Ethan Azarian is an Austin icon and iconoclast. His music, like his artwork, fills with a sense of wonder and possibility, raw and vulnerable, but beautifully surreal. As leader of the Orange Mothers in the 1990s, Azarian’s pop style could be joyous and provoking, and his subsequent solo work unfolds with a lo-fi pop and folk reveling in lyrics both bizarre and poignant.
Azarian’s latest LP, On the Fringe, spins a journey both reflective and cosmically adventurous. Marked with Azarian’s familiarly quirky lyrical visions and offbeat winding melodies, the album celebrates his outsider artistic style while also marking one the best recordings of his career.
“I feel like I’ve always been on the fringe, and that’s not like ‘poor Ethan.’ I’m thankful,” Azarian notes. “I’m still playing music and it’s a real therapy for me. It’s good for me and I know I need to make a noise. But also the fringe is the idea of the planet as a whole, that we’re out here on the fringe. We’re not the center. I’m on the fringe, but we’re all on the fringe.”
Will Courtney’s production fills the album with a much more lush pop sound behind Azarian’s nasal croon and the atmospheric support from longtime collaborators Lindsey Verrill and Jeff Johnston of Little Mazarn, who open his outdoor house show Saturday night at the Wyldwood in South Austin.
“I’m right where I should be,” Azarian adds. “Because I’m older now, and I’ve spent so much time doing both, I feel accomplished and pretty happy about what I’m doing musically and artistically. And that’s pretty awesome.”
Sat., Oct. 23, 5pm