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 courtesy of KVUE

Austin's first contemporary Spanish-language radio station is playing Bad Bunny, Maluma, Shakira, and more

Airwaves Don't Lie

A new radio station has arrived on the airwaves in Austin. Latino 93.3 made its debut on July 12 as the city's first contemporary Spanish-language station, uniting a "melting pot of culture."

Jose Zapatero, better known as "El Pato," is the programming director. He said, compared to other stations in the market, 93.3 stands out through its combination of artists — from Bad Bunny to Marc Anthony, to Maluma and Shakira.

Speaking in Spanish, Zapatero said the station is, "For all the people who have arrived here in the state from Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico — from several parts — and we're ready to mix those cultures with this new station."

The goal was to combine content that mirrors the current trend of music.

"He [Bad Bunny] was dominating the charts globally, not just here in the States, or in Mexico, or in Latin America. It was globally. So, with that being said, this is an opportunity. Again, no one was speaking to this niche of people here locally, and we decided to take the opportunity and just make it happen," said Sandra Araujo, who works with Waterloo Studios and lent a helping hand with 93.3.

Zapatero explained the idea to create a contemporary station in Austin was always there. The company was just waiting for the right moment, which eventually came.

"It's the time to celebrate and to give the best communication to the Hispanic community," he said.

Waterloo Studios has other Spanish stations, such as KLZT, which Zapatero is also in charge of. He said the difference with that station and others is the music format.


Read the full story and watch the video at KVUE.com.

Photo by Moe Aljaff

Contemporary Spanish hot spot replaces longtime South Austin tapas treasure


One of the leading lights of Austin’s contemporary culinary scene has taken a siesta, but his restaurant will be in good hands. After a decade of running Barlata at 1500 S. Lamar Blvd, Daniel Olivella has retired, turning over the reigns of contemporary Spanish cuisine to former Eberly executive chef Laila Bazahm.

On May 12, Bazahm will debut El Raval, a tribute to the namesake Barcelona neighborhood. She became enchanted with the area while helming celebrated Southeast Asian-Latin American restaurant Hawker 45 with her wife, Laura Freedman. The culturally diverse district’s Carrer de Joaquín Costa was dotted with international groceries, providing crucial ingredients and a homesickness cure for the Philippines-born chef.

“El Raval is a neighborhood that celebrates diversity and cultural exchange. The different languages spoken on the streets, the various festivals celebrated throughout the year, and the wide range of cuisines available all speak to its richness and complexity,” said Bazahm via release.

Though Spanish cuisine will be at the forefront of El Raval, the restaurant will reflect Bazahm’s globetrotting palate. The menu is organized into blocks devoted to the sea, barnyard, and garden. Offerings range from traditional tapas like gambas al ajillo (red shrimp, garlic oil, chile de árbol, and sherry to original creations like braised local lamb breast in the style of kongsha mangsho (a Bengali mutton curry).

The Para Compartir (“to share”) section showcases bountifully portioned dishes, including Bazahm’s riffs on paella. Highlights include squid ink rice topped with a cuttlefish ‘nduja relish and sea urchin, slow-cooked short rib served with a Catalan beef stew reduction, and grilled chicken accompanied with carrots, vadouvan (a French colonial derivative of Indian masala), cardamom-sofrito emulsion, and green chile raita.

El Raval will also feature a dynamic bar menu developed by Bazahm’s pals, Moe Aljaff and Juliette Laroui, founders of Two Schmucks. The elegant Joaquín Costa dive bar, named in 2022 to the World’s 50 Best Bars list, helped transform the once gritty area into one of Barcelona’s most exhilarating nightlife scenes.

Starting May 12, El Raval will welcome guests Sunday - Thursday, 4-10 pm, and Friday and Saturday, 4-10 pm. At press time, a handful of reservations were still available for opening weekend.

El Raval Austin

Photo by Moe Aljaff

El Raval will feature contemporary Spanish fare with global flavor profiles

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

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.