Austin?s Michael Hall has been making albums since 1985, when his band, the soon-to-be legendary Wild Seeds, put out its first EP, Life is Grand (Life in Soul City). The group would release two albums, play on early MTV, and have a minor hit with the single "I?m Sorry, I Can?t Rock You All Night Long." After the Seeds split up in 1989 (other noted alumni include Kris McKay and Joey Shuffield from Fastball), Hall recorded a series of critically lauded solo albums, from Love is Murder ("A mesmerizing collection of story songs that sucked up all those tired Texas music myths?lost towns, lost loves, long drives, killing sprees?and somehow spat them back out new again."--LA Weekly) to Adequate Desire (which Robert Christgau gave an A- in the Village Voice). Karen Schoemer, writing in the Trouser Press Record Guide, summed up Hall?s career to that point, saying, "Hall takes the rock ?n roll ethic of good times, lonesome trains and love gone wrong and spins it into lusciously twisted personal narratives inscribed with poetic literacy." During this time, Hall recorded with a wide array of artists, from Walter Salas-Humara, Rosie Flores, Vickie Peterson, Jon Dee Graham, to members of Poi Dog Pondering and Lyle Lovett?s Large Band. He was also a producer, most notably on Across the Great Divide: The Songs of Jo Carol Pierce, which won Hall and Troy Campbell the Producer-of-the-Year award at the 1993 Austin Music Awards. Around that time Hall co-founded the Setters with Alejandro Escovedo and Salas-Humara; the band toured Europe and recorded two albums. After a move to Chicago, Hall returned to Austin in 1997 and started the Woodpeckers, a band that would release two albums, though they were probably best known for hosting the "Gloriathon" at Liberty Lunch in Austin, playing "Gloria" for 24 hours with dozens of other local musicians (Van Morrison phoned in a lead vocal from England). Rocking for 24 hours is one thing; writing great songs for two decades is another. "There is no way around the deadpan brilliance of Hall?s songwriting," wrote Robert Lloyd in the LA Weekly, "which describes with rare, unforced wit and a hint of Texas twang the pleasures and particularly the penalties of Life Among the Humans." Hall?s songs have been covered by the Silos, Kris McKay, the Vulgar Boatmen, Mike Ireland, and others. They have appeared in the TV show Veronica Mars and the movie Louis & Clark & George. Hall doesn?t just write songs?he has been a journalist for years and makes his living as a staff writer for Texas Monthly magazine, where he has written award-winning profiles of everyone from Roky Erickson and Townes Van Zandt to Lance Armstrong. He was also nominated for a National Magazine Award for a story he did on the unfairness of the death penalty system in Texas. After so many years of songs and stories, Hall is releasing his eighth solo album, The Song He Was Listening to When He Died, produced by "Scrappy" Jud Newcomb and George Reiff. Hall, Newcomb, and Reiff--friends who have known each other for two decades--set out consciously to make a less-rootsy album than the kind Hall has come to be known for. They broke down and then rebuilt a dozen songs Hall had written over the previous few years, sometimes beginning with old analog drum machines, other times with a Wurlitzer piano or an acoustic guitar. Then they layered sounds and rhythms, by themselves (Newcomb has been guitarist for Toni Price, the Resentments, and Beaver Nelson; Reiff has played bass with Joe "King" Carrasco and Charlie Sexton) and with people like drummer Joey Shuffield from the Wild Seeds, singer Julie Lowry, and other local musicians, who played vibes, trumpet, and various percussion. The result is a strange pop record, part bitter and part sweet, from the spare acoustic beauty of "Out Where the Highways Roll" to the buzzsaw despair of "Captain Captain" and the bizarre Vietnamese disco of "I Had a Girl in Dien Bien Phu." There?s also plenty of pure pop longing, as only a true rock ?n roll veteran can write and sing, in songs like "Summer" and "The Song He Was Listening to When He Died." The moment of death has never sounded more alive.