The city of Austin delivers new musical discoveries daily. As Dirty River Boys’ Marco Gutierrez told CMT Edge, “There’s so much great music in Austin. You can go to any bar on any given night and find your new favorite band. It’s cool as hell, man.”
Five favorites currently standing above the pack:
The Carper Family’s highly energetic Old Fashioned Gal glides and gallops with unwavering gusto. Conventional wisdom suggests the popular local roots band should break big any day. Particularly notice bassist Melissa Carper’s singular vocals, absolutely stunning at a recent in-store at Waterloo Records. See for yourself: The Carpers are on the road throughout the U.S. this summer. Go and yours will be money well spent.
Emily Herring’s Your Mistake features sharp songwriting and buoyant melodies throughout. Detailed narratives guide the journey. “I make my home down in San Marcos, where I count my tips at the Triple Crown,” she sings on “Austin (Ain’t Got No) City Limits” against bouncy Western swing. “You best find a quiet seat if you’re down at Cheatham Street watching them pass that mic around.” Amen. Now, pass the tip jar.
Pake Rossi’s songs are the highway kind. “Pake has the real-deal attitude,” says another rapidly rising local performer, HalleyAnna. “His new record reflects the lifestyle of a 20-something singer-songwriter with a van and friends who make good music the old-fashioned way.” Rossi’s excellent Mercy on the Mountain — produced by David Beck and Paul Cauthen from Sons of Fathers — backs the claim. Turn the key and start with “A/C Roar.”
Shinyribs’ Gulf Coast Museum dukes mightily against Slaid Cleaves’ Still Fighting the War and HalleyAnna’s self-titled record as my favorite local release this year. Leader Kevin Russell’s effortless wit (“Bolshevik Sugarcane”) and whimsy (“Take Me Lake Charles”) achieve unmatched heights. Shinyribs might seem like a Gourds side project on paper, but not so. Russell is clearly reenergized and focused here.
Bonnie Whitmore opening for Hayes Carll one night during his February residency at Austin’s Cactus Café sliced hearts as much with their inspired banter as deep-browed songwriting. Songs debuted at the Cactus suggested Whitmore’s new There I Go Again will follow 2011’s Embers to Ashes with superb results.