The Austin Music Community’s Best of 2017 Picks Pt. 2

Last year we started a tradition of reaching out to people in the Austin music community to find out what their favorite music was, globally and locally. We’re continuing that this year but we got so many responses we’ve decided to publish it in installments throughout the week, you can read the first part here. Today we continue with a line-up including local record label heads, pop stars, producers and more! And be sure to also check out our staff selections for best albums, songs, videos and photos!

Ryan Smith

(Yippee Ki Yay Records)

So for me, I kind of cheated. These are more releases, records, and songs that I personally kept coming back to and playing on my radio show in San Antonio– so more of favorites. All in all, there was a lot! So crafting this this was pretty tricky. I can’t wait for 2018 though, and I am very excited for Yippee Ki Yay Records to be in Austin.

Top 5 Songs of 2017

The Cowboys- “(If I) Laugh Enough”

I love this song. It’s just really quirky, goofy, and fun. Also, I got to see the Cowboys for the first time at some wild late night after show at 3am during the 2016 Good Vibrations Fest. They were super awesome, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Las Piñas- “Verano Dorado”

Sofia Cardich (guitar/vocals) and Antonela Périgo (drums/vocals) from La Plata just outside of Buenos Aires, Argentina are two of the most genuinely wonderful, friendly, and great people I’ve ever met. We did two releases together through Yippee Ki Yay, and for this EP they had vinyl pressed through a great label based out of New York and Monterrey, Mexico called Buen Dia Records. Everything about this song captures them well– bright, sunny, warm, and badass!

Kitchen People- “Communication Skills”

A friend of mine named Thibault touched on it in one of his best of lists over at his Still In Rock music blog, but there was just a prolific amount of insanely freaking kickass music made in Australia this year. It was almost impossible to keep up with all the stuff pouring off that continent. Kitchen People from Perth were one of my favorites of all these acts, and I kept returning to them and this song in particular. There’s nothing too ornate about it– it’s garage-punk with punchy whirlwinds up the alley of Ausmuteants. But it’s just so ding dang dern catchy. The whirlwind of synth at the 1:40 marks building into the bass breakdown moving toward the end of the song is impossible not to like! I really hope these folks make it to the US and Austin at some point, because I’m sure their live set would be wild.

Razorbumps- “Go With the Flow”

Razorbumps are from Denton, Texas. I’ve never seen them, but they’ve been one band in Texas I’ve been itching to see live at some point. They were just in Austin recently, but I missed them as I had to DJ a wedding. Anyway, this song is an advanced single of sorts for an album they’re coming out with next year. I’m not sure of the label, but they do run their own called Sarcophagus Club that has a pretty cool King Tut Mummy logo. So yeah, I love love love this track, these folks are pretty cool, and I can’t wait to hear the album!

The Vacant Lots- Night Nurse

I love twangy guitar licks, New-Wavey-ish post-punk, dancey synth tunes, and all kinds of psychedelic rock. This track from the Vacant Lots of New York melds all of that into one. It’s a hoot. The only small nitpick I have is that it fades out pretty quick just after 2:08. I wish it could be a little longer, but I suppose that’s why I’ve caught myself listening to it on repeat here and there throughout the year.

Top 5 Albums of 2017

Tall Juan- Olden Goldies

I LOVE TALL JUAN. All of these songs are very straightforward, just a handful of chords. But he blares through them on a small classical-acoustic guitar like a wild man! It’s been a staple in my little Nissan Versa traversing about San Antonio and Austin. I still haven’t seem him play live, but I can’t wait. He was going to play our Yippee Ki Yay showcase this year, but unfortunately he had to cancel as he couldn’t get back in time from Argentina I believe. He did play at the small stage at Stubb’s at some point in summer, but I missed that one because of a wedding I was DJing as well. My girlfriend knows me too well, and got this record for me for Christmas. It’s a gorgeous design, and will be spinning quite a bit in our apartment once we’re settled in!

Psychic Bloom- Psychic Bloom

So this album completely blew me away when I heard it, and I’ve been obsessed with it ever-since! Even more so because of the fact this band is from Tehran, Iran! Just a really great selection of airry, twangy, and deserty psych rock with a lot of Allah-Las and Mystic Braves-like sounds. I really hope they can make it to a festival like Levitation one day, but it is exponentially tricky because of the situation between our two governments. I really hope a solution can be found though, because I think music is a profoundly amazing tool for connecting people. We’ve been in contact, and it sounds like they are working on a way to make a trip here. I’m rooting for them big time.

Melenas- Melenas

Melenas are from Pamplona in Spain. I found them while doing some research for my radio show, and ended up doing in interview with them for my music blog called Proper Yarn prior to the release of their album in September. The record was lovely! Really great garage rock and pop punctuated by some cool interplay between the keys and guitar. I hope they can make it to the US at some point soon too!

Los Tones- What Happened

These guys from Sydney, Australia have been one of my favorite bands for a while, and I really loved this album. Lots of great fuzzy little riffs, and just an all around great rock record. Their Lisbon, Portugal based label Groovie Records is amazing, and I highly suggest people check them out too.

UV-TV – Glass 

Everything about this album just makes me happy, and they rocked super hard during their set at Limelight in San Antonio this past year. Really underrated, I think. “Only Matters When” is an especially good song, and “You’re High” was a really great song live. There’s just not a song on this album that’s “meh”, and it’s not all just frenetic rock n roll either. There’s a lot of different moments, and it’s one of those you can put on and just love it the whole time. It kind of became one of my default go to’s for shuffling between Austin and San Antonio on the I-35 corridor.

Top 5 Songs by Austin Artists

Leather Girls- “Card Catalog”

Soaked- “Finally”

Lake of Fire- “Julie”

Trouble Boys- “Street Noise”

Cheap Fur- “Get Loose”

Top 5 Albums by Austin Artists

Soaked- Don’t Wanna Wake Up Today

Leather Girls- Leather Girls

Kay Odyssey- What’s A Woman To Do

Xetas- The Tower

A Giant Dog- Toy

Favorite Austin Music Video of 2017

Trouble Boys “World War III”

Trouble Boys “World War III” was a hoot. I am pretty sure Industrial Light and Magic did the green-screen wizardry.

Favorite Austin Show of 2017

My friends Sofia and Antonela of Las Pinas came through Hotel Vegas this year. We did releases in 2015 and 2016, and they had just released a new EP with Buen Dia Records. It was so much fun catching up, and I’m so beyond happy for them that they’re continuing to work super hard and grow.

I actually JUST moved to Austin from SA, so I missed a lot of shows and events I would have liked to have seen ie: Saturnalia.

Of the number of acts I did see in Austin, I loved NOTS. Just a really great set at Hotel Vegas.

The Leather Girls release show was a lot of fun too!

Your music resolution for the New Year:

More LPs! We’ll be releasing Abjects from London, UK, and looking to work with more bands from Austin and Texas in general. It’s going to be  a fun year!

Acey Monaro

(Go Fever)

Go Fever

Top 5 Songs of 2017

Alvvays – “In Undertow” (but also Your Type, dammit)

Just a perfect break up anthem cloaked in happy hooks.

Car Seat Headrest- “War Is Coming If You Want It”

Will Toledo is one of my favourite contemporary lyricists and this song is the first time I’ve heard him tackle such a weighty subject matter. I’ve held my own songs up to his as a measure of wit and it’s a relief to see him exercise some unabashed earnestness.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “Sick Bug”

Played this on repeat for hours one day when I worked in this shitty vintage clothing/coffee shop on the east shop that was slowly causing my brain to rot. Customers complained.

Alex Cameron – “Country Figs”

This sounds like fucking Toto! C’mon.

Alex Cameron – “Stranger’s Kiss (ft. Angel Olsen)”

Nothing new out from Angel this year, so I’m gonna choose this classic sounding duet with AC.

Top 5 Albums of 2017

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings Soul Of A Woman

The most energetic live performer I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen James Brown and Bruce Springsteen, plus she was in between bouts of cancer), Sharon was a total icon. It’s crazy that she started recording so late in life, but I’m grateful for what she gave in that short amount of time- including this characteristically fierce posthumous album.

Alvvays- Antisocialites

Have been flogging this, it’s summery pop perfection. Reminds me a lot of Camera Obscura, who I adore.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – French Press

I saw them play at SXSW and went and bought it from Waterloo as soon as my hangover subsided. I hear all of my favourite Australian bands from the last 50 years in their sound (I keep talking about making a playlist- NY resolution).

Alex Cameron- Forced Witness

You know when someone is such a masterly artist that they can completely deconstruct an idiom to see how it works then recreate it, yet they retain absolute authenticity and heart? Yeah. This.

Jen Cloher – Jen Cloher

Jen has been killing it in the Melbourne music scene for like 20 years, and while it’s weird and frustrating to know that her recent success in the US is driven by her approximation to girlfriend Courtney Barnett, I’m still just stoked because she’s like an Australian Patti Smith. Whatever gets those old white men radio station Music Directors to pay attention, I guess.

Top 5 Songs by Austin Artists

Lola Tried – “San Marcos”

I remember the first time I heard this song- it was in August 2016, watching Lola Tried play live for the first time at Sidewinder. The chorus is so catchy and has pretty much been stuck in my head ever since.

Ali Holder “Ain’t Enough To Go Around”

It’s hard to choose just one song from Ali’s EP, but push come to shove, this is it. Huntress Moon is a concept record- all tracks are based on Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. Her voice is one of my favourites in Austin.

Little Mazarn – “My Love Is All Around You”

I cried the first handful of times I saw Lindsey Verrill play this live. Go buy the new record now, your quality of life will improve.

Magna Carda – “Bout It”

Megz Kelli is unbelievable. Such a badass, definitive voice and flow. I hope these guys blow up.

A. Sinclair – “Cars”

This song has such a great feel with those guitar jabs. Great driving music, ironically.

Top 5 Albums by Austin Artists

Croy And The Boys Hey Come Back

Country music is my first love, and Roger Miller and Tom T. Hall are two of my favourite male country stars. I think Corey Baum’s wit is a match for both, and he combines Miller’s tongue in cheek comedy with Hall’s working class social commentary.

TOMA – Aroma

These guys remind me a lot of Squeeze, who I reckon are all-time.

A Giant Dog Toy

I don’t really have to tell ya’ll.

XETAS The Tower

This album gives me serious angst in my pants. Just really, really good punk.

Sailor Poon- B Sides and Rarities

It’s not a Cake tribute, it’s fun as fuck punk.

Favorite Austin Music Video of 2017

Carry Illinois – “Electric Charm”

I *LOVE* this song so much, and this beautifully animated video starts with some kind of psychedelic looking vagina, so I was instantly a fan. This was a hard question, because we’re spoiled with great directors in town (Zack Scott and John Valley are my faves), but I love Yukai Du’s work in this.

Favorite Austin Show of 2017

Angel Olsen at the Moody/Sailor Poon at Cheer Ups

Your music resolution for the New Year

I’m gonna start making an effort to experience records more mindfully, instead of chucking them on in the car and listening in bursts, or putting them on the turntable in my bedroom then answering emails or picking up the paper or looking at my phone. I really want to go back to how I first experienced albums as a teenager- laying on the floor, pouring over the album art and lyrics, or with eyes closed. Weed: optional.

Looking at my obvious picks, I also realize that I need to get my head out of my arse and seek out more new music rather than have it come to me via radio or social media.

Colton Fergurson

(Secret Levels, Space Camp Death Squad)

Hey it’s Colton, your friendly neighborhood rapper!

Top 5 albums of 2017

5. Bjork Utopia

I’m 35 years old, It’s a Bjork album, how can I not love this? Honestly though, on a technical tip, how the fuck do you go about recording an album like this? It’s like my ears are on acid.

4. Eminem Revival

This is my favorite album to shit on in 2017. That Ed Sheeran song! Ed Sheeran is so red headed that his red headed step son beats him.

3. Vijay Iyer Sextet Far From Over

What, You didn’t know? Yes. I’m an intellectual bad boy with exquisite taste.

2. Open Mike Eagle Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

I needed a new hip hop album that made me feel good again. This is the one. Come by Epoch Coffee on North Loop at 3 am and I’ll be banging this joint.

1. Kendrick Lamar Damn.

The homey Protextor and I rode around LA listening to Damn. That is the recommended way to extract the full flavor of this album. Later that night we watched La La Land (we didn’t.)

Favorite Austin Show 2017

CupcakKe at Mohawk w/LNS Crew, Scuare, Magna Carda, Space Camp Death Squad w/Bird Peterson, and Wallaby and Bobbes

Okay, you might be saying “hey Colton didn’t the rap group that you’re in Space Camp Death Squad play that show?” Well, yes we did because we’re dope, alright. But that’s not the main reason it was my favorite show of 2017. I was just pumped to see a really diverse crowd full of LGBTQ kids, not just the smelly ass rap crowd. I’ll bet no one at the CupcakKe show would’ve stolen my skateboard. Fuck rap shows.

Charlie Faye

(Charlie Faye & the Fayettes)

Top 5 Albums of 2017 

Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song 

I had started to think that Dan Auerbach’s entire charm was his production aesthetic, which of course has always been super cool, and which he’s employed in similar ways on most of the records he’s worked on. But this new solo record of his is a whole different thing. The songs are fantastic, the production is a beautiful departure from his previous work, and I think it’s a great example of how a singer-songwriter record can be really current.

Bill Demain – Transatlantic Romantic 

Bill is one of my favorite songwriters around, and the self-production of his latest album adds him to my list of favorite producers as well. Think laid back power pop with a retro vibe, and songs that feel like they’re straight out of a modern-day Brill Building.

Jim Lauderdale – London Southern

Produced by Neil Brockbank, longtime friend and producer of my favorite dude Nick Lowe, this might just be the best album Lauderdale has ever made. The whole thing has a “London Soul” vibe to it.

JD McPherson – Undivided Heart and Soul

He’s done it again. JD McPherson has made another fantastic record, one that maybe just tops the first two. And this time, the retro rockabilly vibe meets some more modern sounds.

INSTANT LOVE – Songs Between Women

Though not technically an “album”, this compilation of songs is new this year, and I keep coming back to listen to it over and over again. It’s a digital-only compilation of women singing classic love songs about women. But don’t think Lilith Fair — this is not that. The compilation includes gorgeous creative productions including “Don’t Worry Baby,” performed by Rachel Fannan, and “Crazy Love,” performed by Irma Thomas.

Top 4 Albums by Austin Artists  

Suzanna Choffel – Hello Goodbye 

One of my favorite albums of the year, no doubt. Choffel has always put out great records, but this time around she found the perfect creative co-consiprator in producer David Boyle. The album is soulful and sexy, with just the right amount of pop songwriting sensibility.

Kalu & The Electric Joint Time Undone

This album came out at the very tail of of the year, and honestly just blew my socks off. I’ve always been a fan of Kalu’s, but he’s taken things to a whole new level with this album.

ALL ATX – Back to the Armadillo 

I know, this isn’t technically an album by an Austin artist, rather, an album full of Austin artists for the benefit of Austin artists. It’s all incredible cover versions of songs by artists who played the Armadillo World Headquarters — and that range is wide; Leopold and His Fiction gives us a cool new take on Roy Orbison’s “Only the Lonely”, and A. Sinclair does a version of Eric Clapton’s “Bell Bottom Blues” that almost beats the original.

Stephen Doster – New Black Suit  

Oh, Stephen Doster. Every record he makes is loaded with incredible songs and beautiful production, and this one is no different. Doster is a great producer of other artists, but he’s at his best producing his own material. His talents as a producer and songwriter are really unparalleled in this town.

Favorite Austin Show of 2017

Austin Music Foundation’s Artist Development Showcase at 3Ten ACL LIVE

It seemed like the entire Austin music industry was in the audience that night to see short sets by the seven bands in AMF’s new Artist Development Program. Austin Music Foundation is a staple to the local music community, providing educational services to Austin’s musicians and industry, so it was no surprise that the night was well-organized, entertaining, chock-full of great music, and a total lovefest.

Your music resolution for the New Year 

To make the best album I’ve ever made, and have Charlie Faye & The Fayettes’ sophomore album be on somebody else’s best-of list next year! 😉

Kady Rain

(pop star)

Kady RainTop 5 Songs of 2017:

Ci Majr – “#CuffinSZN”

This song really hit me when I first heard it. My initial instinct was that this girl has melody for days and a voice that does it justice. Her ability to craft a natural sounding melody makes it seem so effortless, but I’m experienced enough as a pop songwriter to know that this she’s grinding out there.

Wet – “All the Ways (Branchez Remix)”

If you want a song that will grab you the moment the vocals come in, boy have I got a song for you. 🙂

SZA – “Love Galore”

I don’t know if you can really say anything about this song that hasn’t already been said, and sometimes that’s all the introduction you need.

Passion Pit – “Hey K”

I’ve never heard a melody move like the chorus of this song. I don’t think Passion Pit is the type of band that can really thrive in the major label environment and Michael Angelakis would agree with me on that. He stepped away from the role of commercial artist and major labels in general this year and the album that “Hey K” is from is the result of that split. You can hear someone going through inner turmoil and battling with some complex emotions, even if Angelakis is at times his usual bubbly self.

Demi Lovato – “Sorry Not Sorry”

Pop and EDM have practically become one genre in a lot of ways right now but Demi Lovato is preaching the gospel of pop music and I love her. GOALS. Demi’s 2017 has been pretty epic, with “Sorry not Sorry” and “No Promises” both being absolutely massive hits.

Top 5 Songs by Austin Artists:

BVRNOUT & KROMATICS – “Follow Your Heart ft. Caddence Ludden”

This song is about as good as a mixture of Pop and Trap can be, mixing in some future bass in the drop. Not only is the song great, but they got it premiered on TrapNation, which is no mean feat!

Noah Neiman & Jay Bombay – “Long Way Home ft. Laci Kay”

Okay, so this song to me has the best Pop/EDM drop of the year. I mean it! Noah is crushing it right now and just recently did an official remix for The Chainsmokers if you’ve ever heard of them.

V A S S H – “So Easily…”

Welp, if you haven’t heard this track I don’t want to ruin it for you. Just make sure you’ve got some good headphones on.

Dreamers Delight – “Swirls ft. Cloudchord”

Pure atmosphere meets cool beats and wild synths. Go on a journey. Take this song with you.

MIDDLESPOON – “Lightning Bug”

Grooving around the house is kind of my jam. So by the transitive property of grooving, this song is also my jam.

Musical Resolutions:

In 2017 we did nearly a million plays total across all platforms and I still can’t wrap my head around that number! At the beginning of 2017 we thought we could do 100k plays across two platforms, that was the goal. But we researched release strategies and promotional methods for the first four months of this year and it really changed our careers. At the end of 2016, we we’re doing 80 plays/week and now we’re doing 140k plays a month!!!

The goal for 2018 is 35 million streams. That’s a big, scary number. But we’re committed to doing it. We’ve got a few tracks that are going to be distributed by some labels which is v exciting!!! Also, we’re going to attempt to release one song a month, and maybe one song every two week by the end of 2018.