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LNS Crew Brings the Spring Heat to Austin

If you were looking for the mysterious proverbial “fire” that supposedly resides in so many hip-hop mixtapes, you might think the shit is just myth. Most mixtapes are…well, they wouldn’t help much on a cold day, let’s say that. Not so with local LNS Crew’s new mixtape, which packs enough heat to stop a decent sized blizzard. LNS Mixtape Vol. 2 is the goods from three of Austin’s (okay, Denver now, in the case of Cory Kendrix) hip-hop veterans, a series of 21 tracks which feature a rotating cast of Kendrix, Kydd Jones and Tank Washington showing off their undeniable skills at producing and rapping. It’s just April, but this release is assuredly going to sit near if not at the top of the list of ATX hip-hop releases from 2015 when December rolls into January, and that’s why we’ve nominated LNS Crew for our Artist of the Month poll. Music below, and get yer votin’ finger a good workout to the right y’all.

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TØMA

Pyschpop outfit TØMA has just gone and done nice by us local-music obsessed folks by releasing their new EP in its entirety online at their Bandcamp prior to the full album release, which is a'goin' down at Holy Mountain on March 27. It's a mix of sounds modern and nostalgic, a bit Of Montreal and a bit of The Zombies, and it all combines into straight-up, good indie rock earworm fun. For those of you fully into the psych thing, you'll get yer fix here, but this EP also owes a good deal to the 2000s indie scene, like track "Live Forever" that invokes nice memories of when The Strokes were the biggest thing that'd happened in a damn while or "Heartstrings" that has some very Vampire Weekend guitar goin' on. It's solid, superbly enjoyable indie music from the Austin scene, and you can get the whole thing bangin' around in your brain below.

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The Digital Wild

Austin’s premier radio station KUTX (98.9 on the digital dial) recently announced the lineup for somethin’ pretty damn great, and pretty damn Austin, in the form of the Live Vibe Collective presented KUTX Live free all ages concert series. Completely unsurprisingly, this event that happens at local meat n’ booze establishment Uncle Billy’s is particularly well-curated. Frequent visitors to The Deli might notice Hard Proof and Keeper on that list, our own 2014 #36 and #3 finishers, respectively, in The Deli’s Best of 2014 for this city.

Another name you should most certainly get familiar with from KUTX’s event before you head out to yet more free music (goddamn we are so spoiled guys) is the act ushering in the whole shebang with the first series in the concert. That’d be deep electronic pop act The Digital Wild, who are opening the series on April 5.

To prep ya for these exciting events here’s a bit from the most recent output from The Digital Wild, a group that fits as well into the indie camp as it does the beat-based in the Austin scene. The track is called “Around,” and anyone who ever dug Portishead’s early shit will find something immediately attractive in the slowed down, souled up sound here. The song is without a doubt a sultry pop hip-hop track, a quality that owes much to lead singer Chantell Moody’s alluring elfin voice that has a slight, engaging tinge of someplace cold in Europe to it. But, there’s also an element of cabaret lounge smokiness to “Around,” something especially heard in the slinking, wailing horns whose wavering, off-kilter style has a kinda “Life in Glass Houses” by Radiohead feel going on. That kind of genre blending and bending is The Digital Wild’s wheelhouse, something they do not just well, but seamlessly.

“Around” is just the latest addition to the small but growing digital pile of terrific tracks The Digital Wild has been putting out for about a year now, and it bodes nothing but well for the upcoming concert series. Start whetting that musical appetite now with “Around,” and check out one or five of the KUTX Live events happening soon.

Your Plastic Toys

The term “Poser Pop” shows up sometimes in the words Austin’s future-leaning Your Plastic Toys have written about themselves. Check their online shit, and you’ll see those two words more than once, those two descriptors that aren’t really a genre as such, but more a stance by Your Plastic Toys on their own place in music. In our estimation, the idea is that Your Plastic Tree poses at pop, refusing to make the standard plays while still fully playing a pop game. They are as art-aware as they are pop-aware as they are experimentally on point, and their music is at once a serious approach to pop music making and a bit of a mockery of the pop that’s already out there (in the fine tradition of acts like Talking Heads, The Fugs, or the very contemporary PC Music label out of the UK). A band that views the pop rulebook through half-broke virtual reality goggles.

In that same vein, you’ll also see a lot of abstractions and hyper-modern shit on Your Plastic Toys’ various web profiles, like glitchy saturated pixel-heavy images created by the band itself, short thoughts and quotes decoupled from their source and presented as something to be considered on their own, and not a single clear photo of the band to be found. This digital obfuscation of the band, its image, its motives, its views, evokes a highly modern feeling of existing in a never ending swirl of bit-noise and net fuzz, and it’s exactly what Your Plastic Toys’ sound is like.

On the just-released album OOO, shoegaze-gone-modern swells and currents of sound layer over tight digital beats and the vocals are threaded in and out heavily tweaked and disaffected, sometimes even disdainfully so (to great effect, it must be made clear). Your Plastic Toys comes through like a band seen and heard through a diabolical storm of TV snow on a channel that’s shakily fading in and out of a 1990s tube TV in a busted up apartment with a courtyard pool in the summer. It’s music that rides on that bright burning edge of culture just curling out from the future and into the present, and that throws back a tech-addled vision of what it sees to those still lingering in the cultural past. Take a listen to one of Austin's most forward-thinking bands below, and inject their entire new album here.

Redeye

Ominous guitar and bass start off the newest track from Redeye, an Austin act that straddles the line between indie pop with a folk bent and full on alt-country, but "Sleepwalk" quickly turns hopeful, if also a bit stark. It's a track about hope, in fact, and it wonders whether someone will be there for the singer in rough times they seem sure are coming. Redeye caps the lovely and heart-tweaking track with the poignant image of this hoped-for ally being "A fragile light I’ll picture always/A fire burning in the snow," and this attention to scenery and mood are central to the artist's sound.

Going from this track and a few other clips released, like this one that features track "Dryland," the upcoming third album "The Memory Layers" by Redeye (set to be released in April) looks like it will fit ideally into the Texas alt-country/folk canon. It hits that key requirement of also fitting so well into the sweeping, heat-affected spirit of Texas itself, and it's not hard to imagine the swelling fiddles and Redeye's twanging, yet not exactly country voice accompanying a long road trip across this state, even moreso for the vivid imagery conjured in each song. This album should be quite good, not only for Redeye himself's work, but also for the impressive list of artists who have also had a hand in it, including folks who have been members of or worked with groups in the past like the Polyphonic Spree, Midlake, Black Angels, Dana Falconberry, and Baptist Generals. That kind of quality roster attached to the unquestionable talent of Redeye will have a hard time creating anything but a good record, and if you'd like to be one of the first to get it in your ears, listen to "Sleepless" below and get to Redeye's show at The Mohawk with Bee Caves on April 18 for good, Texan music.

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