Sorry I haven't been able to more fully run down the piles and piles of SXSW-bound bands overflowing into Super Happy Fun Land as part of their SXSW Overflow Fest this weekend -- spent some much-needed time with the fam this weekend, instead, hiking around the Arboretum and then getting buried up to my head in freezing-ass cold sand, and y'know, that stuff kinda wins out, so...
At any rate, I've had the headphones on a while now and have tried to pick out some of the cooler-sounding bands playing in the next few days; see below for what I like for tonight (which is pretty much all of the bands playing, honestly), Monday, March 15th:
GUYSTORM: Surprisingly good, actually, and I'm not generally a huge fan of the whole nu-New Wave electrofunk thing; this makes me think of Radio 4 more than anything else, with the insistent, scraping white-boy funk guitars, mid-fi production, paranoiac lyrics, and overly dramatic vocals. There's also a serious Rapture influence going on, and I get weird hints of the Red Hot Chili Peppers (good Chili Peppers, mind you) in the guitars, to boot. BTW, I can't tell what these folks' name actually is -- it might be just "Guystorm", or it could be "The Guystorm". I've heard it both ways...
LIGHT POLLUTION: I'm not able to find a whole lot about Chicagoans Light Pollution online, unfortunately, but what little I can find is fairly cool -- there's one song, "Good Feelings," and it does a nicely swirly-sounding dreampop rave-up thing with military-style drums and soaring vocals, kind of like a Brit-ified version of The Arcade Fire. They've got more stuff, obviously, and were signed just this month to well-respected indie label Carpark Records (the sometime home of Dan Deacon, Ear Pwr, Toro y Moi, & other cool folks), which is a damn good sign. Check out that one song I've heard so far for yourself right here, should you feel so inclined:
Light Pollution - "Good Feelings" (MP3)
SHELLSHAG: Yes, it's another guy/girl drums-and-guitar lo-fi duo, and they're from Brooklyn, no less. Don't discount 'em too easily, though -- what I've heard so far has been wonderfully fuzzed-out pop with hints of early Smashing Pumpkins or Silversun Pickups (okay, yeah, that's pretty much the same thing...), plus some coolly '90s-sounding, urgent, Fastbacks-like choruses and overdriven rhythms that make me want to go back and break out my Arcwelder albums yet again. Then there's the weirdly doo-wop-sounding "Gary's Note", which comes off like Weezer covering Frankie Valli. Plus, Shellshaf skip that whole hipster-cool Williamsburg vibe completely, instead feeling more like a couple of your goofiest, quirkiest talented friends who just decided to make music for the hell of it, and that, in my book, is never a bad thing. I may have to find the band's new full-length, Rumors in Disguise, honestly...
STREET EATERS: I'll admit that I had these folks pegged as a scummy streetpunk band before I actually heard 'em -- I mean, they're from the East Bay, and they're called the Street Eaters, for crying out loud... Thankfully, they're instead a fist-pumping, anthemic indie-rock duo (yes, another) who meld awesome, Silver Scooter-esque bass-led melodies with eyes-to-the-sky chant-along vocals and politically-charged lyrics; the result is something like a more-minimalist Hüsker Düu or Parts & Labor, and that ain't no bad thing.
CHARADES: Sometimes, it honestly doesn't matter a damn bit what language you're singing in. It's true (for me, at least) with folks like fado artist Mariza, and it turns out it's true for Spanish indie-popsters Charades, too. Not speaking much Spanish beyond being able to ask where the bathroom is, order a beer, and tell you to quit messing with my dog, I've got no idea what frontwoman Isabel Reviriego is singing about, but her candy-sweet, almost Jenny Lewis-like vocals make me not care in the slightest. It helps, of course, that the music the band's playing is driving, cheery, smiling stuff like what Palomar does or what Velocity Girl used to do. (And they've got a song entitled "Harold y Maude", which automatically puts 'em over the top.)
BIRD BY BIRD: I've only got the vaguest idea who The Matches, Bird by Bird main man Jonathan Devoto's old band, are/were, but I do know writer Anne Lamott, who wrote a book my wife really loves entitled Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, so I'm immediately intrigued by the band name & wondering if Lamott was the initial inspiration. Unfortunately, the music itself makes me less interested and more [shrugging motion] "meh." It's mid-tempo, melodic, friendly-yet-melancholy guitar rock that kind of fudges the line between Dashboard Confessional and more cheeseball alternarock. It's not bad, strictly, but it's not great, either.
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