Texas isn’t just for rednecks any more — or, at least, Austin isn’t. Home to the University of Texas and the South By Southwest music conference, it’s a city where even bedroom music-makers can relax and do their quiet simple thing without having to wear a cowboy hat to prove their relevance.
In fact, the American Analog Set have been making soft, droning, delicious pop there for a decade. Led by microbiologist Andrew Kenny, who sings like Paul Simon in his sleep or Elliott Smith in his dreams (when he had dreams), the band creates three-minute sound-paintings of pure organic bliss that have garnered them one of the most dedicated indie cults in the world. Their new album, “Set Free,” has been hailed as their best ever on four different continents, all of which they may tour for the last time this fall. With Kenny getting married and pursuing a doctorate at Columbia and the rest of the band living in far-flung places, the indie music life is not as feasible as it was when the members were 22 and all in Austin, so it may be your last chance to catch them.
It won’t be the last chance to catch headliner Her Space Holiday, since it consists of one man, producer Mark Bianchi, who himself moved to Austin several years ago from San Francisco for reasons that are for him to know and for you to find out. Though less dependent on the analog instruments their supporting act favor, HSH is every bit as poppy — maybe even more so. If you listen carefully to Bianchi’s latest opus, “The Past Presents the Future,” you can hear echoes of late Motown and early disco, but while HSH is easy to file under electronic dance music, Bianchi’s hushed vocals and sharply observed lyrics place the songs themselves on a more cerebral plane. Great for the bedroom, but even better for the club. And you don’t even have to go to Texas.