Alt Rock

Levitiation: Emma Ruth Rundle Bangs Heavy Folk at Empire

  

 

From one night to the other during Levitation, the scene at Empire tonight feels drastically different but also the same. It’s still dark but dark rock, instead of dark wave dance, as Empire hosts a ticket of Sargent House Presents.

 

Emma Ruth Rundle is the penultimate performance of the indoor stage. The psychedelic grayscale light illustrations blanket over her body and guitar while the autumn breeze blows in feathering her bangs. Her silhouette is reminiscent of a young Stevie Nicks but her sound is uniquely her own. While the other bands of the evening fall on the heavy side of the spectrum, Rundle finds herself between metal and ethereal. Her voice soars from her trachea like a free bird or prey as she plays the goth folk anthem, “Shadows of My Name.”

 

The vibe of the night pivots beneath an undercurrent of rock as the heavy pull of her guitar and the war drum cadence of “Fever Dreams” spellbinds the audience into an amorphous bobbing of heads and knocking of knees. The subsequent song “Darkhorse” from her 2018 album, On Dark Horses, closes the set and seals the venue in a new covenant. With fests every weekend in Austin, one might forget that this is fucking Levitation fest and not just a regular Friday night on 7th street. The covenant of Emma Ruth Rundle makes this evening at Empire a timeless place of memory blessed by the deities of goth folk n roll in which we can return. Levitation isn’t every weekend, but you can still levitate daily and harness the residual energy and adrenaline of the festival.

 

-Mel Green

   

Levitation: Kurt Vile Puts Austin in a Daze

  

Kurt Vile takes the stage at Stubbs casually and cool. His presence is always welcome in Austin, looking like someone you might bump into at the grocery store in Hyde Park with his long dark hair in his face and disheveled plaid shirt. His last show in town was December 2018 at Moody Theatre. The set list is similar to the last show here, playing mostly songs off his 2018 album Bottle It In, but it’s always refreshing to float along with his on and on lyricism and dreamy chord progressions.

The band opens the show with “Loading Zones.” Vile stakes his position as “a mayor of some godforsaken town.” The song’s story builds up to a repeated mantra: “I park for free,” because, yes, parking for free is the defining perk and achievement of political office. Imagine parking for free in Austin…I wonder if you can. 

There’s not much chat between songs as the band mellowly eases into each song. Of course, the audience lost it and sang along when Vile played “Pretty Pimpin’,” the hit that earned him significant cred back in 2015.

Wakin’ On a Pretty Day” - the 10 minute ballad of loafing and loving on a pretty day - would have been the highlight of the show if not for the encore featuring the guitar player of Dinosaur Jr. Clouds of smoke puff into the dark atmosphere above, and the audience bobs and sways as Vile’s mumbly articulation of the song draws you into a new state of day: “Wakin’ on a pretty day, don’t know why I ever go away. It’s hard to explain my love in this daze.” Try playing this song first thing in the morning and just see what happens - maybe you’ll have a pretty daze, whatever that looks like for you.

Vile and the band brought up J Mascis from Dinosaur Jr to encore with the song of “Hunchback,” from Vile’s 2009 album Childish Prodigy. It was a playful, dreamy song to close the weekend of shows at Stubbs, with both grown men singing about being hunchbacks “floppin an flippin around like fish on the street/floppin an flippin around like a fish along the sand.” 

The band exits the stage, the stage lights come on and the crew starts breaking down. Some of the crowd will go off to the last of the Levitation shows, but some will go home and get ready for a return to their subjective reality. Levitation is its own reality for scenes and subcultures of Austin, and the Fest was an excuse to show up, look hot, and hear great music.

- Mel Green

   

Premiere: Historian releases “Witchhazel” off forthcoming LP

The Deli is pleased to premiere “Witchhazel,” the new single off Historian’s forthcoming LP, Distractions. The Los Angeles-based psych rock band is always experimenting with sounds and distortions. “Witchhazel” grows and reverberates and glides through the room with some major Deerhunter moments. Chris Karman’s rich vocals call like an incantation and the tune is reminiscent of Magnetic Fields, with experimental realist pop vibes. Distractions will be released on January 17th 2020. -Michelle Kicherer, Associate Editor

   

Copyslut's latest video "Maker's Mark"

Oakland-based queer band Copyslut released their video for "Maker's Mark" this fall. The song is about "...inherited trauma, sparking its inspiration from one of the most famous oral legends in Mexican folklore: 'La Llorona.' Filled with healing pleasure and queer artistic celebration, the music video takes its audience from the streets of the trans district in San Francisco into a world and culture they push to make possible..." The sexified cabaret video is dark and captivating accompaniment to the song and we will leave it up to your viewing pleasure. -Lucille Faulkner

   

Office Culture get cozy on “A Life of Crime,” play Elsewhere 11.20

New York soft-rock quartet Office Culture liken the experience of listening to their new record to “walking into a beloved old bar in a neighborhood where you no longer live,” but it is more comparable (in this reviewer’s opinion” to a comfortable, rainy Sunday night spent at home, away from the clamor of city streets. Throughout their new LP A Life of Crime, clean synths, an easygoing percussive drive, the occasional wailing horn, and singer Winston Cook-Wilson’s laissez-faire vocal delivery congeal to embed the entire record with a relaxed energy, but there’s never a dull moment. From the moody instrumental interplay on tracks like “Diamonds” and “Hard Times in the City,” to the playful bop of “Home on High” and “Parade,” Office Culture lay down a steady groove that will immediately resonate with fans of classic pop rock outfits like Steely Dan or more contemporary fusion-focused groups like Parcels and Whitney. Stream it below, and catch them on November 20th at Elsewhere supporting Wild Nothing. —Connor Beckett McInerney