Contemporary Austin Artists that We Want to be Friends With
Austin is the live music capital of the world, and here’s our pick of Austinite artists who have elevated the city’s reputation and spread the sounds of Texas to a radio near you.
By Blair Fielder
Gary Clark Jr.
From his start playing Antone’s at age 15, this 35-year-old Grammy winner is well on his way to becoming the guitar hero of our generation. His fusion of rock, soul and blues has landed him on stage with legends from The Rolling Stones to Eric Clapton. Clark draws inspiration from his roots, and his ode to Austin, “Travis County,” exemplifies the mutual love between the musician and this town. Be on the lookout for his new album This Land rumored to be released March 1st.
For fans of: Jimi Hendrix, anything cool your hippie dad listened to in the 70s, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
When I think of contemporary Austin artists, Shakey Graves is the first to come to mind. If Alejandro Rose-Garcia’s Americana style and poignant lyrics don’t win you over, then his skills on his hand-made retrofitted suitcase drum will. Shakey Graves is the real thing- no frills or autotune here. Start with his debut album, And The War Came Home to dive deep into where it all started.
For fans of: Mumford and Sons, beautiful music, and Alabama Shakes.
Self-described as a “seven-piece pop mini-orchestra,” Wild Child has been performing in Austin for almost a decade at everything from Blues on the Green to ACL Live. The band’s loyal following makes them a local staple, and their angelic harmonies will win you over if they haven’t already. Wild Child’s latest album, Expectations is best listened to on a blanket at Zilker, but Spotify is always a close second. Start with “Pillow Talk” and that smile on your face will stay there as you explore the rest of chill acoustic library.
For fans of: Mt. Joy, Angus & Julia Stone, and stress-free tunes.
This electronic-soul duo gained popularity by combining two things that everyone loves— light shows and funky beats. To call them “psychedelic” would be an understatement. Ghostland Observatory definitely helps keep Austin weird with frequent concerts sure to leave you feeling in another dimension. Their 2018 album See You Later Simulator put them back on the map after an eight year hiatus from albums, but their pure gold comes from 2010 on hits like “Sad, Sad City” and “Midnight Voyage.” For a deeper track, listen to “Silver City”— you won’t be disappointed.
For fans of: Cherub, STRFKR, and Ratatat.
Often referred to as the “Queen of Austin Soul,” Tameca Jones’ soothing vocals and unbelievable range live up to her title. Her residency at the historic Continental Club gave Jones the platform to serenade listeners to soft, gooey songs like “Sandman” and “Good Boy.” Look out for her show at Antone’s on March 22nd.
For fans of: Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga’s Joanne, and Amy Winehouse
Mobley is the embodiment of what it means to be an artist. In addition his musical talents, the solo-act designs his album artwork, produces every album, directs his music videos, and even makes up his own instruments to be used for live sets. Mobley’s rhythms will capture you into the layered instrumentation of his music. Check out the music videos for “Swoon” and “Solo” to get his full artistic vision.
For fans of: Justin Timberlake’s FutureSex/LoveSounds, Glass Animals, and interactive live sets.
Bruce Robison & Kelly Willis
Although they aren’t from Austin, these married musicians have been Austin country to their core since they moved here. Bruce and Kelly often play shows together, giving them the opportunity to perform both their solo work and duets. Robison’s lyrical genius is carried throughout all of his music, in addition to the songs that he’s written for the Dixie Chicks and George Strait. Start with their duet “If I Had a Rose,” and check out their album Our Year for more.
For fans of: Randy Rogers Band, Texas country, and Charlie Robison, Bruce’s brother