SXSW Overflow: Day Three (Gang of Thieves, Hume, Part Time, Xmas, & Warmouth)
Well, crud. Three days in, and already I’m blowing it with the Super Happy Fun Land SXSW Overflow Fest writeups. sigh.
We’re on to Sunday, March 11th, now, and Day Three of the fest, and dangit, I need some help. I’m on Daddy Duty tonight, Munchkin #2 is waking up, and I’ve got to make dinner (okay, put a DiGiorno pizza in the oven, but still), after which the kids both need baths & pajamas & stories, and I still need to listen to and write up the fistful of bands playing tonight, so I’m going to attempt to enlist the smaller members of the household in listening to/writing about this stuff. Let’s do this, y’all:
GANG OF THIEVES: This first one is unabashed, straight-up funk rock, the kind I haven’t heard in, hell, about 15 years now. And these guys go all out, in an utterly un-ironic way — I’m talking watery, Bootsy Collins-style bass, chicka-chicka guitars, stop-start rhythms, and primary-colored melodies, all bouncing along beneath sing-song-y, pseudo-soulful vocals, the whole deal, all with song titles like “Dinosaur Sandwich Party” and “Necromantic Judo” (no, I’m not kidding).
And somehow, it works. Granted, some of the appeal is undoubtedly because I did have a serious funk phase back in the ’90s, when Fishbone and the Chili Peppers reigned supreme (and when I seriously loved an underappreciated NZ funk band called Supergroove), but heck, I’m enjoying this. And the two-year-old is enjoying the stoned hippie-dinosaurs on the cover of the band’s most recent album…
HUME: Supposedly, this is “music concrete pop,” which I guess means Hume assembles the background music from found sounds and whatnot and then floats delicate, fragile, dramatic melodies of the top of it; at first blush, it made me cock my head to the side, dog-like, but after a few minutes it becomes surprisingly hypnotic and mesmerizing. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to dig up one solitary track to listen to, “Phasing,” so it may not be all that representative of the band’s sound, but hey, I can only judge what I can hear, right?
For the record, Munchkin #2 took one listen and declared, “I don’t like it. Can I have Thomas [the Tank Engine]?” Take that for what it’s worth.
PART TIME: Miss the ’80s? Well, so does Part Time, judging by the synth-heavy melodies, flat vocals, and drum-machine beats. Seriously, I thought I was listening to some retro-’80s hour on the radio or something. And really, for me, that’s not a god thing. If I want to hear stuff like this, I’ll go for the originals.
For what it’s worth, as Part Time plays, Munchkin #1 is dancing around the room, robot-style (she’d earlier declared, “This is odd.”), while Munchkin #2 grooves in his seat. That may have as much to do with the Pop-Tarts I just fed them than the music itself, though.
XMAS: Of everything I’ve heard so far for tonight, Jacksonville, Florida’s Xmas wins, hands down. They’re endearingly lo-fi and messy but still delicately pretty and sweet, bringing to mind The Secret Stars or any of a host of indie-pop bands from the mid-’90s. The up-close, whispery/staticky female vocals are what really do it, evoking Discount at points and H-town’s own Hearts of Animals at others.
As this band plays, by the by, Munchkin #2 is splashing in his bath and yelping “Meat! Meat!” over and over again; not sure why, but I thought it’d be entertaining to mention.
WARMOUTH: For this one, I had to go change a diaper, so I recruited Munchkin #1 to do the actual listening (at least at first). Here are the notes she left me on North Carolina band Warmouth (which may’ve been known previously as “Critter”): “Kind of silly! Kind of scratchy.” (The two-year-old just started dancing spastically.)
Personally, I think she was being a little harsh — I’m digging the band’s high-bass-driven sound, which is nicely frantic and frenzied, coming off like a cross between Austin’s Silver Scooter and The Femurs. To each their own, I guess.
That’s it for tonight; stay tuned for more.