SXSW Overflow: Day Eight (Candy Claws, Boy Eats Drum Machine, Finn Riggins, & More)
phew. Eight days into the SXSW Overflow Fest at Super Happy Fun Land, and there’s still plenty of bands to catch.
I’ve been attempting to digest at least a little bit of each & spit out what I think (see here, here, here, & here), and frankly, I’ve been stunned at how flat-out good 90% of the bands playing are. Seriously: I went into this little experiment figuring I’d write up, oh, maybe like three or four bands a day, tops, and yet here I am, feeling compelled to write about all but one or two damn bands a night.
Check the SHFL schedule, by the way, because it’s changed a bit in the past day or two — I was bummed to see that Mouse Fire are no longer playing tomorrow night (they’ll be up in Texarkana, instead, it seems; really? Texarfuckingkana? Yeesh…), but there’re a ton of others who’re damn good, so I’ll cope. Here’s my list of folks playing tonight (Thurs., March 18th, that is) that I like, ordered from Mind-Blowing to Half-Decent:
CANDY CLAWS: Whoa. Didn’t see that one coming… Coloradoans Candy Claw make honestly some of the best, purest, sweetest, most gorgeous dreampop I’ve heard in…well, pretty much ever, honestly. They meld gentle beds of My Bloody Valentine guitar fuzz and static with soft, delicate, near-whisper vocals, Magnetic Fields-esque girl-group rhythms, and spellbinding melodies, and the result makes my jaw drop. Fans of beautiful, sun-dazed, layered pop, this is for you.
BOY EATS DRUM MACHINE: Okay, so this one was far, far, far better than I’d ever expected it was going to be… Boy Eats Drum Machine is one-man band Jon Ragel making these ridiculously funky, soulful dance-pop tracks that practically drive your feet to move, whether there’s a dancefloor nearby or not. It’s warm and earnest and catchy as all hell, and most of it, it’s fun. It’s an encapsulated, compacted dance party.
FINN RIGGINS: With their energetic, driving, anthemic indie-pop-rock, Idahoans Finn Riggins (a band, btw, not a person) come off like a more synth-heavy, outright poppy Arcade Fire — the songs are similarly wide-open and grand, making you want to clap and stomp along as they barrel across the stage/headphones. Then there’s the silly/sexy bomp of “Glove Compartment”, which sounds like some sort of alternate-universe White Stripes/Gossip duet and makes it happen awesomely.
JARED MEES & THE GROWN CHILDREN: Portland, OR’s Jared Mees & The Grown Children kind of fit their name, I have to say; there’s a playful, almost sing-song-y feel to a lot of their songs, particularly on tracks like “Tallest Building in Hell” and “Strong Black Coffee”, and it works pretty awesomely overall. The playfulness remind me of Machine Go Boom, with whom they also share an ability to write darned decent songs, to boot… I’m liking these folks, seriously, particularly the dueling male/female vocals, which remind me of Mates of State in their up-front-ness. (I should note, by the by, that it appears frontman Jared Mees also happens to run Tender Loving Empire, a label that’s put out stuff by Finn Riggins, Boy Eats Drum Machine, & his own band…)
MICHAEL MILLER: Sweet, swooning, languidly orchestral pop from a one-man band that sounds like anything but; I was wary of Michael Miller at first, but his voice reminds me in a good way of the late Mark Linkous, albeit more polished, and the slightly rootsy-sounding, shimmery, Sufjan Stevens-esque pop tracks float past nicely.
THE FELIX CULPA: It’s taken a few tracks, but The Felix Culpa are finally growing on me quite a bit. I was lukewarm at first on their post-hardcore rock (heard a lot of that lately, for some reason), but now I’m digging the desperate frenzy they’re able to channel, and I’m liking the singer’s Tim Kasher-like vocals. The band does the dynamic-shift thing effortlessly, and the songs are satisfyingly complex, almost math-y at points. Think Cursive with pianos, and you’ll be close.
SUNS: Chicago boys Suns start off slow, but when they get going, they put on an impressively big, half-drunk-sounding, staggering/shambling kind of roots-rock. The mic used on half the tracks seems like it’s about to burst into flames — although the recorded music isn’t that loud — added a nice, raggedy edge to the proceedings.
There you go. Get on over there & enjoy some of these folks — who knows? They might not ever make it back through our fair city again. Give ‘em a reason to…