Lonely Horse and Hawks (of Holy Rosary) Gain National Traction, Islands & Tigers’ Release Fourth EP

Lonely Horse wins a spot at Brooklyn’s Afropunk Festival

After electioneering enough votes to enter into a qualifying battle of the bands, last week SA duo Lonely Horse won the final round for Brooklyn’s Afropunk festival (August 23-24). With a prize of $3,000, Lonely Horse will now have an opening slot at Afropunk, featuring D’Angelo, Shabazz Palaces, Trash Talk and SZA among headliners.

As the only out-of-state band in the finals, Lonely Horse seemed like an outside bet for the festival, which focuses largely on hip-hop and electronic music. But the emotive and esoteric pairing of guitarist/frontman Nick Long and drummer Travis Hild brings a powerful stage presence, as any SA band that’s had to follow the duo onstage knows. Simple, strong and unwavering, Lonely Horse’s pounding rock is not something to be ignored.

Early in July, Lonely Horse released a new single online, the hot-blooded and head-banging “…and the Number 3.” Opening with Long’s guitar on heavy gain, the riff comes into its own when Hild slams the open hi-hats for a slick and slow groove. Long throws his voice’s pitch in wild directions, bending his mystic lyrics like he warps his circuit-breaking guitar tones. Filling the sonic space of a much larger band, Long and Hild take the tune’s stark phrases and blow them into the stratosphere.

Recorded at the prestigious Sonic Ranch in Tornillo, TX, “…and the Number 3” is the first taste from Lonely Horse’s first proper LP, My Desert Son 2, out in September on Noveau Riche records. If the single acts as quality control for the album, My Desert Son 2 promises to be an emotionally thrilling and impeccably recorded effort. —Matt Stieb

Islands & Tigers’ surf-centric I’m Afraid of My Brain

At the crest of San Antonio’s growing surf scene, Islands & Tigers prove that they don’t have to be veterans to earn their stripes. Their fourth EP effort, the freshly released I’m Afraid of My Brain, is an escape from the real world into a land where spring break lasts forever, as Harmony Korine can only hope.

All four songs on the EP are an effective blend of lo-fi pop and surf rock, a form now in its prime. I’m Afraid of My Brain recalls indie darlings Best Coast and, at times, nods the way of Brian Wilson with hazy coastal vibes and candy-coated hooks.

The lyrical themes are typical to the surf genre, reflecting on the past and lovebird relationships, and generally longing for “the way things used be.” Sun-soaked and saltwater-drenched, I’m Afraid of My Brain is a love letter to the greatness of surf’s past and its future promise. Despite their relatively young age, the Islands & Tigers kids have successfully tapped into a genre as timeless as sacred memories of family beach vacations. –Shannon Sweet

The Hawks (of Holy Rosary) soar with What Team Am I On?

After an early summer tour with Pennsylvania’s Dr. Dog, the Hawks (of Holy Rosary) are riding a considerable wave of hype, with online features in Paste Magazine, Death + Taxes and USA Today. A perfect match for the positive energy indie rock outpourings of Dr. Dog, The Hawks displayed their carefree jams to huge new audiences on the tour. And with the Hawks’ new LP, What Team Am I On?, the SA quintet possess a light-hearted blast of an album to keep the momentum alive.

Out July 22 on Texas Is Funny Records, What Team Am I On? is packed with existential dickery and silly non sequiturs sung in charismatic three-part harmonies. With a crafted sloppiness reminiscent of Pavement, the Hawks’ commitment to onstage and in-studio fun translates perfectly in their music. I imagine that the only thing more fun than writing “Fuck My Way to the Top” is to figure out and perform the harmonies on the song’s hook.

Named after the grade school that founders Frank Weysos and Chuck Hernandez attended, the Hawks (of Holy Rosary) chose an appropriately side-splitting portrait for the cover of What Team Am I On? A not-so-athletic kid (presumably Weysos) in Terry Richardson aviators and a vaguely transparent mesh T poses with basketball in hand, with the Holy Rosary’s hawk emblazoned on his shorts. The little baller looks like he’s asked the album’s titular question more than once after not hearing his name picked (but hey, maybe he has a sweet bank shot).

It may just be a little fun-poking at their beginnings, but the cover and name of What Team Am I On? nail the Hawks’ class-clown vibe: even if the quintet is picked last, they’ll have a romp of a time and do so in style. But with the Casio-kissed career numbers of What Team Am I On?, don’t expect the Hawks to slide by in any upcoming drafts. —MS

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