SXSW Overflow: Day Five (The Back Pockets, The Ugly Club, Wheelchair Sports Camp, Andy D, & More)

Alrighty, now the lineups are starting to get heavy over at Super Happy Fun Land‘s SXSW Overflow Fest — and early, to boot, starting at, um, 3:30PM today, as in an hour or two ago (and “today” being Tuesday, March 13th). Sorry, Child Bite & Quiet Science… Here’s what’s going on:

MAGIC MILK: Fans of noisy, bluesy lo-fi rawk, you should be all over this one. Magic Milk are so damn don’t-give-a-fuck lo-fi/DIY that when they do have actual words, you can’t understand a damn thing they’re saying…and the other half of the time, the words are just “Mmmmm” or “Hey, hey, hey, hey.” But y’know, it’s still fun, in a shaky-drunk kind of way, and the songs, while a sloppy freaking mess, are actually subversively catchy (in my brain, at least). Check ’em out:

LILY AND THE TIGERS: Hrm. Well, Lily and the Tigers do apparently have a new EP available (or on the way, at least), but their dang Bandcamp page won’t let you actually listen to it, which seems a little weird to me. Why even put it up there, then? shrug. It’s kind of a shame, though, because the band’s sultry, bluesy meandering is promising — vocalist/guitarist Casey Hodd, in particular, does a nicely Janis-like croon…

THE BACK POCKETS: People from Atlanta are strange. I’ve thought that for a while now, mind you, but The Back Pockets take the cake. The BP orchestra (which apparently includes up to 13 or 14 members) stomp and crawl through song after song of oddly-accented, spiraling pseudo-indie-rock that brings to mind Wolf Parade and CocoRosie in equal measure but gets more frenzied than either. And holy crap, it’s strangely alluring, as well; I can’t freaking stop listening, God help me, and I kind of even want to. Think of this band as The Polyphonic Spree gone horribly/awesomely awry after taking some bad shrooms, and you’ll get close. Listen & see for yourself:

THE UGLY CLUB: And then, to shift gears completely… In total contrast to the previous (er, following) band, The Ugly Club play friendly, gentle, nonchalant indie-rock with a subtle psych tint to it, complete with wavering/droney guitars, whiskey-roughened vocals (that can still sing sweet), and insistently-driving rhythms. Think a less-rural Fleet Foxes, or maybe a less-retro-ified Blitzen Trapper, but beyond that, these folks are something all to themselves. The four-track (free!) EP, Visions of a Tall Girl, is ridiculously good, I swear.

And hey, you can grab it, too, right here:

CHEERS ELEPHANT: Interesting; I’ve listened to a few tracks by Philly crew Cheers Elephant, and they sound like a band in transition. Their older stuff sounds — to me, at least — like fairly straight-up power-pop, with hints of The Posies, in particular, but then the little bit I’ve heard off forthcoming album Like Wind Blows Fire is funkier and more retro-sounding, complete with a handclaps and what I think is a shaker. The good part, of course, is that both sides of the band’s music personality are pretty damn cool.

Download the first single from the band’s new album below:

    Cheers Elephant – “Doin’ it, Right”

WHEELCHAIR SPORTS CAMP: The SHFL calendar claims Denver’s Wheelchair Sports Camp is hip-hop, but don’t be fooled; there is a hip-hop influence in there, sure, but what they are, really, is actually funky, clear-eyed soul outfit, especially on the eponymous lead-in track to their new Where We All Live EP. The old stuff ain’t bad, mind you — there’s a nice resemblance to Blackalicious on tracks like “Electric Worm,” which I’m always down with — but they don’t ever let the listener pin ’em down to one sound, dancing back and forth through genres with impunity. Here’s that first single, for free (woo!):

THE AMBOYS: Alright, so when I hear/read “Amboy,” what I think of is New Jersey and Ted Nugent, respectively. The Amboys, however, while they are from NJ — so I’m at least half-validated — don’t have a whole lot to do with guitar-heroics rock (thankfully). What they are, instead, is a seriously, seriously rural-sounding band of good old boys who sound like they hail from the hollows and mountaintops of Appalachia rather than the Atlantic seaboard. And hey, they do it well, rambling and rolling through some great, clap-along-and-yell tunes, complete with banjo, call-and-response vocals, the whole deal. Nice.

And now, the quasi-obligatory Bandcamp player:

THE LOOM: Hailing from further on up the coast (i.e., Brooklyn), The Loom nevertheless dwell in a musical neighborhood not too far removed from The Amboys, crafting music that’s murky and backwoodsy and rollicking. Unlike The Amboys, though, the darkness in The Loom’s sound is more pervasive, making it all sound like a dire, dire warning that bad things are coming. It’s haunting and somewhat spooky, reminiscent of Houston’s own listenlisten more than any other band I can think of.

Here you go — the band’s 2011 full-length, Teeth:

THE SPANISH PRISONERS: It’s funny, but when I saw The Spanish Prisoners on the schedule for today, I had this nagging feeling that I knew the name. And lo and behold, I did — many, many moons ago, we reviewed Leo Maymind & co.’s 2008 release Songs to Forget, and writer Wes found it pretty promising.

Fast-forward four years, and the band’s reinvented itself somewhat — hell, their official band history on Facebook claims the band started in 2009, which means either that Maymind scrapped the band that recorded Songs to Forget completely, or (more likely, I think) we accidentally reviewed a release by an alternate-universe version of the band, one that fell through a crack in the spacetime continuum and into our P.O. box.

Either way, these days the Prisoners (who definitely seem like a more solid “band,” now) play bumping, low-to-the-ground, almost nu-New Wave-ish rock, with plenty of nods to keyboard-heavy bands of yesteryear and a big chunk of psychedelic swirliness dropped on top. Check out their new (free!) single:

MERCIES: Whoa. Alright, right there, with first track “Questions,” Mercies already has me floored. I’ll grant that main-man Josh Reault‘s somewhat nasal voice probably isn’t for everybody, but he uses it damn well, especially when the music gets grand and high-flying, and he kind of loses control; for me, at least, it works nicely. The music’s not bad, either, somewhat in the indie-electro-folk vein — listen to new album Three Thousand Days over here:

THE FLYING EYES: Yeah, I’ll admit it — after all that folky, jangly sweetness, I was about ready for some flat-out rock ‘n roll, and Baltimoreans The Flying Eyes fit the bill. The band does Southern-tinged rawk that’s bluesy and ballsy, stepping between Skynyrd riffs and Kinks breakdowns without missing a beat. No, it’s nothing brand new, it’s true, but that’s not always what you need, anyway.

No player for these guys, but check out the video for “Overboard,” instead:

ANDY D: And then, last but not least, Andy D is…um…I really have no idea. I’m still kind of stunned, honestly, just from the first few verses of “Playground,” where Andy swaggers in and boasts, “The dancefloor is my playground / And my playground is your face,” all over tinny beats, overamped synths and metal guitars, and cheery gang backing vocals, before declaring “It’s magical to make a friend!”

Songs In The Key Of Magic is like what Devo might’ve sounded like if they’d met the Beastie Boys back in the early ’80s and started partying and getting stoned together, then crafted a funky, dancey, utterly batshit insane album full of songs about magic, unicorns, wizards, vikings, and rainbows. Oh, and sex. Lots and lots and lots of sex. Squint a little, and Andy almost looks like an ever more sex-obsessed Har Mar Superstar, with the fact that I have no idea if either performer is serious adding to the resemblance. And I have to say, I never, ever thought I’d hear the words “I’m a warlock with your junk!” delivered without a hint of irony.

See/hear for yourself (no, you really need to):

I think I just broke my brain.


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