Photo by Felipe Gomez

After Argentina’s widely celebrated FIFA World Cup win in December of 2022, Alex Cósmico had to capture those feelings in a song. The Columbian-born-and-raised, Austin-based singer-songwriter (Alex Mendoza, they/them) teamed up with percussionist and audio engineer Zach Kursman, finally releasing “Rozal10” on June 20, and rekindling that fútbol fire.

The release comes six months after the win, but only weeks after star player Lionel Messi signed to Inter Miami on July 5. Mendoza calls this a “crazy coincidence," given the song’s chorus about living large in the Florida city.

“When I went into writing ‘Rozal10,’ Messi had just won the World Cup, which was a huge moment in my life," Mendoza said in a release. "Growing up, I had Messi posters on my walls, and I loved watching him grow alongside Ronaldinho. Then he killed it with [Paris Saint-Germain] and Neymar, but winning the World Cup is monumental.”

The friends and collaborators had been listening to “hard and dirty reggaeton” at the time (“‘muisca de la calle’ is what my mom would call it!” said Mendoza), so the musical tone was primed before the game even started. The goal was to make a summer song: “something that … made you move your body and let it all out.”

Mendoza’s music as Alex Cósmico usually tends to take a mellow, coffeehouse form with some psychedelic twists. But “Rozal10” is a departure, much more at home somewhere in the 4th Street District. Semi-whispered and doubled vocals build that trance the songwriters hoped for, swept away by a strong four-on-the-floor beat and samba stylings.

Lyrics are a driving force in this work, named “Rozal10” in reference to superstar Spanish singer-songwriter Rosalía and the number on Mendoza’s first jersey: Barcelona’s iconic No. 10.

Some of the Rosalía-inspired lines include name dropping luxury brands to mimic the singer’s lavish music videos, and a pledge of allegiance to her combination of reggaeton and flamenco. ([Translated:] “I spend all day listening to Rosalía, the queen of fusion: Motomami Catalina.”) Bringing the lyrics back to the game amidst the jet setting of Motomami, the song zooms in on Qatar.

“[The lyric is,] ‘Like Messi in Qatar, dreaming with all my might,’” because he fought so hard for that World Cup,” said Mendoza. “It’s how it feels being a musician and an artist. He’s played so many World Cups and finally got the title he deserved all along. But he had to fight a lot to get there and had to have the correct team along his side!"

Finally, the individual references fade away for a bigger picture of Colombia, with the sounding off of the early 2000s tourism slogan, “Colombia es pasión.” Mendoza remembers, “I left around that time and ‘Colombia es pasión stayed with me for years, nurturing that part of me that missed home. That passion also lives within me.”

Mendoza is a growing figure in the Austin scene, still making the first of their official solo records after recording harder rock in the band Cosmic Chaos and contributing sculpture art around town for years. The friendly Austin artist is always ready to jump on a project, especially for live events.

"[It’s] a reminder that I can’t do this all on my own, but with my community anything is possible," they said. "Now more than ever, I feel like my lil’ group of helpers is growing and going in the correct direction.”

Listen to "Rozal10" on Spotify, Apple Music, or iTunes. Alex Cósmico is playing a free set on July 21 at Chess Club during Hot Summer Nights, a benefit festival for the Red River Cultural District. The event, starting at 7 pm, also features Geranium Drive, Queen Serence, Nolan Potter's Nightmare Band, and a DJ set by John Dwire.

Photo by Jono Foley

Austin musicians seek midnight confessions for new original song at Long Center party

To Be Honest

Hundreds of Austinites will be enjoying a free show at the Long Center on July 20, as part of the popular Drop-in series. But if you're going to drop in, why not stay a while? After the show, an insightful and weird podcast by two Austin musicians will lead guests through a "Song Confessional Midnight Gala."

Aptly named, this afterparty ends at midnight and combines three of Austin's best indie-alternative acts. Golden Dawn Arkestra, a charismatic, psychedelic, and nearly overwhelming group will warm the crowd up at the free concert. Then singer-songwriter and producer Walker Lukens joins drummer Zac Catanzaro (The Bright Light Social Hour) are mining deep, dark secrets from guests to use in their KUTX podcast, "Song Confessional," featuring the Drop-in headliner.

"Song Confessional" takes a unique, systematic form, turning listener-submitted confessions into songs, and then into honest, insightful conversations. Lukens and Catanzaro assign their favorite stories to groups or artists like Ley Line, Alesia Lani, or David Ramirez and Kalu James (Kalu & The Electric Joint), who spin those secrets into songs behind the scenes and present the product on the podcast.

This time, Golden Dawn Arkestra will contribute a song based on one of the stories collected from the event. There is a conspicuous new addition to the Long Center to make this possible: the podcast's new confessional booth. Since stories remain anonymous, the faux-Catholic booth is equipped with a self-service recording interface, allowing those who step inside to direct their own storytelling.

Unfortunately, neither Lukens nor Catanzaro are on the other side of a dividing wall granting absolution. Sinners can only hope their monologue makes it to the ears of Golden Dawn Arkestra.

A DJ set by Soundfounder, a.k.a. KUTX electronic music host Andrew Brown, will keep visitors entertained while secrets are being whispered. The rest is a party — an opportunity to let loose in more ways than one.

The Drop-in show is likely "sold" out, since RSVPs opened on Monday. But the "Song Confessional Midnight Gala" is accepting free RSVPs at thelongcenter.org.

Photo by Barbara FG

Shakey Graves shakes up a recent single with a newly released demo and big tour announcement

Ready or Not

Austin is behind Shakey Graves all the way, whether it's his old blues jaunts or a sleeker new duet. In this case, his home town gets to enjoy both. The guitarist and singer (Alejandro Rose-Garcia, offstage) has offered up the demo version of his most recent single, "Ready or Not," as a two-song EP with his "Movie of the Week" tour announcement.

The other song in the EP is that same single, so it's not a lot of new music; but it is a lot of new insight. This is a growing strategy for Rose-Garcia, who has also recently announced newish music in the form of a cover honoring great Texas musicians.

Where the studio version of "Ready or Not" is warm and jangly, uplifted by harmonies from West Virginian singer Sierra Ferrell, the demo is absolutely a different, deeper beast.

The demo track is much slower and meandering, with gentle guitar and radar chirps as if underwater. Like going from She & Him to M. Ward, it's darker and languorous; It's like The Shins took a break from making Chutes Too Narrow in 2023 and stepped in to rewrite the Shakey Graves original.

"Made in the New Mexico mountains by [Cameron Neal] and I," wrote Rose-Garcia in the announcement on Instagram, "this is the bittersweet gooey center of the tune, which later transformed into an upbeat duet with the amazing [Sierra Ferrell]."

The titular lyric, "ready or not" takes a very different tone with the change in arranging. Unlike the studio version's blithe disinterest in admitting things are not okay, the demo embodies a comfortable resignation settling in.

This could be convenient for stripped-down live performances of the song, and hopefully that's just what fans get on the new "Movie of the Week" North American tour this fall. It kicks off in Austin during Willie Nelson's annual 4th of July Picnic, and continues around the country for an additional 54 dates.

There is no other Austin date for fans who can't make the picnic, but Shakey Graves will return to Texas on October 26 and 27, in Dallas and Houston, respectively.

Different legs of the tour will feature several different guests, including Flipturn, Rayland Baxter, and Sadurn.

Listen to both versions of "Ready or Not" on streaming platforms, and check ticket availability at shakeygraves.com. A presale is available on the artist's site starting at 10 am on June 27. The general sale starts on Friday, June 30.

Shakey Graves' "Movie of the Week" tour currently includes the following dates, although some are already sold out:

  • July 4—Q2 Stadium, Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic—Austin, TX
  • July 9—Levitate Music and Arts Festival—Marshfield, MA
  • July 11—The Chicken Box—Nantucket, MA
  • July 12—The Chicken Box—Nantucket, MA
  • July 28—Bauhaus Brew Labs—Minneapolis, MN
  • July 29—Bell’s Eccentric Cafe-Beer Garden—Kalamazoo, MI
  • July 30—Old Forester’s Paristown Hall—Louisville, KY
  • August 2—Greenfield Lake Amphitheater—Wilmington, NC
  • August 3—Firefly Distillery—North Charleston, SC
  • August 4—Rabbit Rabbit—Asheville, NC
  • August 5—Maymont Park—Richmond, VA
  • August 6—The Ritz—Raleigh, NC
  • August 8—The Atlantis—Washington, DC
  • August 9—Lincoln Hill Farms—Canadaigua, NY
  • August 11—The Pines Theater at Look Park—Northampton, MA
  • August 12—The Green at Shelburne Museum—Shelburne, VT
  • August 13—Guster’s On The Ocean—Portland, ME
  • August 15—Pier 17—New York, NY
  • August 16—XL Live—Harrisburg, PA
  • August 17—Freeman Arts Pavilion—Selbyville, DE
  • August 18—Stone Pony Summer Stage—Asbury Park, NJ
  • September 21—The Van Buren—Phoenix, AZ
  • September 22—BeachLife Ranch—Redondo Beach, CA
  • September 26—The Sound At Del Mar—Del Mar, CA
  • September 27—Orpheum Theater—Flagstaff, AZ
  • September 30—Ace of Spades—Sacramento, CA
  • October 1—Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas—Las Vegas, NV
  • October 5—Vina Robles Amphitheatre—Paso Robles, CA
  • October 6—Cascade Theatre—Redding, CA
  • October 7—Crystal Ballroom—Portland, OR
  • October 8—Rebels and Renegades—Monterey, CA
  • October 10—Paramount Theatre—Seattle, WA
  • October 11—Queen Elizabeth Theatre—Vancouver, BC
  • October 12—Knitting Factory Concert House—Spokane, WA
  • October 13—Knitting Factory Concert House—Boise, ID
  • October 14—Knitting Factory Concert House—Boise, ID
  • October 15—Union Event Center—Salt Lake City, UT
  • October 26—Longhorn Ballroom—Dallas, TX
  • October 27—The Lawn at White Oak Music Hall—Houston, TX
  • November 1—Ryman Auditorium—Nashville, TN
  • November 2—The Eastern—Atlanta, GA
  • November 3—Avondale Brewing Company—Birmingham, AL
  • November 4—Georgia Theatre—Athens, GA
  • November 5—Neighborhood Theatre—Charlotte, NC
  • November 6—The Signal—Chattanooga, TN
  • November 8—Roxian Theatre—Pittsburgh, PA
  • November 9—Toad’s Place—New Haven, CT
  • November 11—Massey Hall—Toronto, ON
  • November 12—Union Transfer—Philadelphia, PA
  • November 13—9:30 Club—Washington, DC
  • November 14—Roadrunner—Boston, MA
  • November 16—Agora Theatre—Cleveland, OH
  • November 17—The Salt Shed—Chicago, IL
  • November 18—The Sylvee—Madison, WI
  • November 19—Egyptian Room-Old National Centre—Indianapolis, IN
Photo courtesy of Spaceflight Records

Nonprofit Austin record label kicks off new music series with one release every Friday

End a week, start a song

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.