Infinite Shuffle

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


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



  1. Quite the list. Impressive.

    I take it this torrent contained mostly little-known artists?

    I’m embarrassed to admit how few of these bands I’ve actually heard of.

    Comment by Drew — March 6, 2011 @ 11:58 pm

    • I’d say, of the 787 acts, I recognized fewer than 100 — easily.

      Comment by assman41 — March 7, 2011 @ 1:48 am

  2. Hi, I’m Conner & I play in a band called Sleepy Vikings. We made your list! In the bronze section. I just figured I’d let you know what shows we’re playing in case you wanna check us out. Also, two other bands that made your bronze list– New Roman Times and Sunbears!– are playing with us at the New Granada Showcase Saturday night at the Ghost Room. Even without a wristband it’s only a couple of bucks.

    Anyway, our shows are:

    Wednesday 4:30 pm at Yard Dog– free!

    Thursday 7:00 pm at Austin Sheraton at the Capitol– free! (and acoustic)

    Saturday around noon at the Ghost Room, acoustic– free!

    Saturday at midnight at the Ghost Room, five or so dollars

    Thanks again for mentioning us! I’m impressed you went through all of those bands & listened to all of the songs. You, sir, are epic.

    Comment by Conner — March 11, 2011 @ 5:23 pm

    • I’ll definitely see if I can make my way to one of your gigs.

      Comment by assman41 — March 12, 2011 @ 8:50 pm

  3. […] 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 […]

    Pingback by SXSW 2011: The second torrent « Infinite Shuffle — March 15, 2011 @ 12:09 am

  4. well, i saw brandi emma at the tap room at sxsw and she looked far from “aged” and sounded lovely. she was a pop star? why haven’t i heard of her…

    Comment by matt crawly — March 29, 2011 @ 6:11 pm

    • I doubt she was actually a pop star and I have no idea what she looks like or how old she is. I was just saying that, from the one song I heard of hers, she reminded me of somebody like Tiffany or Belinda Carlisle singing a new acoustic song like 10 or 15 years after her prime.

      Comment by assman41 — March 30, 2011 @ 2:40 pm

  5. This is interesting. Keep posting buddy !
    365 bet

    Comment by Justin — April 12, 2011 @ 10:04 pm

  6. […] the entire 1,200-plus-song torrent and weeded out all the riff-raff before posting a comprehensive list of tracks that piqued my […]

    Pingback by 2015 SXSW preview | Infinite Shuffle — March 13, 2015 @ 3:23 pm

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