Infinite Shuffle

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

February 20, 2011

NPR threeplay

Filed under: A, Austin, Chicago, O, Pasadena Calif., S — assman41 @ 12:01 am

I was all set to resume writing my usual full-length band posts this week, but then I started listening to a bunch of stuff I’d found through NPR’s various outlets, and I decided I just had to share the wealth.

I have relayed, many a time on this blog, my affinity for NPR’s music feeds — whether it be the All Songs Considered podcast or the Song of the Day e-mail — and both of those contributed to my discovering the about-to-be-discussed bands. In fact, NPR was directly responsible for the creation of one of these groups.

Oh No Oh My

I originally set out to do a full post exclusively on this four-piece from Austin. But then I decided I didn’t have enough to say about them to warrant a lengthy review.

That’s not to say Oh No Oh My isn’t any good. Just the opposite in fact. These guys have been around since 2004, and in that time have honed their sound into some solid indie/pop/folk that is quite pleasing to the ears.

According to their Wikipedia page, all the members can play at least three instruments, and, in most cases, many more.

Despite being around for a while, they just released their second full-length album, People Problems, last month. It’s full of songs that were made for chilling out and occasionally bobbing your head to.

Several of the songs conjure up memories of Ben Folds Five, especially “There Will Be Bones”, “So I Took You” and “Brains”, which is the song that I first heard via NPR’s Song of the Day.

But my favorite track, “You Were Right”, doesn’t really provide a good comparison. It’s just a really tune.

Oh No Oh My – You Were Right

Apex Manor

If it wasn’t for a post by Carrie Brownstein on NPR’s Monitor Mix blog, then Apex Manor may have never come into existence.

In a post on a random Friday in late 2009, Brownstein called on musicians to write and record a song over the weekend.

One artist who answered that call to arms was Ross Flournoy, former frontman of since-disbanded The Broken West. He recorded the song “Under the Gun” and sent it in. Suddenly inspired, Flournoy wrote two dozen more songs.

Fast-forward to just a few weeks ago when Flournoy and thee new bandmates, under the moniker Apex Manor, released the 10-track disc, The Year of Magical Drinking — the title being an overt allusion to the Joan Didion book The Year of Magical Thinking.

I just heard the whole backstory on a recent All Songs Considered podcast, which included the album’s opening track, “Southern Decline”, my favorite on the disc.

Not knowing much of anything about The Broken West, I can’t really compare or contrast the two bands. What I can say is that the Pasadena-based Apex Manor put out solid, vocals-driven indie-folk/pop.

Besides the opener, my other favorite track is “Burn Me Alive”. Half of the instrumentation reminds me of The XX, but with a whole other layer added.

Apex Manor – Burn Me Alive

Other songs that stood out were “The Party Line”, “Teenage Blood”, “Holy Roller”, and “Coming To”.

Here’s the song that got the whole ball rolling.

Apex Manor – Under the Gun

Smith Westerns

Unlike the above two bands, Smith Westerns’ musical roots don’t run quite as deep. The quartet of college-aged kids from Chicago started making music together as high schoolers in 2007. And like a lot of high school bands, their music was pretty awful.

Eventually, they put out their self-titled debut in June 2009. It was heavily influenced by Nuggets-style garage and psychedelia. When I heard the album, I was immediately turned off.

But then I heard a track from their recently released follow-up album, Dye It Blonde, on another All Songs Considered podcast.

Listening to the album, it’s clear that they’re still stuck in the ’60s and ’70s, but they’ve moved on to a different set of influences. Practically every one of the 10 tracks on the disc sound like a mix between The Beatles and ’70s radio rock.

Smith Westerns – All Die Young

It was as if, after splitting up, the Fab Four had secretly joined forces with Nazareth and put out an album together. In fact, the whole time I was listening to it, I kept thinking these songs would’ve been great on the Dazed and Confused soundtrack.

There weren’t necessarily a lot of standout tracks — just a lot of pretty good ones. Here’s my personal favorite.

Smith Westerns – Only One

November 14, 2010

51 – Brackett and Co.

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

The most interesting part of discovering new bands is the weird ways you sometimes come across one.

While researching the Austin-based group, The Orbans, for a recent post, I was scrolling through their MySpace page and noticed some random concert flyer posted in the comments section. Normally, I wouldn’t even give it a second glance, but for some reason I looked it over and noticed in tiny, almost undecipherable print that one of the performing bands included members of Okkervil River.

“Hmm, I like Okkervil River. Maybe I should check these guys out.”

And that is how I discovered Brackett & Co., a quartet from Austin that includes three members of Okkervil River — former drummer Travis Nelsen, studio guitarist Brian Cassidy and keyboardist/horn player Scott Brackett, who plays guitar and sings in his namesake band.

The band formed about a year ago, and, so far, I’ve only heard the five songs that are posted on its MySpace page. But, in terms of sound, it’s clear B & Co. is definitely its own band, with a slower, heavier sound than the band that spawned them.

Occasionally, I can hear vocals that distinctly remind me of Okkervil River, which makes me think two things — either Okkervil vocalist Will Sheff is sitting in with the band, or Scott Brackett has a larger vocal role in the big band than I realized.

Anyways, this is a pretty solid side project, one that is still unsigned and has yet to properly release any music. So, for now, just check them out on MySpace, or go see them in person if you’re ever lucky enough to make it down to Austin.

November 1, 2010

49 – The Orbans

Filed under: Austin, O — assman41 @ 10:42 pm

The only thing you really need to know about The Orbans and their recently released full-length album, When We Were Wild, is that I actually purchased it via iTunes. I’ll repeat that — I didn’t find some site to download it; I actually went ahead and forked over $10 to obtain it.

Now, admittedly, I couldn’t easily find anywhere to download it — as I do with the vast majority of my music collection — but normally I would just wait it out and download it at some point down the road.

But from the few songs I heard on their MySpace page and elsewhere, I knew that the album was a wise investment.

Although it doesn’t seem to be very well-known outside of its native Texas, this five-piece from Fort Worth clearly has the chops to compete with such alt-country gods as Wilco and Ryan Adams.

It’s almost shameful that I never would’ve heard of The Orbans had it not been for their amazingly beautiful track, “Like a Liar”, being promoted on NPR’s Song of the Day a couple of months ago.

There’s no reason that song shouldn’t be getting a ton of airplay right now on stations across the country.

In fact, this 12-track album has several gems that could easily find a home on the airwaves. The very solid opener, “New Dress”, has a kinda Killers/Band of Horses feel to it. You can hear it on their MySpace page or check out this acoustic version.

Other highlights include “Were Her”, “Mother” and the title track.

For the most part, The Orbans’ music would be classified as alt-country, but they clearly aren’t bound by labels. They mix in indie rock and even a little pop throughout the album.

The closing track, “Go”, is one of several slower songs, and it totally reminded me of seeing Son Volt live at a botanical garden a few years ago.

If you dig their sound, which you will, buy the album online and you’ll get a bonus track, “Cover Your Ears”.

Also of note, according to the iTunes review, “under an earlier moniker, Lifters, the band released the also impressive Switchblade Waterpistol in 2007.”

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