Austin’s official motto? The Live Music Capital of the World. If you’ve got a chance of launching your musical career anywhere on the planet, it’s here. Famous for country, rock, punk, indie, blues and everything in-between, pretty much all of the biggest acts in the business have plugged their amps into the city’s mains at some point. So, with a few tips from Austin’s very own Breakaway Records (pictured), here’s our essential Austin playlist…
I’ve Got Levitation, The 13th Floor Elevators
Hailed as one of the first psychedelic bands in rock, “Levitation” is perhaps the Austin group’s most iconic hit. The group are reuniting in May for a 50th anniversary concert appearance at Austin Psych Fest.
Nothin, Townes van Zandt
Once the house act in an Austin club, legendary country singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt included this track - one of his most heralded - on his 1971 album Delta Momma Blues. It was later covered by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
Good Hearted Woman, Willie Nelson
When we asked Josh LaRue, owner of Austin’s Breakaway Records (more from Josh later), for his ultimate Austin playlist, he replied “Just about any Willie Nelson”. You can’t get much better than this track , co-written with Waylon Jennings.
Cheap Girl, The Skunks
Formed in Austin in 1977, this three-piece rock band exploded onto the early punk and new wave clubs across the city. Fans who ended up joining them onstage in their heyday included Elvis Costello, Patti Smith, The Clash and Blondie.
Fun Fun Fun, Big Boys
Helping to pioneer hardcore punk in the 80s, the Big Boys shows are the stuff of legend, frequently involving food fights. Members of the crowd were also often encouraged to get onstage and sing along. They didn’t need asking twice.
Tuff Enuff, The Fabulous Thunderbirds
This is perhaps this Austin-bred blues rock group’s most popular song. Recorded in 1986, it entered the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and in 2015 was performed by the Foo Fighters at the city’s famous festival, Austin City Limits.
Crossfire, Stevie Ray Vaughan
Dropping out of school and moving to Austin at the age of 18, Vaughan went on to become one of the most influential blues guitarists of all time. Hit single Crossfire shows the maestro at his very best, shortly before his tragic death in a helicopter crash at the age of just 35.
Your Hand in Mine, Explosions in the Sky
Creating epic guitar-led symphonies, the (almost purely) instrumental quartet from Austin, known by many as simply “Explosions”, have been wowing audiences with their emotional live shows for over 15 years. You may recognise this track from numerous TV and film soundtracks.
According to Plan, I Love You But I've Chosen Darkness
Mixing classic rock and gothic rock, I Love You But I’ve Chose Darkness is an essential listening for any Austin visitor, according to Breakaway Records. This track from their first full-length album is one of our favorites.
Young Men Dead, Black Angels
Founded in 2004, taking their name from a Velvet Underground song, this psychedelic rock band from Austin grew rapidly in popularity thanks to their MySpace page. Fun fact: They’re featured on the Grand Theft Auto V soundtrack.
THE AUSTIN RECORD SCENE
We chatted to owner of Breakaway Records, Josh LaRue, about the vinyl scene in Austin. He told us: “Austin is a great place for record hunters because there have been hardcore music fans here for a long time. So there's always been lots of records and record shops; and a lot of second-hand trading and selling of records, tapes, CDs etc. People here care, and know what's good - or at least what they like. And there’s so much live music to see with tons of great local musicians and lots of touring acts big and small always rolling through…”
211 W. North Loop Blvd. Austin, Texas 78751