Khruangbin and Leon Bridges shouldn’t be hamstrung by references to the past. Photo courtesy of Pooneh Ghana

Khruangbin and Leon Bridges’ Texas Moon

The press material accompanying Texas Moon is really pushing the narrative that the sequel to Texas Sun — the 2020 collaboration between Houston-based psychedelic surf trio Khruangbin and Fort Worth soul singer Leon Bridges — sounds like a Marvin Gaye album, and superficially (and sonically), the press release is not wrong. You hear the sumptuous groan of the bass bends, and Bridges’ voice is shadowed in judiciously trippy slap-back reverb. There are also hand drums scattered throughout that intensify your head nod, locking you deeper into the groove. Bridges takes his inspiration from the greatest voices in soul, and when the reverb-soaked guitar hits a minor chord, you do indeed get that satisfying feeling of What’s Going On?

But listen a little deeper, and this EP — and its predecessor, for that matter — makes it clear that both Khruangbin and Leon Bridges are their own things, influenced by the back half of the 20th century but firmly planted in the 21st. Together, these artists have crafted a pair of releases that carry a similarly smoldering, low-lit, weed-and-thunderstorm, sex-on-the-couch vibe as Gaye’s 1970 masterpiece, but in the Texas Moon version of this vibe, instead of the glow of candles and lava lamps, your living room is bathed in the blue and violet hues of Roku City. It’s like hearing Side 2 of the Isley Brothers’ The Heat Is On after eating a couple shrooms or what you’d put on if you and your lover got a room in a hotel orbiting the Earth. I highly recommend it, even if you’re just sitting on the couch watching Roku City drift along by yourself. — Steve Steward


More New Sounds from Locally Sourced Artists

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Thanks to my “local music industry” connections, I received a couple previews of upcoming releases in my inbox this week, both of them of the “high-gain rock band” variety. The first is an early mix of the new Me-Thinks single “Keep Haltom High,” in which the long-reigning kings of local fuzz-rock blast another anthemic tale of suburban stoner burnout fueled by “a thousand kinds of weed” (sans stems and seeds) and some scalding hot, deliciously cheesy shredding courtesy of area guitar wizard Michael “Doty” Doty. Later, the outro happens, in which frontman Ray Liberio’s chugging, chuffing bassline suddenly gets fogged in a hefty huff of saxophone riffage from local sax master Chris Bellomy. It’s hilarious and satisfying, like a fit of laugh-coughs at the end of a huge bong rip.

So that’s something to look forward to — if I had to guess, the Me-Thinks will probably put it out on vinyl. Or 8-track. Or in a VHS recording of an above-ground pool collapsing. I dunno. But the other upcoming local rock release that came my way is from Bruce Magnus, who are dropping their next LP on March 11. Spare Beans leans into the band’s inherent goofiness, slathering their funky blues-rock with a sauce that seems to have been sprinkled with a Ween-ian willingness to get weird. Spare Beans was recorded in 2021, and few tracks of said weirdness are on Spotify — “Robbery” and “All Curses” not only put these unhinged Nightmare River Band-esque ideas on full display, but they also showcase the Bruce Magnus’ airtight musicianship. It’s kind of a stylistic leap from their 2019 debut and 2020 follow-up, both of which kind of made me think of them like a shaggier, boozier Blind Melon. With these new songs, I get the idea that this is actually what Bruce Magnus is supposed to sound like, and that’s pretty exciting. — S.S.


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