Blurt Online

Blurt Online's Best Kept Secret – Blurt Magazine

Aug 30, 2010

Steamytwangysexycool Beantown rocker kicks up her heels like nobody's business.


The BLURT staff put our heads - and ears - together and we have the latest pick for our Blurt/Sonicbids "Best Kept Secret": it's Alice Austin, from Boston (and soon to be from Los Angeles).

She describes herself as "indie-rock with spurs," and that's an apt phrase - in her compelling vocals we hear a little bit of Neko Case, a little bit of Jenny Lewis, hints of P.J. Harvey and Holly Golightly, all wrapped up in a steamytwangysexycool package. Meanwhile, Austin also plays some stomping electric and slide guitar while incorporating stylophone lo-fi drum loops, so random comparisons to White Stripes, Black Keys and the Pack A.D. are not totally offbase, either.

Last year Austin released her album To A Star in the Yard, which she performed, recorded and produced by herself. Prior to doing the solo thing she played with Boston outfits The Stark Raving Mad and the Lavas (one critically acclaimed album, 2007's Wall To Wall). Before that she was based in Burlington, VT, where she played with Zola Turn, issuing 1999's Ninja Jane and landing a short-lived deal with L.A.'s Brick Red Records (a subsidiary of Gold Circle Entertainment) before myriad band pressures and industry vicissitudes ultimately prompted a name change, to Queen Tangerine, which cut the 2002 album Queen Tangerine with famed producer Keith Cleversley.

She therefore brings over two decades' worth of experience to the table, and while Austin may essentially be a "new" act operating under her own name, she's clearly got the hunger and the savvy to make things happen for herself as she prepares to make the big move to the West Coast. Based on the strength of the material showcased on To A Star in the Yard - which includes such gems as the whooping, avant-Delta blooze "Graveyard Before Dark" and the barrelhouse punk of "Sharp Side of the Knife" - we wouldn't expect anything less from her.

Boston Globe

Sugar, spice, and not so nice – Boston Globe

Alice Austin looks sweet, but don't be fooled. The lead singer of the Lavas has the attitude of a Joan Jett or a Shirley Manson-- or Britney Spears on a bald-headed, car-smashing day. Tonight, Austin and her band will be at T.T. the Bear's Place to play tuned from its disc "Wall To Wall", whose retro-rock title track features Austin sounding something like Courtney Love. Opening acts are Kill the Camera, Proud to be Human, and Mark Nelson. It starts at 9:15. Tickets: $8. [Meredith Goldstein]

Seven Days Vermont

Album Review – Seven Days Vermont

Alice Austin, To a Star in the Yard

Album Review

BY DAN BOLLES [06.10.09]

Once upon a time, Burlington’s Zola Turn was widely presumed to be the next big thing to come out of Vermont, following in the footsteps of other successful local acts such as Belizbeha and, of course, Phish. Forged in the midst of Burlington’s much-ballyhooed 1990s alt-rock heyday, the group made national waves during its seven-year run, signing with Gold Circle Records and scoring a distribution deal with Sony-BMG. But major-label bliss was short lived. In 2001 Gold Circle dumped the band — all of its rock acts, actually — and Zola Turn called it quits the following year.

The group’s front woman, Alice Austin — now based in Cambridge, Mass. — has gone on to modest success, playing with regional acts such as The Lavas and Queen Tangerine. But the sort of national acclaim she achieved with Zola Turn has proven elusive. However, should her old fans get wind of her new solo album, To a Star in the Yard, that stands a fighting chance of changing.

On the whole, the album is a striking collection of alt-rock gems that will no doubt inspire bouts of wistful nostalgia among those who remember the era fondly. That is not to say Austin is stuck in a flannel-lined rut. Rather, she simply embraces her roots, dated though they may be. Refreshingly, she imbues her music with the no-frills sensibility that was a hallmark of the genre — and by extension, Zola Turn — both sonically and lyrically. Or put another way, you can take Siouxsie Sioux out of the Banshees, but you can’t take the banshee out of Siouxsie Sioux. And in case you were wondering, Austin still wails.

From slow-burning album opener “Wings to Me” through tracks such as bottom-heavy scorcher “Never Cry Halo” and the sneering “Sharp Side of the Knife,” Austin proves she’s still a force. What’s more, she seems to have matured as a lyricist. While never lacking for poetic grit, she manages to temper her observations with a subtle intimacy heretofore unseen, at least in the Zola Turn catalog. The result is startling, especially on cuts such as the bruising, Blackhearts-esque rocker “Vicarious” and swooning album closer “Blink and We Miss.”