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.
Brown vs. Board – “Kashmir Cypress”
A beatmaker from the Stones Throw school of dusty, anonymous samples, Brown vs. Board is a mysterious but strong newcomer in the ever expanding Austin instrumental hip-hop scene. Board’s brand new in(correct)ions EP shows off the artist’s ability to recall but not be bogged down by hip-hop classicism, but it’s the preceding EP Plant Science that I’m playing the most. Merging that Stones Throw style with a Warp sensibility, Plant Science stands in sharp relief to the more traditional instrumental tracks you normally hear in Austin. “Kashmir Cypress” is the best of the bunch, with its chimey electric piano sample and an alien vocal loop that brings to mind Crystal Castles’ HEALTH remixes. Vibrant and unique, “Kashmire Cypress” is a glimpse at an optimistic future where Austin hip-hop takes that Keep Austin Weird shit seriously and ends up all the better for it.
Critter-bahn – “Memorize”
I don’t know much about Critter-bahn other than the fact that like so many of their Austin peers, they have a taste for awful album art and an even more awful name. Beyond those two traits, though, Critter-bahn sound unlike the vast majority of Austin indie rock due to a sound that hints at an alternate reality where Postcard Records didn’t implode and instead lasted long enough to feature a roster that pillaged as much from Built to Spill as it did Nick Drake. “Memorize” is probably the track that symbolizes this the best on Critter-bahn’s Big Organic. Flanked by dueling guitar lines dialed in from a lost Cap’n Jazz track, “Memorize” only gets odder once the baritone vocals emerge and force the Edwyn Collins comparison. But the melody on “Memorize” is dreamier than anything Collins did during Orange Juice’s prime; less breathless than “Rip It Up” and more self-assured than “Falling and Laughing,” this is a stylishly cocky slice of indie pop. Critter-bahn may be unapologetically cribbing a still controversial era of UK indie, but it’s not like anyone in the Austin scene has the Postcard back catalog on their radar at the moment and that lack of oversaturation makes Big Organic a much needed breath of fresh air in a scene that can’t seem to shake the ghosts of SST and Nuggets. I don’t know if Critter-bahn are even a performing band, but I sure hope they are, I’ve got a sneaking suspicion their flair for dry, somber wit translates well in the right venue.
Brushwick Jack – “Amor”
Veering wildly between from-the-gutters melodic storytelling of the Kinks and the folksy stomp of so many en vogue Austin acts, Brushwick Jack’s “Amor” is a curious anomaly. The Jenga-like approach to song construction in “Amor” should make it a train wreck, but somehow Brushwick Jack pull it all off, no matter how much it say seem the song is dangerously close to toppling throughout its nearly three and a half minute runtime. The slightly off, highly twee double tracked acoustic guitars of the verses merely hint at the rollicking barroom swing the song eventually builds towards, while Dillon Newton’s loose delivery serves as a distraction from the cleverly complex lyrics of the song. Newton could stand to be more restrained as a songwriter, and his other material indicates he could use an editor, but “Amor” is a fun tease of where Brushwick Jack may eventually go.