Music

40 Songs Proving That Austin, Texas, Is The Capital Of Dope Jams

Just a tiny cross section of the literally thousands of good tunes coming from the heart of Texas in the last few years.

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1. Grand Champeen, "Songs You Want To Hear" (2007)

Facebook: GrandChampeen

Bar rock first born at boarding school. Their live shows are unparalleled when it comes to positive energy and drunken fun. "Beautiful music!!!!!" as my friend Brad would yell from the front row.

4. Explosions in the Sky, "So Long, Lonesome" (2007)

Facebook: ExplosionsInTheSkyMusic

The prettiest post-rock that any human was ever lucky enough to experience. If you listen to their music on your headphones for the first time and don't cry, you might not be human.

5. Alejandro Escovedo, "Always a Friend" (2008)

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A sprawling musical history encompassing everything from early punk to country and Southern guitar rock has all led to Escovedo's brilliant and uncategorizable solo songwriting, which is emotionally vulnerable and yet rock ‘n’ roll as hell.

8. Spoon, "Written in Reverse" (2010)

Facebook: spoontheband

Like Austin itself, there will always be someone to tell you that Spoon was better in the early years. And yet 2010's Transference was wonderfully strange and understated. This track is incredibly bitter but addictively delicious.

11. Some Say Leland, "We Will Dance" (2010)

somesayleland.com

An art collective fronted by singer-songwriter Dan Grissom. They're also involved with putting on magical "secret" and house shows in Austin, where they celebrate and collaborate with many of the town's best-kept folk secrets.

17. White Denim, "Street Joy" (2011)

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Inventive to the point of completely defying categorization. Going to see them is inspiring and breathless: You never know what they're going to play next — only that you will love it.

20. Quiet Company, "You, Me & The Boatman" (2011)

quietcompanymusic.com

A rock 'n' roll band fronted by Taylor Muse, Quiet Company previously were known in some circles as a Christian band, but 2011's We Are All Where We Belong is what Muse describes as a "breakup record" about his own departure from Christianity.

21. Riverboat Gamblers, "Blue Ghosts" (2012)

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Punk's not dead. Originally outta Denton, Texas (the second-best city in the world for music), the Gamblers moved to Austin a decade ago and what would we even do without them?

24. Kat Edmonson, "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" (2012)

Facebook: katedmonsonmusic

Creative jazz vocalist born in Houston who got to Austin and started making every pop song she gets close to sound real, real pretty.

25. Shearwater, "Breaking the Yearlings" (2012)

shearwatermusic.com

Peerless and indescribable music set in the wilderness and showcasing the thrilling vocal expression of ornithologist/songwriter Jonathan Meiburg.

26. Phranchyze, "#atx" (2012)

Facebook: Phranchyze

Remember the name of Phranchyze, the "South Austin Hero," so you can look cool later when he's super famous and you were the first of your friends to dig it. That face doesn't hurt either.

31. Bob Schneider, "The Effect" (2013)

Facebook: bobschneidermusic

Hardworking Austin singer-songwriter Bob Schneider gets a bad rap with the hipster set because of his devoted but often fratty audience, but he is actually one of the best (and weirdest) songwriters working today. Also he has a super-rad website.

37. Dale Watson, "I Lie When I Drink" (2013)

Facebook: dalewatsonband

This silver fox is the only argument you need when some Yankee tries to tell you that country music sucks these days. They are wrong, and Dale is so right.

39. Okkervil River, "Stay Young" (2013)

Facebook: okkervilriver

Over 15 years of making spectacular music, the only constant in Okkervil River has been lead singer and songwriter Will Sheff, whose songs range from aching to anthemic. Their new album, The Silver Gymnasium, drops in September.

And here's a Spotify playlist with most of the songs above: