s high-powered voice suits the material well, from Elmore James’ sparkplug “Yonder Wall” to Otis Rush’s deep-down-and-smokin’ “Double Trouble” to Jimmy Reed’s swingin’ “Ain’t That Lovin’ You Baby.” Producer and guitarist Mac McNabb leads a solid backing crew that includes bassist Chris Johnson, drummer Kevin Lance, keyboardist Jan Flemming and saxophonists Steve Johnson and Vinnie Lemon. In-store Aug. 17 at Waterloo Records, release show Aug. 18 at Saxon Pub. Here’s the opening track, “Yonder Wall”:
Blue October, “I Hope You’re Happy” (Brando). Nine albums in, frontman Justin Furstenfeld and his bandmates sound strikingly pop-oriented on these songs, perhaps the result of Furstenfeld taking the producer reins here for the first time. The title track, released as a single earlier this year, harkens back to the 1980s heyday of the Cure, an immediately catchy melody with a touch of new-wave-era sonic wash. Elsewhere, swelling and swirling strings arranged by mult-instrumentalist Ryan Delahoussaye flesh out songs with dramatic grandeur. “Remission in Cmaj” provides an intriguing mid-record pause, a two-and-a-half-minute piano instrumental that might seem out-of-place if it weren’t such as breath of fresh air. They go long at the end, with “Further Dive (The House That Dylan Built)” stretching past nine minutes as it gradually transitions from acoustic ballad to soaring anthem to spaced-out experimental finale. Here’s the video for the title track:
Jeremy Nail, “Live Oak.” The follow-up to “My Mountain,” which earned Nail our Austin360 Artist of the Month designation in May 2016, picks up where that record left off. It’s full of graceful, understated original songs that gradually work their way under your skin, thanks in part to drummer/co-producer Pat Manske’s careful studio guidance and a solid musical cast that includes keyboard ace Bukka Allen. Release show Aug. 17 at Cactus Cafe. Here’s the opening track, “Abiquiu”:
Phoenix Jordan, “Love Is Heaven, Love Is Hell. Fourteen tracks of easygoing singer-songwriter material, some of it spiritually-oriented; mostly original songs, plus covers of the Hoagy Carmichael/Mitchell Parish standard “Stardust” and “I’ll See You on the Other Side” by Walt Wilkins and Liz Rose). Release show Aug. 18 at Manchaca United Methodist Church.
- AUG. 23: Mike Schoenfeld, “Little Feet” EP, release show Aug. 23 at Kitty Cohen.
- AUG. 24: White Denim, “Performance” (City Slang), release show Aug. 25 at Mohawk outdoor.
- AUG. 24: Teddy Glass, “Nights and Weekends.”
- AUG. 24: Otis Wilkins, “Strangest Place” EP, release show Aug. 24 at Stubb’s indoor.
- SEPT. 5: Buhu, “Tenets.”
- SEPT. 7: Ghostland Observatory, “See You Later Simulator,” playing Bat Fest Aug. 18.
- SEPT. 7: Ray Bonneville, “At King Electric” (Stonefly).
- SEPT. 7: The Mrs., “Five Minutes” EP, release show Sept. 8 at Lamberts.
- SEPT. 7: Collective Thought, “Rise.”
- SEPT. 14: Willie Nelson, “My Way” (Legacy).
- SEPT. 14: Asleep at the Wheel, “New Routes.”
- SEPT. 14: Band of Heathens, “A Message From the People Revisited.”
- SEPT. 14: Gina Chavez, “Lightbeam” EP, release show Sept. 15 at Antone’s.
- SEPT. 14: Johnny Goudie, “Leper Hands” EP, release show Sept. 13 at One-2-One Bar.
- SEPT. 14: Ben Millburn, “Sunglass Moustache.”
- SEPT. 21: “Blaze” Original Cast Recording soundtrack (Cinewax/Light in the Attic).
- SEPT. 21: Western Youth, self-titled.
- SEPT. 21: Will Courtney, “Crazy Love” (Super Secret).
- SEPT. 21: Jonathon Zemek, “Hillcrest.”
- SEPT. 28: Jerry David DeCicca, “Burning Daylight” (Super Secret).
- OCT. 5: Molly Burch, “First Flower” (Captured Tracks).
- OCT. 5: Max Frost, “Gold Rush” (Atlantic).
- OCT. 5: Michael Martin Murphey, “Austinology: Alleys of Austin.”