SXSW Overflow: Day Seven (The Great ’85, Clapperclaw, Take One Car, Weekend Pilots, & More)

On to Thursday, March 15th, aka Day Seven of the 2012 edition of Super Happy Fun Land‘s SXSW Overflow Fest, and when things start up again tonight at 7PM, it promises to be an interesting pile of bands…

I have to say, by the by, that in terms of the actual quality of the bands, so far SXSW Overflow 2012 has gone way, way beyond the previous years when I’ve done this writeup thing. In years past, there’s been at least a heaping helping of utter crap thrown in with the good/interesting/cool stuff — I’d had to really fight at times to not say something nasty about Goddamn Stupid Band X, settling instead for diplomatically not saying much in most cases.

This year, though…well, I’ve been pretty impressed. I’m not sure if that means Brian, Olivia, & the rest of the SHFL crew are somehow doing more to screen the bands that come through their doors — and no, I don’t think that’s real likely, given the general nature of the place — or if the Fest’s just managed to get on the radar a bit more nationally, so there’re more decent bands stopping through on their way to/from SXSW. Either way, it’s very neat to see the progression.

I should mention, btw, that I’ve been doing these things in reverse-chronological order ’til now, because, well, that’s how I did it before (I think). I’m thinking now, though, that that’s probably confusing to people who look at the SHFL calendar and then take a peek at these writeups, so I’m shifting ’em to match the SHFL lineup from here on out — the first band listed will be the first on stage, etc. Good? Good. And on we go:

THE GREAT ’85: Ha! Okay, that’s kind of funny. See, the one song I’ve been able to find so far by San Antonians The Great ’85 is called “Great Snow of ’85” (I’m guessing it’s their theme song), and it’s preceded by a little bit of a news report from way, way back in 1985, talking about the freak snowstorm that hit the city back then. What makes me grin about it is that yours truly was living in San Antonio at the time — it was literally the last time I lived anywhere that had a “real” snowfall (i.e., the ones here that melt almost immediately barely count). We made a big-ass snowman on our lawn. In San Antonio, Texas, which is roughly level with northern Africa, latitudinally speaking. It was freaking awesome.

Anyway. In terms of music, The Great ’85 stomp and growl like a freight train, the duo coming off sounding like The White Stripes if they’d been bred more on high-lonesome country than blues. Nicky Mery’s overdistorted guitar and rough-edged vocals match up perfectly with Diana Marie’s rock-solid drumming, and when the band downshifts into drifting, fuzzed-out psych, they do it in lockstep.

HAROLD HONEY: Listening to the grubby, raggedy-edged blues of Harold Honey‘s “Helltown,” I can’t shake the weird, weird feeling that my crazy ex-biker/vet Uncle Bill picked up guitar a while back without telling me and is now spinning these stories of cracked Americana, booze, shipwrecks, and wimmen in his scraggly, deep-down voice.

Okay, so it’s not him, but listening to the song or its B-side, “Hollywood Jesus (Vegas Bound),” I get the same vibe I get from talking with my not-quite-there uncle. Now, I don’t mean that in a bad way, mind you — Uncle Bill sure does tell some entertaining stories, even if you don’t ever know what’s true and what’s bullshit, and he’s got a Tom Waits-y sort of style to him, just like Harold here does. Maybe it’s not my uncle playing, but it sounds like it definitely could be.

CLAPPERCLAW: Not exactly what I was expecting, I’ll admit, given the name. “Clapperclaw” sounds to me, at least, like it should be some sort of bizarro one-man-band involving an accordion and possibly artificial limbs or something, but here I’m listening to what sounds like bluesy trip-hop, with sultry, smoky vocals over a low-key, Portishead-esque beat.

Of course, it could also be a total fake-out — the next track is totally different, all plinky, toy piano-/ukulele-sounding bedroom folk-pop with sharp-edged lyrics and a more straight-ahead voice, all accented by some nice strings. The hell? Okay, so it sounds like I wasn’t that far off in my initial take on the name, as this does appear to be a one-woman-band, one that skips across genres and styles with a shrug.

And holy crap, Ms. Clapperclaw (Carrie-Anne Murphy, apparently) can freaking sing. Don’t be fooled by the quirkiness and alt-folk stylings — she can blow doors down with her voice when she wants to, and it’s a great thing to witness. Here’s “Catsaway” to check out:

TAKE ONE CAR: Interesting…at first blush, I had Take One Car pegged as an emo-revival band — which is actually a pretty good thing, to me — but the more I listen, the more it seems like that’s just one tiny, tiny element here.

I mean, sure, singer/guitarist Tyler Irish has got the impassioned, desperate-man howl down pat, the guitars roar and rage beautifully, and the song structures are awesomely Braid-like at times, but then the band’ll throw in some offbeat funk guitar, or they’ll downshift into gorgeous, lush spacerock or thunder into a stoner-metal riff, and somehow merge it all together so it sounds perfectly natural.

More than anything else, what I’m reminded of is the sadly underrated Instruction — both bands swipe chunks from the emo realm but don’t let it control ’em, instead making something that’s harder to define beyond saying, “hey, it’s rock; who cares what else it is?” Take a listen to It’s Going To Be A Nice Day, their just-released full-length, right here:

THE WEEKEND PILOTS: Holyfuckingcrapwhat? I’m listening to The Weekend Pilots“El Lobo” right now, and I feel like my face just fell off. This is why: “I pack the lunches…like a wolf (al muerzo) / I drive the carpool…like a wolf / Come on, make love like a bear and a wolf / Bear-wolf is not a wolf / or bear! (roar)”. I just…I have no freaking idea what’s going on, but it’s fucking hysterical. Think The Pogues’ “Fiesta,” but delivered tongue-in-cheek (and relatively sober) by that Most Interesting Man in the World guy, and you’ll be close.

The Pilots are no one-trick pony, mind you — they manage to come up with a half-dozen tracks that dance gleefully across goofy, Beastie Boys-style hip-hop, sex-you-up electro-funk, and dubstep, the latter of which is a “Cylon Dubstep Remix” of the Battlestar Galactica theme. (No, really.)

And yes, you can download the band’s debut, self-titled EP for free, which is what I’m doing right damn now:

MY AMENDS: Hrm. Just saw on My AmendsFacebook page that the Fort Lauderdale boys have apparently already been in town for a day or two — they played at The Mink last night, and dangit, I totally freaking dropped the ball listing it. sigh. This is how it goes some weeks, y’all; sorry about that.

It’s a shame, too, because I’m liking these guys’ ultra-melodic, post-emo sound — they’re the kind of band that could trade sets with the last place you look and pull it off, honestly, both incorporating little electronic touches and samples into their music and coming up with a sound that’s in-your-face and raw and fragile and beautiful, all at the same time.

Listen & download a free track from the band at the link below:

phew. Dang, y’all. Alright, gotta go, but there’ll be more soon, hopefully. The next few updates might be a little more brief, unfortunately, since I may end up spending the weekend on the beach somewhere…

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2 Responses to “SXSW Overflow: Day Seven (The Great ’85, Clapperclaw, Take One Car, Weekend Pilots, & More)”

  1. The Weekend Pilots on March 16th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks for the awesome review! We’re glad you’re enjoying the album. We had so much fun in Houston and cannot wait to return. Super Happy Fun Land is an amazing venue.

    We hope to see you in Houston again. Who were you BTW?

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » SXSW Overflow 2014: Day Four (After Nations, Take One Car, Jacob Latham, The Hat Madder, jungles!!!, Doomsquad, & More) on March 12th, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    […] and I just realized I’d run across these guys before…in the run-up to SXSW Overflow Fest 2012. I don’t think they impressed me all that much back then, but they sure do now. Here’s […]

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