After your New Year’s Eve hangover has passed, Monday will be staring you in the face as you scrape yourself up off of your bed sheets and try to remember what resolution it was you made at midnight (was it to finally find a unicorn? something about starting a(nother) band? flying to the moon?) Mondays can be a drag, but I propose that Monday, January 2 will actually be so mind-blowing, so magnificent, so rad, that it will challenge the awesomeness of your New Year’s party itself. This is because, in conjunction with our friends at CoolinAustin, we are putting on an incredible Free Week showcase at Swan Dive on Monday, and — as is advertised in the name — it’s totally free!
We’re featuring amazing resolution-melting performances by the Soapbox Spellbinders, the White White Lights, Little Radar and Royal Forest. It’ll be the bands’ first performances in the new year, so they’ll be primed for awesome rocking. Plus all of our awesome friends will be there, and you just can’t say no to that. Doors are at 9PM — we’ll see you there.
As we quickly approach the end of the year, I’m finally sifting through all of the wonderful music I’ve been lucky enough to be sent over the past few months, as I figure out my favorite contributions of 2011. Part of the beauty of writing a music blog is that fabulous, talented people send me their works, and I often discover people I may never have come across otherwise. The River Has Many Voices is one such artist.
The River Has Many Voices’ EP, Barton Creek, is like Texas itself. It’s a whispered horizon, gently settling into the space it inhabits. It’s more than a lullaby, although it is often peaceful and contemplative. Barton Creek is full of love and longing and heartbreak, bubbling within mastermind Matthew Payne’s gravelly but lovely voice. It is the cooler, quieter seasons — a perfect record for this time of year, and anytime you’re feeling thoughtful.
The EP kicks off with “For Emily,” a sweet love song that never quite admits it is a love song. “There’s a Passage in the Heart” is more straightforward and reassuring, maturing out of unspoken romance and putting everything on the table. “Yeah, I Got Away, But I Never Got Clear” is for the person who left you, but changed you forever. And the epic “Pictures in a Thousand Words” spans almost 15 minutes, and although I haven’t counted the words yet, I’d bet the farm that there are a thousand. The story of the song winds and forks and keeps your attention like a soft, melancholy bedtime story, both comforting and thought-provoking.
Payne recorded this record out in Dripping Springs, and you can hear the small town’s quiet evening walks and familiar smiles weaving throughout the folky tunes. I immediately thought of JBM when I heard Payne’s lonely harmonica cries, but Payne has a unique fingerprint in all he does. There are hat-tips to iconic youthful hangouts, like my own collegiate haunt, Spiderhouse coffee shop, as well as broader brushstrokes that make me believe my desert-loving father would be swept to his favorite golden, arid hills upon hearing them.
It is exciting to discover talented and brilliant Austin artists like Payne, and I’m excited to see what his future works bring to us. For now, I’ll do like I did when my beloved Brazos were still roaming the Live Music Capital’s streets: I’ll turn Barton Creek up, roll my windows down and let Austin soak in what it has inspired.