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Episode Recap Featured New Broadcast News

Episode recap: The War On Drugs

Austin City Limits spotlights the acclaimed American band The War On Drugs in a majestic new hour of atmospheric rock, featuring highlights from their current Grammy-nominated album I Don’t Live Here Anymore. The new installment premieres January 28 at 7pm CT/8pm ET on PBS.  Following the broadcast, the episode will be available to stream at 11pm CT/12am ET at pbs.org/austincitylimits for four weeks. The Peabody Award-winning program, recorded live at ACL’s studio home in Austin, Texas, continues its extraordinary run as the longest-running music television show in history. ACL gives viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance as this American music institution nears its remarkable half-century milestone. ACL airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available to stream online at pbs.org/austincitylimits following the initial broadcast.

The War On Drugs made a powerful ACL debut in 2015 and now return with songs from their two most recent releases, the celebrated I Don’t Live Here Anymore, the band’s fifth album, a 2023 Grammy Award nominee, and 2017’s A Deeper Understanding, which earned the band their first-ever Grammy for Best Rock Album. Led by singer/guitar virtuoso and primary songwriter Adam Granduciel, the Philadelphia outfit has steadily evolved into one of rock’s most compelling live acts over the course of a nearly two-decade career, deftly blending gritty heartland rock, richly melodic vocals and sparkling analog synthesizers on a series of beloved albums. The New York Times says, “With this fifth studio album, they’ve reached improbable heights with meticulously crafted, guitar-forward songs”; Consequence hails, “It’s hard to imagine a musical experience that’s more enveloping and uplifting”; and GQ raves, “[I Don’t Live Here Anymore] is easily the band’s clearest, most vibrant, and upbeat. You’ll want to play it loud and see it live.” 

The War On Drugs on Austin City Limits, Season 48. Photo by Scott Newton.

The septet open their set with “Pain,” a Deeper Understanding cut that perfectly demonstrates their ability to blend bright melodies with brooding synth textures and grand-scale guitar solos. Bandleader Granduciel guides the group through a series of adventurous and emotionally resonant explorations in the hour, including the lush soundscapes and familiar synth and guitar intro of title track “I Don’t Live Here Anymore,” a radio favorite and the #1 song at the Adult Alternative format in 2022. “Thanks for having us on the legendary Austin City Limits,” Granduciel remarks. “Growing up without cable TV, this is one of the only things I grew up watching.” A wave of synthesizers signals “In Chains,” the closing number that mixes shimmering dreampop with anthemic rock, earning rapturous raves from the ACL audience.

“The War on Drugs are the perfect bridge between the legacy music in which ACL’s roots run deep and the contemporary sound of rock music today,” said ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “Lyrically and sonically, they represent a big part of the sound of ACL today.”

Episode setlist:

Pain

I Don’t Wanna Wait

Victim

Strangest Thing

I Don’t Live Here Anymore

Thinking of a Place

In Chains

Season 48 Broadcast Schedule (Second Half):

January 7   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Sheryl Crow

January 14   Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats/ Adia Victoria

January 21   Adrian Quesada Boleros Psicodélicos

January 28   The War On Drugs

February 4   Pavement

February 11   Maren Morris

February 18   Spoon

February 25   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Joe Ely

Watch live on PBS, or stream anytime. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding episode schedules, future tapings and select live stream updates or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter and IG. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.

Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 48th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic Austin PBS Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.  
Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, Workrise, the Austin Convention Center Department, Cirrus Logic and AXS Ticketing. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com.

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Featured New Broadcast News

Austin City Limits announces full Season 48 broadcast schedule

Iconic television series Austin City Limits proudly announces the second half of Season 48, with six new episodes that start airing in January 2023 as part of the esteemed program’s fourteen-episode season. ACL returns with a stellar slate of all-new broadcast episodes, showcasing magnetic performances that feature some of today’s most talked-about live acts including recent 2023 Grammy Award nominees Spoon, Maren Morris and The War on Drugs. The program returns on Saturday, January 7 at 7pm CT/8pm ET with a special broadcast, Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Sheryl Crow highlighting new inductee Sheryl Crow and featuring all-star performances; a special companion Hall of Fame hour salutes fellow inductee Joe Ely and will close out Season 48 on February 25. The Peabody Award-winning program, recorded live at ACL’s studio home in Austin, Texas, continues its extraordinary run as the longest-running music television show in history. ACL gives viewers a front-row seat to the best in live performance as this American music institution nears its remarkable half-century milestone. ACL airs weekly on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings) and full episodes are made available to stream online at pbs.org/austincitylimits following the initial broadcast. 

Since the inaugural ACL Hall of Fame in 2014 honoring Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan, the music-filled salutes have become fan-favorites. For the first time, Austin City Limits takes fans inside the epic celebration with a pair of deep-dive one-hour specials from this year’s Inductions, recorded live in Austin, Texas on October 27, 2022. The special installments, Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors, will bookend the second half of the season and salute newly-minted inductees Sheryl Crow and Joe Ely with individual hours, featuring guest performances showcasing each artist’s Hall of Fame tribute, along with extended highlights including memorable induction speeches and vintage clips from the inductees’ appearances on Austin City Limits

The first HOF episode premieres January 7 at 7pm CT/8pm ET, celebrating Sheryl Crow. Music greats Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Brittney Spencer and Lucius’ Jess Wolfe salute the nine-time Grammy Award-winning artist in a must-see hour featuring exclusive ACL collaborative performances. Rounding out Season 48 on February 25 st 7pm CT/8pm ET is a Hall of Fame tribute to Texas legend Joe Ely, Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Joe Ely, featuring a musical salute from revered Lone Star musicians and Ely’s longtime collaborators in Texas supergroup The Flatlanders, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock, along with fellow Texans Rodney Crowell and Marcia Ball. The hour features a memorable induction by renowned Texan author Lawrence Wright along with historic highlights from the influential Ely’s eleven appearances on the ACL stage.

Maren Morris performs on Austin City Limits, 2022. Photo by Scott Newton.

Season 48 continues in January with a diverse slate spotlighting multiple 2023 Grammy nominees in full-hour performances: One of modern rock’s premier bands, and first-time Grammy nominees, Austin’s own Spoon, return to the ACL stage for their fifth appearance, showcasing their celebrated tenth album, Lucifer On The Sofa, Grammy-nominated for Best Rock Album; multi-platinum, award-winning country star and Texas native Maren Morris makes a highly-anticipated ACL debut in a radiant, career-spanning hour with the hitmaker showcasing gems from her latest Humble Quest, which earned a trio of 2023 Grammy nominations, including Best Country Album; acclaimed rock act The War on Drugs return for their second appearance with selections from the Grammy-nominated I Don’t Live Here Anymore. Legendary alternative rock pioneers Pavement make their first-ever appearance on the series in a career-spanning hour marking their thirtieth anniversary. Rocking soul act Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats return for their second appearance with their latest The Future in an ecstatic live performance; sharing the hour is soulful Nashville singer-songwriter Adia Victoria, making her ACL debut with numbers from her acclaimed A Southern Gothic, a 2022 Americana Music Awards nominee for Album of the Year.

Adrian Quesada performs with Girl Ultra on Austin City Limits, 2022. Photo by Scott Newton.

A Season 48 highlight is the first solo appearance of multi-hyphenate Adrian Quesada, returning to the ACL stage to bring to life his acclaimed Spanish-language album, Boleros Psicodélicos, a love letter to the psychedelic Latin love songs “baladas” of the sixties and seventies; Quesada performs with a nine-piece band joined by an international line-up of guest vocalists from across the spectrum of contemporary Latin music, including  iLe, Natalia Clavier, Girl Ultra and Clemente Castillo, in a thrilling must-see hour. 

“After a historic kick-off to our new season this Fall, Austin City Limits rolls into the New Year with another round of firsts and favorites,” says ACL executive producer Terry Lickona. “For the first time ever, we’ll split our annual Hall of Fame celebration into two full episodes. We’ll showcase a unique Latin music genre that has never been presented on American television, plus some rock, indie and country music favorites – something for every musical palette.”

Season 48 Broadcast Schedule (Second Half):

January 7   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Sheryl Crow

January 14   Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats/ Adia Victoria

January 21   Adrian Quesada Boleros Psicodélicos

January 28   The War On Drugs

February 4   Pavement

February 11   Maren Morris

February 18   Spoon

February 25   Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame Honors Joe Ely

ACL’s Season 48 premiered in October 2022 with a historic line-up spotlighting an unprecedented number of female artists, including a sterling season opener featuring celebrated singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile, currently nominated for seven 2023 Grammy Awards; and many lauded acts topping 2022 Year-End Best Lists, including synth-pop duo Sylvan Esso, indie-folk singer-songwriter Tamara Lindeman (aka The Weather Station) and Americana singer-songwriter Allison Russell. The season featured ACL debuts from breakout artists including Japanese Breakfast and Arlo Parks along with indie-pop duo Lucius. ACL shone a spotlight on Lone Star country with breakout star Parker McCollum and the swan song of veteran Robert Earl Keen capped by ACL Hall of Famer Lyle Lovett making his first appearance in over a decade. Rounding out the first half of Season 48 was the electrifying ACL debut of Cuban funk sensations and newly-minted Grammy nominees Cimafunk and The Tribe.

Watch live on PBS, or stream anytime on PBS.org. The series will continue to air fan-favorite encore episodes through the end of 2022. Viewers can visit acltv.com for news regarding live streams, future tapings and episode schedules or by following ACL on Facebook, Twitter and IG. Fans can also browse the ACL YouTube channel for exclusive songs, behind-the-scenes videos and full-length artist interviews.

Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits (ACL) offers viewers unparalleled access to featured acts in an intimate setting that provides a platform for artists to deliver inspired, memorable, full-length performances. Now in its 48th Season, the program is taped live before a concert audience from The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. Austin City Limits is the longest-running music series in television history and remains the only TV series to ever be awarded the National Medal of Arts. Since its inception, the groundbreaking music series has become an institution that’s helped secure Austin’s reputation as the Live Music Capital of the World. The historic Austin PBS Studio 6A, home to 36 years of ACL concerts, has been designated an official Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Landmark. In 2011, ACL moved to the new venue ACL Live at The Moody Theater in downtown Austin. ACL received a rare institutional Peabody Award for excellence and outstanding achievement in 2012.  

Austin City Limits is produced by Austin PBS and funding is provided in part by Dell Technologies, Workrise, the Austin Convention Center Department, Cirrus Logic and AXS Ticketing. Additional funding is provided by the Friends of Austin City Limits. Learn more about Austin City Limits, programming and history at acltv.com.

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame

In 2014, Austin PBS, KLRU-TV — creator and producer of the legendary PBS show Austin City Limits — established the Austin City Limits Hall of Fame to recognize legendary musicians and key individuals who have been instrumental in making television’s longest-running popular music show an institution. Each year a new class of honorees are inducted and celebrated at a live event taped to air on PBS. It is also a historical archive, educational resource and celebration of Austin City Limits —telling the story of the show through photos, a timeline/anthology mural and in the near future, an interactive database of vintage Austin City Limits performances and video footage of interviews, behind-the-scenes and never before seen performances throughout the decades. Honorees to-date include Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble, Lloyd Maines, Asleep at the Wheel, Loretta Lynn, Flaco Jiménez, Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson, B.B. King, Rosanne Cash, The Neville Brothers, Roy Orbison, Marcia Ball, Ray Charles, Los Lobos, Lyle Lovett, Shawn Colvin, Buddy Guy, Lucinda Williams, Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo, Joe Ely and Sheryl Crow.
Austin City Limits 8th Annual Hall of Fame is produced by Austin PBS and funding is provided in part by AXS Ticketing, American Honda Motor Company, Netspend Corporation and YETI.

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Featured News

ACL artists collect 2023 Grammy Award nominations

Grammy season is upon us, as the nominations for the 65th Annual Grammy Awards were announced on Tuesday. We’re proud to see so many of our featured artists and distinguished alumni rack up nominations. Our Season 48 opener Brandi Carlile received seven nods, including Album of the Year for In These Silent Days, Record of the Year, Best Americana Performance and Best American Roots Song for “You and Me On the Rock,” on which she collaborated with fellow 48ers Lucius, and Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance for “Broken Horses.” She showcased both nominated songs in her dazzling season premiere along with highlights from the celebrated album, which will encore on your local PBS station next year, check acltv.com for episode schedules.

Maren Morris on Austin City Limits, Oct. 2022. Photo by Scott Newton.

We’re thrilled to showcase many of the nominees, including Maren Morris, Spoon and The War on Drugs, in full-hour performances in the second half of our Season 48, which will begin airing early next year, and the complete broadcast line-up will be announced in early December. Country star Maren Morris, who recently taped her first-ever ACL appearance, received a trio of nominations, including Best Country Solo Performance and Best Country Song for “Circles Around This Town” and Best Country Album for Humble Quest. Austin-bred indie rockers Spoon received their first-ever nomination, Best Rock Album, for their acclaimed LP Lucifer On the Sofa. The War On Drugs scored a Best Rock Song nod for “Harmonia’s Dream” from their I Don’t Live Here Anymore.

Cimafunk on Austin City Limits, May 3, 2022. Photo by Scott Newton.

Current Season 48 standouts garnering accolades include Cuban sensation Cimafunk, who recently debuted on ACL in a performance for the ages, and received his first nomination (but surely not his last) for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album for El Alimento, while genre-defying songstress Allison Russell got nods for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song for “Prodigal Daughter,” her collaboration with singer/songwriter Aoife O’Donovan. ACL Hall of Famer Lyle Lovett picked up a nomination for Best Americana Performance for “There You Go Again” alongside his pals and fellow AC Hall of Famers Asleep at the Wheel.

Sheryl Crow sings “I Shall Believe” with Brandi Carlile, Brittney Spencer and Lucius’ Jess Wolfe during the 8th annual ACL Hall of Fame induction, Oct. 27, 2022. Photo courtesy Austin City Limits.

Cheers to this year’s esteemed ACL Hall of Fame inductee Sheryl Crow, who returns to the Grammys with a nom for Best American Roots Song for “Forever,” a new song from her acclaimed 2022 documentary Sheryl. Stay tuned for our upcoming ACL Hall of Fame broadcast featuring the nine-time Grammy winner, which airs early next year and features one-of-a-kind collaborations including Sheryl and Brandi Carlile.

Kendrick Lamar performs on Austin City Limits, 2015. Photo by Scott Newton.

Season 48 artists aren’t the only ones who need to clear space on their mantle, however. Season 41 standout Kendrick Lamar collected a whopping eight nominations, including Record, Song and Album of the Year, plus the four Rap categories and Music Video of the Year. ACL four-timer Miranda Lambert garnered four nominations, including Best Country solo performance for “In Her Arms,” a song she first performed on last year’s Season 47 season premiere alongside co-writers Jon Randall and Jack Ingram. Our friend and ACL Hall of Famer Bonnie Raitt also scored four nods, including Song of the Year for “Just Like That” the title track from her acclaimed 2022 album. We here at the house that Willie built, are beyond thrilled to see Willie Nelson earn four nominations, including three in the Country field, proving that, at 89 years young, his career keeps rolling on.

Dolly Parton performs her ACL debut in 2000. Photo by Scott Newton.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course. Our prestigious alumni who received multiple nominations include Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Billie Eilish, Coldplay, Rosalía, the Black Keys and Angelique Kidjo, while single nods were had by Buddy Guy, Norah Jones, Elvis Costello, the late Dr. John, Florence + the Machine, and far too many more to list here. We encourage you to check out the full list of nominations is here. Co-produced by ACL executive producer Terry Lickona, the 65th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony will broadcast on Sunday, February 5, on CBS. Good luck to everyone nominated.

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Featured News Taping Recap

Taping recap: The War on Drugs

The War on Drugs is one of those bands whose music sounds familiar, yet contemporary, all at once. Led by singer/guitarist Adam Granduciel, the Philadelphia outfit has deftly blended gritty heartland rock with motorik-influence rhythms and sparkling analogue synthesizers on a series of beloved albums, culminating in 2017’s Grammy-winning A Deeper Understanding and last year’s highly acclaimed I Don’t Live Here Anymore. Following their first appearance on Austin City Limits back in 2015, TWOD returned to our stage with a seasoned live show that drew heavily from those albums.  

Taking the stage to enthusiastic applause, the band opened with IDLHA‘s “Old Skin,” a lush ballad that evolved into a dynamic rock anthem, its heart on its glistening sleeve. The septet followed with the more overtly rocking “Pain,” a cut from Deeper that perfectly highlights their ability to blend bright melodies with brooding synth textures and uplifting Granduciel guitar solos. For “An Ocean in Between Us,” drummer Charlie Hall leaned hard on the vibrant repetition of the motorik beat, laying down a skittering propulsion for the band to ride – one painted by near-ambient baritone sax moans from keyboardist Jon Natchez and an especially powerful Granduciel solo. The song melted into a haze of synth washes, which resolved into the gentle waves of “I Don’t Wanna Wait,” one of IDLHA’s most bluntly emotional tunes. “We’re honored to be here,” noted the bandleader as the group went into the beat-driven rock of “Victim.” 

As the band set up for “Strangest Thing,” Granduciel mentioned that the tour began in Austin, and was ending with this ACL performance (which explained both the ultra tight performance and the giddy energy). So he dedicated the evening to TWOD’s hard-working crew, who made their presence felt with a dramatic light show near the end of the atmospheric ballad. Granduciel then led the band into one of their most representative songs: “Harmonia’s Dream,” combining the sparkling synthesizers and vocoder-style vocals implied by the title’s citing the eponymous pioneering electronic band, with the acoustic guitar and soaring melodies of the heartland rock that they love equally. The fingerpicked guitar of Anthony LaMarca and the beautiful piano riffs of keyboardist Robbie Bennett heralded the arrival of “Living Proof,” another of IDLHA’s most earnest emotional explorations, TWOD kept that vibe going with the dreamier, but still affecting, “Occasional Rain.” As a familiar synth ‘n’ guitar intro of “I Don’t Live Here Anymore” began, the crowd began to cheer – Granduciel used the good will to introduce the band (including keyboardist/guitarist/harmony vocalist Eliza Hardy Jones, who had the unenviable task of subbing for Lucius), before diving into a magnificent performance of what has probably become the band’s signature song. The audience made its appreciation known loudly.

“Thinking of a Place” indulged in more lush textures, with guitarist LaMarca providing subtle slide, keyboardists Bennett and Natchez layering on the ear candy, and Granduciel cutting through with an industrial strength Jazzmaster solo. “Thanks for having us on the legendary Austin City Limits,” Granduciel remarked. “Growing up without cable TV, this is one of the only things I grew up watching.” Following a brief tech fix, a wave of heavenly synthesizers essayed the beginning of “In Chains,” a tune that deftly mixed shimmering dreampop and anthemic rock that earned ardent huzzahs. Granduciel donned an acoustic guitar for the first time this evening for the lovely ballad “Rings Around My Father’s Eyes,” in honor of his dad’s ninetieth birthday. The War on Drugs ended their set with “Under the Pressure,” the epic lighter-waving opener from their breakthrough LP, 2014’s Lost in the Dream. The song ended in walls of tremelo, looped feedback and electronics, the audience going wild with their hands in the air. It was incredible end to an incredible show, and we can’t wait for you to see it when it broadcasts this winter on your local PBS station as part of our Season 48. 

The War on Drugs tape Austin City Limits, October 16, 2022. Photos by Scott Newton.

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Featured News Taping Announcement

Taping announcements: Adia Victoria, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Adrian Quesada, Pavement, The War On Drugs and Spoon

Austin City Limits is thrilled to announce a stellar slate of October tapings for Season 48, including a number of highly-anticipated acts featured on our namesake ACL Festival this fall. On Oct. 3, we present eclectic and imaginative singer/songwriter Adia Victoria in her ACL debut. On Oct. 6, we welcome back rocking soul act Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats for their second appearance. Oct. 9 brings the first solo appearance of multi-hyphenate Adrian Quesada, returning to our stage to showcase his latest release, Boleros Psicodélicos. Oct. 10 brings legendary alternative rock pioneers Pavement to the stage for their ACL debut. On Oct. 16, we throw our doors open once again for Grammy-winning modern rock band The War On Drugs. Finally, on Oct. 19, we welcome Austin’s iconic favorite sons Spoon for their fifth taping. 

Adia Victoria. Photo by Huy Nguyen.

Adia Victoria is a daughter of the South, a born and bred South Carolinian who now makes her home in Nashville, Tennessee. It’s no surprise, then, that stories of the South find their way into her music, especially her latest, A Southern Gothic, her third full-length release. Sonically, the record is equal parts historical montage and modern prophesy, dark and light, love and loathing. Put simply, it is the musical embodiment of the relationship that so many people, especially Black women, have with the South. Indeed, even as Victoria’s lyrics feel weighted by a Southern heaviness that is so often smothering, the music is also buoyed by rhythm and melody that illuminate the best of what this region has to offer. “You are getting that chill music, that vibe,” she explains, “but I wanted you to also get that ethereal feel of the South. I wanted you to get the humidity of it, the heat, the ways we reach to the pits of hell and the heights of heaven. I wanted this record to encapsulate the extremes of the South.” Much of the recording took place during the early days of the pandemic in Paris, France with Victoria and creative partner Mason Hickman becoming a two-person band of sorts until the world re-opened and they entered the studio with executive producer T-Bone Burnett. The result is a project that fits perfectly into Victoria’s catalogue and the rich legacy of Black Southern storytelling, even as it stands alone as a freshly innovative work. “With this project, I was so anchored in the past and the Black brilliance that came before me that it was kind of a road map,” says Victoria. “They said, ‘Sweetie, we’re gonna locate you, and we’re gonna allow you to move it forward.’”

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Photo by Danny Clinch.

It took Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats less than five years to become one of the most recognizable new forces in contemporary rock ’n’ roll. Since 2015, Rateliff has led his seven-piece, horn-flanked Night Sweats, supplying the zeal of a whiskey-chugging Pentecostal preacher to songs about this world’s shared woes; their combustible mix of soul and rock quickly cemented them as the rare generational band who balance ecstatic live shows with engrossing and rich records. When the pandemic scuttled the tour for the songwriter’s 2020 solo album And It’s Still Alright, Rateliff returned to his Colorado homestead and penned a set of songs that synthesized his introspection with the Night Sweats’ anthemic inclinations. The result is The Future, the third Night Sweats album but the first to capture this octet’s true depth and breadth. An instant classic of eleven compulsive songs, The Future obviates the boundary between band and bandleader, between old expectations and what comes after. The playing of the Night Sweats mirrors the nuance of Rateliff’s writing throughout The Future. Though Rateliff and his fellow players have long been best friends who chatter constantly on a never-ending group text chain even when they’re off the road, the relationship could sometimes appear hierarchal to outsiders, a singer with his support. But producer Bradley Cook worked to integrate everyone’s ideas and fully harness the abilities of one of rock’s most soulful crews into something seamless and new. For so long, the future of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats seemed settled and seen—a marquee soul-rock band that always had the best time. But The Future presents something more sustainable, interesting, and indeed open—a songwriter and band growing into bigger questions and sounds, into a future that allows them to remain recognizable and compelling.

Adrian Quesada. Photo by Cesar Berrios.

About 20 years ago, guitarist, producer and Black Pumas co-founder Adrian Quesada was driving in his home base of Austin, Texas when the 1975 balada classic “Esclavo y Amo” by Peruvian band Los Pasteles Verdes played on a local AM station. Quesada was mesmerized by the song’s dark, baroque melodrama. “I swear to God, I had to pull over because I had never heard anything like it,” he recalls with a laugh. “I was like, what the hell is this? Sounds like a romantic breakup on LSD. It completely, literally blew my mind. What Quesada had discovered was the sophisticated – and slightly delirious – cultural movement of balada music that blossomed throughout Latin America between the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. A refined collision of bossa nova smoothness, Beatlesque psychedelia and torrid bolero pathos, balada used art-pop instrumentation and the warmth of analogue recording to maximum effect. It employed songs about heartbreak and longing as a means to transport the listener to an opulent, cinematic fantasy world. Now, Quesada has penned a love letter to that golden era through Boleros Psicodélicos, a stunning album that lovingly recreates the specificity of the balada sound, adding a stellar list of guest vocalists, including Gaby Moreno, Natalia Clavier, Gabriel Garzón-Montano and former Calle 13 singer iLe, as well as intriguing contemporary touches and just a hint of irony. Psychedelic boleros are just one of the many genres that Quesada has touched on during an incredibly prolific career. He has collaborated with the likes of Prince, Los Lobos and Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA, and has been a member of such eclectic bands as Grupo Fantasma, Brownout and Ocote Soul Sounds. Black Pumas, the duo he formed in 2018 with singer/songwriter Eric Burton, has been nominated for six GRAMMYs and performed during the inauguration festivities of President Joe Biden in 2021.

Pavement. Photo by Moses Berkson.

Pavement are Mark Ibold, Scott “Spiral Stairs” Kannberg, Stephen Malkmus, Bob Nastanovich and Steve West. Among the most beloved acts to come out of the American underground in the 1990’s, the band released five era-defining albums – Slanted And Enchanted (1992), Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994), Wowee Zowee (1995), Brighten The Corners (1997) and Terror Twilight (1999) – before disbanding in 1999. The band reunited this year for its first shows in more than a decade, including a headline set at Primavera Sound. This fall they will tour throughout the US, EU, UK, and Japan. Pavement’s 2010 reunion saw them play four sold out shows in Central Park and top the bills of festivals worldwide including Coachella, Primavera Sound, and Pitchfork. 

The War On Drugs. Photo by Shawn Brackbill.

The War on Drugs have steadily emerged as one of this century’s great rock and roll synthesists, removing the gaps between the underground and the mainstream, between the obtuse and the anthemic, making records that wrestle a fractured past into a unified and engrossing present. Led by Adam Granduciel, The New Yorker called them “the best American ‘rock’ band of this decade” in support of their album A Deeper Understanding, for which they won the 2018 Grammy for Best Rock Album and were nominated for a BRIT Award for International Group of the Year. 2020 saw the release of LIVE DRUGS, featuring live interpretations of songs throughout their career, including off their 2014 breakthrough Lost In The Dream. Co-produced by Granduciel and Shawn Everett, their fifth studio album, I Don’t Live Here Anymore, “chips away some of their hazier edges in favor of sharper melodies, broadening the borders of the meticulous yet joyously simple sound [Granduciel] has perfected” (Pitchfork, Best New Music). It landed on numerous 2021 best albums of the year lists and garnered a second BRIT Award nomination. The band headlined Madison Square Garden in support of its release.

Spoon’s tenth album, Lucifer on the Sofa, is the band’s purest rock ’n roll record to date. Texas-made, it is the first set of songs that the quintet has put to tape in its hometown of Austin in more than a decade. Written and recorded over the last two years – both in and out of lockdown – these songs mark a shift toward something louder, wilder, and more full-color. 

Lucifer on the Sofa bottles the physical thrill of a band tearing up a packed room. It’s an album of intensity and intimacy, where the music’s harshest edges feel as vivid as the directions quietly murmured into the mic on the first-take. According to frontman Britt Daniel, “It’s the sound of classic rock as written by a guy who never did get Eric Clapton.” In fall of 2019, Daniel moved back to Austin from Los Angeles. A month later, guitarist/keyboardist Alex Fischel followed him with a car full of gear. The move to Texas added up for a lot of reasons: Daniel was born and grew up there, and his family never left. Drummer Jim Eno has his Public Hi-Fi studio in Austin, which allowed the band the luxury of recording at whatever pace they liked. The return felt less like a homecoming than a jolt to the system. Here was an opportunity to write amidst the creative lawlessness that inspired Daniel to make music in the first place — a city where everything from outlaw country to psychedelic punk have long co-mingled at honky tonks, house shows and backyard barbecues. “We wanted to make a record where we could experience and draw from a scene,” says Daniel. “Where Alex and I could write all day, then go out and see Dale Watson at the Continental, then come back home and write some more.” Halfway through the recording process, the pandemic hit. The studio shut down, but Daniel continued writing. When the band reconvened, Daniel had a new batch of songs and a fresh sense of momentum. “It’s certainly something we didn’t take for granted, that feeling of being in a room with each other. That moment was a once in a lifetime kind of feeling.” Lucifer on the Sofa is the sound of that moment, a record of defiant optimism, the sound of a band cracking things open and letting them spill out onstage. 

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