The KUTX music team looks high and low for songs and artists that should be on your radar. It's a no-frills showcase for some of the great music that comes through the "live music capital of the world." Join us to discover new music and revisit some old favorites -- one song at a time.
Click-Clack: “Welcome To Texas”
By design, the world of hip-hop is full of braggadocious personalities. But even the most prolific boasters can get tripped up by a perfectionist approach. Take for instance Austin rapper-producer-brandmaker Eric Mikulak, better known by his creative handle Click-Clack.
Back in the early 2010s, alongside his role as frontman for rap-rock outfit Karmatron, Click-Clack used to crank out tracks nonstop from his home studio, sometimes writing, producing, and recording up to three tunes from scratch in a night. And the scorpio that he is, there’d typically be a roisterous social media presence before and after each new single release. Of course, as the genre’s evolved over time, Mikulak’s only matured, and it’s safe to say that making hip-hop entirely on his own is no longer a challenge. So while the confidence is rightfully still there, Click-Clack’s shifted focus towards fine-tuned, full-length collaborations with a rolodex of producers from across the globe, and entrusted mixing-mastering duties to other industry pros. As a matter of fact, Click-Clack just shared his second LP of the year, Hypercritical, last Friday.
At just shy of a dozen tunes, Hypercritical offers yet another candid look into Mikulak’s complicated mind, flaws, insecurities, and all. Seven of the eleven enroll at least two outside producers in a sprawling sonic tapestry draped behind Click-Clack’s idiosyncratic verbal formulas, including “Welcome To Texas”, which enlists olly and fr4ud for a two-minute chop-heavy chipmunk soul masterpiece.
Little Jungles: “Happy In Our Winter”
Finding time to perfect your craft as an adult can already be challenging enough. But becoming a husband and father of two? Talk about cutting down on your ability to monkey around in the studio. At least that’s the experience of Kelowna producer-songwriter Michael Niemann, better known by his creative handle Little Jungles.
Little Jungles first crept out of the bush in 2011 with Wuts Goin Thru Yer Head, a debut that caught ears and earned acclaim thanks to Niemann’s electro-meets-shoegaze bedroom-style indie sound. Unfortunately in the aftermath, wut began going through Niemann’s head alongside the praise was enough pressure in place for a survival of the fittest mindset. But his amygdala didn’t fight or fly; it froze. The anxiety of achieving a worthy follow-up caused Little Jungles to overanalyze his originals, and as such, last summer’s I Would Kill For Some Sunlight LP came out with basically no promotion.
Now that he’s a family man with shifted priorities, Niemann’s taken on a new approach; strike when the inspiration hits, knock out what you can whenever you can, and rather than give yourself the unlimited options to “fix it in post”, track it all to tape. And after six long years of careful home and vacant business recordings, we finally heard the proof of that concept just last Friday with LOOM. Like the title suggests, LOOM finds Little Jungle’s artistic vision once again naturally interlaced with the other threads of life, and the dedication to tape goes a long way. Hear for yourself with the jangling guitar riffs, unprocessed drum sounds, and delightfully lackadaisical vocal harmonies that are sure to lift your spirits, (no matter the reason or season) on “Happy In Our Winter”.
Tribe Mafia: “Take Me” (feat. Erik Goca)
It’s beyond satisfying to hear a homegrown Austin artist not just outside the local city limits, but in a piece of media that gets global reach. And while it may be impossible to top White Denim in the official Nintendo Switch trailer, we gotta give it up to Tribe Mafia for their recent induction into the world of film.
Following a formidable debut in 2016, this Austin-based hip-hop/R&B duo’s dropped at least an EP’s worth of singles each year, save for an understandable lull between their March 2020 LP Teepee Gang and last Valentine’s Day’s “Sound of a Heartbreak”. But now, on the other side of the pandemic, Tribe Mafia’s once again in tip-top shape and sharing their gifts at an impressive rate. And it’s not just a matter of quantity over quality; no, these songs could only be sourced from two well-seasoned sonic shaman.
And there’s proof in the pudding! One of Tribe Mafia’s latest and greatest found its way not only into the trailer for My Partner, but as an emotional centerpiece of this groundbreaking queer artistic accomplishment. So even if you haven’t seen My Partner yet, if you take a minute to sit black, close your eyes, and let the Erik Goca-featuring “Take Me” paint a picture behind your eyes, you’ll quickly pick up on its intrinsically provocative cinematic pop character, not unlike Swae Lee and Post Malone’s Spiderverse “Sunflower”.
Daniel Fears: “Say Something”
Here at KUTX and Song of the Day, we try to be as dutiful as we can in providing both an accurate representation of the Austin Music Experience and great tunes. But honestly, all talent aside, for some local artists we often have to dig around to find something that’s actually airwave worthy. Daniel Fears, on the other hand? He’s done a damn fine of delivering his fair share of bar-raising originals to Austin’s ever-growing musical accoutrements.
And that’s a big part of why we named him our July 2021 Artist of the Month, right around the release of his debut EP Canopy. Based on its towering soul-R&B-hip-hop caliber, Fears has understandably been flying high off of Canopy over the past couple years. Now that doesn’t mean downfall is in the cards for Daniel Fears anytime soon; no, the consistency of Fears’ artistic drive is still deafening to this day, even if his dynamics of choice are more subdued. Well, following a pair of standalones in 2022, and hot off a Mongolian tour providing brass for Gina Chavez’s band, Daniel Fears sets course clear of mediocrity once again with Enough.
As the title implies, Enough achieves an infectious equipoise of emotional vulnerability and seductive self-esteem thanks to Fears’ faultless falsetto, kaleidoscope of sonic influences, and recognizable calling card of production techniques. On Enough‘s lead single, “Say Something”, there are some clever threads ranging from D’Angelo, Sly Stone, Bobby Womack and even Musiqsoulchild in its final moments, none of which could’ve landed if not for Fears’ top tier backing band. Between a liquid guitar groove, spacious snaps, hypnotic bass, atmospheric keys, and of course, Daniel’s Frank Ocean-esque vocals, safe to assume “Say Something” may just leave you speechless.
What happens when you aggressive UK bass collides with testosterone-driven Bugandan percussion? Nothing quiet, that’s for sure. That specific combo of acoustic and electronic, of modern and traditional first came about with the formation of Nihiloxica half a decade back, when UK producers Spooky-J and pq linked up with Nilotika Cultural Ensemble members Isa, Sally, Prince, and Spyda in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala.
Owing their handle to a Nile river source in Kampala, Nihiloxica’s sound also captures a stream of consciousness between Bantu and English, and takes inspiration from the regressive attitudes and institutionalized discrimination that so often plague those cross-continental conversations. But as heard on Nihiloxica’s 2017 eponymous EP, its 2019 follow-up Biiri, and their 2020 debut full-length Kaloli, lyrics simply don’t channel that impassioned outrage as well as extreme electronic techniques and an undying drive of drums.
Early last year, Nihiloxica returned to their early Nyege Nyege Studio stomping grounds in Kampala to track their sophomore LP Source of Denial in a rigorous one-month period. The result is an absolutely insane instrumental excursion over eleven outrageous, genre-bending originals. Source of Denial brings an awful lot of bass to the bureaucracy and powerful percussion to UK foreign policy, and as hinted by their near-illegible album artwork, some really cool interjections of metal into Nihiloxica’s formulas. And while themes of racism, xenophobia, and international classism might escape surface-level listeners, that subtext is critical to Source of Denial‘s immense artistic statement. So before Source of Denial hits streaming on Friday, enter Nihiloxica’s next chapter of unconventional-but-necessary, mad scientist-level innovation and techno-entrancement on “Asidi”.
If you remember Western Youth, then you’re familiar with Graham Weber. And if you know Graham Weber, you know he lays down great work wherever he may wander. A decade and a half into his solo discography, Weber launched Western Youth right here in Austin in the late twenty-teens and spearheaded their solo eponymous full-length.
However, on the other side of the pandemic, that iteration of the Central Texas sextet’s since ridden off into the sunset. But save for one straggler, the cavalcade continues with their spiritual successor Restos in 2023. With Weber overseeing but not monopolizing this well-seasoned five-piece’s style, Restos retain much of the Americana-rock aura that defined their predecessor, albeit with a bit more of a modern kick.
This Friday Restos drop their debut LP Ain’t Dead Yet and celebrate with a release show 11PM that same evening at Continental Club alongside opener Jaimee Harris at 10PM and closers The Irons half past midnight. As you’ll soon find out from the live performance, the tunes on Ain’t Dead Yet defy any potential decline in quality from Weber and his posse. Instead Restos channel the energy of an armadillo, bear, bison, gator, rooster all kickin’ in the barn together, pushing their primitive musical instincts to the limit and leaving the rest behind. So before Restos rear into their Thursday night residency at C-Boy’s each week from 6:30-8:30PM, take a little “Time” to appreciate Graham and the boys’ incredible progress over a handful of years in just under five minutes with one of the record’s latest early looks.
Finally no intros
They finally got rid of the dude screaming about tacos of Texas at me every 3 minutes or less.
This is awesome 👏🏼
Great job bringing these back thank you! 😁🏼👌🏼
We heard you!
After reading the complaints about too many promos, we cut them by more than half. If you hear one at all, it’ll be at the beginning of a song only. KUTX is a public radio station so we do have to find ways to make what we do (play awesome music and support those artists) possible. Thanks for listening and supporting the Austin Music Experience. Enjoy the tunes!