In continuation of our countdown of the best music coming out of Austin in 2011, we here at Ovrld wanted to give you a taste of some of the great stuff artists are putting out in the shorter formats: EPs, 7 inches, split records and more. We’re really fans of these formats because they can give you a quick snapshot of what a band is all about, what sound they are pursuing and what’s to come from them in the future. This year we saw some great EP releases from new bands and also had a chance to hear established bands try something different on shorter releases. We’ll be following up this first run of EPs throughout the week culminating with the top 5 Austin EPs on Friday.
The Coast of Nebraska, originally hailing from New York, recently made their trek down to our hometown and got right to work on putting out their breed of synthed-up pop rock. Seemingly they enjoy the shorter format of the EP just like us. The band has tasked themselves with putting out an EP every month for the next 12 months. This is definitely a sizable task – almost as formidable as the 50 states project. The Coast of Nebraska with this project have already put out a couple very interesting EPs starting back in October with Dark Signals.
It’s great to catch a new band on it’s way up and to be able to claim that you got there first isn’t it? Well, after listening to Hello Caller’s demo, which is filled with great brooding folk rock, we could definitely see this band blowing up in the future. Hello Caller’s demo establishes them as talented songwriters that know how to craft songs that pack a punch. Emotional, biting and unexpected, Hello Caller’s songs are a joy to weary ears. Listen for the cello and xylophone arrangements in their folk rock tunes.
Upon first listen to this loud and raucous 7 inch, we felt kind of overwhelmed. But a couple listens later and we were enamored. Cartright play an explosion of sound that takes you down a tumbling path of unexpected delicate piano melodies followed by raw vocals and huge drums. Backing the title track is a delightfully layered song “Curtains” which wraps up the 7 inch in a strong way. Take a listen to Jass Song, and hold on to your ass. We guarantee you’ve never heard anything like it.
The two classically trained musicians that make up BK & Mr. E harken back to the days of new wave but with a contemporary synthed and FX’d up twist. At the same time retro and futuristic, BK & Mr. E make the type of dance music that current dance moves just don’t do justice. With their latest EP, BK & Mr. E have successfully infused some P-Funk into the mix. Highlights from Company Front include “Sand” and “Different Strokes” – the bookends of the EP.
Deliciously sinister, Bali Yaaah’s debut EP mixes up fuzzy synths with sweeping guitars, syncopated rhythms and hypnotic bass lines. Described as a love child between Velvet Underground and Depeche Mode, Bali Yaaah create danceable art rock. This one’s a must hear.
Half of this 7 inch already made it into our top 50 songs countdown at #49 but since “My Little Sugary Friend,” the backing track, is also a very enjoyable song, La Snacks has definitely earned a spot in the top 25 short format releases of the year. “My Little Sugary Friend” follows through on “Christ Sakes and Milkshakes” by highlighting La Snacks’ strong songwriting through trim instrumentation and excellent lyrics. Pick up the 7 inch if you’re looking for La Snacks in great form.
On the Ghost Dance EP, you’ll hear horns layered over electronic blips, harmonized vocals over dark cello tones, vibraphone melodies over distorted bass lines and more. [paperthreat] have a penchant for experimentation but they never alienate the listener and on this, their second EP, they guide us through their explorations of both ambient tones and tasty melodies. Ghost Dance was one of those EPs that leave us wanting more, despite it being a lengthy EP at six songs.
Similarly to [paperthreat], FM Campers are not afraid to veer toward the experimental. With a mix of noise rock and electro, FM Campers have crafted an EP that, although the main sonic element is electronic noise, is at times catchy. Brooding and expansive, FM Campers’ sound on the EP builds up to exhilirating crescendos that almost have a sing along quality.
On Flesh, No Mas Bodas have crafted a really fascinating sound. At times it reminds us of Wendy Carlos’ orchestrations on synth and at other times we hear more of a trip-hop influence. Coupled with Kristina Boswell’s strong vocals, this EP kept us at the edge of our seats with its cinematic quality and mesmerizing beats. The Flesh EP is another must hear of 2011.
This past year has seen a strong resurgence of electro-influenced bands in Austin, but this two-piece, with their raw sound and refusal to layer up their instruments, stayed closer to the roots of Texas music. Their gritty blues at times sound like punk with an aggressive tone and heavy distortion and that’s just fine with us.