No doubt, the list will grow to about a bazillion before the festival kicks of. So even if you don’t see you favorite bands on the list, odds are they’ll still make it to Austin the second week of March.
No doubt, the mind-boggling amount of bands that descend upon Austin for the annual clusterfuck of SXSW is more than enough to overwhelm even the most seasoned music fan. Thankfully, music blogs, magazines, and random celebrity chefs sift through the clutter and put together some tremendous showcases, thus making the job of 6th St. wonderers a lot easier.
However, even with artists and bands divided in this fashion, the number of curated stages is still enough to put your head in a spin. After looking through the myriad of sponsored sets, here are four of my favorites:
My favorite in the bunch, this Gorilla Vs. Bear/Mexican Summer Party is probably the event that everyone will be talking about during the festival. Although my Swedish faves jj dropped off the line-up, the event is still stacked with some of the best up-and-comers out there. I mean, out of the 16 bands playing, who do you not want to see?!?!
I’ll be honest, the biggest reason why I dig this Weekly Tape Deck & Co. showcase is because of the amount of Lubbock bands that will be playing. If you go to this, get ready for your minds to be blown by the insane live set by noise-rockers The Numerators, the beautiful soundscapes of La Panza, and the alt-country flair (reminiscent of Whiskeytown) of One Wolf. Lubbockites aside, the three day showcase highlights a great collection of garage and noise artists that will be sure to compliment whatever wat you decide to order!
Last but not least are the guys down at I Guess I’m Floating, who just released their SXSW line-up yesterday — and man is it a doozie! This Friday early show, featuring Tanlines, Javelin, and Small Black/Washed Out, is sure to get you into a dance mood before heading out to the late-night festivities (or debaucheries, depending on your perspective) 6th St. is famous for!
With a vanity myspace URL of levarmotherfuckingburton, it’s obvious that Philadelphia noise-rock duo Reading Rainbow exploits its PBS namesake (hosted by a certain VISOR-wearing Star Trek alum). However, the similarities end with the moniker, because Robbie Garcia and Sarah Everton’s music is anything but kid friendly.
Lo-fi and noisy even by lo-fi and noisy established standards, every Reading Rainbow track is an auditory assault on the ear drums — it’s like I can feel my cochlea yelling at me everytime I listen to them. However, unlike pure-noise bands like AIDS Wolf and Pre, there are nuggets of melody that help keep you upright when you are being dragged through the rough. Although not used as expertly as Wavves (I can feel the backlash already), the sing-along lyrics, like the closing lines “who can direct us where to go / my mind is made up / the answer’s no” on the recently released “Underground”, are certainly more than enough to pique your interest and at least get you excited thinking about what a 30 minute SXSW set of theirs would look like!
Currently, Reading Rainbow are prepping another album before heading towards Austin in March. They’re slated to play a hell of a lot of shows (most notably Weekly Tape Deck’s AWESOME showcase), so if you’re on 6th St. during the festival, it will be difficult to NOT see them. Here are two tracks to let you in on what Reading Rainbow is about:
I’m going to go ahead and give the band Happy Birthday my recommendation based more on a hunch than on any built up reputation they may or may not have. Why is this? You see, this Vermont based garage pop band has only one track to their credit: the wildly infectious (and widely publicized) “Girls FM”. It’s true — scour the internets far and wide, and all that you’ll come up with is this lone mp3 that’s made a hit everywhere from Sub Pop loving it enough to sign them and put it on their Cybersex V2.0 mix as the opener to Pitchfork throwing it up on their forkcast.
So you know the track has to be pretty damn good in order for everyone to make such a fuss about it. Take the poppiness of a typical Girls track and square it while still not sounding to incredible cheesy due to the lo-fi quality of the recording, add in some witty lyrics (“see them play like the internet band / try to hear them but you couldn’t understand”) and voila!: the perfect recipe for a summertime hit. Sub Pop is going to make millions…
Happy Birthday’s debut album is dropping March 16, which coincides with the band’s SXSW debut (how convenient!). So if you’re just as excited about the potential of the group as I am, be sure to check the band out at the festival and see what they are all about! Here’s the hit single as well as an older track from frontman Kyle Thomas’s past band King Tuff:
In comparison to their northern neighbors, Denmark doesn’t have as much of a reputation for being a musical hotspot. However, there are severalDanishbands trying to change their country’s image and one of the latest and greatest is the surf rock group The Good The Bad.
I was fortunate enough to catch this band perform during the first warm-up day of the 2008 Roskilde Festival, where I just happened upon their set midway through and was astonished by the amount of energy they possessed. Going the strictly instrumental route (from the band: “We don’t need a vocalist anyway. The music speaks for itself. We use the music so we don’t have to say ‘I Love You’”), the group is a complete 180 from the cerebral acts like Explosions in the Sky or Eluvium — opting to rock out rather than create delicate soundscapes.
Playing mostly low-key venues in Copenhagen and around Europe, there is no doubt in my mind that they will shine at the dingy bar/club scene that’s 6th St. in Austin. Not only that, but with a sound that’s tailor made for the next Tarrantino film, they are sure to please the festival goers with their high intensity surf & flamenco tracks. With a spectacle to match the music, this group is a must see for SXSW ’10. Check out this live video from one of their shows in Copenhagen:
A little over a month until the music part of SXSW begins, I thought I would start to bring you this year’s previews of bands you should check out in between Mexican food meals and Shiner Bock binges. For those lucky enough to be heading to Austin for the 2010 festivities, you have more options than ever of checking out your favorite bands as well as discovering some new ones. Not meant as a definitive list (they’ll be plenty of those to go around elsewhere in the coming weeks), here are some of my favorite acts listed on the official schedule:
Starting off with the person responsible for one of my favorite albums thus far in 2010, Torontonian singer/songwriter Basia Bulat possesses such a unique voice that is guaranteed to bring in the masses wherever she performs on 6th St. With already over 600K myspace views and two beautiful LPs to her credit (both released on Rough Trade), I have to say I was a little late to the party when I picked up a copy of her latest Heart of My Own a couple of weeks back. All it took, however, was one run through and I instantly fell in love with her fluttery vocals and folk-pop melodies.
Some of my favorite tracks of Bulat is when she opts to use the autoharp instead of her typical acoustic guitar, like on the very poignant “Sparrow”. Choosing to abandon her backing band, the song’s near a cappella feel is the perfect recipe to highlight how powerful and extraordinary Bulat’s voice really is. Although it’s easy to get drowned out by the crowd noise at SXSW, I predict that after the first few measure at the mic, she’ll have a hypnotizing effect on the audience, silencing them in the process. You can check out the label-released mp3 “Gold Rush” below just to get a taste on how special seeing a Basia Bulat performance live would be:
Well the SXSW elves have been busy this holiday season adding another 200 bands to the lineup, thus doubling the slated bill to 400 total. For those of you who missed my take on the initial lineup released a mere two weeks ago, you can get the recap here.
I couldn’t find too many recognizable acts this go around; however, there are a handful that I would consider seeing live. Topping the list is the highly blogged about LA afro-pop group Fool’s Gold — whose shtick includes all lyrics are sung in Hebrew. Not to be confused with Levar Burton‘s second best show, Reading Rainbow is a Philadelphia based duo that can be grouped together in the lo-fi garage punk scene with like minded acts Finally Punk, Vivian Girls, and Wavves. Similarly, That Ghost is the work of California teenager Ryan Schmale that, along with The Smith Westerns and Cymbals Eat Guitars, would make anyone’s top ten underage acts list. Finally, NPR’s love crush and former Grandaddy singer/guitarist Jason Lytle is set to descend upon Austin for the second year in a row.
No doubt, more acts will be listed, so I’ll keep you posted. Here are some mp3s/videos from the acts mentioned above:
Well if you didn’t know it by the Beach House and Toro y Moi leaks, 2010 is just around the corner. Although we should have some idea about what’s going to happen next year, there are still a series of unknown events yet to be experienced. Well one such gap that has been filled this past week is the initial line-up for Austin’s annual massive cult-like gathering disguised as the South By Southwest Music Festival.
In typical SXSW fashion, most of the 230 bands slated to descend upon the Lone Star State capitol next spring are unknowns, however, after sifting through the 4+ pages of acts, I’ve found some well respected names that are guaranteed to put on a good show. When it comes to bands, you have the whole gamut to choose from. You like international acts, you say? Well they have obscure Norwegian singer/songwriter Julian Berntzen, popular Scottish indie-rockers Frightened Rabbit, and Colbert-approved Swedish swing/hip-hop/jazz group Movits! to choose from. Like the blog-buzzed bands? Well IGIF-approved acts Arms and Fanfarlo are scheduled to appear as well as GorrillavsBear-ed band Fergus & Geronimo and Aquarium Drunkard’s fave Warpaint. Looking for local flavor? Austin has that too with great homegrown acts Harlem and Daniel Francis Doyle.
As for my own personal favorites, quite a few caught my eye. Although I’ve been disappointed with his latest effort Summer of Fear, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson put out one of my favorite albums of 2008 with his self-titled debut, so I wouldn’t mind checking out his unsteady vocals live. The all-girl Atlanta garage rockers The Coathangers are another act that would be cool to check out since I missed their performance in Lubbock earlier this year. However of all the groups, the two bands I am most looking forward to see are the Vermont female folk trio ironically named Mountain Man as well as San Fran indie-rockers The Mantles. Both feature some incredibly thought out, easily listenable tunes that I think would work great offsetting the hustle-and-bustle nature of the festival itself.
No doubt, about a million more acts will start popping up on the schedule (both officially and unofficially), so I’ll keep you posted on any recent developments.
Africa always seems to be the neglected continent, so it is not surprising that the popularity of native musicians it is certainly muted on a global scale. Sure there are some acts that get noticed, most notably from the west African nations of Mali (Amadou & Miriam, Ali Farka Touré, and Toumani Diabaté) and Nigeria (Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Femi Kuti), but most bands are left high and dry when it comes to catching the ears of an international audience.
Armed with a new Secretly Canadian released EP entitled Mystery, the BLK JKS are ready to take Austin by storm. Their sound, described by the erudite music writers at the New York Times as “more TV on the Radio than Ladysmith Black Mambazo”, is a complete 180 from the more popular “traditional” (I cringe) African bands.
“Lakeside” opens up with a calm sea-breeze guitar line before barreling head first into a more art-rock type of syncopation championed by the rhythmic swells of the percussion that turns your peaceful day at the beach into one caught inside a storm surge. The title track follows in similar psychedelic fashion of beginning slow before abruptly shifting into a whirlwind of guitar noise and verbal fulminations around the two minute mark. “Tinstaa”, the most interesting track of the lot, opens with an appeasement to typical world music fans by highlighting bluesy lines made from local instrumentation before *BAM* reverbed guitar enters the seemingly improvised jam session to annihilate the ear drums of the listener. While most might think this as a bastardization of the “world music” brand, I view it as progress ― the BLK JKS are breaking all preconceived notions of what “world music” is supposed to be and are thus freeing themselves of the inherent restrictions of being labeled an “African band”.
Let me pause for a second to get off my soapbox…
Well anyways, you can check out some of their songs below or, if you are one of the lucky ones, check them out at their only scheduled showcase at the Mohawk Patio March 19 at 10:30 pm. No doubt they will be very busy playing free day shows during the entirety of the festival, so look for them there as well!
Have you heard of that cool new band Crystal Castles? They’re crazy, right? With all the bloops ‘n bleeps going on everywhere and that girl who can sing but rather would yell – yeah they’re great! Wait what, there is another band like that from France that came on the scene a couple of years back? You’re joking right…
No. Kap Bambino, otherwise known as the “sound like Crystal Castles” option from every music recommendation site, has the popularity of, according to last.fm, 1/40th of their successors but packs just as much of a punch with their music. Creating the formula of electro-pulsating beats with fluttery Nintendo style noises appearing and disappearing, electronic artist Orion Bouvier is the heart of this two-person group – providing consistent high energy dance music with every track. Right before careening off a cliff with ultra-driving beats and densely layered noisy elements, Bouvier always seems to come back from the brink by interjecting brief interludes of normalcy before diving head first right back into the craziness.
On the contrary, the vocals by Caroline Martial are relentless with its auditory assault. Robotically pitched at times, looped and distorted often, and always wild, Martial reminds me of an Alice Glass hyped up on Carleton’s speed. Imagine if the vocals off of “Xxzxcuzx Me” from Crystal Castles self-title LP was played throughout the entire album, then you would have more of an idea of what Martial puts you through.
No doubt Kap Bamimbo is one of the most taxing bands out there to listen and aren’t meant for the weak. However, by possessing this seemingly endless amount of energy, they are certainly an act you don’t want to miss!