Austin Music: What We're Listening to This Week

Buffalo Nichols, Stephanie Bergara, and the Hickoids soundtrack our week in local sound

Austin Music: What We're Listening to This Week

Marie/Lepanto's Gulf Collide

"I love newness," Will Johnson told the Chronicle upon the 2018 release of Marie/Lepanto's debut, Tenkiller. Now the collaboration with equally prolific Arkansas songwriter Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster drops a surprise follow-up album on Bandcamp, bolstered with a more powerful and polished sound.

Recorded at Ramble Creek in the wake of last February's winter storm, the album flares an apocalyptic edge, grappling with an uncertain future. "I woke up just in time to see the end of what's called history," intones opener "The Mission." That dire sense of living through the end permeates Gulf Collide, more poignant for the lack of drama and mundane reckoning with reality. The crunching "Wise Blood" and questioning "How Do We Go On?" find no easy answers, leaking into the mournful moan and creaking harmonies of the title track.

Yet the corrosive edge that slices into "Gramps and Grandma," courtesy of Jason Isbell's unleashed guitar, resets heavy. The Centro-matic roar of "Eureka Flame" and percussive scorched dread of "Set Things Right" surge forward, while "Respectability" waltzes dreamlike through bitter memory.

With Britton Beisenherz and Matt Pence rounding up the duo's sound, Johnson and JPKS expand beyond their previous haunted, burnt melodies, thrashing between fury and acceptance. Still, closing 6½-minute guitar wash "Uinta" concludes hopeful, Johnson laying out a prayer for moving forward with wonder into the next newness. – Doug Freeman

Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band's "Stubborn Bubble"

While injecting a booster shot of invigorating psych punk upon the crowdsurfing masses at Hotel Vegas on Saturday, Osees frontman John Dwyer took a moment to praise openers Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band. "Austin provides some of the best music for California," he said. "They're like, 'What bands do you like?' I'm like, 'Fuck California ... Austin, Texas!'" NPNB, the local septet known for their epic progressive psychedelic-pop compositions, release Music Is Dead – one of three albums Potter recorded during quarantine – on Dwyer's Castle Face Records Sept. 24. Propulsive new single "Stubborn Bubble" takes us on a nine-minute exploration of Krauty sci-fi fuzz, augmented with a UFO synth line and zero-gravity vocals. – Kevin Curtin

Buffalo Nichols' "Lost and Lonesome"

An isolated retreat, "Lost and Lonesome" finds Buffalo Nichols, Fat Possum Records' newest blues signee, wandering in the unfamiliar and grappling with dark, desolate truths. Six-string acoustics wade deep in the Mississippi Delta and reverberate along the pastoral countryside, carving through its barren back roads. Nichols' listlessness remains palpable on the track he described as a "soundtrack to a wandering soul ... an ode to loneliness," in it rasping, "Looking lost and lonesome since I left my mother's home." The single presages the Austin-based singer/guitarist's self-titled debut, hitting October 15. – Alejandra Ramirez

Stephanie Bergara's "Rear View"

Pura chingoa Stephanie Bergara aka Bidi Bidi Banda frontwoman aka Necia by Nature podcast host and official Austin music officer finally got around to sharing her own music. The busy Tejana still helps keep Selena's oeuvre alive, but maybe pandemic priorities propelled Bergara's first single, "Rear View." A leisurely pop ride in English (Selena's and Bergara's first language), "Rear View" shows the vocalist smoothly controlling a downtempo cruise away from dust clouds of the past. "Reinvent myself with no fears," she explains as she steers toward a future as an artist who, though we just met, is more herself than before. – Christina Garcia

The Hickoids' "Almost Nearly Nancy"

Austin's kings of punktry & western drop an immaculate raunch bomb on their way outta town, escaping the Delta variant-fueled Stage 5 pall for some mid-South touring. "Almost Nearly Nancy" snarls through layers of post-Keef guitar grind and prime wah-pedal abuse, as Jeff Smith lets loose his best lonesome polecat strut: "I've seen your face airbrushed on the side of a van/ With the words below, 'She'll destroy a man'/ I believe you can." This single's everything the Rolling Stones haven't been since Exile on Main St., and all Primal Scream's wanted to be their whole career – best Hickoids record ever! – Tim Stegall

The Point's "Ginger"

Following up April's Phonkadelic beat tape, a hazy homage to the slow and low sounds of Texas rap innovator DJ Screw, young musical brethren Joe Roddy and Jack Montesinos crack the sunroof and let in some California vibes. "Why don't I just join the leaves falling from the trees?" ponders Montesinos languidly over lo-fi drum machine beats and a slinky guitar lick that Roddy later reanimates on B-3 organ. The duo's keen production sense allows them to control the climate on this coastal highway indie groove. – Kevin Curtin

The 2021-2022 Austin Music Awards Music Poll is underway. Vote now for your favorite bands, venues, and music until January 31.

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