SXSW Overflow 2011: Day Thirteen (Visions, Grass Is Green, Mr. Free & The Satellite Freakout!, National Reserve, & More)

Gah. Back again, y’all, at least briefly. Took a wee bit of a vacation last week and then ended up hanging out in the emergency room last night when I should have been quick-fast writing up Sunday’s shows, but now I’m kinda-sorta back on my feet (er, foot — long story, the moral of which is that you should never, ever try to carry a sleeper sofa upside-down, especially not going up a flight of stairs).

Anyway, it’s now Day 13, I think, of the SXSW Overflow Fest currently unrolling over at Super Happy Fun Land, with plenty of bands to go. If you didn’t go last night, I suspect you missed out in a big, painful way, because Pujol, in particular, is pretty badass.

I’m going to attempt to write a little ’bout everybody playing tonight (which is Monday, March 21st, you calendar-impaired people out there), but apologies if I run out of time & have to cut it short. Here we go:

VISIONS: It’s funny, but when I hear Visions, I keep thinking of NY/Irish rockers Black 47 — the two bands don’t sound that much alike, musically (although both use a wide pile of instrumentation, which is always cool), but there’s something about the way frontman T.J. Petracca phrases things that makes me think of Larry Kirwan… Anyway, I’m liking these folks’ elaborate, gorgeously-layered, almost Decemberists-like rock, with its little chunks of country organ, bitter indie snarl, and heavenward-pointing strings floating through the whole. Check out a chunk right here:

VISIONS- Drunk Children (live) from VISIONS on Vimeo.

GRASS IS GREEN: Intriguingly busy, stutter-stomping indie-rock-ness that points a big finger on over to Cursive with its twisty, crookedly math-y guitar riffs and half-yelled, half-sung vocals. Quirky and noodly without being pretentious or proggy; I’m seriously digging this. “Slow Machine,” in particular, sounds like a response to the aforementioned band’s “Tall Tales, Telltales”…

MR. FREE & THE SATELLITE FREAKOUT!: Really, you know what these guys are going to sound like just by looking at ’em, honest. Four sweaty, smelly dudes cranking out oddball, jazz-y, quasi-spastic, tongue-in-cheek (maybe?) rock that rides the line between funk, klezmer, and psychedelic messiness — at times they make me think of Austin’s Brown Whornet or long-gone H-town heroes Middlefinger, either of which is very cool.

SEAN WALSH AND THE NATIONAL RESERVE: Not sure if this is really “Sean Walsh and…” or just “The National Reserve,” but hell, it really doesn’t matter. Because whatever their name happens to be, the band makes some fine, fine, low-to-the-ground country-folk that rambles and jangles around like the best countryish stuff you’ve ever heard. More than anything else, I keep thinking of Salt Lake’s Band of Annuals, and considering that they’re one of the best bands I’ve run across in the past couple of years, that’s no bad thing…

GOLDENBOY: Damn, I’m liking this one… Goldenboy make gentle, soft-voiced indie-pop that’s sweet and buoyant but still sounds low-key and sleepy, in the best possible way. Think Badly Drawn Boy without the biting sarcasm, or maybe vintage Posies with lower-range vocals, and you’ll get close — seriously Brit-influenced, heavily jangly pop, with no frills or apologies.

DISCO DOOM: Okay, so this one confuses me; what I’d heard previously of Disco Doom was delicate and fragile psych-folk-sounding stuff, all crystalline and dark and cracked, but when I put on the band’s latest, Trux Reverb, I’m confronted with crunching, massive-sounding walls of bass (which is so thick at points it sounds like a keyboard), beyond-distorted guitars, and frantic, Federation X-style drums, all over a ’60s psych-sludge groove worthy of the heaviest stoner-rock band you can name. And then, towards the end, they abruptly drop back to that quiet, echoey folk jangle. The hell? Either way, it’s pretty mesmerizing stuff, even to a non-psych head like me.

VAMPIRATES: I’ll admit up-front that this isn’t really my thing; speeding, pulse-pounding hardcore’s great, especially when I’m screaming down the freeway late, late at night, but the screamo vocals mostly give me a headache in general, so… That said, Vampirates pull it off better than a lot of bands like this I’ve heard/seen, and it sounds like they throw themselves pretty literally into the performance, so there’s that to recommend ’em.

FIFTH NATION: Haven’t heard a whole lot of this, I’m afraid, mostly because it’s okay, but kind of just eh to me — jazzily soulful pop with sultry female vocals, so if that’s your thing…

phew. There you go — get on up to SHFL, y’all…


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2 Responses to “SXSW Overflow 2011: Day Thirteen (Visions, Grass Is Green, Mr. Free & The Satellite Freakout!, National Reserve, & More)”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » SXSW Overflow 2011: Day Fourteen (Apollo 18, Vigilante, Alex Anderson Band, & Vampirates) on March 22nd, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    […] Ah, yeah — the Vampirates boys apparently decided to hit up the SHFL for a second night; see here for what I had to say about ‘em the first time […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » SXSW Overflow 2013: Day Ten (Embers In Ashes, Our Sky Is Falling, Suns, Vampirates, Har-di-Har, die geister beschworen, & More) on March 18th, 2013 at 3:54 pm

    […] Ah, I thought that name looked familiar… I blathered a little bit about Reno band Vampirates way, way back in 2011, for that year’s batch of SXSW Overflow […]

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