December 2, 2008 There's indie rock. And then there's indie rock in horn-rimmed glasses. The Texans at KUT pick out the top 10 "smart rock" albums of 2008, headlined by the new efforts of a few brainy Austin acts.
December 14, 2007 KUT's David Brown offers up his picks for 2007's most memorable recordings, and finds that his hometown of Austin, Tex., is well-represented. But alongside the local likes of Spoon and Okkervil River were international juggernauts like Radiohead and Amy Winehouse.
February 14, 2007 While Modest Mouse's "Dashboard" lacks the snaky charm of "Float On," it's a pure pop confection: danceable, uncomplicated and ripe for airplay. Fans too young to remember XTC can draw comparisons to Franz Ferdinand, what with the song's stiff, guitar-driven neo-disco rhythms.
January 10, 2007 Sleepy Brown's "Margarita" lays out a hooky fusion of hip-hop, jazz and mid-'70s midnight-hour soul. At first, Brown's liquid falsetto may take listeners back to the roller rink, but over time, "Margarita" sounds less retro than cutting edge — another step in the ongoing maturation of hip-hop.
November 27, 2006 The Alice Rose's noteworthy "West" opens like a modern emo-rocker, but then it dissolves into a simple piano-driven ballad, as if it were a demo tape from Brian Wilson's late-'60s period. With sweetly sincere lyrics, the song simply blooms.
August 11, 2006 With a delicate voice reminiscent of Nanci Griffith's and a support crew featuring an impressive assortment of Austin-based musical talent, Idgy Vaughn straddles the line between contemporary folk-pop and traditional country, offering 10 subtly hued yet largely autobiographical stories.
August 4, 2006 Conrad Johnson made his Kashmere High School Stage Band a national phenomenon — not just at band competitions, but in the world of commercial popular music. The recordings he made of the band continue to influence musicians to this day, and are being re-released.
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August 2, 2006 As a hired-gun guitar-slinger, Will Kimbrough has earned a reputation as an "alien" — a way to explain his otherworldly prowess. Fortunately for Kimbrough, who aspires to a solo career, his songwriting chops are solid, too.
July 24, 2006 On his new album, Ray Wylie Hubbard serves up a mostly greasy plateful of growling, country-fried rhythm and blues, heavy on themes of sin and the South. But most notable is an exception to this mix, a soulful neo-gospel re-working of a late-'90s original called "Resurrection."
July 6, 2006 Todd Snider often writes songs with a slightly boozy country-rock swagger, paced by a steady intellectual metronome that's a tick or two ahead of most of his peers. Snider's new album, The Devil You Know, riffs on some of America's major political fault lines.
June 27, 2006 The Texas band Dynah draws on influences ranging from Mick Ronson and Johnny Marr to Radiohead. Wake, its sophomore album, represents a potent distillation of those influences — awash in atmospheric soul, with zero filler.
June 13, 2006 With a '60s-style AM-radio beat and Erik Sanden's airy delivery, Buttercup's "Hot Love" conjures an alternate universe where Ray Davies and David Byrne collaborate on jangly pop songs with unexpected twists in the shade of the Alamo.
June 8, 2006 "The Sun Shines Down on Me" ranks among the best material from Daniel Johnston's early homemade tapes. While the recording quality is almost as ragged as his voice, the low fidelity only adds to the song's mystery, melodic genius and charm.
May 31, 2006 "Fear Country" is the sort of polemic that would come off as clumsy in lesser hands, but singer/producer T Bone Burnett smartly juices the song with sinister, shuffling rhythms that somehow maintain the intensity while taking the edge off.
May 24, 2006 The namesake nightclub that Antone founded in Austin, Texas, has been a landmark for decades, showcasing top blues and jazz acts. Antone helped to launch the careers of Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds and other musicians and groups. From member station KUT in Austin, David Brown offers a remembrance.
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