By Nathalie Phan
For the past 10 years in Austin music, Curbside Jones has been quietly working in solitude. That's why when COVID-19 devastated many music makers, it didn't bother him; he's always been his own mix engineer, producer, and graphic designer. But that doesn't mean that his latest EP was without international collaboration.
Heavily inspired by Japan, Curbside and a group of his friends planned for a 2020 fall tour of Japan but their plans were rudely interrupted by the pandemic. After having already worked with Japanese artists before including Dyelo Think (fka Free Design), his intention was to collaborate with members of LafLife, a Japanese rap group, and push the music through both countries. They had been exchanging emails and sharing beats back and forth over a few months along with Maryland-based artist Dexter Fizz.
In February of this year, Curbside Jones went to work on Gyakusou, Vol. 1, a three-song EP, the first release in a set of three, named after the Japanese term for "running in reverse."
Curbside notes that the Japanese track team of the same name will run in the opposite direction as a representation of their rebel identity and going against the status quo. "I took that idea, of going against the grain, going against the norm. People think it's moving backwards, not forward, but the EP is forward-thinking," Curbside says. "It's taking American rap and putting it over Japanese instrumentation."
The EP was made in collaboration with Japanese producer Ballhead who he discovered while watching Jazzysport Kyoto sessions. Eventually through his previous work with LafLife, he also connected with Japanese rap artist MUMA. MUMA is featured on the second track on the EP, "Coffee Stains."
The inspiration for "Coffee Stains" came after Curbside had spilled coffee on his pink Converse x GOLF le FLEURs (cue the verse: "Damn I can't believe coffee spilt on these pink GOLF le FLEURs / had to seek 'cause I know there's more."). Initially upset, he embedded the theme of not crying over spilled milk (or spilled coffee) and finding inspiration even in times of hardship: "had to fall before I could find division."
Similarly, each song has its own theme as Curbside, who describes himself as being "heavy into concept work," decidedly wished each track to have its own life. "I wanted the Gyakusou series to be less of a conceptual project as a whole and I wanted each track to be different."
For example, "Terrace House Flow," the final song on the EP inspired by the Japanese reality TV franchise of the same name, features a verse about self-love, a theme that was especially important to Curbside because two days after recording the track, Hana Kimura, a member of the latest season of Terrace House, committed suicide.
Overall, the project is bouncy and fun, but very different. In many ways, between the production and the bars, it speaks to the depth of the person that is Curbside Jones, the mastermind behind the EP. Both in solitude and collaboration, he excels in creating islands of hope in a sea of madness. When you step foot in his world, in the less than 10 minutes of modern-day boom-bap that is the length of the first installation of Gyakusou, you feel the chaos of "running in reverse" but instead of adding to the stress of our dystopian universe, it's relieving and hopeful.
Gyakusou, Vol. 1 is available July 3, 2020 on Bandcamp.
By Adrian Gonzalez
The answer to this article’s title is probably: “Not that long!” Springful is the new kid in town. And boy, are they making a splash! The band’s founder Jim Hampton, found that Springful is a magical middle between his music tastes.
“There are too many moving parts for Noise Club,” Hampton states, “but’s too aggressive for a quieter solo project.” And by the sound of Springful’s first real single, he is 100% correct. The creation of “How Long Have You Known” began with guitar riffs that Hampton recorded onto his phone which, fun fact, actually made it on the final mix. These guitar riffs were recorded months before Hampton met bassist Kinseli Jazz and and drummer Dominic Neri and over a year before the band started playing shows in 2019. To Hampton, this was the “impetus for the band’s formation.”
“How Long” is a beautiful marriage between alternative and rock pop. Through my ears, it’s the angsty love child of Coldplay and Arctic Monkeys, but with a dance twist. This first impression of Springful is an impressive one. The lyrics of the song are widely open to interpretation.They are definitely the type that tend to sit with you for a while. Hampton says the song is “about realizing someone doesn’t love you the way you love them.” With this in mind, “How Long” took on an entire new level of emotions. I felt cathartic. The contrast of the opening guitar and the power chords in the second verse keeps you on your toes. You’ll find yourself swaying peacefully to jumping uncontrollably in the span of 30 seconds.
“How Long Have you Known” was released on February 28th, 2020, a date that the band will remember for a long time. About a week following the release Springful is performing at The University of Texas’ Battle of the Bands, a competition where the winner has the opportunity to play at Forty Acres Fest, an event that has featured giant names from John Legend to Waka Flocka.
Listen to Springful’s new release everywhere.
By Rey Castillo
The feel-good, empowering love song by Math Judson, “Love Someone," does what he himself intended the song to do: Tell people to show compassion to others.
By Ashley Morris
We’re sweet on Nick Adamo’s smooth, dreamy bittersweet debut single “Sugar Daddy” and we think you will be too. An avid skateboarder in his youth, classic skateboarding VHS tapes and culture are a continuing inspiration to his art. The NY-born, Texas-raised artist came to Austin in 2015 to add his flavor to the music scene and will be dropping more tracks along with “Sugar Daddy” in 2019.
By Ashley Morris
Wrongbird’s EP Who is Wrongbird? debuted towards the end of 2018 and the eclectic band just now released their music video for “Leap Year Birthday” a sunny rock tune on the album.“Leap Year Birthday”’s piano driven track is amplified by energetic percussion and guitar set in opposition with Eric Baker’s nonchalant, unassuming vocals and ambiguous, riddle-like lyrics.
“Leap Year Birthday” is a goofy satire complete with temper tantrums and a cake fight to finish. The video’s setting is a sunny park during a child’s birthday party, but the children are all adults, featuring members of the band. The cinematography is simplistic with a home video feel to it, adding a DIY touch. But the video itself is anything but simplistic, with multiple things going on: the “parents” watching the birthday party drinking near the presents, various “children” playing on the playground, and the birthday girl playing tag with frontman Eric Baker. The interesting idea of portraying children as adults adds an endearing, awkward whimsy to the composition.
The video depicts a zest for life, both its pitfalls and its high times, through the lens of childhood scrapes on a playground and making fun out of things going wrong. The idea that “life is strange, but it’s fun” drives Leap Year Birthday. The chorus “I’m standing here, up to my knees in the milky way/ thanking God for when he said “breathe in breathe out breathe in let’s call that life what do you say?”/ And all his people said okay/ you can’t stop me” reflects a punchy optimism mixed with childlike wonder of the music video.
Goofy and endearing, Wrongbird’s new video for “Leap Year Birthday” will make you smile with its optimism and silly cast of characters. A reminder never to take life for granted, but also, don’t take it too seriously.
By Nathalie Phan
Austin's prince of cool pop and one man wonder Mobley has released an alternate version of his standout song "Swoon," titled "Swoon:Stagger" off of his Fresh Lies Vol. 1 album released earlier this year.
“When I’m writing a song, I explore countless variations while crafting its arrangement. ‘Swoon’ went through multiple incarnations," says Mobley. "I thought it'd be fun to let people in on some of the parallel universes I explore when I’m working on a record.”
What eventually resulted from the artist's masterful reiterations of his own song was the first of three remixes to be released.
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