Monday, March 17, 2008

SXSW non-report '08

After getting back from SXSW, it's traditional to file a report of the tiny fraction of the bands that you got to see there. I did indulge in a few old favorites which were definitely worth it: Motorhead (where Lemmy announced "we play rock and f-ckin' roll"!), X (Billy Zoom is such a pleasure to watch with that huge psychotic grin), Waco Brothers (always great stage banter from Jon Langford), Chuck Prophet (whose last album is wonderful) and GZA (keeping the faith for the Wu).

Bo Pepper What's much more fun is seeing and finding bands that you didn't really know about before and discover for yourself. So here's some nice musical surprises I came across there (which went nicely along with some fine food and warm weather too).

  • Pretty and Nice- they're neither of those things- more like "Hyper and Shouting"- but any post-punk fan (like me) will enjoy this Boston band. Kind of like what I'd want Franz Ferdinand or the Futureheads' second album to sound like actually.
  • Bo Pepper- who cares if Perez Hilton likes them, this band is too catchy to be unsigned and "Singer" (as she calls herself) puts these poppy-rock songs across well.
  • Brother Kite- beautiful, effervescent power pop like you didn't think happened anymore. Jangling guitars, sweet harmonies, catchy tunes. What's not to dig?
  • Boys in a Band- this UK group likes to leap into the audience and play keyboard guitars ("keytar") and sound like they can't decide if glam is cooler than new wave but you can enjoy their confusion enough to appreciate the music. Soon to record their debut with Ken Thomas too.
  • Killa Kela- I was hoping for some good rhymes and wordplay from this UK rapper but his turntable imitations were incredible.
  • Teenage Bottlerocket- mall-punk is kind of an insulting name for a type of music but these guys do it so well that it's a compliment. Ramones fans who should appeal to anyone who thinks Green Day is getting a little full of themselves.
  • Tristan Perich- a fascinating composer who recently released a playable CD case. Here he performed some Reich-like piano phase shifting, Riley-like synthesizer meditations and his own funky drumming.
  • Beat Union- heavy cocky accents, punk attitude and ska tones make them sound like Clash wanna-be's but if you're a fan, you'll love the act. They've earned their slot on the Warped Tour for sure.
  • Cococoma- they're loud, sloppy and great at it. Quality garage music full of grease and blood.
  • Lykke Li- for Swedish pop, I'll take this singer over Robyn even if "Konichiwa Bitches" is my favorite single so far this year. LL's act has some folk in it with some violin and accordion and like Robyn, she likes to bang out some percussion too. Her "Little Bit" single is also a gorgeous piece of dance-pop.
  • Deadstring Brothers- some prime Southern rock with a female lead, which comes across fine on record and even better live. So when is Maxim gonna write a fake review of them?
  • Brimstone Howl- another really good, raucous garage band who love the Stooges without sounding like imitators. Great live show that comes across pretty well on record.
  • Wussy- out of the ashes of the Ass Ponies come probably the best album I've heard this year (their second one now). Roots rock that's sad and down but not out- singer/guitarist Lisa Walker actually makes it sound like a good place to be.
  • Nadja- Aidan Baker is master of modern ambient music. This is supposed to be his 'shoegaze' band (not to be confused with the goth act of the same name) but it's really isolationist (dark ambient) music and very good, absorbing stuff indeed. Do yourself a favor and check out his solo stuff too.
  • Cadence Weapon- if the idea of a smart, conversational rapper is your idea of a good time (think Del), then this Cannuck is for you, especially when he's teamed with DJ Weasel.
  • Descartes a Kant- a Mexican post-punk band that's even weirder than you think, and good for them. Led by a pair of women just like it was but in the good ol' UK days and like Clinic, they're dressed for hospital duty.
As for disappointments... NOFX did a stupid hateful show where they played half of songs and mostly told bad jokes (keep the funny stuff in your songs, boys), FM3 switched on and inaudibly played their little Buddha Machines (which are still great inventions regardless) and you can listen to the R.E.M. show for yourself and see what you think (zzzzzz).


Blogger Karate Boogaloo said...

Nice job Jason. I enjoyed hanging out with you there. I'll send a link when I put up some pix on my blog.

6:40 PM  
Blogger kiss out the jams said...

It doesn't surprise me that R.E.M. was a snooze, even though the new songs gave me hope.

Cadence Weapon I'm not so sure about...I'm a Del fan and I find CW's new album to be structurally bonkers. In a bad way. He cuts a mean presence onstage then?

And I adore Wussy. "Jonah" was one of my favorite songs of last year.

12:44 PM  

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