SXSW 2012: The 405 Preview
I’ve just spent two hours going through the alphabetised list of bands playing SXSW and I’m already overwhelmed. I’ve not even stepped into an airport, packed a bikini or wrestled my suitcase lid shut. God help me.
To say the least, SXSW is a daunting affair. There are of course the scheduled showcases, the parties that haven’t yet revealed their line ups five days prior to the start of the music event and the random barbecues I will stumble across with stirling line ups. It is clear that before I even leave the UK, I’ve got my work cut out.
That aside, I feel like a kid in a sweet shop with an endless supply of change trying to decide between a pack of flying saucers and a pack of those fake candy cigarettes, or whether to just have both.
I could wax lyrical about the classic bands that you’d be a fool to miss; Jack White debuting his solo wares, Dinosaur Jnr fuzzing out, The Jesus & Mary Chain returning to the live arena or even the ‘Hello, is it me you’re looking for?’ of Lionel Richie. But really?, it’s a new music festival, and it just wouldn’t be right to do anything but focus on the new bands, right?
As an avid gig goer in Manchester I’m going to focus on bands I haven’t seen live before, but my tips from my place of residence are Brown Brogues, Dutch Uncles, Ghosting Season, D/R/U/G/S and Star Slinger. If you get a chance to see any of these live, jump at it..
I’ll also be catching Sharon Van Etten, The Black Angels, Peaking Lights, Crocodiles and The Temper Trap to check out their new material, but as for NEW bands, If you indulge me, here are a few of my must sees, in no particular order:
The release of Boys & Girls marks the arrival of a major new rock and roll band. To the members themselves, though, what’s been most exciting has been the reaction they have felt on stage, whether tiny local dates or under the glare of the media. [Listen]
They began as a collaboration between fellow Gayngs' members Channy Casselle and Ryan Olson in June of 2011. On stage, the original beats composed by Olson play amongst Channy’s passionate vocals & an intense rhythm section, that lead to a description somewhere in the area of electro-r&b goth-pop. [Listen]
Love Inks is a minimalist pop band from Texas. Their sound is imbued with raw emotion, sexuality, and splashes of electronic colour. Focus is placed primarily on the voice, which is direct and honest. [Listen]
21 year old Elena Tonra aka Daughter recently released a collection of four dark, ethereal & beautiful new songs, ‘The Wild Youth’ showcases a young musician experimenting delicately with a rich array of songwriting ideas and yet still intent on pouring out her soul pure and unadulterated. [Listen]
Born under a mulberry tree in Daglish, Western Australia, by Joseph Ryan, Nick Allbrook and Jay Watson. Nick and Jay are probably better known as the rhythm section of Tame Impala. They recently released full length Beard Wives Denim that was recorded in a ramshackle farmhouse over 2 weeks in early 2010, right before Tame Impala started blowing up. [Listen]
The music of Korallreven is constructed along a simple philosophy: to create sounds that capture both the essence of a spiritual experience and the freedom of experimentation. Born in the South Pacific and illuminated by the changing scenery of constant motion, Korallreven’s music is dynamic and universal, never bound to a single geography. Place is just a state of mind. [Listen]
Jeremy Cox and Jigmae Baer started Royal Baths without a plan in mind but soon the foundation for their writing found inspiration from Cox’s interest in the alternate and open tunings of delta blues, their shared fascination in the African rhythm of early Chicago blues, and Baer lyrically attempting to reflect with black humor and little judgment, and the thrills and troubles they stumble through. [Listen]
Although his music seems somewhat dreamy with the first listen, the lyrics show a different side to the matter. Hidden beneath the melodies is a voice that is eerie yet nostalgic. Powers claims his music is like letting people read his journal. “I don’t think I could ever write a completely happy album. It’s not that I’m not a happy person,” claims Powers, “but I just have too many things in my mind that haunt me.” [Listen]
Kindness is the project of funky disco revivalist Adam Bainbridge, who mixes interchangeable styles and influences yet is almost impossible to define. Definitely the freshest musical talent out of Peterborough in years. [Listen]
DZ Deathrays are an Australian indie/thrash/punk 2-piece that have been creating a stir on the international scene. They graced the stage of SXSW in 2011 and are returning with a bucket load of accolades. They were recently placed at #4 in NME’s Top 20 Most Exciting Bands of 2012. [Listen]
Sensual, provocatively percussive pop comes naturally to Friends. But you may be surprised by 'I’m His Girl' – the second single from the Brooklyn newcomers – and just how cool and pop it is. As rapturous as Blondie’s best, and as stylish as Neneh Cherry’s tip-top pop gem 'Buffalo Stance', it’s the finest fusion of lo-fi indie cool and soulful urban textures of 2011. [Listen]
With surf guitars, ‘verbed-out vocals and danceable ‘60s drum breaks, Hooded Fang is a veritable garage rock riot. Released just nine months after their critically acclaimed debut LP, Album, support for their sophomore effort, Tosta Mista, has reached every corner of the planet; leading to their signing with influential UK indie imprint, Full Time Hobby. [Listen]
Guards was formed in New York City when Richie James Follin returned from a European tour to a recording studio with nothing in it but a broken electric 12 string guitar and an omnichord. He wrote and recorded a few songs for his little sister to sing on ,but ended up singing on the songs himself. [Listen]
The angular, intricate, and intelligent compositions of Hospitality signal a sophisticated new pop voice. Singer Amber Papini's idiosyncratic songwriting and incisive lyrics coupled with the band's rich arrangements on their self-titled debut explore youth, New York, and the bittersweet commingling of past and present in a way that feels just right, right now. [Listen]
The Foreign Resort
Sonically expressive, dark and moody, catchy and up-beat are words to describe this Danish Nu Gaze/Noise-pop foursome. The band takes the audience on a journey through passages of textured layers with haunting and dreamy vocals, to echoes and pulsations of overdriven guitars, powerful drumming, driving bass, and intense thematic melodic lines. The end result is an aural rollercoaster of emotional intensity. [Listen]
Boucher, born in Vancouver, Canada, came to Montreal in 2006. Her experience as a performer is deeply embedded in the illegal DIY loft culture of Montreal, where Grimes was one of the prominent figures in the scene surrounding Lab Synthèse – a 4600sq ft re-appropriated textile factory. She developed in a scene where punk ethos and pop music collide, resulting in a distinct sense of community, religiosity and psychedelic revelry. [Listen]
Over the past few years, LA' s Nite Jewel has honed its pop-funk craft across releases from Italians Do It Better, Mexican Summer and LA's own Gloriette Records. In that time, Ramona Gonzalez's airy but often distant voice has found new gravitas and charisma. Meanwhile, the synth lines have gotten more agile and the bass pops tighter and tighter. The stuttered 80s synth R&B melodies unfold into one another here in ways both giddy and deceivingly nonchalant. This maturation and evolution will all come to a head in early 2012 when Secretly Canadian will release Nite Jewel's proper full-length follow up to her brilliant 2008 LP, Good Evening. [Listen]
Tashaki Miyaki was born out of a late night jam in early 2011. Shorty after, the Los Angeles based duo began writing and recording songs for their self titled EP released on UK vinyl label, The Sounds of Sweet Nothing. Comparisons to "a female Jesus & Mary Chain" John Lennon, and The Velvet Underground as well as world-wide blog love has helped spread their music to a wider audience. The band plans to release a 7" in January 2012 and a full length LP by Summer 2012. [Listen]
Breton is about audio and audio-visual autopsy; deconstructing and re-assembling popular culture. Borne from the squat party scene and band mastermind Roman Rappak’s formative musical experiences of post-Communist Poland pirate cassette kiosks where compilations of Portishead, NWA, Guns ‘N’ Roses and Michael Jackson were the norm. [Listen]
Charlie Hilton, Jacob Portrait and Patrick Adams were originally inspired to call their band Blouse because of an ad in a dry cleaners, and not long after found themselves signed to Captured Tracks and recording their debut album in a local warehouse. If these intriguing beginnings aren't reason enough to check out this Portland three-piece, then their music definitely is. With moody reverberations and lilting vocals reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins paired with the dream-pop soundscape of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, their eponymous LP (out now) is romantic without being cutesy and nostalgic without being cliche.
I think that’s enough to whet your appetite for the festival which has 80 different stages - yes eighty stages *throws away clashfinder* - but I’ll be checking in with some updates of what I’ve seen and whats going down next week.
If you are going to join me there, in the words of Xfm’s John Kennedy "pace yourself and remember to take a break and eat!." Wise words, I’ll be searching out some BBQ’s and taco’s and probably a Stetson and some spurs to help me fit in with the locals too!
See you on the other side...
Whether you’re braving the desert or enjoying updates from your couch, it's impossible to ignore SXSW. These two weeks affirm Austin's status as 'Live Music Capital of the World': every inch of space becomes a venue, from parking lots to rooftops to grocery stores. With the world's eyes on the booming Texas town, it's easy to face some stimuli overload. [read more]
There's a veritable aural feast on offer at SXSW and wading through impressive line-ups is a full-time research project. If you're lucky enough to attend this year, then it's probably wise to pack a militarized timetable alongside your shorts and sunglasses or, alternatively, you could take a more laissez-faire approach and stagger hopefully between venues with taco in hand. [read more]
Yesterday we gave you the skinny on all the official/unofficial parties should be checking out if you're heading to SXSW next week, but today we'd like to present you with a SXSW survival guide courtesy of Zach Hart/We Listen For You. Usually this is the sort of thing we'd like to handle ourselves, but as usual, Zach's analysis was spot on. Plus we're sponsoring WLFY's SXSW Day Party so it makes sense to connect the dots (we like doing that). [read more]