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Artist of the Month
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-- The 60's --
The 13th Floor Elevators
Janis Joplin
-- The 70's --
Stevie Ray Vaughan
Asleep at the Wheel
Willie Nelson
The Skunks
Townes Van Zandt
Guy Clark
Jerry Jeff Walker
-- The 80's --
The Dicks
Marcia Ball
The Butthole Surfers
Joe Ely
The Fabulous Thunderbirds
Nanci Griffith
-- The 90's --
Lucinda Williams
Arc Angels
Shawn Colvin
Alejandro Escovedo
Fastball
Jimmie Dale Gilmore
The Gourds
Robert Earl Keen
James McMurtry
Toni Price
Kelly Willis
-- The 00's --
Okkervil River
The American Analog Set
...Trail of Dead
Explosions in the Sky
Patty Griffin
Sara Hickman
I Love You But I've Chosen...
The Octopus Project
Okkervil River
Bruce Robison
Spoon
The Sword
What Made Milwaukee...
   


Welcome to the new Deli Charts, organized by genre and scene.

To rank the artists with the star system go to the Top 50.


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scene blog

First off y’all, sorry for the slowness on the music drip the last couple weeks; your editor here was in the midst of a move and shit got wacky.

Now, back to the grind. In the interval here, we received a tip-top hip-hop submission from budding Austin musician Plato III that we are full throttle diggin’. It’s a music video and, as far as we can tell, the only track available online from this young guy whose intensely polished composition belies both his age and his small amount of material (at least, online material).

The track, called “Natalie Portman,” is all about fame- how it affects the hip-hop thing and the people that are going for it. Plato lays out his view of this monster force in the genre and how it’s a weird thing to balance his own aspirations to musical success with a personal tendency to shy away from the Sisyphean acquisition of fame and stardom. “Yeah i’m tryin to be well known/but with knowledge of self/like everyone else/I’m gonna end up a book on the top of the shelf/collectin’ dust/it’s embedded in us,” says Plato.

Thoughtful is an overused word in criticism of hip-hop like this, and it’s really an undervaluation of the craft at play here, especially when you add in the detailing on the video. The thing, directed by Aidan Myles Green, is a lesson in not wasting a second on anything that doesn’t serve the track, and it does what few music videos do in actually adding further dimensions to the concept that the track is based around.

It starts with constant flashes of the fame world that Plato is discussing, shots of Jordan and Monroe and rappers and Joaquin Phoenix in his crazy fake star phase and others living the big public life, all in blurry black and white with quick cuts and no long shots. These are contrasted with what are obviously real-world images from Plato’s life- little, relatable things like Polaroids with a girlfriend and walking into an apartment building. When he steps in that apartment, out of the public eye and into his own private world, the thing goes color and takes the first extended shot of Plato.

The transition is us seeing him in his day-to-day, giving a warm casual kiss to his girl and sitting at a spartan bedroom musician set-up, and this switch-over from big and chaotic and nearly imaginary to intimate (small is the wrong word) and warm and approachable is almost felt physically when you see it. She gets ready for bed in the mirror, he fiddles with a track, stops to come give her an intimate touch on the hips and they laugh together before he brushes his teeth alone, and then they both go to bed where it’s all cute love shit and not the fantasy world of beyond perfect, unreal sex that we usually see when a rapper goes to the sheets with a beautiful woman.

It’s great, authentic and impeccably done, as is the track with its 80s synths and melding of melody and rapping, of big picture commentary and personal revelation, and it gives us at The Deli a pretty fierce desire to see more of this kid, though with the understanding that we’ll probably see more when he’s good and ready to put it out and not before. “Natalie Portman,” both track and video, are just what you want to see from talented up and comers in the hip-hop scene in 2015, giving you the brain and the heart at once, and not sacrificing one bit of power in the head-noddin’ department. Thanks for submitting Plato III, and the rest of y’all, watch below. We’ll leave ya with a quote from the man’s Facebook, where he talked a bit about coverage on the track from another Austin music outlet:

‘“Natalie Portman" is an analysis of fame's consequences, not just lyrically, but also stylistically. The trendy title, the blatant use of auto-tune, and the syrupy synth-driven music are all used ironically to emphasize how originality is often sacrificed when popularity is the only objective. The song couldn't be more hip-hop in spirit.’

We agree without reservation.

May 03, 2015
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If you haven't yet, take a quick gander to the left of this here text and you'll see somethin' The Deli has been workin' on for a goodly bit. Not only have we finally fixed our damn pesky top artists list, we've gone and improved the thing in some major ways. In particular, you now have all sorts of neat-ass options to sort the top bands in Austin, which we've added what for to get you more new musics to listen to. Mess around with it a bit, it's some pretty cool new shit.

As an example of both said cool new shit and the kind of thing the list can show ya, take electronic artist/producer Corduroi who has been crackin' into a few of the top artists lists now that we've gone and tweaked it. It's no surprise to us whatsoever that Corduroi is showin' up on there, because this guy, a born-n-bred Austinite whose real name is Cody Wilson, has been making quite a buzz about town this week with his fresh-ass debut album Oceanarium.

The ocean-themed, light-drenched Oceanarium was released by Raw Paw Records on 4/20, which is just too appropriate for this high-ready LP. That this album was born from water is not just apparent from the its name and its beached-up song titles, it's also absolutely saturated with lovely sounds (many pulled straight from the ocean) that pair to perfection with images of impeccably lazy days by the sea. It's an album you float through as if you were be-sunglassed, half-buzzed and half-asleep on an inner-tube surrounded by a never-ending series of waves which march off to the horizon as bright, warm daylight plays all around the ocean that is this music, making you feel like the world maybe really is a quite lovely place indeed.

In fact, the tone of this thing, and aiming for a specific tone is what this album is all about, reminds me of the first time I went to LA in the summer and got mild hypothermia from the ocean. I ended up sitting in a hot tub, burning and freezing at the same time and watching the sunset over the beach through eyes that were seeing everything like a cliche 60s film acid trip, all swirling technicolor and warped. It was, weirdly, a thoroughly pleasant, quirky feeling inspired by the sea that went all the way through to my bones, and that's about as good as a description of Oceanarium as any I can think of.

You can get yer own float goin' by streaming the whole thing here and gorgeous synth-laden single "Overboard" below, and if you dig it, there's just ever so much more discoverin' to do over to the left in our newfangled, fancypants top artist lists. Get t'listenin' y'all, there's a lot of ATX goodness over there just waiting for your ears.

April 25, 2015
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Well y’all, the bell rung on the epic bout that was our last Artist of the Month poll about a week ago, and heavyweight hip-hoppers LNS Crew found themselves the last men standing in the ring to take the title. Many congrats to LNS on their win!

For this next bout, we’ve got a hip-hopless roster for the first time in a while, with a singer-songwriter-producer, two psych bands and some damn fine Austin punk slugging it out between the virtual ropes for the completely imaginary but nonetheless glorious Deli Austin Weekly Champion Belt.

We’ll do a deeper post on each of these guys over the course of the contest, but for now, here’s a little on our current contenders and why they particularly caught our ear this month:

 

Abram Shook

Sound: Indie singer-songwriter with quite high production value

Qualifications: Lovely little single “Understood” and its equally pleasurable music video were just released as a preview to Shook’s sophomore album and are making noise around town, earning Shook KUTX’s Artist of the Month. Perhaps more importantly, recent photos of Shook reveal that he is almost definitely Austin’s premier wizard in training, what with that peppery hair/beard combo.

 

The Halfways

Sound: Psych pop straight out of the era that birthed it, but with a dab of the new post-Fleet Foxes psych sound

Qualifications: A string of recent shows coupled to new output from the band, who has been doing hard work in the studio. Track “I Don’t Mind” bodes quite well for the rest of the new stuff coming from this group, which has certainly become a pillar of the ATX psych scene in the last couple of years.

 

THREE BONES

Sound: Psych blues with soul to spare and a riveting lead singer/lead guitarist duo in Victoria de Benedicty and Dalt Jacob

Qualifications: Only one of the oddest, strongest, 60s-est music video ever to come out of the local psych scene, plus the promise of more music and some big-time shows (including one with fellow nominees The Halfways at Scoot Inn not long ago). The vid for triumphant, soul-packed track “Hold On to Ya” is exactly what you want out of retro psych, in that its influences are obvious (that projection is pure 60s), but it’s very self-aware and thoroughly fun. These dudes also just won the John Lennon Songwriting Contest for a Valentine’s Day love song for other new track “Love is the Only Way,” which is some pretty major shit.

 

Xetas

Sound: Punch-em-up, no stops, unfuckwitable contemporary punk

Qualifications: This is a band everyone in Austin should know, even though they themselves probably don’t give a shit if you do or don’t. This is as close as Austin gets to a supergroup, with each member an undoubted veteran of the Austin music thing, but even though we’d nominate these guys just about anytime for the quality shit they’ve consistently been producing in their relatively short time together, they particularly make the cut for this month’s poll on the utter, pounding strength of their new single “The Point,” released as a lead up to soon-to-come LP “The Redeemer.” They also just wrapped one big-ass, quick-ass tour all over the nation, which is more’n enough to get them the nod in our poll this month.

April 22, 2015
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It’s been a while since a song happily shocked me with a good screaming section, but local band Breathtaker just did it. This group, of which I had been previously ignorant, submitted their music to us this week, and I put on their newest album Revelations without knowing what to expect. The submission was listed as Indie, the album art suggested maybe something a little avant-garde; only the name seemed a bit more dramatic than most indie groups, but even that, I thought, I could see from some indie groups.

Partway through opener track “Kingsbury,” when I was thinking Breathtaker might be going for a kind-of dreary, melodic indie with a post-rock bent kinda thing (which I was digging, by the way), a wild dissonant note hit and the screaming began . It was actually a little hair-raising in a literal way, after me not expecting it. And that's because it was good screaming, earned and welcome and well-done, exceptionally balanced against the instrumentation and used as one ingredient in the wider paradigm of a well-structured piece of music. I liked it, and the rest of the 11 track album was thought out with equal attention and care if not quite as surprising as that initial screaming shock.

I wouldn’t dream to genre a band differently than they do themselves, but indie here more represents the “independent musicians” definition than it does a sound for Breathtaker, at least in relation to what “indie” bands in Austin typically sound like. If, however, I were to try and describe Breathtaker to one of my high school friends from Amarillo who were into the surprisingly extensive screaming music scene there in the mid 2000s, I’d say that they’re a band that’s on the artsier side of what some people call hardcore, and which some just call emo. That last term is culturally deficient to describe these guys - it is far too broad and I really doubt they use it to refer to themselves at any point - but it does the trick in 2015 to get you in the right mind of what to expect from Breathtaker. If you are or ever were the kind of person who thought that screaming rock music had something awesome to offer (like we do), Breathtaker is a new entry in that particular segment of Music with Screaming. That people keep making interesting things happen with music like this proves that it's a segment that is a powerful space where quality experimentation can occur, and out of which some damn good tracks, like "Kingsbury," can come. Get listening below.

April 17, 2015
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As another run of The Deli Austin's Artist of the Month poll wraps up, we're lookin' at the only artist in the competition that we haven't yet featured on The Deli- the versatile producer Dr Bobby Banner MPC. For those who aren't electronic music producers (which, in Austin, is fewer people than you'd think), the MPC in Dr Bobby's name refers to the Akai Music Production Center, a series of powerful and powerfully badass beat-making machines. Presumably, Dr Bobby Banner MPC makes the slick, dynamic hip-hop tracks he's known for on such machines, and if you go from the artist's social media pages, Dr Bobby might just actually be an MPC. Or at least, that might be his character, but who knows? In the days of hologram Japanese superstars and with music production tech where it's at these days, the idea of a beat machine that makes its own music isn't all that far fetched.

Regardless of who, or what, is making Dr Bobby Banner's music, the recent output from this man/machine has been downright stellar. Particularly, Dr Bobby's new album Musicology, released at the end of March, is a chance to hear one of Austin's brightest beatmakers paired up with an absolute army of quality rappers. Lots of times we see purely instrumental albums come out of the beatmaking scene in Austin, so (as much as we dig those instrumental joints) it's a welcome change-up to get a 12 tracker packed full of both beat and rhyme. That nod toward the traditional hip-hop song structure is about the only place this album is predictable though, as Musicology has Banner et al. letting their creativity and personal spins on hip-hop running free. For an example of the acrobatic musical forces at work here, take track "David Ruffin" below, whose herky-jerky sample-based beat serves as a playground for spitters Scuare and No1Important to let their words jump up and around and play all over. The rest of the album is equally good, and all available what for your listening pleasure over here. If this shit gets ya noddin' like it does us, give the rest a listen, and vote to the right to make Dr Bobby Banner MPC our first human/machine hybrid Artist of the Month.

April 13, 2015
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In the days just leadin' up to South By this year, Alex Napping, that band with a sound as cute as its name, gave the internet a new single called "Trembles Part I," which is already making a bit of a stir. In the vein of last year's This Is Not a Bedroom, which we suggested you get into back in October, "Trembles Part I" is another jubilant nod to the glory days of jangly, sunshine-set 90s indiepop. It starts all Pavement-esque guitar and crashing cymbals, and then bounces into something akin to a much less difficult Deerhoofish (that word right there, that was fun to type) experimental, bright and exciting guitar pop sound. This is just a very well balanced song, from band namesake Alex Cohen's lovely light, pretention-less voice to the interest-grabbing tempo changes to the on-spot instrumentation, and it shows just how true it is that Alex Napping is one of Austin's top indiepop bands to watch in 2015. Get on into it.

April 09, 2015
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