Austin360 On The Record: Western Youth, Jaimee Harris, Will Courtney, more

Western Youth. Contributed/Letitia Smith

OUT THIS WEEK

Western Youth, self-titled. With the recent addition of well-traveled Austin troubadour Graham Weber to their lineup, the roots-rock band formed in 2012 by singer-guitarists Taylor Williams and Matt Gregg plus drummer Brian Bowe has reached another level. Weber, Williams and Gregg all contribute songs here, resulting in an 11-track collection with no weak links. The Weber/Williams co-write “Hangin’ On,” released this summer as a video, is a full-on rocker with a desperate tone to match desperate times. Williams’ “The King Is Gone” has a slower tempo but is no less immediately appealing with its anthemic “Hallelujah” chorus chant. Opener “Dying on the Vine” lyrically explores dark territory but musically bursts forth with beautiful melodicism and the band’s whirlwind three-guitar attack. Gregg, Williams and Weber all contributed to writing “Valerie,” a jangly folk-rocker with majestic three-part harmony. “Lost the War,” a lovelorn ballad near the end of the disc, brings down the tempo and volume, focusing on the duet vocals of Williams and guest Jaimee Harris. Austin’s long been rich with Americana talent, and Western Youth rises near the top of the heap with this impressive set. Release show Sept. 21 at Spider House Ballroom. Here’s the video for “Hangin’ On”:

Jaimee Harris, “Red Rescue.” We wrote at length about Harris for our Austin360 Artist of the Month series in June, when this album initially was set for release before a slight delay. It’s out now on the heels of Harris’s trip last week to Nashville for Americana Fest, where she drew attention from NPR and shared a stage with Rodney Crowell and John Hiatt. Produced by Craig Ross, “Red Rescue” is strong from start to finish, a long-due solo debut from an artist who’s been writing songs since performing in a duo with her father as a teen. The first single “Depressive State” is the immediate standout, a folk-rock tune that bypasses typical verse-chorus structure and features radiant vocal harmonies. “Catch It Now” is a heartfelt solo acoustic gem that could be the theme song of Harris’s life and career up to this point. The title track is almost cinematic, grounded by the thumping rhythms of drummer Jon Greene and bassist Bonnie Whitmore before Brian Patterson’s guitar atmospherics and backing vocals by Ross and the late Jimmy LaFave broaden the scope. “Fake” starts as a quiet confessional — “I’m a fake, you’re starting to notice” — and gradually builds to an emotional breaking point. “Forever,” spiked with pedal steel and guitar runs from Mike Hardwick, captures the high reaches of Harris’s spectacular voice. The scorching “Damn Right” is a full-force rocker that pushes the boundaries of her repertoire, though it feels out-of-place as the opening track. But by the end of the album, when Harris drifts away gently on the piano-based reverie “Where Are You Now,” there’s no doubting “Red Rescue” heralds the arrival of a major new Austin singer-songwriter. Playing Sept. 20 at One-2-One Bar. Here’s an acoustic version of the title track recorded at our Statesman studios in July:

Will Courtney, “Crazy Love” (Super Secret). First coming to attention with the family band Brothers & Sisters a dozen years ago, Courtney is now on his third release under his own name. He seamlessly blends country, folk, rock and indie influences on this set of nine originals plus a cover of Danny Whitten’s “Look at All the Things.” Recorded at his home studio with his Wild Bunch band (guitarist Dan Wilcox, bassist Dave Morgan and drummer Travis Garaffa), “Crazy Love” is a no-nonsense Americana affairs that puts the songs front-and-center, whether the instrumentation is primarily electric (“Too High Now,” the title cut) or acoustic (“Drunk on Your Songs Again,” “When Will I Find My Love”). The next-to-last number, the slightly carnivalesque “Finally,” is a co-write with Courtney’s mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cynthia Clawson. Playing Sept. 25 at Hole in the Wall. Here’s the opening track, “Too High Now”:

Jonathon Zemek, “Hillcrest.” Prominent local musicians including Malford Milligan and Guy Forsyth teamed up with former Soul Track Mind leader Zemek in creating this unusual multimedia project that pairs music with a comic book. Written and produced by Zemek and Matt Smith, with comic book art done by Chris Rogers, it’s coming-of-age story that follows the adventures of a young boy whose father is killed at war. Appearing Sept. 21 at Wizard World Austin comic book convention at Austin Convention Center. Here’s a video of Zemek explaining more about the project, along with clips of both the artwork and the music:

Jane Ellen Bryant, “Let Me Be Lost” EP. The five songs here range from dreamy atmospherics (the opener “Take Me As I Am” ) to electronic outbursts (“Attention”) to sparkly soul (“Too Smooth”) to piano balladry (“If I Loved You,” the clear standout here) to melodramatic pop (“Let Me Be Lost”). Bryant, a terrific singer who’s toured with rising Austin pop star Max Frost and contributed vocals to several local acts’ records, seems to still be seeking her identity as a songwriter. Over the years I’ve been most impressed with her as an interpreter of other artists (Stephen Bruton’s “Make That Call” plus Daniel Johnston’s “Peek A Boo” as well as Stephen Stills’ “Helplessly Hoping”), and would love to hear her do a record along those lines at some point. Playing Sept. 22 at Mohawk indoor. Here’s the video for “Attention”:

LOCAL RELATED

“Blaze” Original Cast Recording soundtrack (Cinewax/Light in the Attic). Not your typical soundtrack album, this collection of a dozen songs draws primarily from performances as they appear right in the film itself. Musician/actor Ben Dickey, in the title role of ill-fated Austin songwriter Blaze Foley, is the focus here, performing Foley standouts such as “Clay Pigeons,” “Picture Cards” and “Cold Cold World.” There’s also two duets with actress Alia Shawkat (who plays Foley’s wife Sybil Rosen) and a couple of appearances by Hurray for the Riff Raff’s Alynda Segarra (Foley’s sister in the film), including the closing-track rendition of Lucinda Williams’ song “Drunken Angel,” written for Foley. The show-stealer, though, is Charlie Sexton in character as Townes Van Zandt, completely inhabiting the spirit of the Texas legend as he sings Van Zandt’s “Marie.” Here’s that track:

COMING SOON

  • SEPT. 25: Charlie Belle, “Like I Love This” EP, playing Oct. 13 at Whip In.
  • SEPT. 28: Jerry David DeCicca, “Burning Daylight” (Super Secret).
  • SEPT. 28: Bright Light Social Hour, “Missing Something” EP, playin Sept. 23 and Sept. 30 at Cheer Up Charlie’s.
  • SEPT. 28: Nobody’s Girl, “Waterline” EP, release show Sept. 29 at Saxon Pub.
  • SEPT. 28: Autumn Fakes, “A Sequence of Cheers for Cause and Effect,” release show Sept. 29 at Knomad Bar.
  • OCT. 5: Molly Burch, “First Flower” (Captured Tracks), playing Oct. 6 at Austin City Limits Music Festival.
  • OCT. 5: Max Frost, “Gold Rush” (Atlantic), playing Nov. 10 at Scoot Inn.
  • OCT. 5: Michael Martin Murphey, “Austinology: Alleys of Austin,” playing Dec. 21 at Paramount Theatre.
  • OCT. 12: Lindsay Beaver, “Tough As Love” (Alligator).
  • OCT. 12: Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, “Rocket” (Verve Forecast).
  • OCT. 15: Kevin Welch, “Dust Devil.”
  • OCT. 19: Kendall Beard, “Here Comes Trouble,” playing Nov. 10 at Lamberts.
  • OCT. 25: Lesly Reynaga, release show Oct. 25 at One-2-One Bar.
  • OCT. 26: Carson McHone, “Carousel.”
  • OCT. 26: Jamie Lin Wilson, “Jumping Over Rocks,” playing Oct. 20 at Sam’s Town Point.
  • OCT. 26: Isaac Jacob Band, self-titled (Union 28).
  • NOV. 7: Kate Howard, release show Nov. 7 at One-2-One Bar.
  • NOV. 9: Sydney Wright, “Seiche.”