Sunday, July 10, 2011

3 Albums with West Texas Roots That You Should Be Listening To

Amanda Shires -
Carrying Lightning

Amanda Shires' music career up to this point exemplifies the concept of "paying your dues." That is, she has worked tirelessly to establish herself as not only an outstanding musician, but also as one of the more promising songwriters on the Americana touring circuit. Simply put, her time to receive wider notoriety is now. Shires' musical background is widely available online, so I'll skip the recap, as her current album is really the element of interest here. Texas Music magazine recently referred to Carrying Lightning as the Car Wheels on a Gravel Road of Shires' career, a Lucinda Williams reference that carries some serious weight. The album has received additional praise from the likes of SPIN, The Wall Street Journal, and Texas Monthly, because, well, it is that good. Lightning finds Shires defining her voice as a songwriter and provides us with a first look at the great potential her musical career holds.

"Ghostbird" (feat. Neal Casal)

Explosions in the Sky - Take Care, Take Care, Take Care

Explosions in the Sky is a band comprised of 3/4 West Texans, although in actuality the band itself hails from Austin. Nonetheless, the influence of the West Texas landscape in EITS' music is hard to ignore. Take Care, Take Care, Take Care finds the band in top form for their sixth studio release, and as an overall composition, is among the band's best work to-date. The single "Trembling Hands" finds the band introducing vocal loops into a song, a rarity in EITS' work, although they appear not as lyrics but as an additional layer of instrumentation. Another rarity for the band is playing shows in West Texas, yet the band is crossing that boundary as well, with a show booked in Marfa for September.

"Trembling Hands"

Estelline -

Among Lubbock's newest up-and-comers, Estelline have been establishing their name in the local scene for a few years now. This spring found the band releasing their first album, a self-titled effort that suggests that the legacy of great original music in Lubbock continues to grow. At 15 songs, the band lays everything out on the table, and by-and-large, they deliver with a very strong record. Among the strongest are "William Jones" and "Jaylynn," which perhaps best showcase the talent of the band and suggest the emergence of a sound that is their own. Future work will no doubt be the ultimate test of the band, but for a first album, Estelline has an excellent start.

"Jaylynn" (acoustic on the Todd Klein show, AM 580)

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