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March 2016
My Gold Mask
"Anxious Utopia
"
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Gretta Rochelle and Jack Armondo working on the dark electro-pop sound of My Gold Mask since 2009. On their latest album, dropping today, March 4th, on Moon Sounds Records, Anxious Utopia, the duo may have finally found perfection. It may be the addition of James Andrews on production, but most of the songs on the album were written by Armondo and Rochelle. This album is a mixture of dance pop in the vain of Carly Rae Jepsen and dark gothic pop of Siouxsie Sioux. Rochelle is powerful and commanding through out with Armondo and Andrews providing her driving and infectious club ready tracks. Anxious Utopia is My Gold Mask clearly firing on all cylinders.


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A Witchy Track from Tele Novella

Tele Novella was one of our nominees for The Deli Austin Emerging Austin Artist of 2014 poll (full results soon to come, so keep your eyes out), and we realized that we had made the grave oversight of never posting on this dynamic ATX band that’s a bit of a supergroup.

Tele Novella’s roster is made up of parts of the split-up bands Voxtrot and Agent Ribbons, both from Austin and each with its own substantial following, plus keyboardist Sarah La Puerta. Where Agent Ribbons was a band with a lighthearted, gently experimental indiepop sound, and Voxtrot was part of the early 2000s indie-rock-that-gets-dancy scene, Tele Novella is an entirely new sound from these musicians. It’s a moodier, retro-conscious approach to indie pop, and the lyrics tend toward odd, off-kilter storytelling and imagery. If you can imagine music that’s tailor-made for a desert scene in a Tarantino film, you’re not far off much of what Tele Novella does.

Of course, there’s much more to this band, which sometimes gets poppier than that description, but under their always-complex arrangements rides an obvious knowledge and nod to the American past, both musically and otherwise. You can tell just from listening that these are people with large record collections, or who at the least would know their way around one. Taking that level of musical knowledge and producing enjoyable music that takes it into account can be a hard trick to pull off, but Tele Novella is nothing if not thoroughly enjoyable. The instrumentation is fun and full of exciting turns, singer Natalie Ribbons’ voice is gripping and dynamic, the harmonies are tight and interesting, and the overall result is smart and undeniably listenable.

Their debut album is said to be in the works, and Tele Novella is set to play Holy Mountain with The TonTons and Wild Moccasins on February 12.

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Alta Violet

Well, it doesn't happen often that a band you're researchin' changes names part way through your looking into 'em, but that's exactly what happened when I started digging into Alta Violet, formerly known as Sweet Shine. But hey, young band, they can still get away with a moniker jump or two.

Alta Violet is Austin psych-indie with some real variety to the few tracks they've put out so far. Where I hear Death from Above 1979's pounding fuzzed-out bass and, interestingly, a bit of a schoolkid rhyming thing (which some other early 2000s bands got into for a bit) in track "Stare at the Sun," and "Emily in the Rain" is just pure 90s alt-rock, "I've Seen the World" is a song with its head fully in the 1960s harmonic folk-psych scene. This diversity of sound over three available tracks (preludes to an announced album, according to the info) that each manage to hit the genre target they aim for makes Alta Violet a band to watch out for. If they can make this all work together in a whole album, and maybe keep blending up the different influences they pull from, they could end up being a major local player at Psych Fest next time that thing comes around. Let's just hope to whatever lung gods are out there that it's a less dusty stage that Alta Violet sets up on than we got this last year. Goddamn that dust to hell. Check the heaviest available track from Alta Violet below, and get on over to their Soundcloud for the other noises this very new band can make.

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The Deli (the Producer, Not the Magazine)

We in the posting-about-cool-shit-online business have a term for some objects of our posting attention. That term is "super-ridiculous-slamdunk." Well, okay, yes; I might be the only one using that term (for now). But, finding a killer hip-hop producer out of Austin called The Deli (Twitter//Soundcloud) when you are yourself a music website out of Austin called The Deli, is a superdamnridiculousslamdunk, I think you can agree.

The Deli's beats are smooth and creamy; they come at you like a room slowly filling with gold champagne, liquid and bright and soaking you up to your head in good feelings. The sampling and switches are clever, and use their influences with aplomb: I especially love the retro lo-fi vocal samples used to provide mood in tracks like "#shareair," which has a kinda 60s TV theme thing goin' on that gets chopped up nicely into contemporary as fuck hip-hop. The silky jazz instrumentals and what sounds like a sample from a pitched-down, slowed-up Latin track in another new The Deli joint, "1Luv," are the kind-of samples that get me to automatically stop what I'm doing to close my eyes for a sec and start the head-nodding.

Get meta with us today and let us slice you off a couple pounds of The Deli here at The Deli. Here's a track that's about as new as new can get (9 hours old, at this posting). This one's The Deli producing beats for East Coast spitter NA$TY, and we've got this track (which is already blowin' up) all wrapped up and ready for you to take with you out the door. Have a nice one, and come on back in when you're ready for more. The Deli will get you sorted.

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Take a Walk at Night, and Listen to The Division Men

It’s pretty damn easy to do singer-songwriter acoustic stuff badly. When you cut out almost all of the instruments and voices from a potential song, the restricted format you’re left with can lead to all sorts of issues. Not the least of these oft-seen issues with the format are making songs that are too simple, songs that are too confessional without being interesting or songs that feature that annoyingly common tendency for people to “weird up” their voice to stand out.

The Division Men don’t trigger any of these warning bells. In fact, this acoustic pair writes deadly lullabies with just (for the most part) two guitars and their voices, and what comes out is dark music for dark nights. And it’s just good. Their compositions are brooding and manage complexity despite the pared-down format, and the vocal contrast of husband J. Spencer Portillo’s deep baritone with wife Caroline Rippy Portillo’s floating, hyper-airy vocals fits perfectly within the methodical, plodding structures of their instrumentation. It’s lovely night music for night moods, and if I could, I’d suggest walking your neighborhood in the small dark hours while you let it play around in your head. It makes for an evening that’s somber in just the right way, which is not a bad way to describe this duo in general. Get listening.

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Borrisokane

We last covered Borrisokane over two years ago, and it’s high-damn-time they got another Deli look. Since our review of their 2012 “Disaster Face,” this Austin indie-gone-complex band has only improved what was already an interesting sound.

Borrisokane use the word “orchestrated” to describe their music on their Soundcloud, and the term fits: Borrisokane tracks have many moving parts, all of which give the impression of having been carefully set down exactly where they should be in the song. Somehow the group walks the tightrope that is balanced, busy layering and avoids the easy pitfall of overstuffing, resulting in dense, but highly approachable pop songs. I get echoes of surf-rock and The Evangelicals in here, but then sometimes a Borrisokane track will go quite electroish, or throw in some Swans-like deep droning vocals. What I’m getting at is that Borrisokane shows their influences, but they use them as influences should be, nailing that Jim Jarmusch-endorsed “authentic theft” that takes the source material someplace new.

Another reason to bring these guys up is that they have been slamming through recording track after track in support of a seriously fucking cool idea this past year. It’s called The Versus Project, and it’s basically a series of EPs that features Borrisokane and another band covering one song each from the other’s discography, then recording a new song each. Bands they’ve worked with include Pageantry, Knifight, Young Tongue and Major Major Major, all interesting in their own right. The resulting records are solid, and well worth a listen, so get your ears over to both the Borrisokane page and the page for The Versus Project and feed those things some freshness.

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