Best of Austin Music: February 2016

In January, we introduced a new roundup of monthly highlights in Austin music, from local records to touring shows to favorite songs and more. Here’s a Leap Day special, looking back at the best from the previous 28 days in February.

BEST NEW SONGS/VIDEOS

A Giant Dog, “Sex and Drugs.” Sabrina Ellis breaks our hearts (manages our expectations?) in this raucous, chrome-plated bar room bruiser which has us chomping at the bit for the band’s Merge Records debut, coming in May. — D.S.S.

Greyhounds, “Devil’s Eyes.” From the forthcoming album “Change of Pace” (due out April 1), this tune digs deeply into a dark soul groove, leavened by a humorous video (which premiered on Austin360.com) shot at fitting locations around Austin. — P.B.

Riders Against the Storm, “RE:Fresh.” The entire “RE:Mixtape” RAS released this month is excellent. Consider our appetites officially whetted for the new album due out in August. On this remix of Liane La Havas’ “Green and Gold,” the husband/wife team spins a quiet and beautiful song about love and dreams that reverberates with so much heart. “We have a myriad of sides to us. There is a quiet reflective, vulnerable side,” Qi Dada Ras says, “We’re happy to let people see more of that.” — D.S.S.

Da’Shade Moonbeam, “Girl Song.” Speaking of hip-hop love songs, can’t get enough of this little ditty and the accompanying video that finds the always lyrical Da’Shade Moonbeam looking for love at Austin Books & Comics.  — D.S.S.

Also check out our favorite Austin entries into NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. 

BEST SHOWS

A-list: Jason Isbell performs at ACL Live on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro For American-Statesman

Jason Isbell performs at ACL Live on Friday, Feb. 12, 2016. Suzanne Cordeiro/For American-Statesman

Feb. 6: Yo La Tengo at Hogg Auditorium. Guitarist Ira Kaplan, drummer Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew, with guitarist Dave Schramm joining them this time, delivered a magical acoustic set centered on last year’s album “Stuff Like That There,” a sequel of sorts to their 1990 benchmark “Fakebook.” — P.B.

Feb. 11-12: Jason Isbell at ACL Live. A few days before he picked up two Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Isbell showed Austin audiences on consecutive nights why he won them. He and his ace band, sparked by fiddler Amanda Shires, aren’t about glitter and glitz; they just get onstage and play Isbell’s songs, which are the best being written in American music today.  — P.B.

Feb. 20: Siren Sound Temple at Barracuda. Real talk. It’s 2016, and I have mixed feelings about thematically arranging a show around female-fronted bands. Aren’t they just bands at this point? However, this bill brought together an incredible group from soon to be stars A Giant Dog to emerging art punk outfit Sailor Poon. Magna Carda, Mama K and the Shades and Moving Panoramas did turns on a power bill that reminded us the extent to which Austin women are leading the music scene right now.   — D.S.S.

Also: Carly Rae Jepsen at ACL Live; Ameripolitan Music Awards at the Paramount; Texas Heritage Songwriters’ Association Hall of Fame Awards at ACL Live.

BEST NEW ALBUMS

Magna Carda performs at The Mohawk during Free Week on January 6, 2015 in Austin, Texas. Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Magna Carda performs at The Mohawk during Free Week on January 6, 2015 in Austin, Texas.
Erika Rich/ For American-Statesman

“Willie Nelson, “Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin.” Harkening back to his classic “Stardust” album in general vibe, this set of songs by the iconic 20th-century sibling songwriters George and Ira Gershwin once again shows that Willis is not so much a country star as he is simply an American music treasture. — P.B.

Mama K & the Shades, “Honey Made.” We’ll formally introduce this stanky groove collective as our March Artist of the Month later this week and we’re happy to report Austin’s not sleeping on the 10 piece soul powerhouse. Their CD release party Saturday night at One-2-One was sold out with a line at the door. They also sold out of every copy of this sizzling platter of love and funk they brought to the show. Though the band has only been together since 2014, they play like they’ve been touring for years. The process of putting this album together was driven by the devastating loss of their saxophonist, David McKnight. Amazingly, “Honey Made” doesn’t dwell in despair. Instead, it’s an exuberant celebration of life that soars with promise.  — D.S.S.

Magna Carda, “CirQlation.” This instrumental hip-hop outfit and our Austin360 February Artist of the Month is getting better all the time. Magna Carda’s debut full-length is an an ambitious, but cohesive, platter loaded with smooth segues between moody jazz and blues, wistful neosoul love songs and classic hip-hop party hooks. It also packs the firepower the band needs to ride their slow-burn rise to the next level.— D.S.S.

Also: Terri Hendrix, “Love You Strong” (Feb. 5); Riders Against the Storm, “RE:Mixtape” (Feb. 12); Carrie Rodriguez & the Sacred Hearts, “Lola”  (Feb. 19); Sam Riggs, “Breathless” (Feb. 19); Bill Carter, “Innocent Victims & Evil Companions” (Feb. 26); Golden Dawn Arkestra, “Stargazer” (Feb. 26).

Are you an Austin artist with new music we should hear and/or videos we should see? Hit us up at musicsource@statesman.com.

Screengrab from A Giant Dog's "Sex and Drugs"

Screengrab from A Giant Dog’s “Sex and Drugs”