Photo courtesy of Spaceflight Records

Even though Austin is doused in music all the time, it can be a little difficult to keep track of new releases. Spaceflight Records, a nonprofit label based in Austin, is making it easy this summer, with new releases every Friday.

Every week, Spaceflight is releasing "a new piece of music" from Texas artists on its roster. It's implied that these are singles, but with that phrasing, anything could happen. Two have already come out so far to set the tone.

The first, out since last week, comes from Austin-based trio Fort Never. "Take a Look at us Now" was released simultaneously as a single and music video on June 9, displaying the charismatic alt-pop performers' personalities through improvised dance — and brief sword fighting. The track is soaring but gentle; a great song for romanticizing the summer and cruising down the highway, or just staring enthralled at singer Chantell Moody's smile.

Next up was Colombian trio Nemegata — another Austin-based group — known for their psychedelic grooves and world influence. Immediately the edgier of the two tracks, “Ni Con Palo Ni Con Bala” starts with a rhythmic assault on the senses: clattering percussion, a rambling guitar riff, and a tense bassline. The track mysteriously unfolds and contracts several times alongside images in the music video of an unsettling, evolving mask.

Local country fans also got a new single from Croy and the Boys outside of the Friday series on June 13. "I Get By" is the first single off the album Trans-Am, set for an August 11 release. The cheerful, twangy tune brings the soul back to pop country with an arrangement that, if it wasn't recorded live in-studio, certainly sounds like it could be reproduced in any local venue without missing a beat.

The current Spaceflight roster includes some of Austin's most active and talked about bands, but the order of releases is so far a mystery. Possibilities include Die Spitz, Golden Dawn Arkestra, Kalu and The Electric Joint, Primo the Alien, and Urban Heat, among many more.

Part of the draw to Spaceflight (besides being one of the only real labels in town) is its unusually musician-focused approach. A bit like a startup accelerator, Spaceflight's goal is not to hold onto its artist until while squeezing out as many records as possible, but to hand them off to bigger labels when they're ready.

The label handles release management (as demonstrated especially well by this series), legal counsel, artist development, and more, without taking ownership of any artist's catalog.

All this news coming from Spaceflight is making it to the label's Instagram page. Check back this Friday for the next release in the series, or follow so you don't miss it.

Fort Never Austin

Photo courtesy of Spaceflight Records

Fort Never supplied the first of Spaceflight's weekly summer releases, "Take a Look at us Now."

Photo courtesy of Bayonne

Austin artist Bayonne tackles grief with expansive positivity in new album

local releases

Far from Austin’s norm of four-piece rock bands with a free garage and an obsession with '80s or alt-country sounds, one local musician has just released a strong batch of sleeker, trancier tracks. It's fitting then, that his name should reflect this distance — although Bayonne is firmly an Austin artist nonetheless.

Temporary Time, out since May 26, 2023, is a neat bundle of 9 songs coming in at just under 45 minutes, and lending itself well to short bursts of focus — or breaks from it. A release calls the genre "alt-pop," although fans of Beach House and Morning Phase-era Beck will likely be charmed enough by the collection to agree this is solidly within the dream pop realm. (And, hey, when there are clouds on the cover art, you know where you'll end up.)

Although this songwriting, which started in seclusion in West Texas, could have veered toward the overly-psychedelic, it stays tethered to Earth with a more classical sensibility, like in the opening moments of the first track, "Must Be True." A resonant piano arpeggio comes about as close to holy minimalism as one can in a pop song, unfurling into a surprisingly hopeful and upbeat album despite its topical influences: terminal illness, the end of a relationship, and the overwhelm of depression.

“In early 2019 my Dad was diagnosed with cancer," said the solo artist, Roger Sellers, in a release. "This record largely explores the emotional journey we went through as a family coming to terms with his declining health, as well as my own mental health and inner self. During much of the recording process I was in a deep state of depression."

The introspection is there, front and center: the reappearance of wandering piano, a constant bed of long-held synths and ambient sounds, the dreamy vocals. But there are countless layers over these, like sparkling chimes, bells, and other flourishes. Melodies overlap in "Words" for more of this effect.

Adding to this layering, the piano evolves through the album to become a driving force rather than something floating through. And the percussion, most important of all, is the lively main player throughout, like in the nearly Bollywood beat of "FK." A music video for "Perfect" combines images of sun glares and clips of architecture and nature — especially the ocean — in an improvisatory dance befitting the meditative but energetic electro-pop.

Just as the album opens up, so, too, did Sellers' creative process, eventually including producer and mixer Danny Reisch (HAIM, Local Natives), bassist Jon Joseph (BØRNS, Gothic Tropic), and Bayonne drummer Matt Toman.

“Eventually I started focusing on my well-being and things became much easier for me, but writing these songs certainly helped push me through a dark period," said Sellers. It's pretty crazy to me that this record is finally going to be released without him around, but he was a big part of it all. If anything, I hope any listeners that have gone through similar experiences will draw some sort of inspiration or healing.”

A limited-edition vinyl and matching T-shirt are available for purchase at merchtable.com. Bayonne's headlining tour kicked off May 30 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Listen to Temporary Time on all streaming platforms.

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R&B singer Mélat epitomizes the independent Austin music experience in new album

local releases

Even though Mélat is always busy — appearing in seemingly every major community showcase — she hasn't released a new album in four years. That is, until today.

Canon Metis: Wiser Than Gods and Mortal Men — with an appropriately grandiose title for the R&B singer's prodigal return — is out on September 29, with 14 gooey tracks incorporating everything from trap beats to gospel harmonies. It follows up 2019's After All: Episode One, with similarly spacious orchestrations and a little more confidence this time around on the songwriter's part.

"I feel like [after] going through COVID and all the things that have happened in the past four years ... it's the dawning of a new era for me," says Mélat. "I feel like I've shed a significant amount of fear, and doubt, and all these things that as humans we have to work to get off of ourselves. It feels like a new beginning for me."

The title of this "foundational" album, in Mélat's words, reaches back to two EPs that the singer has since grown out of, but represented a similar feeling of self-definition as her first-ever releases. First was Canon Aphaea, then Canon Ourania; Both referenced Greek goddesses. This time, Metis — Zeus' first wife, a Titan goddess, and the embodiment of wisdom — was the inspiration.

M\u00e9lat Canon Metis: Wiser Than Gods and Mortal MenThe album cover ties in "Easter Eggs" from Black woman-owned brands: fashion by Savage X Fenty, Black Girl Magic wine by McBride Sisters Wine Company, and an Ethiopian necklace referencing the singer's heritage.Shot by Marshall Tidrick

The subtitle comes from humbler origins than it sounds; probably something she read on Wikipedia, Mélat says, but definitely borrowed nonetheless. The quote also gives a name to a track in which the singer speaks semi-candidly about false idols and the wisdom to duck away from the judgment of "mere mortals."

"I'm like a lot of people in that I can be my worst my own worst critic," she says. "I hate my speaking voice, but I put it on the album [because] my gut was telling me, no, this needs to be said. There are songs that were cut from the album [that were part of] the plan the whole time."

Much of Mélat's local pull comes from her transparency about being an independent artist, which she discusses often on social media and will surely expound upon more when the Austin chapter of Women in Music launches later this year, with her on the leadership team. Nothing about working without a label is foreign to Austin musicians (although the landscape is slowly growing), and the singer confirms that she doesn't "know any other way to do it," but hints of that freedom shine through some tracks.

"Canon Metis," the opening track, pieces together a sort of trailer for the rest of the album with atmospheric synths and spoken announcements by disembodied femme voices — a softly futuristic approach. But "Lambs to Lions" and "The Now" deliver nostalgia via backup vocals and instrumental stylings, while "I.D.M.T.L.Y. (Freestyle)" pares things down to a simple phone recording that the songwriter and her close collaborator, sound engineer, and manager, Pha The Phenom, chose not to develop any further.

No through-lines were questioned. Nothing needed to be justified, except to each other. Both have gotten into meditating, anyway, so it's all about feel.

"I feel like I've gathered all this wisdom," Mélat says. "You can't really trust the quote-unquote gods, which are the shiny things that will distract you ... and you can't really worry too much about the judgment of others, because everybody's just human. I need to do what feels right for me."

There is no tour planned to promote the album yet, but given the singer's track record, it won't be long until something is on the books. A music video for "So Help Me God," incorporates AI technology via Kaiber AI, will be released on October 4.

Listen to Canon Metis: Wiser Than Gods and Mortal Men on your favorite streaming platform.

Unique art sale champions thousands of works by Austin artists who may not have homes

art everywhere

The streets of Austin reveal a vibrant artistic spirit if you know where to look. Art From the Streets (AFTS), a nonprofit uplifting unhoused artists, invites art lovers to discover this local creativity at the annual Art Show & Sale on October 21-22.

Art from the Streets sale

Photo courtesy of Art From The Streets

Onlookers look through hundreds of unique art pieces by unhoused Austinites.

Art From the Streets has announced its 31st Annual Art Show & Sale at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar, best known for its holiday market. This two-day event will showcase thousands of original artworks from unhoused and at-risk artists in the Austin area, from compelling portraits to vibrant abstracts, all while supporting an amazing creative community.

Attending this event gives the Austin community the special opportunity to meet these artists, hear their stories, and purchase their one-of-a-kind creations, with 95 percent of the art sale proceeds going directly to the artists themselves.

In turn, it provides platform for the artists to proudly display their works, coming into the arts scene in an official, marketable capacity. It brings visibility to their skills and lets them earn income from their passion.

"We believe that these artistic endeavors form a pathway to self-determination, and we invite the Austin community to join us this October in supporting these artists by making connections and purchasing some amazing art," said AFTS executive director Kelley Worden in a press release.

Volunteers form the backbone of AFTS by assisting with a wide range of tasks, from facilitating art creation sessions to helping with exhibition setup and more; the funds that AFTS collects through donations and art sales are directly funneled back into supporting these volunteers' efforts, providing art supplies, covering exhibition costs, and supplying other resources needed to uplift the unhoused artists in the Austin community.

The 31st Annual Art From the Streets Show & Sale will be held at the Blue Genie Art Bazaar from October 21-22. Attendance is free and open to the public, with a suggested $5 donation at the door to help support AFTS' mission of empowering unhoused artists. RSVP on Eventbrite.

Tasteful Austin ice cream shop starts crowdfunding to scoop up new cities

Tastes Like Profit

We're not sure how many licks it takes to get to a popular Austin ice cream shop into new markets, but a crowdfunding campaign gives fans a chance to find out.

Lick Honest Ice Creams, known for interesting, mature flavors (without getting too serious), has launched a campaign via MicroVentures that will allow onlookers a chance to support the business with small investments of $100 or more. Ice cream never goes out of style, and the company is hoping to appeal not just to repeat customers, but anyone who thinks the sweet treat has growth potential.

Although this could be a long-term holding, the root idea is to eventually trade back the stake for a financial gain once the company has grown. In less than two days (since the campaign launched on September 28), Lick has already sold stakes worth more than $66,000 from 90 investors.

“This isn’t just an investment in terms of capital," said CEO Anthony Sobotik in a news release. "It’s an opportunity to own a piece of your favorite ice cream shop, shared memories, and a piece of Lick’s future. By investing, you’re supporting our dream and commitment to spread the Lick experience further, enabling Lick to support family-owned farms in a more significant way, and ensuring more people can truly know what they’re licking."

The ice cream shop has been in Austin since its inception in 2012, and now operates three stores in the area, plus stores in San Antonio, Houston, and College Station. The total store count is currently at eight, with a ninth coming to Houston's Autry Park "soon," according to the website. The release states intentions to use the crowdfunding to "build more scoop shops and expand into new markets," but does not specify which cities the brand is eyeing, or even if they are in Texas or farther away.

Some of the flavors pay homage to their Texas roots, like "Caramel Salt Lick," "Hill Country Honey & Vanilla Bean," and "Texas Sheet Cake." It is easy to see where ingredients come from, as suppliers are listed on the menu. Seasonal flavors right now include creative twists like "Back Porch Iced Tea" and "Fig & Fromage," sticking to Lick's script of interesting and local ingredients. The menu also includes a small number of dairy-free flavors.

“From our first scoop shop opening in 2011 to where Lick is now, it’s been an extraordinary journey. We’ve now served over a million scoops, and with each one, we’ve shared our commitment to and love for thoughtfully crafted, ethically, and sustainably-sourced and produced ice cream,” said Sobotik.

“But beyond just charming your taste buds, our flavors tell stories," he continued. "Those are the stories of favorite dishes, the family and friends we shared them with, and the farmers we work with. It’s a special connection that ice cream grants us, and it’s what really makes this our story, not just Lick’s story.”

More information and links to contribute to the campaign are available at microventures.com.