From Our Living Room to Yours 8: The Best of Austin Bandcamp

By Nick Hanover


Each week, we’re showcasing three mostly unknown Austin acts we’ve discovered on Bandcamp (or Soundcloud), in the hopes of bringing them From Our Living Room to Yours.

Johnson City – “This Sick Feeling”

For the sake of this column, I click on every single thing that pops up on the Austin tag of Bandcamp, even when the cover art is atrocious and I’m reasonably certain the music will be as well. So I always appreciate being pleasantly surprised, as is the case with Johnson City. With a selfie for album art and a Lady Gaga-puke green backdrop, Johnson City’s Crazy Cloud looks like a hot mess, but the EP starts off perfectly with “This Sick Feeling,” an appropriately Austin take on Spiritualized. There’s a wonderful simplicity at the heart of “This Sick Feeling,” with the lush orchestration and kitchen sink instrumentation all working in service of a melody that feels like it’s been stuck in your head all your life – you just never noticed before. Featuring a guitar line that recalls “24 Hours from Tulsa”-era Gene Pitney, “This Sick Feeling” is shoegaze pop with a western edge and a fluid, straightforward beat. The bulk of Crazy Cloud is similarly full and memorable, but “This Sick Feeling” is a perfect lead off track, the kind that beckons you back over and over. I’m not sure if Johnson City is a solo project or a full band, but I hope Johnson City lines up shows soon, because I’ve got a sneaking suspicion the band really comes to life in a live environment.

Oz Davidson – “Growers and Showers”

Oz Davidson’s “Growers and Showers” single is a promising if somewhat ramshackle track, full of personality in its Unicorns-like riffing and Davidson’s charming, twangy voice, which has a touch of Devendra Banhart to it. Though it’s anchored by a looping, repetitive beat, Davidson’s guitar playing is full of energy and surprising shifts, flashy without being masturbatory, gifted without coming across as smug. Davidson is confident enough in his singing and playing to put both at the forefront, avoiding the breathy sentimentality and quaintness that holds even some of the best known Austin folk acts back; it’s not often that a singer-songwriter comes along who can double as a guitar hero, and Davidson’s double tracked guitar makes it clear he’s a tour de force. On “Growers and Showers,” Davidson also doesn’t take himself too seriously, with his lyrics going the route not of the melodramatic murder ballad or gimmicky retro theatrics but instead delivering clever wordplay and self-awareness. Better production and the right band could make Davidson an artist to look out for.

Joseph Average – “Gone”

Instrumental hip-hop is turning into an Austin specialty lately, as labels like Graveyard Orbit and Eric Dingus’ Dream Sequence are churning out an eclectic array of releases documenting multiple facets of the scene. But under the radar acts like Joseph Average are putting out some of the best work in the micro-genre, with the duo’s “Gone” showcasing a great blend of Flying Lotus and Stonesthrow influences. Utilizing a soulful sample of the title for a hook, over its more than four minute running time “Gone” hops between glitchy minimalism and more fleshed out electro-R&B, even working in what sound like some porn samples at one point. But the best parts of “Gone” are when the beat drops to a low simmer and an earhooky synth lead comes in to play with the main vocal sample. Joseph Average could stand to work in some more old school synths as the Ableton sound that dominates the synth track leans a little close to the edge of cheesy, but there’s a lot to love in this track nonetheless.