Austin360 On The Record: David Halley, Mélat, B. Harold Benton

OUT THIS WEEK

David Halley, “A Month of Somedays.” The long-awaited return of one of Austin’s best songwriters of the 1980s and early ’90s lives up to the reputation he earned during that heyday. From the sophisticated rock and pop of “A Love Severe,” “Wash” and “Speed” to more straightforward country-folk tunes such as “A Month of Somedays,” “Stickhorse Kid” and “Ain’t Gonna Make You Mine,” Halley is masterful at every step. Producer Will Sexton leads an ace backing cast that includes Halley’s former bandmates J.D. Foster and Rich Brotherton. Read more about Halley in our Austin360 Artist of the Month feature. Release show Dec. 3 at the Townsend.

Melat performs at the Ethik Clothing show during South by Southwest on March 19, 2015. / Erika Rich for American-Statesman

Mélat’s new record it titled “MeVen.” Erika Rich for American-Statesman 2015

Mélat, “MeVen.” In our monthly “Best of Austin Music” roundup, Deborah Sengupta Stith writes: “The new release from the young Ethiopian-American R&B singer is a gorgeous collection of silky love songs, laced with lush atmospherics, discordant electronics and a persistent melancholy ache. Over the past couple years, she’s been rising through the alt-R&B underground in Texas and beyond. The album debuted at number 24 on the iTunes R&B chart. We’re predicting 2017 will be a very big year for Mélat.” Here’s the track “Twenty Ten”:

B. Harold Benton, “Poems for This World.” Featuring 30-odd tracks of spoken-word poetry set to guitarist Will Knaak’s country-jazz accompaniment, this is certainly one of the most unusual Austin records of the year. Benton treats this album so much like a book that he even reads acknowledgments and the table of contents (i.e., tracklist) as a prelude. The poems, delivered in Benton’s distinct Texan drawl and written across many decades, document a journey from wide-eyed days of youth in “Before the World Turned,” to coming-of-age philosophical reckoning in “The First Step,” to the grim warning of “Man With No Face” that might have suddenly taken on new relevance: “In his dark tower, he watches and waits/ He thinks no one can stop him, not even the fates.” Release show Dec. 7 at Guero’s.

COMING IN 2017

JAN. 13: Band of Heathens, “Duende.”
JAN. 20: Matthew Squires, “Tambaleo.”
FEB. 10: Ulrich Ellison & Tribe.
FEB. 17: Curtis McMurtry, “The Hornet’s Nest.”
FEB. 24: Shinyribs, “I Got Your Medicine.

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