Infinite Shuffle

March 27, 2011

64 – Dawes

Filed under: D, Los Angeles — assman41 @ 12:01 am

I feel like I’d heard of Dawes awhile ago, but the first time they ever really got my attention was a couple of weeks ago when I heard the single, “When My Time Comes”, on NPR — David Dye’s World Cafe, to be exact.

Halfway through my first listen, I was already hooked and was using the Shazam app on my phone to find out the song’s artist and title.

As it turns out, the song has been around for a while, having been released on the band’s debut album, North Hills, in August 2009.

The album title is a reference to the area of Los Angeles where the band resides. The North Hills region is ground zero for the “Laurel Canyon sound” pioneered by such folk-rock icons as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.

With the release of North Hills, Dawes officially picked up the torch from CSN&Y and channels the group on most of the songs on the album. Another strong influence is The Band, which can be heard on several tracks, especially the opener, “That Western Skyline”.

Dawes – That Western Skyline

As it turns out, the album’s most popular song is also its lone outlier. While the other 10 tracks hearken back to the best of ’70s-era folk-rock, “When My Time Comes” has a much more modern indie-folk feel.

In fact, the song sounds almost like a mash-up of contemporaries Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers.

Dawes – When My Time Comes

In my opinion, the video version of the song is actually better than the one on the album, which seems a little more restrained in comparison. I believe they may have re-recorded since and punched it up a bit.

Dawes is touring all across the country this spring, including dates with Deer Tick and Brett Dennen. Unfortunately, their schedule doesn’t quite jibe with mine.

But if you’re interested seeing them, check out their MySpace page or their blog.

March 21, 2011

SXSW 2011: The recap

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 6:32 pm

As I sit here on my couch early Monday evening, my fever is totally gone, but my head cold still persists to a certain degree. Also, several days of shouting in order to be heard over the din, coupled with an already sore throat, has left my vocal chords in need of some rest.

Thankfully, I’m by myself for the first time in about 10 days and don’t have to talk to anyone. Instead, I can relax, collect my thoughts and provide a postscript to what was an awesome musical experience.

THE BANDS

To start, I wanted to rank all the bands I saw, but then it quickly became clear that process would be riddled with hemming and hawing and probably take me forever.

Instead, I sorted the groups into three categories — bands I had a working knowledge of beforehand; bands I’d only discovered through the torrents; and bands I had never heard or before actually seeing them.

As it turns out, that last group was the most enjoyable part of the whole festival. Just as I had heard from countless sources, the best aspect of SXSW is walking into an unfamiliar venue and discovering a new favorite band.

It was an experience that repeated itself several times during my few days in town. My favorite discoveries, in no particular order, included Zookeeper, Lord Huron, The Civil Wars, The Lemurs, Sundelles and The Mighty Stef.

To a lesser extent, I also liked O’Death, Speak, Dear Lions and Hi Ho Silver Oh. And while Pulled Apart By Horses put on a fun show, I don’t need to ever hear them again. Same with Inspired Flight.

As for the bands I first heard on the torrent, by far the best was Family of the Year. I’ll definitely be looking into more of their stuff. In-Flight Safety was also solid. I could have done without Cowboy & Indian, Screaming Females and Trampled By Turtles.

Most of the bands I was really looking forward to did not disappoint. The Boxer Rebellion and Kopecky Family Band both put on great shows. Seeing Wye Oak in person has officially made me a convert. And while I didn’t pay very close attention to their sets, Deer Tick and The Dodos both have great sounds and will require more listening from me in the future.

I was forced to watch them from the street, but Cold War Kids still put on a great show. And Great Lake Swimmers sounded as good as always, despite missing a band member who was stuck in traffic.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit sounded solid from what I could tell, but they didn’t really knock my socks off enough for me to track down their catalog. Same with John Vanderslice.

And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead were rather disappointing. Maybe I’ll seek out their older stuff, which is supposed to be better — and actually have vocals.

THE LOGISTICS

If I ever make the trek to SXSW again — and I certainly hope to — there probably isn’t a lot I’d change, but there are definitely a few things I might tweak.

  • I don’t know if I’d want to drive all the way there again, but if I did, I’d want to do it in a car the next time. Loading stuff in a truck was certainly easy, but it became a chore to move everything into the cab every time we stopped off for some food or something. And there was always the fear that it would rain, so we had to put most of our stuff in garbage bags.
    Also, as occurred with us, we left Austin with more passengers than we arrived with. While stuffing three people in the cab of my truck wasn’t the worst thing in the world, having a car would have been a lot more comfortable. And it would’ve been a lot easier to lock stuff in the trunk.
  • Lodging worked out really well for us as we stayed with one of Sean’s Peace Corps friends at her parents’ house not too far from downtown. I am very grateful to Laura and her family for letting us crash there for the better part of a week.
    Unfortunately, she’ll likely be out of the country for the next year or two. I’ve got a friend in town, but I don’t know if he’d want us there for that long a period. So we’d probably have to shell out for a proper hotel or something, which would increase our expenses considerably.
  • Parking was never really an issue. The three days we got to downtown early in the day, we just headed east of the highway and found spots in the residential area between 8th and 10th streets. It was occasionally a bit of a hike, but it sure beat searching/paying for parking.
  • As far as food and drink, we managed to get a lot of cheap and free stuff at the shows. Other than that, I hardly remember having too many meals downtown, so we must have done a decent job of saving money on that. I will note that I ate a lot more tacos than I ever thought I would. In the future, I’d probably try to diversify my diet a little more, maybe splurge on some food off the beaten path.
  • Speaking of the beaten path, one thing we did a really good job of was exploring different parts of the city — at least the downtown portion — without much use of a vehicle. We hit up the campus area for brunch at the start of one day, and we closed out the same day hanging out in the more family oriented South Congress area.
    Meanwhile, we seemed to cover the entire downtown well, making it to venues all over the place. In fact, I never repeated a site during the four days that I watched concerts.
  • Of course, all of that walking and endless amounts of awesomeness made for a great deal of exhaustion. So the one thing I might change the most is making sure I get plenty of sleep each night and maybe work a few more breaks into my daily schedule.
    Just as I had read multiple times while planning for this trip, take a nap any time you get a chance. If I had actually done that, maybe I would’ve stayed in town as long as I had originally set out to.

March 19, 2011

SXSW 2011: Day 3

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 2:59 am

As I noted in my last post, Thursday was possibly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, with a constant stream of awesome bands and free food and drinks. (Sidenote: Of the $20ish I spent all day, only $7 was specifically for drinks; all the rest went toward tips for all those free drinks).

Anyways, knowing that would be impossible to duplicate, I didn’t even really try. Instead, I ended up sitting off to the side of several shows Friday, only really paying attention to the bands from the periphery.

Our first stop, after finding a parking spot, was the Pitchfork #OFFLINE festival over at the East Side Drive-In. We arrived in time to watch the last few songs by Cloud Nothings. The Cleveland group, which started as one teenager in a bedroom of his parents’ home, has really developed a fleshed-out sound that channels all the best elements of indie rock and twee pop.

By the time we headed toward downtown, my boxer shorts felt like a rainforest, and it was clear I would be in for some discomfort. That was confirmed at our next stop, the BrooklynVegan, Partisan Records & KF Records Free Day Party. It took place at two venues that are linked by a patio, which created space for three stages. Unfortunately, things became so tightly packed and congested, that it was almost inhumane.

I ended up sitting on the ground in a back corner of the patio and caught the tail end of a set by Jason Isbell & The 400 Watt. They churn out some solid rock/alt-country. I don’t know what kind of stage presence they have, since I never actually put forth the effort to see them on stage.

After a relatively lengthy wait, Deer Tick hit the patio stage. By that point, I found the rest of my crew. They had somehow commandeered a sofa that had been randomly placed in the middle of the crowd. There was also an empty chair nearby that I took control of and listened to the first few songs before the balmy conditions forced me to seek shelter indoors.

I should note, that even though I only listened to a few of their songs, Deer Tick are clearly a very solid indie-rock band, one that should definitely be added to every music lover’s library.

Having made my way through the circuitous path back on to the street, I headed back into Swan Dive to catch Wye Oak with a friend from college. The conditions were about as bad as they were on the patio — it wasn’t as tightly packed, but there was no air conditioning or fans in sight.

Even the two musicians kept complaining about the heat. But that didn’t stop them from pounding out several quiet-loud-quiet indie alt-rock that seemed tailor-made for the heydays of such acts as Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.

As much as I was really digging that show, I was very glad when it ended, so I could head next door to cool, dark confines of Barbarella’s inside stage. Will, the college friend, and I just chilled out back by the bar while The Dodos did their thing on stage.

Like I said, I wasn’t really paying close attention, but from what I noticed, they were turning out a lot of quality indie-rock tunes. I definitely need to go back and re-listen to their catalog.

By the time that show ended, all the members of my crew had re-assembled, and we made the painful decision to trek about 25-30 blocks southwest to SoCo (South Congress) to catch some friends of Laura — our host — who played in a band called Speak.

They sounded pretty good, with strong rock sensibilities. But, at that point, I was way more focused on my tasty tacos al pastor and frozen margaritas.

After that show, we meandered about for a bit before returning to Guero’s Taco Bar to see the final act, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.

I never knew they were from Austin. I also never really had any idea what their sound was like, and I’m still not really sure. For the most part, I just heard a lot of heavy rock instrumentals and solos, but very little vocals. It’s definitely not the type of things I’d care to listen to on a regular basis.

It was around this point that Sean and I decided we were going to pack up and leave a day early. There really isn’t anything on Saturday’s bills that we were dying to see, and we’ve already experienced so much awesomeness that we didn’t want to taint it was a lackluster final day.

So, we’ll be on the road the next couple of days, but I hope to file a final recap once I return to The Bend.

FRIDAY’S RANKINGS:

  • Wye Oak
  • Deer Tick
  • The Dodos
  • Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit
  • Speak
  • And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead

March 18, 2011

SXSW 2011: Day 2

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 11:30 am

When I last posted here, about 36 hours ago, I was dreading what was in store for me Thursday. I was already incredibly tired the night before and knew I was gonna have to get going earlier than before.

As it turns out, my second full day of SXSW was a never-ending stream of awesome. Now I’m worried about a letdown today, because there’s no way Thursday can be topped.

It started with us scurrying downtown to get to the Canada House party in time to see Great Lake Swimmers perform. We showed up at the second floor of Paradise Cafe during the middle of the Swimmers’ set. While Sean watched from the front, I glided to the back of the room where there was a nice breeze and some rustling about going on near a table full of food.

Unbeknownst to us, they were setting up a free taco/nacho bar. The food was quality and just a sign of things to come. We sat out on the balcony for a little while, enjoying our bounty, a free drink and the cool Austin breeze.

Then we headed in to catch a few songs by another Canadian band called In-Flight Safety. I had given them one star after hearing them on the torrent and was looking forward to their set. Unfortunately, it was cut short by a broken guitar string that took too long to fix.

But I was able to surmise that they are a pretty solid indie-rock group.

After that, we decided to check out a joint up 5th Street called Antone’s that Sean had noted the night before. We saw that The Boxer Rebellion was on the bill but weren’t sure if it was worth it. Then the bouncer noted it was an open bar, and we were sold.

We proceeded to stay there for the next two or three hours, drinking up a storm and listening to three solid bands.

When we arrived, The Mighty Stef was onstage. At first, I thought they just sounded like another rock band with maybe a country twang. But, as their show progressed, the really started to grow on me. And by the time the were sampling U2’s “I Will Follow” in their finale, I was hooked on these Irish lads.

Next up was Pulled Apart By Horses. It was the type of stuff that I would’ve skipped on the torrent within 10 seconds, but I was forced to stick it out. It’s not that the group from Leeds was bad, I’m just not a big fan of hardcore punk.

While I didn’t care much about the music, the show was entertaining. At one point, a guitarist draped his axe over a bandmate and played it from behind him. Later, the lead singer knelt down and vomited off the front of the stage.

After that interesting act came the “featured” band, The Boxer Rebellion. They put on an amazing set, loaded with tight, indie rock songs that had the ever-growing crowd jamming along.

By the time that show was over, we’d been drinking in the dark cavern for a while and were rudely awakened by the sunlight upon exiting. After coming to our senses, we decided to head to the Lustre Pearl in the southeast corner of downtown for a few shows.

When we arrived, there was a longish line and I was in dire need of a bathroom. So I went in search of a secluded alley somewhere and instead found a gap in a fence where I was able to sneak into a private party.

Long story short, I ended up feasting on some amazing empanadas and tasty beer for a couple of hours, while the rest of my crew slowly made its way into the show and saw what was apparently a really good set by The Givers.

I stand by my decision, as I ended up meeting a bunch of interesting people, including Rex, who’s been living in Austin since 1993 and has SXSW down to an art form.

Once their show was over, I rejoined the rest of my group and we headed back into the den of downtown, eventually deciding to focus on Lanai, which was featuring a band we interested in.

We didn’t have RSVPs, but after a few minutes, they gave us badges and we were on our merry way. It was a rooftop venue and the vibe was awesome. There was a constant breeze that kept the mood serene, and they even served up some halfway decent complimentary barbecue.

We arrived on the roof just in time to see Hi Ho Silver Oh finish its set with a cover of a Tom Petty song that was solid. Next up was The Sundelles, which turned into another nice, unexpected discovery.

Early in their set, the indie rock-pop group kinda gave off something of a ’50s pop vibe, but eventually they settled into something for reminiscent of Guided By Voices. I’m definitely looking forward to hearing more from them.

After that, we were inundated with the trance-like sounds of Inspired Flight, an airy-fairy, electro-sampling outfit from San Diego that channeled The Avalanches and Thievery Corporation. They weren’t exactly my cup of tea, but seeing them in that particular venue made it easier to digest.

Then came the band we were there for, Family of the Year. The five-piece band — which included a sexy Jedi-looking girl on keyboards — churned out infectious indie-pop that had the small crowd enthralled for the entire set.

At that point, I figured that was a perfect capper to an all-around awesome day. As it turned out, I wouldn’t be heading home for another few hours.

We traipsed around downtown trying to locate a splinter member of our group who had apparently located another open bar. Unfortunately, by the time we met up with her, said bar had kicked everyone out.

So then we meandered back toward the Lustre Pearl to figure out what to do next. The Cold War Kids were playing the closing set there and I was content to stand in the street outside the venue and watch from there.

I was joined by Heather, the latest addition to our crew. Our feet were killing us and we weren’t eager to move for a while. Everyone else went to some other joint that ended up having a CD release party that supposedly wasn’t bad.

In the end, Cold War Kids put on a great show and played several songs I recognized, except that they didn’t play the one I really wanted to hear, “Audience”, off last year’s Behave Yourself EP.

Anyways, I know today’s post wasn’t the most flowing prose, but a lot happened yesterday, and I was just trying to get it all down in the most succinct manner.

As for our plans today, we’re gonna head to the diner where our host, Laura, is waiting tables this afternoon, then we’ll try to catch some shows over at Barbarella. From there, it’s anyone’s guess.

THURSDAY’S RANKINGS:

  • Family of the Year
  • The Boxer Rebellion
  • Sundelles
  • The Mighty Stef
  • Cold War Kids
  • In-Flight Safety
  • Great Lake Swimmers
  • Hi Ho Silver Oh
  • Pulled Apart By Horses
  • Inspired Flight

March 17, 2011

SXSW 2011: Day 1

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 1:30 am

I’m writing this around 12:30 a.m. Thursday after wimping out and heading back to my home base early. I’ve been awake since about 9:30 and apparently am supposed to wake up that early again today, so I’m exhausted.

As for my health, I’m still nowhere near 100 percent, but I didn’t feel like I was gonna die at any point, so that’s an improvement.

Thankfully, I was able to see several good, new bands and even checked off one of my personal main attractions.

We started the day parking quite a ways east of the highway, just off of 8th Street, then hiking to The Paste Party at the Stage on Sixth. We got in immediately and greeted by the sounds of the male-female folk duo The Civil Wars.

The pair, who met in Nashville, gave off a very familiar and passionate tone. John Paul White, who is a spitting image of Johnny Depp, strummed along on his acoustic guitar, while he and Joy Williams crooned as if they were singing to each other without an audience even there.

I don't know if you can tell, but that dude in The Civil Wars looks just like Johnny Depp.

After skipping the next act and pausing for some free refreshments, we caught the first few songs by Trampled By Turtles. A couple of members of our crew were super-excited to see this bluegrass band. As it turned out, we all agreed they were a dud and nothing really special.

At that point, we headed around the corner to Red Eyed Fly to see what was going on there. We missed We Barbarians and The Spinto Band. We strolled back to the patio and caught the last portion of the John Vanderslice set.

Now, he’s not a bad artist by any means, and I didn’t mind listening to him, but as for excitement value, he tied with Trampled By Turtles for worst show of the day.

A little later, O’Death hit the stage. Some fellow members of the audience to approached our group earlier referred to this group as hardcore bluegrass or bluegrass punk.

I don’t know if I’d go that far, but it’s close enough, and they were relatively solid. Also, the lead singer was rather awkward with his between-songs banter, which was amusing to watch.

The dude to the right, with the big guitar, is the awkward lead singer of O'Death.

At that point, me and a member of our crew, Audrey, headed back to the Paste Party to catch a show I was really looking forward to. Meanwhile, everyone else stayed behind to watch The Dodos. Apparently, they were awesome, and I still hope to see them at some point.

After waiting in line a few minutes, we headed in and decided to actually watch the show before our featured performer. We were handsomely rewarded for our open-mindedness.

The group, Lord Huron, was pretty awesome and definitely one of my favorite discoveries in the first two days.

For the other members of our group, I described their sound as island folk, and Laura added the line, “that occasionally shot into outer space.”

Just looking at the guys, they looked like they could have been apart of just about any genre. The only connection to an island sound was the bassist, who is black and head massive dreadlocks.

Basically, they played really solid folk rock, but the percussionist, who was wearing a washboard on his chest, had several instruments at his disposal to add an island flair — including maracas and an electronic steel drum.

Lord Huron's percussionist (in green) is wearing a washboard on his chest.

After their penultimate song, I headed over to the smaller, outdoor stage to get a good spot for Kopecky Family Band. As I had imagined and heard from others, they put on an amazing live set.

Having first heard them on recordings, their live sound didn’t quite live up to that, but you could tell they had the potential to be great.

I also cut them some slack, because of the six members in the band, I think they were only able to fit four of them on the dinky stage at a time and often just had three. It was interesting watching them contort their bodies to get around each other and their instruments. I bet on a real stage they would be amazing.

Also, most of the member play several instruments, the most impressive of which was the lead male vocalist, who played guitar and tooted on the slide trombone a few times. You could tell he was winded, having to blow on the trombone, then immediately sing a line, then stand back and gasp for air.

This was probably my favorite show of the night.

The lone female in Kopecky Family Band is rather fetching.

Then we proceeded to lounge around for about an hour in the grass off the back patio, and eventually got our hands on some free nachos, courtesy of Qdoba.

Shortly thereafter, we headed a couple of blocks down to El Sol y La Luna to eat some more Mexican grub and listen to a band whose members are all friends of Laura, our crew’s obligatory townie.

The band was named What On Earth. I didn’t bold that one, because they’re a little out there and aren’t playing the type of stuff you’re gonna find on iTunes. They’ve amassed a whole treasure trove of interesting instruments from across the globe and combine them to make music that is sometimes awesome and sometimes odd.

The band's name says it all -- What On Earth.

After hanging out there for a couple of hours, we tried to track down a show worth paying money for, which was easier said than done.

Walking about eight blocks west, we couldn’t find anything worthwhile. On our way back, we ducked into One 2 One Bar and caught the tail end of a set by Dear Lions. I was already starting to fade at that point, but from the few songs I heard, they seemed like a solid little indie folk band — not a bad group to end my night on.

We left there and headed closer to downtown, trying to find something worthy of our  cash. By the time we got to Barbarella, the one band I was interested in was already halfway through its set, so that’s when Laura and I split away from the group and headed back to bed.

Weak, I know. But we may have an early day tomorrow. There was talk of showing up as early as noon to catch Great Lake Swimmers. But they’re also playing a later set elsewhere, which is what I’d prefer to attend.

I guess we’ll see. We really don’t have a plan of attack at this point anymore.

WEDNESDAY’S RANKINGS:

  • Kopecky Family Band
  • Lord Huron
  • The Civil Wars
  • O’Death
  • Dear Lions
  • John Vanderslice
  • Trampled By Turtles

March 16, 2011

SXSW 2011: Opening ceremonies

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 12:01 pm

Just like in the Olympics, the first day of my SXSW experience was mostly ceremonial. The music portion doesn’t start until today, but there were still plenty of bands to be heard Tuesday night. Again, kinda like the Olympiad, how some obscure sport always gives out a medal the same day the Opening Ceremonies take place.

Before I delve into the musical experience, I feel like I should give a little background to explain my state of mind.

PREFACE

When Sean and I departed from South Bend on Sunday, the only city’s forecast that I looked up beforehand was Austin’s. Highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s.

That meant I would not be packing any pants or hoodies — so as to save precious space in my duffel bag.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really think about what the weather would be like during the trek to Austin. Driving to Central Illinois in roughly 40-degree weather was fine, as I was in the truck the whole time. But driving from Illinois to Tulsa on Monday was a bitch. We almost immediately ran into rain and snow and didn’t really come out of it until some where in western Missouri.

To compound the annoyance, I awoke Monday morning with a head cold that, over the course of the drive, steadily grew into a wicked fever.

Now, I don’t if me wearing shorts had anything to do with this, but it might have exacerbated the issue.

Waking up in Tulsa on Tuesday, my fever had dissipated considerably, unfortunately, by the time we arrived in downtown Austin about 8.5 hours later, it had returned with a vengeance.

For the next five hours or so, I struggled through a couple of awesome shows while experiencing an increasing state of delirium. I’ve never been that loopy in my life and could hardly string together a coherent thought.

The worst part was when we left our final venue of the night and began moseying around downtown. While it was in the 60s, my body was convulsing with the chills. It was kinda freaky.

A little later, the other members of our crew, which had increased to four people at that point, picked up some Korean barbecue. Unfortunately, I had no appetite whatsoever.

If for no other reason, I want my health to improve enough to stomach a slew of Korean BBQ tacos.

As I type this entry at noonish Wednesday, my fever is under control for now, but will surely get worse as the day progresses. However, I refuse to let my condition get in the way of experiencing SXSW to its fullest.

Now, back to the music.

TUESDAY

We found a parking spot at about 7:15 and headed straight for Club de Ville for the Ice Cream Man Party. We arrived in the middle of the Screaming Females set. As I noted in an earlier post, they sound exactly as you would assume from their name. It’s a couple of dudes and a female lead singer who basically just howled at the top of her lungs.

I gave them 1 star originally while listening to the torrent, but seeing them live, I would delete them completely.

The best part of that show was the free ice cream and $1 Sparks I consumed.

After that show ended, we were all prepared to leave but figured we’d stick around for at least the first song of the next band — Futurebirds. We ended up staying for about six songs. These guys were our first awesome discovery of the festival.

The group was made up of five dudes — a drummer, bassist and three guitarists. They mostly looked like regular guys, except for the one who was rocking a ZZ Top-style beard.

The way I would describe their sound was as if Kurt Cobain was fronting an alt-country/folk band — basically, alt-country with an edge.

My camera work is horrible, but you might be able to make out a reddish speck to the far right. That's the bill of a cap, underneath which lies a massive beard.

After leaving there, we headed to the PureVolume House to catch We Barbarians. Unfortunately, we had yet to pick up a badge, and the line to do so was enormous. So, we quickly departed and headed elsewhere. I checked the Sched.org mobile site — which, by the way, sucked greatly last night and hopefully improves — and noted the Frog Music Listening Party at The Ghost Room.

By the time we got there, we had just missed the two acts I was interested in — Dan Dyer and Sahara Smith.

The first act we saw was Cowboy & Indian. I remember hearing them on the torrents, and there’s a reason I didn’t keep the track. They’re very raw, acoustic folk, unfortunately, it was too raw and just not that good.

The next band quickly made up for that. Zookeeper was an incredibly solid alt-country folk group that channeled The Band.

By that point in the evening, we had been joined by one of Sean’s friends from Peace Corps, and for at least two songs, the three of us sat at our table, completely transfixed by the music. It was like the Seinfeld episode when Elaine’s boyfriend stopped everything when “Desperado” came on the radio.

That band would’ve definitely been in the top two of the night, but then the next act blew them away.

The Lemurs are an Austin-based group that churns out simply awesome indie rock. The whole crowd, which had swollen considerably to see a local act, was rocking along with every note.

So, the final tally for Tuesday was five bands. The only two I’d heard beforehand were the two worst. The other three can be chalked up as SXSW discoveries.

Today, we’re still not sure what we’re gonna end up doing, but we’ll probably start the day in a couple of hours somewhere on Sixth or Seventh streets.

TUESDAY’S RANKINGS:

  • Zookeeper
  • Futurebirds
  • The Lemurs
  • Cowboy & Indian
  • Screaming Females

March 15, 2011

SXSW 2011: The gameplan

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 12:01 am

At this point, I’ve listened to all the music I’m going to listen to and read all the background info I feel the need to. Now, it’s time to make some tough decisions and plot out where I’m actually going to go each day.

From everything I’ve read and heard, one of the best things about SXSW is all the unexpected treasures people encounter — stuff that they never would’ve planned for.

But at the same time, it’s important to have some sort of framework for each day so you actually get to see most of the bands you really want to see.

After pouring over the schedule and plotting out the venues on a map, I think I’ve got a pretty good lay of the land for the next few days. I only really focused on the daytime shows. If we decide to pay for any of the shows at night, that’ll be done more on a whim.

I even color-coded the venues that I hope to hit hard each day, which should come in handy for parking purposes.

TUESDAY

My friend, Sean, and I will be waking up in Tulsa, hitting the road and arriving at some point tonight, hopefully in time to get some free treats at the Ice Cream Man Party at at Club de Ville.

From there, we’ll head over to the PureVolume House for the “Syndicate Conflict of Interest Party” with a lineup that includes We Barbarians, Grouplove, The Lonely Forest and The Sounds.

WEDNESDAY (Blue markers)

This is the true start of the festival, with a ton of solid lineups scattered all over downtown. I’ll be focusing most of my attention the cluster of bars around 7th and Red River.

  • Red Eyed Fly … “Brooklyn vs. The Bay”
    Notable acts: We Barbarians, Dodos, John Vanderslice, Sea of Bees
  • Red 7 … “Force Field PR & Terrorbird Media 4th Annual SXSW Day Party”
    Notable acts: Cloud Nothings, Violens, Screaming Females, Generationals, Lower Dens
  • Emo’s Annex … “IODA Opening Day Bash”
    Notable acts: Withered Hand, Geographer
  • Beauty Bar … “eMusic at SXSW”
    Notable acts: Hurray for the Riff Raff, JEFF the Brotherhood, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Mohawk … “Austinist/The Windish Agency/Laneway Festival/Eat Your Own Ears present Austin or Bust!”
    Notable acts: Cloud Nothings, Royal Bangs, Foster the People
  • The Stage on Sixth (formerly Radio Room) … “2011 Paste Party in Austin”
    Notable acts: TV Torso, Jeremy Messersmith, Kopecky Family Band, Ezra Furman & The Harpoons,  Eisley
  • PureVolume House … “RCRD LBL After Hours”
    Notable act: Moby

THURSDAY (Red)

This is the one day that we’ll get away from downtown and hang out south of the river at Yard Dog and Home Slice Pizza.

But there are plenty of other shows worthy of attendance, if you happen to find yourself near one of these venues.

  • Flamingo Cantina … “JanSport presents Under the Radar SXSW 2011 Party”
    Notable acts: Violens, The Dodos, Yuck, The Dears
  • Red River Garage … “MTV Garage”
    Notable acts: Friendly Fires, Matt & Kim
  • East Side Drive-In … “Pitchfork presents #OFFLINE”
    Notable acts: Dodos, Times New Viking, J Mascis, Smith Westerns, Lower Dens, Dum Dum Girls
  • French Legation Museum … “Other Music & Dig for Fire present the 2011 Lawn Party at SXSW”
    Notable acts: Edwyn Collins, Ted Leo, Low, Sharon Van Etten
  • Rusty Spurs … “Texas Tornado”
    Notable acts: David Berkeley, Robbers on High Street, Brooke Fraser, Voxhaul Broadcast, Augustana
  • Mellow Johnny’s … “KEXP Live @ SXSW”
    Notable acts: O.M.D., The Black Angels, The Joy Formidable
  • Lustre Pearl … “Dickies @ SXSW”
    Notable acts: We Barbarians, The Naked and Famous, The Head and the Heart, Givers
  • The Stage on Sixth (formerly Radio Room) … “2011 Paste Party in Austin”
    Notable acts: Sarah Jaffe, Nicole Atkins, Rural Alberta Advantage, John Vanderslice, David Wax Museum, The Submarines, J Mascis
  • PureVolume House … “PureVolume After Hours”
    Notable acts: The Limousines, The Dears, The Bravery

FRIDAY (Green)

We’ll be heading back downtown to start the weekend. The best shows aren’t as tightly clustered as they were on Wednesday, so we may be forced to pick one venue and stick it out. Thankfully, there are several very good shows to choose from.

  • Swan Dive & Barbarella … “BrooklynVegan, Partisan Records & KF Records Free Day Party”
    Notable acts: John Grant featuring Midlake, Wye Oak, J Mascis, David Wax Museum, Dolorean, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Deer Tick featuring Jonny Corndawg, Old 97’s, Middle Brother, Vetiver, The Dodos
  • Flamingo Cantina … “Shure presents Under the Radar SXSW Party 2011”
    Notable acts: Surfer Blood, Telekinesis, Menomena, Okkervil River
  • East Side Drive-In … “Pitchfork presents #OFFLINE”
    Notable acts: Class Actress, Cloud Nothings, Diamond Rings, Yuck, Edwyn Collins
  • Home Slice Pizza … “Music By the Slice”
    Notable acts: Kopecky Family Band, Sea of Bees, Thao with The Get Down Stay Down, The Rural Alberta Advantage
  • Mohawk … “March Into Softness 2011”
    Notable acts: Ted Leo (solo), Wye Oak, Sharon Van Etten
  • Mellow Johnny’s … “KEXP Live @ SXSW”
    Notable acts: Violens, John Vanderslice
  • Cedar Street Courtyard … “Filter Magazine Culture Collide”
    Notable acts: Phantogram, Surfer Blood
  • Waterloo Cycles … “SXSWaterloo”
    Notable act: mylittlepony
  • Red House Pizzeria … “Music for listeners at the Red House Pizzeria”
    Notable acts: Jonquil, Bombay Bicycle Club
  • The Belmont … “West Rocks”
    Notable acts: The Traveling Band, The Rocketboys

SATURDAY (Purple)

At this point in the festival, we hopefully will have seen a majority of the bands we set out to see, so the final day could be something of a toss-up. There are, of course, a slew of great shows, so it’s not really clear which ones we’ll aim for.

  • East Side Drive-In … “FYF Fest and Fun Fun Fun Fest present Mess With Texas”
    Notable acts: Dead Milkmen, !!!, Surfer Blood, The Dodos, Ted Leo (solo), Thee Oh Sees, Deer Tick, Screaming Females, We Barbarians
  • Ghost Room … “New Granada Day Party”
    Notable acts: Her Space Holiday, Sarah Jaffe, Oh No Oh My, Dignan
  • Palm Door … “Bamm.tv “No Badge, No Prob” Fan Appreciation Party”
    Notable acts: Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, Great Lake Swimmers
  • Hotel San Jose … “South By San Jose”
    Notable acts: Sahara Smith, Jason Collett, Robert Francis, The Low Anthem
  • Cedar Street Courtyard … “Filter Magazine Culture Collide”
    Notable act: Scars on 45
  • Home Slice Pizza … “Music By the Slice”
    Notable acts: The Twilight Sad, Times New Viking, Wye Oak
  • 1506 Eva Street … “3rd Annual Brooklyn Country Cookout”
    Notable act: The Orbans
  • Lustre Pearl … “Dickies @ SXSW”
    Notable acts: Tapes ‘n Tapes, Okkervil River
  • Latitude 30 … “Liverpool Sound City”
    Notable act: The Answering Machine
  • PureVolume House … “PureVolume House Party”
    Notable acts: Augustana, Voxhaul Broadcast
  • Fado Irish Pub … “Noise/Racket, Sitcom Serf present ‘Beasts of the Chase’”
    Notable acts: ARMS, Adam Arcuragi & The Lupine Chorale Society

SUNDAY

Say our goodbyes and head back to the monotony of everyday life — while already planning ahead to SXSW 2012.

March 13, 2011

SXSW 2011: The second torrent

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 12:01 am

Just when I thought it might never come, the purveyor of the SXSW torrent site finally uploaded the second batch of songs early last week. As per usual, this one was about half the size of the first — 361 songs — so it was a lot easier to get through.

In fact, I took advantage of a day off on Friday and was able to tear through the songs in about a day and a half.

As I did with the first batch, I rated all the songs I liked and jotted down some notes about each band. Even though there were half as many songs, I had a disproportionately smaller amount of two- and three-star songs. But that might have something to do with the speed with which I breezed through the playlist.

The only band earning three stars was Dawes, a Los Angeles-based band that I will feature in a post later this month.

There were about a dozen repeat artists, and even a few repeat songs, which were immediately deleted.

As for the overall breakdown, I kept 79 songs, or 21.9 percent, which is less than the first batch, but not too far off.

THREE STARS (Gold)

1 of 79 (1.3 percent) … 1 of 361 (0.3)

Dawes … indie-folk band channeling CSN&Y, The Band, Mumford & Sons and The Avett Brothers

TWO STARS (Silver)

8 of 79 (10.1) … 8 of 361 (2.2)

Army Navy … just a good indie rock band; they had a song in the first batch too

Friska Viljor … very catchy indie with strings and an accent of some sort

Hey Rosetta! … sounds a lot like The Frames with some other indie-folk influences

Lower Than Atlantis … Scottish indie-rock ballad

Tapes n Tapes … indie rock with a little folk flavor

These United States … indie rock in the vein of The Strokes

Violens … sounds a lot like The Shins, with an occasional accordion thrown in for good measure

Walk the Moon … catchy indie-rock/pop that gets the toe tappin’

ONE STAR (Bronze)

12 of 79 (15.2) … 12 of 361 (3.3)

AgesandAges … like a poppy choir singing along to Crazy Horse; and a Jack White vocal solo

Beta Wolf … sounds like a speed metal band trying to play indie rock

Boy & Bear … indie rock with nicely layered vocals and instruments

Dead Stars … indie/shoegaze that belonged on college radio in the early ’90s

Dizzy Eyes … reminds me of The Lemonheads or some other mid-’90s indie-alt band

The Hounds Below … British-sounding indie-folk with loud-quiet yearning vocals

The Moondoggies … solid indie/alt-country that’s probably radio-worthy

Parts & Labor … indie rock with a post-punk feel

The Rumour Said Fire … indie-folk/pop with male-female harmonies and a tambourine

Sgt Dunbar and the Hobo Banned … indie-folk with a tinge of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Vanaprasta … like a folkier version of Kings of Leon

Xylos … reminds me of Christine Anu or some powerful “world music” singer

ZERO STARS (Honorable mention)

58 of 79 (73.4) … 59 of 361 (16.3)

Allie Moss … singer-songwriter with some Feist and Regina Spektor going on

AM & Shawn Lee … electro airy-fairyness with some shoegazing qualities

Amber Digby & Midnight Flyer … like Natalie Maines channeling Patsy Cline

American Fangs … straight-up rock, bordering on derivative, but probably solid live

Bhi Bhiman … like Antony & The Johnsons singing country-folk

The Black Cloud Collective … pretty average rock with a heavy side

The Black Lips … sound like a male version of Those Darlins

BRAHMS … for some reason, it reminds me of Real Life, the Aussie band from the ’80s

Broncho … nostalgic surfer rock that is lo-fi as hell

Caleb Coy … just a guy and his acoustic guitar

Cloud Control … mix of male-female harmonies, fuzzy guitars; several things going on here

Colleen Green … lo-fi indie-pop with a potentially rocking guitar

Computer Magic … name says it all; sounds like a lo-fi computer-pop band with potential

COOLRUNNINGS … indie-rock with some shoegaze, electro and distortion mixed in

The Damnwells … just some solid, light alt-country

Dan Bern … a total Bob Dylan wannabe

Dan Brodie and the Grieving Widows … decently solid blues-rock

Dan Dyer … reminded me of a toned-down version of Maroon 5

Dan Wilson … solid folk/alt-country singer-songwriter

The Delta Mirror … electro, shoegaze chamber-pop

Dexter Freebish … bouncy electro-pop

Dolorean … melodious alt-country with a little something extra

Echo … electro-pop in Asian/English

Fergus & Geronimo … indie-rock with a garage feel

The Fling … slow, bluesy indie-rock

Funeral Party … indie-rock with attitude and female (?) vocals

Guards … indie-rock/pop with a nostalgic feel

Hell & Lula … reminiscent of The Sounds and Spinnerette

The Honeymoon Thrillers … upbeat rock with a little pop feel

Hungry Kids of Hungary … bouncy indie-pop

Hunx & His Punx … very nostalgic lo-fi pop similar to The Magic Numbers

Kim Taylor … just a girl and her piano

King Charles … something of a novelty sound; hard to describe

Kyle Andrews … catchy indie-pop with a few reminders of Filter and VHS or Beta

Lacuna Incorporated … very chill indie-folk

Lecherous Gaze … like old-school punk, but still accessible

Lesands … indie-pop/rock with a catchy drumbeat

The Liptonians … indie-pop with some shoegaze aspects

Little Red … catchy indie electro-pop

Matthew and the Atlas … alt-country with soul

Melissa Ferrick … alt-country girl power

Nikki Lang … solid pop that was made for VH1

Popup … sounds like Scottish alt-country, if that’s even possible

Pretty Black Chains … bluesy rock with an edge

The R.G. Morrison … shoegaze with strings

RAMESH … shoegazing indie-folk balladeers

Richard Barone … indie chamber-pop with synths

Ryan Michaels Band … alt-country with a lot of strings

Saint Motel … indie-rock/pop with a swingin’ vibe

Satellite … reminiscent of old Coldplay (“Yellow”) and maybe The Fray and its ilk

Slam Donahue … bouncy indie-pop; a mix of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Polyphonic Spree

Taddy Porter … slow, groovin’ rock with a bluesy feel

The Tender Box … indie rock — accent on the rock — with a tinge of electro

Tracy Bonham … ’90s singer that sounds like Tori Amos or Ani DiFranco, but easier to digest

Tristen … female singer-songwriter with a more prominent backing band than most

Ume … sounds like a toned-down riot grrl group

Vulture Whale … pretty solid indie-rock

Ximena Sarinana … poppy female singer-songwriter similar to Sara Bereilles, et all

March 8, 2011

SXSW 2011: Figuring it all out

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 3:06 pm

Once the dream of attending SXSW started to become a reality, I soon realized I had no idea what I was doing.

Sure, I know that a massive amount of musicians and music lovers descend upon Austin, Texas, for about a week in the middle of March. But, other than that, I didn’t really understand the logistics that go into attending the festival.

My friend, Sean, and I know a couple of people who reside in Austin, so the lodging aspect is hopefully all taken care of. But as for actually deciding where to go, what to see and how much it would cost, I was clueless.

Thankfully, I was able to answer most of my questions via the information superhighway.

One of my biggest worries early on was the price of attendance. As it turns out, there are basically three levels of concert-goers — people with badges who can pretty much go anywhere they want, people with wristbands who can get into most shows with relative ease, and then the people like me who wish to spend as little money as possible.

Thankfully, there are about as many unofficial (read: free) parties at SXSW as there are official ones. Generally, the free parties run during the day, and the ones that charge a cover are later at night. Needless to say, I’ll be doing most of my concert-going during the daylight hours.

For more on the festival, here are some links I found pretty helpful.

  • A solid SXSW primer.
  • A more in-depth look at how to prepare. Make sure you read all three posts — they’re not all sequential.
  • More from the same girl on her actual experiences at SXSW — five posts in all.
  • A wimpier approach to planning.
  • A possibly even wimpier survival guide.
  • A list of all the bands who will officially be in town.
  • The unofficial schedule to this year’s SXSW, including all the free parties.
  • A shit-ton of free music — the SXSW torrents. There will be a second torrent posted within the next day or so.

Later this week, I’ll post a list of my recommendations for free shows worth checking out.

March 6, 2011

SXSW 2011: The torrent

Filed under: Austin, SXSW — assman41 @ 12:01 am

After several years of anticipation, it appears as though I’m finally going to get to attend the South By Southwest Music Festival. It won’t be in an official capacity — maybe someday — but just as a freeloading music fan livin’ it up in Austin for a week.

In order to properly prepare for the onslaught of music, I downloaded the first batch of songs from the unofficial SXSW torrent site. It took me nearly two weeks and countless hours of listening to music on my computer, but I finally made it through all the tracks.

That’s 787 acts comprising more than 50 hours of music. Thankfully, after having listened to all of the All Songs Considered SXSW podcasts the past couple of years, I had a good idea of how to streamline the process.

If a song hadn’t grabbed me within a minute or so, it wasn’t worth listening all the way through. And since I’m not a fan of hip-hop or heavy metal, I was able to skip all of those songs within the first few notes.

In the end, I deleted nearly three-fourths of the songs, having kept 221 of them (which works out to 28.1 percent). That may not seem like a very high percentage, but just imagine trying to see that many bands in one week.

As I tore through the songs, I made notes of all the bands I liked and gave them all various ratings — zero to five stars. Only one band — Great Lake Swimmers — earned more than three stars, and nearly two-thirds earned none. But all of this is based on one listen, so all of the songs are capable of earning another star or two after further listens.

Anyways, without further ado, I give you my first impressions of all the bands I liked. And since I’m such a math nerd, I also included a percentage breakdown for each category.

FIVE STARS (Platinum)

1 of 221 (0.5 percent) … 1 of 787 (0.1 percent)

Great Lake Swimmers … amazingly harmonious, indie-folk

THREE STARS (Gold)

6 of 221 (2.7 percent) … 6 of 787 (0.8 percent)

The Boat People … tight indie-rock/pop similar to Rogue Wave and Pinback

Flogging Molly … godfathers of Boston-Irish punk

Kopecky Family Band … indie-folk/pop with great male-female harmonies

Matthew and the Arrogant Sea … just great indie-folk/rock/pop

The Orbans … amazing indie-rock/alt-country band from Austin

Scars On 45 … indie-rock made for the radio; has a similar vibe as a lot of bigger bands

TWO STARS (Silver)

18 of 221 (8.1 percent) … 18 of 787 (2.3 percent)

Admiral Fallow … really mellow, acoustic-y folk with a thick Scottish accent

Aislyn … medium-pace, ethereal, electro-pop with a definite ’80s vibe

ARMS … folk-electronica, maybe; kinda reminds me of Wild Nothing but with more

Army Navy … total indie-pop … lead singer used to be in a band with Ben Gibbard

Benjamin Francis Leftwich … sounds like a mix between Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver

The Brother Kite … indie-pop with an airy-electro tinge; worthy of the radio

Jonathan Edwards … popular singer-songwriter from the ’70s

A Great Big Pile of Leaves … complex indie-pop/electro

Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band … introspective, somber indie-rock

Les Sampou … alt-country female crooner similar to Marisa Nadler; played on WGCS

Little Comets … a lot like Two Door Cinema Club, VHS or Beta, but with odd vocals

Matrimony … country with a splash of bluegrass and Appalachia

mylittlepony … indie-pop/alt-country with male-female harmonies

Netherfriends … sounds like a mixture of several popular indie bands, including Animal Collective

Sea of Bees … radio-friendly alt-country with female vocals

U.S. Royalty … very catchy indie rock with some solid instrumentation

Voxhaul Broadcast … indie rock with some electro-style guitar work

Small Black … airy-fairy electro with shoegazer sensibilities

ONE STAR (Bronze)

58 of 221 (26.2 percent) … 58 of 787 (7.4 percent)

Active Child … reminds me of MGMT and their ilk

Adam Arcuragi & The Lupine Chorale Society … folk singer with a chorus

Alvarez Kings … like an indie rock version of Fall Out Boy

Amanda Shires … folky singer-songstress

The Answering Machine … definite ’80s-electro vibe

Bear Driver … indie-pop/rock with some very repetitive lyrics

The Black … has a Neil Young/Bob Dylan feel — but not too derivative

Boats … indie-pop bordering on being too sugary; I’m thinking Matt and Kim, Noah and the Whale

Brooke Fraser … catchy folk/pop/country with a female singer and an occasional clapping chorus

Cary Brothers … seems made for the radio; similar to Switchfoot and Gomez

Chappo … catchy, electro-indie/rock

A Classic Education … shoegazing to its core; reminiscent of Lower Dens

Cobirds Unite … chill, folk/alt-country

Cults … sounds like a pretty good children’s choir

David Berkeley … indie-folk, possibly similar to Fanfarlo

Eisley … sounds like a female singer-songstress, but more like a band

Elephant Stone … shoegazer, indie-pop that belongs on a college radio station, circa 1992

Fake Problems … bouncy indie-pop

Family of the Year … indie-pop with harmonies

Gold Motel … pop-laced female vocals with a nostalgic feel like Vivian Girls, but not exactly

Haley Bonar … singer-songstress with an alt-country twang

Herra Terra … mild electro-rock with a Depeche Mode/Cult feel

Hurray for the Riff Raff … soft alt-country with female vocals

In-Flight Safety … indie-rock with a little shoegaze; plenty of potential, but weak lyrically

Jimmy Gnecco … honestly sounded like a toned-down version of Bono

K’s Choice … female grunge/shoegaze band from the ’90s

Kabul Dreams … reminiscent of a Placebo, but less monotonous

Lee MacDougal … sounds like fun. or Mika

Letting Up Despite Great Faults … shoegazing electro-pop

Literature … indie-surfer rock with lo-fi vocals

Monogold … kinda reminds me of Animal Collective; a hodgepodge of indie sounds

My Evil Twin … toned-down electro-pop

Nelo … alt-country/pop that would be very well-received on the radio

New Roman Times … toned-down indie pop with an electro tinge; male lead-female backing

Nico Stai … indie pop-rock with catchy beats made for the radio

Now, Now Every Children … kinda shoegazing indie-pop with female vocals

O Emperor … solid, indie-rock that might be worthy of the radio

Rah Rah … mildly bouncy indie-pop with a fuzzy guitar

Reptar … electro-indie pop that, for some reason, calls to mind the New Radicals

The Rocketboys … grandiose indie-pop with a bit of a Coldplay vibe

Screaming Females … name says it all — girl-powered, punk-infused rock

Sex With Strangers … super-catchy electro-pop like Temper Trap, MGMT and Friendly Fires

Sharon Van Etten … moving singer-songstress

A Silent Film … reminded me of White Lies

Sleepy Vikings … indie-rock, heavy on the rock, with a little folk and male-female vocals

Soft Swells … catchy indie-pop

Sons of Bill … solid alt-country; tight, crisp song ready for radio; favorite among WNRN fans

Stamps … enthralling female vocals that would probably leave a live crowd standing in awe

Star & Micey … bluegrass-influenced alt-country with catchy chorus

Sunbears! … mildly airy-fairy electro-pop

Surfer Blood … indie surfer-rock with very fuzzy guitars

The Sway Machinery … African music with a very bluesy feel

Thee Attacks … solid, guitar-driven indie-rock

Tigers That Talked … straight-up indie rock

TV Torso … indie rock with a touch of heaviness; reminded me of Foo Fighters’ “Everlong”

We Barbarians … indie-rock/alt-country that sounds like a less grandiose Kings of Leon

Young Buffalo … indie-rock with an electro-pop tinge

Yuck … indie-pop/shoegaze similar to Superchunk with a little New Pornographers feel

ZERO STARS (Honorable mention)

138 of 221 (62.4 percent) … 138 of 787 (17.5 percent)

Agent Ribbons … OK; had the feeling of a toned-down grrl rock group

Alessi’s Ark … kind of a mix between Bjork and Feist

AM … airy-fairy indie-electro/pop

The Apache Relay … indie-rock/pop with potential

Bahamas … sounds like an acoustic singer-songwriter, with something extra

The Blind Shake … fast-rocking group that would probably be awesome live

Bloodgroup … definitely influenced by Radiohead

The Boom Bang … rock with a surfer punk ethos

Bowling For Soup … gained fame in the ’00s with a catchy pop-rock sound and a sense of humor

Brandi Emma … sounds like an aged former pop star trying her hand at acoustic heartbreak

Brother … decent indie-rock/pop; maybe a little too derivative

Buddy … sounded like just a dude and his guitar

Buddy McNeil & The Magic Mirrors … fun-sounding country-rock/pop

Caitlin Cary and The Small Ponds … male-female alt-country

Caitlin Rose … male-female alt-country; maybe a little too heavy on the “country”

Capsula … sounds like something Drew would like

The Chevelles … indie-pop/rock; reminds me of Fountains of Wayne

Cheyenne Marie Mize … country singer-songstress

Chikita Violenta … indie-rock with plenty of distortion

Chris Bathgate … dude with an Avett Brothers vibe

Coolrunnings … kinda a Yeasayer vibe, but not as crazy

Darren Hanlon … call-and-response, male-female vocals with a ukulele

David Wax Museum … indie-pop/folk with a horn section

The Deaf … indie-rock/pop-punk

The Deer Tracks … indie-electro-pop with some fuzz

The Details … reminds me of Howie Day

The Devil Whale … indie-rock with a blues tinge

Dignan … indie with some airiness to it

Electra … jazzy indie-pop

Electric Touch … emo-rock

Emilie Clepper … sounds like Joanna Newsome, but less annoying

Empress Hotel … catchy, indie-electro/pop with male-female vocals

Erland & The Carnival … indie-pop with some definite psychedelia

Evaline … indie-rock with some emo leanings

Experimental Aircraft … a lot of electro-instrumentalism with some mildly haunting female vocals

Fast Romantics … nothing special, but there’s potential there

The Fervor … slightly haunting, almost sad female vocals make it surprisingly catchy

Foster the People … digitally altered vocals with catchy, nostalgic chorus

Frankie and the Heartstrings … indie-rock with sort of an ’80s soundtrack feel to it

Franz Nicolay … member of The Hold Steady (?) sounds like Barenaked Ladies sans the band

Freedom or Death … kinda has a boy band vibe; strong harmonies; indie-pop/soul

Futures … pop-punk with a lead singer that sorta reminds me of Alien Ant Farm

Geeks … sounded like a foreign version of Green Day

Geographer … soulful male vocals accompanied by video game noises

Goldheart Assembly … indie-rock with a classic feel

Gospel Claws … vocally reminiscent of Cold War Kids with some oldies-style guitar work

Graham Colton … singer-songwriter in the vein of Gavin DeGraw, Howie Day, Jason Mraz

Ham Sandwich … male-female vocals with a slight Noah and the Whale feel

The Happy Hollows … like an indie-rock version of Blondie

The Head and the Heart … reminded me of Bright Eyes

Head For the Hills … an old-school bluegrass band

Hey Rosetta! … slow-moving and, at times, grandiose indie

The High Dials … indie with a pinch of psychedelia and shoegaze

His Clancyness … indie-folk similar to Fleet Foxes

An Horse … female-led indie-rock, sorta like Spinnerette

Horse Thief … sounds like a mix between The XX and Mumford and Sons

The Hounds Below … indie-folk with quietly screaming vocals

I Was Totally Destroying It … indie-rock/pop-punk with a chorus and the occasional horn

Indigo Tree … airy-fairy shoegaze

Ivan & Alyosha … indie-pop with a little psychedelia; definitely Beatles-influenced

J. Irvin Dally … reminiscent of Bon Iver

Javier Escovedo … just another introspective singer-songwriter

Jay Nash … an alt-country version of Bruce Springsteen

The Jefferson … sounds like a mix between Gomez and Howie Day

Jeremy Messersmith … ’70s-style indie-pop that is tailor-made for an Apatow movie soundtrack

Jesse Malin & The St. Mark’s Social … indie-rock with a dive bar feel

The Jezabels … like a mix between Neko Case and Vanessa Carlton/Regina Spektor/et al

Karkwa … electro-chamber pop in a foreign language

Kid Canaveral … indie-pop with very little going on lyrically

Kid Dakota … sounds like a solo version of Switchfoot

Kinch … indie-rock with a catchy melody

King of Spain … indie-rock with an airy-fairy quality

The Last Republic … not-so-hard rock; like Atreyu or Hollywood Undead, without the fierceness

Leah and the Moonlighters … beautifully voiced female crooning with a backing band

Leatherbag … sounds like Uncle Tupelo Lite

Leila Broussard … belongs in the same category as Sara Bareilles and Natasha Bedingfield

Light FM … poppy-electro with male-female vocals

The Limousines … bouncy electro-pop

Lindi Ortega … alt-country gal

Little Scream … singer-songstress with nice, harmonious backing vocals

Little Tybee … kind of a jazzy, laid-back pop song with strings; reminds me of something

Loch Lomond … traditional Scottish folk

Luger … sounds like a mix of Filter, The Music and a packed arcade

Maren Parusel … kinda like The XX with poppier female vocals

Meiko … definitely in the Sara Bareilles/Natasha Bedingfield/Regina Specktor ilk

mona … Kings of Leon wannabes with more sound effects

Monarques … nostalgic, male-female harmonies similar to The Magic Numbers

Morning Teleportation … funky vocals backed by solid indie-electro

Mother Truckers … light bluesy rock with male-female vocals

Movus … great indie instrumental — just needs some damned vocals

Natalie Prass … electro-soul songstress with something of an ’80s feel

NEeMA … indie-pop, female vocals with a horn section

The Nightgowns … synth-heavy electro-pop with lyrics that leave something to be desired

Nive Nielsen … female songstress; kind of a cross between Imogene Heap and Regina Spektor

No Gold … catchy, cymbal-heavy beat with throw-away lyrics

Noxshi … it’s not hard, but it’s heavy

Oh Ruin … solid indie band; kinda reminds me of Okkervil River, but not exactly

oh sunshine … sounds like the Black Keys with a female vocalist

Orbit … rock with a pop sensibility

The Parlotones … decent, grandiose indie-rock; but sounds kinda like a Christian rock band

Pearl and the Beard … part indie-folk; part church hymnal

Protistas … intriguing instrumental; makes me hope other songs have vocals

Pujol … lo-fi indie-rock/pop

Quiet Company … indie-pop that sorta sounded like Coconut Records

Resplandor … airy-fairy electro-indie pop similar to M83, et al

Richard Barone … seems made for 1970s AM pop radio

Robinson … a non-British version Mumford & Sons with some possible Celtic leanings

The Roving Gamblers … straight-up alt-country

Sarah Jaffe … a singer-songwriter whose vocals come from deep within

Secret Colours … shoegaze with a psychedelic tinge

The Seedy Seeds … indie-pop with incoherent lyrics

Slow Animal … lo-fi, shoegaze with fuzzy guitars; reminds me of Best Coast

Something Fierce … catchy indie-rock/pop

The Soundtrack of Our Lives … anthemic, slowly building indie-rock

The Spring Standards … soft alt-country with pop leanings

Stonehoney … alt-country through and through

The Streets On Fire … reminiscent of Joy Division at their most aggressive

The Stripminers … a lot like X, with a male-female, retro pop-punk-rock feel

Superhumanoids … a little like Temper Trap

Talking To Turtles … indie-pop with potential

Tiger! Shit! Tiger! Tiger! … kind of a cacophony of sound, but in a good, indie way

Tog … foreign-language indie with some MGMT-style electro

Tony Scalzo … bluesy indie-rock with vocals similar to a lo-fi Kings of Leon

The Travelling Band … indie rock with some folk and pop flourishes

Uncle Bad Touch … like The Runaways with a bluesy feel; would probably be fun live

Venice Is Sinking … like Neil Young channeling Bon Iver

Veronica Falls … kinda like Vivian Girls but less raucous and with some male vocals added

Wakey!Wakey! … indie with strings and an inspirational vibe

Washington … indie-pop with nostalgic female vocals — kinda like The Long Blondes

Weird Owl … indie with a communal, psychedelic feel

Witchburn … like the heavy metal of old

Withered Hand … indie-folk with an accordion

Yellow Dogs … have that British new-rave thing, a la Arctic Monkeys, Klaxons, Fratellis, et al

Yellowbirds … indie-folk that was kinda boring

Your Youth … indie-pop/rock that is almost radio-friendly

Youth Pictures of Florence Henderson … shoegaze psychedelia to the max

Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers … alt-country/bluegrass with female vocals

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