If the date on your iPhone screen has been too subtle a reminder, the winged dollar signs flying out of your A.C. vent lately should serve to drive this point home: The blistering Texas summer is upon us. But local music fans can at least take comfort that The Scene© won’t let the coming 100 days of hell slow down its output. Here’s some local summer tunage you can enjoy without the risk of dehydration or losing a flip-flop.
Tilly and the Flowers is the name of the brand new solo project of veteran chanteuse Stephanie Buchanan (Crystal Furs, Missing Sibling), who released her debut album last week. Titled Girl in the Background, its songs slyly disguise unselfconscious confessionals about anxiety and misanthropy as danceable piano-driven pop. Armed with the same musical spoonful-of-sugar to help tear-jerking lyrics go down a la Karen Carpenter, Buchanan’s solo career is off to an impressive start.
Robot Therapy, also a pseudonymous solo venture, this one of local garage-punk everywhere-man Jesse Gage (War Party, Movie the Band, Big Heaven, Sur Duda) ,recently snuck in the release of an EP. Life Is Weird is the follow-up to his debut of late last year and combines the “Butter” and “Jelly” singles he released over the spring with a reworking of “Terror Error” and a playful love letter to War Party frontman Cameron Smith. Full of Gage’s signature fuzzed-out pawnshop guitar tone and his sardonic vocal delivery, Life is 14 minutes of slack-punk perfection.
For those looking for more of a lazy, hazy vibe, interstellar dub devotees Neptune Locals have just put out a trio of new singles. These extraterrestrial musical symbionts have been using the human suits of local rastas to make their brand of chilled-out space-rock reggae for more than a decade, and with the tranquil trilogy of “Flight List,” “La Familia,” and “The Now (Together),” these alien musos are offering an intergalactic journey for anyone willing to take the trip.
Not to be outdone by guitar-driven music, local hip-hoppers also have new offerings to blast out of your open windows. Fresh from his set at the Fortress Festival, erudite rapper Juma Spears has finally dropped the Flashback EP. Well more than a year in the making, the six songs represent Spears’ first material since he’s been freed from a nasty dispute with his former label. The title track alone, which features verses from Lil’ Flip and Tweety Bird, make it worth the wait.
California transplant Nice Major has delivered the second installment of his soundtrack-to-weed-smoking opus 15 Minute High. As the subtitle Sativa/Indica suggests, 15 Minute High .2 is a baker’s dozen of tracks intent on sonically recreating the contrasting upbeat and mellow buzzes of the two cannabinoid varietals. Local cosmic multi-instrumentalist iNcelta joins Nice for the on-the-nose-titled “High,” and the album closes with the seasonally appropriate “Summer,” a track that brings a whiff of the palm trees and salt-scented air of his West Coast origins to Texas on a heady cloud of smoke.
As the season is just getting started, so is the oncoming tsunamic wave of local music set to crash upon our shores. Most notably, there’s the debut record from Ryan Higgs’ new project, The Daybreak Hits. Higgs, the former Yellabelly and High School Assembly frontman, began work on the material back in 2015. This long-awaited album finally sees daylight on Friday.
Next month will see the release of art-rock singer-songwriter Clint Niosi’s fourth studio album, which he’s been working on between time spent in the producer’s chair. Last year, he helmed the recording of his wife Claire Hecko’s morose and beautiful project, Frosty, and he just finished the debut of brooding Spaghetti Western crooners Mañana Cowboy, which is also due out in June.
Add these to upcoming first releases from the hard-rocking Royal Sons, quirky math-rockers Pax Romana, and noisy blues duo Jack Thunder & The Road Soda – along with sophomore efforts from swampy blues twosome Washed Up Rookie, garage punks Same Brain, and the Americana genre-bending Cut Throat Finches – and we have plenty to keep our ears ringing over the summer.l