12 Austin albums from 2012
Familiar to fans of their live work, these folks are worth keeping handy
Below are 12 favorite 2012 releases from Austin bands from this year, in no particular order. The records are worth buying, of course, and these acts are worth seeing live in Austin clubs in 2013.
“A Little Death”
(self-released) Bobby Jealousy, which consists of core members Sabrina Ellis (also of A Giant Dog), Seth Gibbs and drummer Adam Harlow (fourth member Mark Stoney left the band earlier this year), made a mark on the Austin music scene with the release of their debut album at the beginning of the year. An appealing mix of soul, Beatles pop, and largerthan-life arena rock (and the best use of “whoa-oh-oh-ohs” in town), “A Little Death,” even in its darker moments, bursts with joy.
Ode to love “Earthquake: Ballad to Jon and Mitra” is one of the best songs to come out of Austin this year and portrays a sense of unquenchable yearning — one so strong not even the end of the world could snuff out.
(Western Medical Records)
Leda Ginestra, lead singer and bassist for trio Crooked Bangs, sings more than half the songs on the band’s debut album in French. It adds a nice bit of mystery to the music while highlighting their ability to write great songs.
Even if you don’t have an idea what Ginestra is belting out, tracks including “Be Young/ Sois Jeune (Et Tais Toi)” and “Evil Eye/Le Mauvais Ceil” will occupy your brain. And it’s by no means just the lyrics — Ginestra, Samantha Wendel (guitar) and Philip Gonzalez (drums) demand attention with their sharp, gloomy, surf-inspired rock.
“The Rain Will Come”
(self-released) Crooks lead singer/ songwriter Josh Mazour offers a take on outlaw country populated by familiar tales of whiskey and hard lessons, avoiding cliche in part through his background in rock, which reveals itself throughout.
While there is nothing on here that even begins to approach the world of “country rock,” the music’s loud and sometimes noisy approach hints at a rock ‘n’ roll pulse beneath the banjos, mariachi horns and nods to Ennio Morricone spaghetti western soundtracks. Plus, Texas accordion legend Flaco Jimenez guests on “Heart Achin’ Town.”
(Antenna Farm Records)
On her new album, singer-songwriter Dana Falconberry drew her inspiration from memories of the Michigan peninsula, where she spent summers as a child. A collection of songs punctuated by short interludes (Falconberry calls them “songlets”), “Leelanau” brims with the poignant images of nature — a river runs, rain falls, birds sing.
I definitely wanted to make it bigger,” Falconberry said earlier this year. “I wanted it to be a stark contrast to things I had done before.”
dikes oF Holland
(Screamers Records) The Dikes of Holland sing and shout at you, not to you, and they do it fast, sometimes in unison, taking breaks in between to throw down gnashing rock riffs. The followup to 2010’s “Dikes of Holland,” “Braindead U.S.A.” finds the band a bit more focused while retaining the variety that comes from having more than one songwriter.
Closer “We Gotta Go” is a fantastic two minutes that sums up a lot of what is great about the band — a tipsy, supercatchy organ line, the whole band throwing in some vocals and a NSFW chorus.
a giant dog
(Tic Tac Totally)
A great big full-length from a great Austin garage rock quintet. Lead songwriters/singers Andrew Cashen and Sabrina Ellis, along with Graham Low (bass), Orville Neeley (drums) and Andy Bauer (guitar), rage and howl against the routine in 15 tracks that hover around two minutes each. “Yeah I wanna get drunk,” Cashen and Ellis sing on “Cowboy,” which takes off to space and back, while “Hunted Down” growls dizzily with a quiet scream in the background
From top, The Zoltars, A Giant Dog and Dana Falconberry