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5 Austin Bands to Keep An Eye On In 2018

Trouble In The Streets - Shot out of a cannon into the Austin music scene, this eclectic electronic trio has already played with esteemed artists like George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic, the Rebirth Brass Band, and Grupo Fantasma. Lead singer, Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji, is a force of nature as a front woman and her vocal talent and charisma make Trouble In The Streets a band to watch in 2018.

Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad - William Reynolds and Cam Wren are two friends who played music together for years until they finally formed Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad in 2017 and knocked audiences off their feet with fast, theatrical hits like "Werewolf of Love" and "Night Terror." Playing bigger shows and fine-tuning an already electric live shows, Billy King and the Bad Bad Bad have a promising 2018 ahead of them.

Annabelle Chairlegs - A menacing and insane aura emanates from this psych-rock quartet that features a fiery front woman, Lindsey Mackin. Their music is entrancing and the band's mystique only serves to heighten the undeniable allure of such a delightful throwback sound. Their trajectory should keep them aimed for an exciting 2018.

Los Coast - Soulful vocals, intricate instrumentation, and a symbiosis of good vibes has made Los Coast a favorite in the Austin live-music circuit. A residency at C-boys nightclub and a slew of festival bookings elevated their profile and a new record deal is making this band's 2018 look brighter and brighter.

Magna Carda - Sprung from the college campus of St Edwards, this hip-hop trio is bringing a focus to the tragically neglected Austin rap scene. Beats and clever lyrics collide with MC, Megz Kelli, and the beat maker, Dougie Do, as they continue to impress with highly addictive and stylized songs that can only grow stronger in this new year.


Big Destiny Aim High With Classic Sound

Phasing in shades of 70's black metal with a jam band-esque penchant for instrumental wormholes, Big Destiny is in the business of blowing some big boy smoke up your skirt. Singer, Declan Rory Murtagh, exhales a paint-peeling wail that consumes the rest of the band. Prog rock influences burst from every seam, while tasty bass lines and hook-filled guitars coalesce for an unencumbered romp. Big Destiny could be the wanton love child of Wolfmother, Dead Meadow, and a Yes cover band.  While the group has yet to officially release an EP, you can get your fill from their few tracks featured on Bandcamp.



Chief Perch Aims for the Future of Music


Airtight rhythms ebb and flow with beautiful vocal harmonies that shimmer with interspersed electronic bleeps and bloops. The Austin octet, Chief Perch, have an uncanny ability to tap into the dance-centric melodies that keep our fingers pressing play. Lead singer, Ariel Herrerra, has a Stefani-esque warble mixed with a classic R&B croon, and her charismatic stage presence is equally entrancing as it is hypnotic. Chief Perch has double the typical amount of band members, hence, they emit double the amount of funky fresh beats.  Their debut album, Shoulda Would Coulda, was released in October of this past year, and is remarkable in its variety and quality of tracks.





Boulevards Opens Up About Funk, Sobriety, and A Bright Future!

 Jamil Rashad AKA Boulevards has two releases to his credit, including last year’s dance-laden breakout album, Groove!. Riding a wave of momentumBoulevards has made a quick return with the recently released Hurt Town, a high-energy, funkadelic album that features Neon Indian, Laura Reed, and more. Hurt Town evokes the sexualized R&B sounds of Prince, Rick James, and Earth, Wind & Fire, all injected with renewed youthful vigor. Rashad is the breath of fresh funky air that music needs, and with Hurt Town released on December 8th, he’s looking to close out 2017 with a soulful bang.

After listening to your new album Hurt Town, I have one question for you…Who was she? And how bad did she hurt you?

[Laughs] It wasn’t just one girl, it was other relationships in the past as well and just things I’ve been holding onto for a long time. There was a lot of emotional conflict in myself and pain and anger that I was holding onto. I just thought, ‘I gotta get this stuff out man.’ This needs to be an emo and funk record. This needs to be emotional funk! When I would listen to my favorite artists like the SOS Band, Chic, Rick James, or Prince – they were able to mask a lot of emotional tracks behind upbeat funky jams. That’s what I wanted to be able to do with this record.

So making Hurt Town was therapeutic for you?

Yes, I worked really hard on the record. It was an up and down rollercoaster with the entire process. There was a point that I wasn’t going to put it out and some of my family and closest friends kept telling me, ‘You gotta put this body of work out bro! This is some of the best stuff you’ve done’. And now it’s happening!

How did you link up with Alan Palomo of Neon Indian for the album?

A couple years ago I was drunk in a bar in Brooklyn, and Alan was there and drunk too, and I walked up to him and was like, ‘Aren’t you Neon Indian?’ and he said, ‘yeah.’ We talked about doing a collab and he thought it would be dope. I was touring with King Gizzard and Mild High Club in Australia and sent him some tracks and he dug them and then was able to contribute to “Nu Burn Ave.” So it worked out well.

I saw you at SXSW but a mini-hurricane hit before you performed, and you still went on. What happened there?

That was crazy! I think I did four songs and they cut my set to 15 minutes. I just did pedal to the metal funk and the crowd dug it. It was dope, just quick and painless.

Was touring off your first record Groove! the first time you toured the country?

Yes it was the first time. I played New York, went overseas and started playing festivals. I used to be a roadie in some friends’ bands but this was the first time people came to see me play.



A lot of people get burnt out by partying too much on tour and not taking care of themselves. How do you find a balance on the road?

Well, I found a balance. I had a lot of life changing experiences on the road because I’m actually getting into recovery now. I run a lot and take care of my body and plan on going on the road and being clean next time.

Did you have a bottom that changed things?

I saw the person I was becoming and I didn’t like that person. When I was living in New York, my relationships with my family, friends and women just faltered. You get tired of apologizing all of the time. It gets exhausting and depressing. I didn’t like who I was becoming and I wanted to find happiness and peace. I needed to find a balance. I couldn’t do all this stuff, if I wanted to have a successful career. I was on tour with Tuxedo and Mayer Hawthorne – that was my bottom – I was wild n’ out onstage and not performing to the best of my ability. I was tired of it. I want to be able to do music 1000%. I want to be a successful musician, son, brother, friend, and partner. I couldn’t do that partying and drinking and just couldn’t do it anymore, so I had to make some changes. It feels good, it’s been five months, and it’s been the happiest five months of my life.

Musicians tend to glorify partying and it would be nice if a few would tell the truth. You know what I mean?

That’s another part of it. I was obsessed with Rick James, he’s like my favorite artist. I was obsessed with that lifestyle and thought that’s who I wanted to become. I realized that that’s not who I want to become. I saw how I was treating my body. Rick James is a mastermind genius but that’s not how I want to go out. I’m in this for the long haul you know, I want longevity in this. Even if not for the music, I want this for myself.

How big of a role does running play in your sobriety and life?

Running is big man. I’ve been running since I was 12 years old. I ran competitively in college, high school- and middle school. Now that I’m in recovery it keeps me focused and I also meditate. It’s better without a coach yelling at you to go to practice, I can start doing it for myself. I can be one with Mother Nature and just have fun.

Where did your fashion influence come from?

My dad while growing up. Jazz artist and funk artists in NYC in the late 70’s. My dad was a radio DJ so I got to see a lot of funk heads and jazz heads and they’re just cool. I like keeping things classic and timeless.

If you could collaborate with any artist, who would it be?

Chic, Daft Punk, Pharrell, and Thunder Cat would be tight. Chromeo would be dope as well.


Day For Night Fest Impresses in 3rd Year (Festival Review)

 As a native Houstonian, it is a strange feeling to have an event in our city considered the paradigm of ‘cool’. Sure, Houston has incredible museums, an expansive ethnic food offering, and is home to the largest rodeo and renaissance festival in the nation –but it is the nascent Day For Night festival that causes scenesters in both New York City and LA to go green with envy. In it’s third year, Day For Night has gathered momentum and continued to deliver quality music and art, despite obstacles and forces of nature that would crush a less dedicated festival team.

While no festival is perfect, Day For Night continues to be imperfectly perfect, as its weather, cancellations, and drama just add to the volatile but exhilarating atmosphere. The fringe and counter-culture of Houston is rarely on display, and DFN has done wonders creating an all-inclusive playground where world-renowned artists, progressive musicians, and black-clad locals converge in an explosion of creativity. Here are some highlights (and a few lowlights) from the festival that continues to impress going into it’s third year.

5 Best Performances:

Nine Inch Nails – A memorable set that began with lead singer Trent Reznor telling the crowd, “We’re not gonna let a little rain stop us – let’s go piggies,” as they launched into their hit “March of the Pigs.” While other artists at the festival balked at the unfavorable weather (see Cardi B), Nine Inch Nails fought a driving rain storm like they were doing battle with Mother Nature herself. Although the set ended by the stage being evacuated, it was an immaculate baptism for NIN fans.

Perfume Genius – Mike Hadreas aka Perfume Genius creates primal pop with tremulous vocals and anvil-like backbeats. Hadreas moved with grace and effeminate poise while oscillating between his songs from his last album, No Shape, and older crowd pleasers like “Queen” and “Hood”. The voice of Hadreas is transcendentally beautiful and his gyrating stage antics made this performance perfect.

Solange –  Although she cancelled an appearance on Friday, Solange was the hometown highlight for the Sunday night crowd. It is easy to pin Solange as the beneficiary of her sister’s fame, but it’s evident upon her first song that she has a unique aura and talent unto herself. “I want to shout out H-town, my hometown!” as Solange talked about hitting the Galleria and going to local hotspots like Frenchy’s. Solange’s set reflected the deep soulful spirit of Houston and filled the audience with her uplifting light.

Pussy Riot –  My expectation with the all-female band that had famously been imprisoned by Vladimir Putin in Russia was a politics-heavy outfit short on musical abilities, and boy was I wrong. Pussy Riot brought their Slavic brusque attitude to a high octane hip-hop and pop set that was magnified by over-the-top pageantry. The songs were catchy, but when they announced, “This next song is the song that sent us to prison for two years,” the reality of their strength and resilience hit home hard.

Justice – There was a time when there was no getting away from a song like “D.A.N.C.E” but now, a decade later, Justice is still able to melt faces and ignite a city-wide dance party. Seizure-inducing lights and chest-rattling beats fomented the biggest dance party of the weekend. The French duo has just released their third album, Woman, and it looks like they’re back to charm America.

Honorable Mention: En Vogue, Kimbra, James Blake, Jaime XX,

5 Disappointments (Besides the weather and some late cancellations):

Cardi B – In all fairness, the hype built around her performance was undeserved, and many would argue her career might be as well, but the reality tv star still managed the saddest excuse for a performance I’ve seen to date. NYC rapper Hood Celebrity came onstage to lip sync for a few songs before letting the DJ awkwardly stall for 45 minutes. Scheduled for an hour, Cardi came on for ten minutes, rapped three songs and then said, “It’s too cold ya’ll” and left the stage. A huge waste of everybody’s time.

Pretty Lights – I’m not sure if Derek Smith is getting experimental but his typically high-energy, crowd-pleasing set was buried away somewhere, while he tinkered with a minimalist electro odyssey. Pretty Lights played the Spinal Tap equivalent of a free-from Jazz exploration in front of a festival crowd, needless to say, it did not go well.

Set Times – I heard after the fact that there was actually an official DFN app, but it was released midway through the fest. Because of the weather, set times were constantly changing and people were constantly accessing the mobile DFN site to stay on top of the latest audible. Not a big issue but annoying to say the least.

Thom York Late Show – More of a personal issue, but I can’t be the only one who needs to work on Monday morning. I get having the music going late on a Saturday, but I would have loved to have seen Thom Yorke’s set without having to sacrifice sleep. A name as big as Thom Yorke would have gotten a bigger audience prior to a 12:30 AM set time.

Bets Moments of DFN 2017:

Lil B Doesn’t Know Where He Is –  Lil B shouted out UGK, DJ Screw, amongst many others. He then said, “I want to shout out Dallas, Texas! What up ya’ll!” At least he got the state right.

BLACKIE Shocks  – This local electro-screamer had a mosh pit going on at the Yellow Stage and, while he had many admiring fans, the shocked faces of those who were passing through were worth the price of admission alone.

Phantogram Calls Out Cardi B – Bombshell Phantogram vocalist Sarah Barthel had obviously heard of Cardi B’s diva behavior the day before, which prompted her to say, “We’re going to take a quick break and will be back in an hour and a half. We’re going to hang out with Cardi B.”  Barthel continued to lambast Cardi B throughout the set, which was fine with everyone present.

House of Kenzo – A hip-hop art collective chock full of sissy-pride and raunchy dancing, The House of Kenzo were shocking and electrifying in every way. Twerking, rapping, and freak dancing gave this performance a uniquely raw and appealing vibe.

Billboard Callout – Whoever ran the projector at DFN was having a lot of fun giving inspirational quotes, dishing out fun artist facts, trashing Donald Trump, and even calling out a festival attendee named Jimmy Nguyen. Apparently Jimmy Nguyen was selling fake DFN passes and was put on blast in front of the whole festival. Gotta love the moxie of the guy/gal behind the projector!


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