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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

Oh yes, new Institute day is a good day. I've been wanting to post the heavy jangle, effects-lite post-punk shit that is Institute since I became editor of the Austin Deli, but their (no-holds-barred good) last EP Salt came out in October of 2014, which was just barely, annoyingly out of the range to be considered "news."

Today though, with a fist-shake of gritty happiness, I'm here to say that the wait is over. There is new Institute, and it's them at their fuckitall best. The new track from Sacred Bones Records is thoroughly appropriately titled "Cheerlessness," and as opposed to Salt, which often had Institute sounding like a band made up of people each about to fall apart at the seams in a really good and satisfying way, this new track is tighter and more determined.

The singing, or whatever you'd call that nicely out of it noise they're making, still seems like it's coming from a depressed drunk who stumbled upon a microphone just after getting hit in the head by a large human, but now he's in his third song and just doesn't even care enough to put energy into his shit until he just loses it at the end. There's true emotion of the kind the title espouses here, something you really get with the exasperated breath into the mic at the end, and that they layer that whole modern malaised man sound over a non-stop breackneck, clenched-asshole beat and wails from a guitar that sounds like it's dying is just damn good fuck the world punk. Listen below y'all, and get you a beer and a good brick wall alley slouch goin' to make it feel right. The rest of the album, called Catharsis is out June 9th, and you can get tour dates here.

May 21, 2015
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It was a tight race, but thanks to a major last minute push, the close of the polls on our most recent Artist of the Month contest saw beatmaker Artificial Earth Machine take home the victory comfortably. While all of our artists were worthy of the nod, it's a well-deserved win by AEM, who rode into first place in large part due to the damned good new album he's just released, called Biosphere Simulator.

As you might guess from the name of both artist and album, AEM's music has a strong current of scifi running through it, full of weird sounds that sound like they were recorded straight from alien sources. In fact, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if AEM claimed to be piping the inspiration for this starmusic straight from another corner of the universe through some sort of musical telepathic pipeline, taking in the weird signals and processing them through a beatmaker’s mind. That last part is what elevates this music to truly impressive heights of goodness; AEM corrals all of the weird, space chaos through an obviously keen head for song structure. The repetitiveness and rigidity of hip-hop and other beats provide the perfect counterbalance for all of the odd sounds from the outer reaches, and the result is instant grin-inducing. It’s the perfect music to put on while watching a space documentary or a film like “Aliens” or “Sunshine” on mute, and it’d be even better for soundtracking a stoned solo trip to the planetarium (an activity we highly recommend).

In addition to this solid, thoroughly enjoyable album of space songs, many of you who voted AEM into the winner’s spot made note of the musician’s live show as a major reason you gave him your vote, or as poster “aa” put it, “amazing live and is like a magical synth spa for your brain.” That show (you can watch a bit of it from a few years ago below) features AEM bathed in a sea of projected colorscapes, with just the man, his beatmachines and a mic producing these many-layered, highly thought-out tracks. That he does use a mic is one thing that separates AEM from much of the beat scene, especially here in Austin, where the tendency is mostly to use pre-recorded vocals by someone other than the artist in live shows, or to use none at all. AEM’s aesthetic is made even more unique by not shying away from injecting his own equally alien live vocals into his spacey beats, and it makes for quite an arresting live experience.

In all, Biosphere Simulator is a thoroughly excellent nearly mid-year album and one of the best so far in 2015 from the musicmakers of the city. You can listen to the whole thing here, and we’d like to beam out a heartfelt congrats to Artificial Earth Machine from our communications array at Space Station Deli. Stellar stuff, in every meaning of the word.

May 20, 2015
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A while back yonder, we brought you some sweet preliminary sounds from Austin post-rock duo COSMS then-upcoming EP. That EP has done gone and come out, and we've got the whole thing for you here today! Arteria expands on the sound from pre-release, Asian-influenced instrumental track "Pagoda" with five total tracks of contemporary two-musician post-rock experimentation.

It's a little weird to us who remember when Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky and the other post-rock of the 2000s was a wholly new sound, as now the genre is in a very different place. Most "indie" fans have moved to a pretty heavily psych-rock, indie-folk, synthy pop zone, and the massive underculture (does that even exist anymore?) attention has shifted away from genres like post-rock (you could include a lot of other genres like doom metal in there too). Personally, I think that's a great thing for bands like COSMS, because it allows them space to do whatever they want, to work on subtle changes and enhancements to their genre and to really get the sound they want down on record. The result is lovely gems like Arteria, with its Shanghai-meets-American post-rock sound, and its ultra pared-down two musician format that allows for each piece of their songs to be prominent, allowing the listener to really see how each part contributes to the whole.

That's an approach that is quite nice in post-rock, especially when you think back to those 20+ piece tracks that Godspeed used to drop. As awesome as those were, they were going for something very different, something rougher and louder and more urgent, almost desperately so. That was great for the time, but that COSMS has found a space to do something very different, and very lovely, in post-rock that's shows that the genre has much still to offer.

In all these are some fresh-layered tracks with delightful complexity in the song structure from but two musicians, and you won't find tighter instrumental music coming out of Austin. Listen to all of Arteria below y'all.

May 12, 2015
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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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