Autumn is a beautiful time of year, a season that encourages both introspection and a deep appreciation of the people who surround us. Perhaps it is the changing colors that resonates within us to think about our own self and the changes we too must undergo; perhaps the mounting cold simply encourages us to cherish the warmth we find within one another. Or maybe it’s just a reflexive need to find someone with whom we can cuddle up with and be physically and emotionally cozy.
There exists a perplexing tendency to romanticize the music of past generations and lament the “downfall” and gradual erosion of music over time. It is the critical equivalent of the age-old “grass is always greener” adage, a wistful longing for a return to the “golden generation” of music. The reality, however, is that music does not regress —it only progresses. Music is by its very nature dynamic, constantly transforming and adapting to explore new ideas and to revisit old ideas in innovative ways. Our culture is not a vacuum; today’s music is both an homage to and progression of that which came before it. There does not exist any “golden age” of music, nor of any genre; the golden age of music is the entire history and the complete body of music that has been created throughout human history.
This revelation came to me induced by a conversation with Austin’s very own Huggy & The Feel Goodz, a seven-piece soul outfit dedicating themselves to replenishing the world with much-needed good vibes through their unique brand of “New R&B.” With the release of their brand-new EP, Chapter One, the Feel Goodz expand upon the soulful standards set by genre-defining pioneers like Marvin Gaye and D’Angelo and imbue them with their own fresh attitude and desire to connect to new and modern audiences. We had the chance to ask Huggy himself and musical director Ari Burns a few questions that arose out of repeated listens to the Chapter One EP. We think that their answers will enrich your own listening experience, as they did ours; as such, this piece begins with an interview delving into the creative minds behind the EP’s concoction before we explore the music itself.
One of the most exciting things about coming to Austin from another part of the country has been the opportunity to discover and explore an entirely new music scene and all the subcultures it entails. It is nearly impossible to imagine a better place to allow one’s music tastes to breathe and branch out— Austin truly is a mecca for live music. For someone whose tastes and true musical love lies somewhere in the avant-garde explorations of the new wave and post-punk of the eighties and the pop-punk energy of third-wave ska in the nineties, being a late arrival to the local music scene has had one major downside: so many of the fantastic bands that graced Austin’s stages are now defunct, with members exploring new projects or new paths to traverse in life. This playlist acts as a commemoration to these wonderful artists that worked so tirelessly to build Austin’s legacy for live music, and as a “Hail Mary” that hopes it might inspire even one of these groups to reassemble for a new community of music lovers.
As a firm believer in the power of music, I love to see and hear the ways in which people derive meaning from music. The experience is different for everyone: from minute details (eyes open or closed; the way in which people attach themselves to particular instrumental tendrils) to overarching patterns of interaction, music influences both physical affect and mental emotion. Evidence of this is abundant in our experienced world: athletes use music to center and motivate themselves as part of pre-game rituals, while parents’ lullabies soothe and settle children at bed-time. This is where so much of the beauty of music lies: in its ability to be a visceral tool, capable of interacting with both the mind and the body in deep, profound ways.
While this capability is inherent to all music, there are artists who realize and intentionally expand upon that visceral potential so that their music resonates intimately within their audience. Their music creates a world of its own, transporting listeners to a headspace that feels as if it manifests itself both physically and emotionally. Austin’s post-rock ensemble Balmorhea has spent the last decade flirting with this potency, and with the release of their new LP Clear Language they invite their listeners to a fully-fledged universe of the band’s own dreamy devise.
The turn of the 21st century signaled immense change, to the point that the modern world would be barely recognizable to someone transported directly from 1999. Though fears of the world ending from the Y2K bug proved unfounded, for a small group of music fanatics the world may as well have ended, for in 1999 The Jesus Lizard split up.
Co-written by Sam Votaw
For children living in foster care, consistency can be a virtually foreign concept. Often the victims of unfathomable abuse and neglect, these individuals then begin to seek security and belonging within a system where repeated home transfers—and the ensuing revolving door of friendly faces without ample enough time to make an impact—are unfortunately the norm.