Here it is – the last preview before the South by Southwest Music Conference descends and we all lose our minds. I scoured the band list to try and find the best groups I could to recommend. Below, you’ll get a quick-hit description of the band from me, a link to a song that exemplifies their sound, and the time and venue the band is performing at. I break it all down day-by-day; if you really love a band, check the sxsw.com schedule to get all of their performance dates (a lot of ’em are playing 3+ shows). Read on, and then get out there and rock!
Tuesday, March 15
Admiral Fallow – upbeat orchestral pop from Glasgow; like if Freelance Whales had Frightened Rabbit’s accents. The Bat Bar, 9pm
Dry the River – Bon Iver-ish vox over sweet, smooth tunes. Like a brighter Margot and the Nuclear So & So’s. The Bat Bar, 10pm
Fences – Beckish vox, gentle singer-songwriter stuff with a little folksy overtone. (His appearance = TOTALLY deceiving). The Bat Bar, 11pm
Mr. Heavenly – Man Man meets the Ronettes. The Bat Bar, midnight
Surfer Blood – Move the Drums south to Florida to beach up their sound; there you go. Emo’s Main Room at 1am
Wednesday, March 16
Brett Dennen – Paul Simon-y. Pretty voice, pretty songs. Moody Theater @ 7:30pm
Erland & the Carnival – something familiar about this; like Travis-esque vox with throwback pop rock music. 8pm at Club de Ville.
The Black Atlantic – saw ’em at CMJ, absolutely gorgeous music. Teitur with more folk leanings than pop. 10pm at Esther’s Follies
1,2,3 – gritty pop-rock with a snarl. 10pm at the Parish.
Sea of Bees – 11:30pm @ Central Presbyterian Church; somewhere between Stevie Nicks and Martha Wainwright. Gorgeous voice, she’ll shine in this venue.
Flogging Molly – the perfect band to get you ready for St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday. 11:45pm @ Moody
Sharon Van Etten – heartbreaking singer/songwriter with vocal power that overwhelms you. Midnight at Swan Dive.
The Spinto Band – these are my boys. Super fun and smart pop music. Midnight on the Barbarella Patio.
Young the Giant – This band has a song in heavy rotation on 101x right now, and it hooked me. I’m weary that they might be another ‘The Hours’ for me (where “Ali in the Jungle” is amazing but everything else falls flat), but seriously – watch that video and tell me you’re not curious. Midnight at Buffalo Billiards.
The Dodos – I’ve been a fan of these guys for a while. If you’re into heavy rhythms and incredible guitar playing, check ’em out. The Parish @ 1am.
Thursday, March 17
Sondre Lerche – gorgeous intricate delicate pop music. I’ve loved this Norwegian since I was 16 (I’ll be 24 on March 16). Not to be missed. Maggies Mae’s @ 9pm
Phantogram – electronic rock, super catchy, bop-able. Playing Lustre Pearl at 11pm
The Kills – Allison. Effing. Mosshart. ‘Nuff said. Emo’s at 11pm.
Emmylou Harris – Classic country darling. Plus…will Conor make a guest appearance? She’s play his set at Auditorium Shores for sure. Antone’s at 11:15pm
Miniature Tigers – saw these dudes open for the Freelance Whales, and fell in love. Incredible onstage charisma, great pop tunes – winners. Lamberts at 11:45pm
Maps & Atlases – really great vox, deep and luscious, plus uptempo rock to back ‘em; reminded me a little of TV on the Radio, but I like this better (keep in mind I’m not a fan of TVotR). Midnight at Red Eyed Fly
Dom – saw ‘em at CMJ, they totally won us over. Fun, dancey, energetic, depth – definitely a must-see. 1am at Club de Ville
Friday, March 18
Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears – local funky rock; the baby-makin’ kind. Moody Theater @ 8:05pm
JBM – A blog favorite. The kind of gorgeous folk music that will make you ache in your guts. Central Presbyterian Church @ 8:15pm
Alex Highton – sweet singer-songwriter from the UK. 9pm at 18th floor at Hilton Garden Inn
Sarah Jaffe – You know where we’ll be at 9pm on Friday. Jaffe is stunning, stunning, stunning. If you haven’t caught her yet – you must. She’s at Momo’s.
The Bright Light Social Hour – Austin’s men of rawk. Put your fist in the air and let loose. Momo’s at 10pm.
Thao with the Get Down Stay Down – Thao is a beast. She’s emotive and fabulous and crafts kickass pop rock tunes. See for yourself – 11pm at Antone’s.
Wye Oak – gorgeous folksy music with stunning lead vox. Great for woods-walking. 11:45pm at the Parish
Little Dragon – gorgeous R&B vox and moody/peppy electronic music from Sweeeeden!!! SVERIGE!! Lustre Perle at midnight.
Saturday, March 19
Man Man – Wild and crazy collaborative party good times. 4:30pm at Auditorium Shores
Middle Brother – Collab between Dawes, Deer Tick and Delta Spirit members. Old school country-fried rock. 5:25pm at Auditorium Shores
Bright Eyes – I don’t even know what to say about this. This will be my first ever time catching Conor with Bright Eyes. He’s my musical soul mate. Dig it. 7:30pm at Auditorium Shores.
Pujol – Jack White’s babies. Raucous and fun. Mohawk Patio at 9pm
Toy Selectah – mashin’ up the hits for you to get your dance on. 9:30pm at Prague
The Rural Alberta Advantage – kinda whiny vox (think Neutral Milk Hotel) but if you can get into it, the music is great. Great energy. 10:30pm at Central Presbyterian Church
Ezra Furman & the Harpoons – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! vocals set to folksy pop rock. 11pm at Speakeasy
Royal Bangs – forceful and fun electronic rock. 11pm @ the ND
Royal Forest – Austin heroes; will sometimes cover Neil Young and the Talking Heads. (Full disclosure – I help manage these guys and they’re the bomb. See them.) 11pm @ the Marq
Deer Tick – Gritty country folk rock. 1am @ Lustre Perle
Yoko Ono – Yoko! I mean. It’s Yoko. 1am @ Elysium
BONUS: The Black & White Years are quickly becoming my favorite Austin band. They don’t have any official showcases, but they’re playing gigs every day until SXSW ends. Check out their show list here.
At some point in my day Monday, I finally crashed. I crashed, because I had spent the last five days on a music junkie’s high, doing nothing but exploring new bands in one of the craziest, coolest cities in the world. New York engulfed me and spat me back out with sore legs, sleep deprivation and a boatload of new bands to devote myself to. The CMJ festival had tons to offer, and felt overwhelming at times, but I have only happy memories and fond reflections for this particular post. Below, you’ll find AWM’s picks for best of the fest; there’s a lotta folk, a little bit of rock, some exciting new finds and some old favorites. The first few reflections are my top picks for new-to-us finds, and below that, you’ll discover honorable mentions in the form of artists this blog has loved in the past, and loved at the fest. Enjoy, and feel free to share your own favorites in the comments!Read More...
I made my favorite discovery on this day, so I’m crazy stoked to share them with you. Friday is teeming with talent, and some of that talent is kick-ass female talent from Texas, y’all!
Cotton Jones is folk-rock with heart and soul, and a touch of twang. They’re from Cumberland, Maryland, and will be performing at the Knitting Factory at 5:00 p.m.
Grand Hallway makes soundtrack-like, full, orchestra music a la the Morning Benders or (locally) Mother Falcon; the songs can sneak up on you and overwhelm you in a very good way. These kids from Washington will play the Rockwood Music Hall Stage 1 at 6:00 p.m.
Sarah Jaffe is my IDOL. This young Denton, Texas-native sings with a rare passion, and her voice will immediately fill a room. Her debut full-length record, Suburban Nature, is full of heart-wrenching soul baring and the kind of love songs that can simultaneously comfort and break you. She’s NOT to be missed. Jaffe will play at Fat Baby at 7:00 p.m.
This is the group I was alluding to in the opening graph; the Black Atlantic come from the Netherlands, and are my favorite formerly-unknown-to-me find. They employ a choir of voices that act as a cushion to the lead singer’s voice, which gives you that snuggly, wintry feeling. Hit up their MySpace page and check out “Fragile Meadow” RIGHT NOW, and you’ll understand my fanaticism. The Black Atlantic play the Living Room at 7:45 p.m.
I had the immense pleasure of interviewing Blair (so, so awkwardly – on a moving van with mics falling all over the place) at South by Southwest this past year, and not only is she a total sweetheart, but she makes excellent music. Hers is minimalistic pop music that’s dancey at times, more subdued at others. She performs at the Mercury Lounge at 8:00 p.m.
lissie is a vocal beast. Though small in stature, she sings almost as if possessed, and her voice seems to burst from every pour. Musically, she makes country-tinged folk, and it’s wonderful. You can see her at the Hiro Ballroom at 8:00 p.m.
Royal Bangs are a three-piece from Knoxville who will make you dance to the kind of jaded lyrics you expect from a group like LCD Soundsystem. They are intensely energetic live performers, and I have seen fans mosh around a little at times. Jump around at the Cameo Gallery at 8:30 p.m.
JBM is a blog favorite, and for good reason. The man can play guitar like he was born to play guitar, and his voice is some kind of ethereal that makes him sound related to Jim James. Live, he is the kind of performer that will make a room go silent. Catch him at the Mercury Lounge at 9:00 p.m.
It is rare to find a performer capable of silencing a room within their first song; someone who quiets everyone with a heartfelt tune that is given, like a gift, to the crowd. If you have a chance to watch JBM, the musical moniker of Jesse Marchant, you will find just that. Marchant crafts delicate, engrossing songs that he performs with calming effortlessness. He self-released his debut album, not even in July, in early 2009, but it will receive a well-deserved publicity boost when it is re-released through Partisan Records in April. You might also recognize Marchant’s voice from the gorgeous and heartbreaking songs in the movie, Lovers in a Dangerous Time. Marchant is currently on a North American tour with Sondre Lerche, but took some time out to chat on the phone after his soundcheck in Tallahassee.Read More...