SXSW. Or, how to pack three months’ worth of incredible experiences into 10 days. The task of whittling down your “must-see-acts” is both exhilarating and exhausting. Take, for example, my local band recommendations. I started alphabetically but soon found no end to the amazing list of Austin acts playing the festival “officially” this year:
Amplified Heat, Amy Cook, Dana Falconberry, East Cameron Folkcore, The Eastern Sea, Foot Patrol, Graham Reynolds / Golden Arm Trio, Li’l Cap’n Travis, Little Wesley, Love Inks, Mother Falcon and Mr. Lewis & The Funeral Five.
The local ABC’s continue with My Education, Nakia, Not in the Face, OBN III’s, The Octopus Project, Orthy, Otis the Destroyer, Pompeii, Ramesh, Residual Kid, She Sir, Sons of Fathers, Starlings, TN, The Ugly Beats, Ume, Wild Child, Wiretree, Yuppie Pricks, ZEALE, The Zoltars and Zorch, to name a few.
Instead of trying to preview the best of the best from this aforementioned list (because really, I can’t recommend each and every one of those bands enough), I took a stab at trimming down the list of national and international acts I recommend as follows:
Ten To Track:
The Abigails: “Satanic outlaw country” as described by the band, their desolate sound is the perfect soundtrack to your despondent days, best heard on 2011’s aptly-titled, Songs Of Love & Despair.
Black Lips: Atlanta’s loveable garage rockers are sure to be up to some mischief and inevitably, will put on an unforgettable show. Expect to hear plenty of material off the upcoming Underneath The Rainbow record, due on March 18th.
Bob Mould: Legend. Ever since the days of Hüsker Dü and my beloved Sugar, and now via a rejuvenated solo career, Bob Mould has made his mark with introspective lyrics, fuzzy guitars and all in all, undeniable power-pop tunes.
Dum Dum Girls: Founded by Dee Dee Penny in 2008 in LA, this band’s easy-on-the-ears dream-pop takes turns to soothe and invigorate but pleases regardless. Their third full-length Too True dropped last month on Sub Pop; the “Lost Boys & Girls Club” single was featured in the H&M Life project.
Federico Aubele: He hails from Argentina and soundchecks many a genre in his exotic soundscapes. His tranquil afternoon set at the 2006 ACL Fest will forever hold a special spot in my memories. Hit this up for some international flavor.
Gruff Rhys: Short for Gruffydd Maredudd Bowen Rhys (that’s Welsh for ya), he co-founded the hopefully not-defunct Super Furry Animals, spearheading memorable tunes like “Something 4 the Weekend” and “(Drawing) Rings Around The World.” He’s put out some intriguing solo records as well. Oh, and he supports Bangor City F.C. in the Welsh league.
Habibi: Brooklyn’s Habibi churns out brilliant pop melodies with a nod to girl groups of decades past and a touch of punk panache. Founded in 2011, the band recently released their self-titled debut full-length on Burger Records.
Man or Astro-man?: Dick Dale on acid? This band’s enthralling surf-rock concoctions are crafted in outer space, the band will tell you. Since forming in the early ‘90s, they’ve released a slew of stellar full-lengths and EPs, including last year’s comeback record Defcon 5…4…3…2…1.
Vattnet Viskar: Swedish for “the water whispers,” their debut full-length Sky Swallower clocked in at #25 in Pitchfork’s Top 40 Metal Albums of 2013. If you like your metal black, you won’t want to miss the atmospheric doom conjured up by this band.
We Were Promised Jetpacks: One of those bands that won a high school “Battle of the Bands” contest and then actually went on to fulfill that potential, WWPJ has put out two brilliant full-lengths over the course of the last five years. And “Quite Little Voices” is arguably the best non-Travis/Frightened Rabbit song to come out of Scotland in a while.
And lest we forget, Five For Nostalgia:
Blondie: They kicked ass at ACL Live in 2011; no reason to believe they won’t bring it to SXSW. “Atomic” is a classic.
Gary Numan: Just to see “Cars” live.
Julian Lennon: The “forgotten Lennon.” He was the inspiration for Beatles’ hits like “Hey Jude” and also turned in a pretty solid song in the form of “Valotte” in the ‘80s.
Spandau Ballet: “Ha-ha-ha, ha-ah-hi…I know this much is true.” You know this too.
Urge Overkill: One of those bands most famous for a cover track – you’ll recall their righteous rendition of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be A Woman Soon” from Pulp Fiction.
-From The Mind Of Adi