SXSW Overflow: Day Four (Dope Body, Dustin Wong, Mittenfields, Backwords, & More)

Argh. Dammit, scrambling again, on Day Four (Monday, March 12th, to be precise) of SXSW Overflow Fest over at Super Happy Fun Land. sigh. I swear, one of these damn days I’m going to get my shit together before crunch time. Anyway, here goes:

THE SIXXIS: These Atlanta guys aren’t anything earth-shatteringly new, I’m afraid (sorry, y’all), playing fairly straightforward quasi-“dirty,” metal-tinged rock & roll with clean, almost Avenged Sevenfold-esque vocals and hard rock guitars. But hey, when they steer away from the funkier stuff, it ain’t bad, even if it’s not something I’m likely to intentionally listen to real often.

DOPE BODY: I really had no clue what to expect from Baltimoreans Dope Body, although when a brief Google search turned up word that the band would be releasing their next album, Natural History, on freaking Drag City(!), well, I was pretty intrigued.

After a quick listen, I’m still not entirely sure what’s going on, but whatever it is, it’s neat. Imagine Neurosis if they were fronted by Anthony Kiedis doing his best David Lee Roth impersonation, squeals and all, churning through a stutter-stop mess of overdistorted bass, keening guitar tones, and stomping, skullcrushing drums. Or just hear it for yourself, whichever:

    Dope Body – “Lazy Slave”

DUSTIN WONG: Another Baltimore-dweller over here, albeit of a totally, totally different variety… Where Dope Body are snarling and sludgy, tourmate Dustin Wong (who just released his new album, Dreams Say, View, Create, Shadow Leads, on awesome label Thrill Jockey) is delicate and fragile, intertwining strings and melodies deftly into a fabric that’s bright, shiny, and organic even as it builds and builds and builds.

Frankly, what I’ve heard of Wong’s album so far is some of the most gorgeous music I’ve heard lately, with its lush yet still somehow crystalline sound and interlocking layers of melody. Wow. Color me thoroughly impressed. Think the cheery abandon and melodicism of The Octopus Project melded with the earthy electronics of Four Tet, and you’ll get close.

And hey, here’s another MP3 for you, right here:

    Dustin Wong – “Pink Diamond”

MITTENFIELDS: And speaking of folks who’ve impressed me, well, here’s Mittenfields, out of DC. These guys were kind enough to send along their recent EP, The Fresh Sum, and I was hooked at one listen by their rough-voiced, half-frenzied, yet relaxed and loose-limbed take on late-’90s indie-rock. They come off like the illegitimate children of Superchunk, Archers of Loaf, Treepeople, or Smart Went Crazy, with the added edginess of, say, Harvey Danger. Look over here for the full review I wrote about ’em.

And since we’re on a roll with the music:

THE VIOLET LIGHTS: Over to the other coast for The Violet Lights, now, a band that sounds a lot like OK Go or The Strokes, and in a pretty dang good way; I’m thinking they may not like those comparisons, unfortunately, since they namecheck Velvet Underground and garage-rock in the press materials. Um, no. Sure, these guys may like VU, but there’s not much of a resemblance here, at least not to my ears.

What’s there isn’t bad, mind you. Instead, the duo blazes through almost a half-dozen tracks of fiery, shiny-edged alt-pop that owes a considerable debt to Oasis and/or The Verve, alternately drifting and exploding. It ain’t Lou Reed, no, but who cares?

BACKWORDS: Over to a more low-key note, but one still well worth mentioning. I’ve been listening to “Anywhere,” the first single from BackwordsBy the Neck, quite a bit the last week and am still nodding and smiling along with the band’s shaggy-haired, unassuming indie-pop haze, which comes near to Surfer Blood aqua-pop territory without going overboard (ba-dm-ch!) on the bombast. They’re not out to blow you away; they just want to sit in the back room and play their music, and if you like it, hey, that’s cool.

You can check out and/or download the track for yourself below:

HORSE THIEF: Okay, I’ve got a bone to pick, here. It’s not strictly with Horse Thief, mind you, but it’s affecting my ability to write about ’em, so they get to receive my not-quite-wrath…

[begin rant]On the band’s Facebook BandPage, they’ve got a bunch of songs listed, from EP(?) Grow Deep, Grow Wild; cool, that’s good. Except that when I click on one, I get a little popup telling me I have to click “Like” to “stream [the] track for free.” Um, what? Seriously? I have to tell you I like the fucking band before I can fucking hear them? Who in the hell does that make sense to?[end rant]

Okay, I feel better now. After a quick search, I was able to dig up the band’s Bandcamp page, instead, which — lo and behold — lets you actually listen to a couple of the songs. And thankfully, the band’s worth the effort, a nicely psych-folk-ish breed of sideways rock that veers between fuzzy-edged folk and sharper art-pop. Pretty damn good. My advice? Free the music, people.

PAGE OF CUPS: Last but not least, there’s Page of Cups, a gently-lilting country-folk duo from Portland who sound like they pretty much have to’ve been sitting in a sunlit field somewhere far, far away from evil ol’ cars and computers and everything else to record their friendly, warm-hearted, jangly music. The vocals entwine nicely, with Tasche de la Rocha’s coming off particularly well, like a cheerier, less-downtrodden Jolie Holland (or maybe a less-loopy Joanna Newsom, whichever). Oh, and they both met while performing with a circus. Does it get any better than that? No, it just doesn’t.

More to come, y’all…

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One Response to “SXSW Overflow: Day Four (Dope Body, Dustin Wong, Mittenfields, Backwords, & More)”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » SXSW Overflow: Day Six (Lost Coves, Grandpa Egg, Christopher Paul Stelling, & More) on March 14th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    […] D.A.: Dammit, people, again? I already beat up on Horse Thief over this one, and I know it’s a Facebook “feature” and not strictly the band’s doing, […]

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