SXSW Overflow: Day 10, Pt. 2 (Fenster, Vio/Miré, Tamarin, The Gallery, The Shivas, & The Photo Atlas)

sigh. Running behind again, seemingly as always… Here’s Pt. 2 of the writeups for tonight’s (Sunday, March 18th) SXSW Overflow Fest lineup over at Super Happy Fun Land. You’ve already missed the first several bands, I’m afraid, but there’re still some very cool bands to go:

FENSTER: I’ve gotta say, first of all, that I really like Berlin-based duo Fenster (aka JJ Weihl & Jonathan Jarzyna); it’s just flat-out neat. It’s weird and interactive and seemingly all hand-drawn on a paper bag, and while I don’t “get” it, really, I definitely like playing with it.

Musically, the band is very ’60s-ish pop, like a less-buzzy Comet Gain (or a less-dramatic Glasvegas, maybe), with flat, echoey vocals, minimalist beats, and meandering, steadily-strummed guitars mated with off-kilter electronics and studio trickery — on their Website, they’ve got three songs…and then four “reversed” versions of their album tracks, which is exactly what it sounds like, with the whole damn song playing backwards. Interesting, sure, although I wouldn’t pay for an album/EP that was half reversed like that. But hey, the forward-playing tracks I’ve heard are very cool.

Head on over to Fenster’s Soundcloud page and grab free track “Fantasy II,” right here:

VIO/MIRÉ: One of the few reruns I’ve come across this year, I first heard and wrote up Vio/Miré in 2010, and from what I’m hearing now, they haven’t changed a whole heck of a lot.

Not that that’s a bad thing, mind you — I liked the band(?)’s fragile, delicately-plinking, somehow wintry-sounding folk-pop songs then, and I’m still liking ’em now. The music is cold and stark but still gorgeous and heartfelt, with melancholy-as-hell, slow-moving, almost Low-like structures and gentle, shy vocals.

The most recent thing Vio/Miré has out isn’t all that recent, unfortunately, dating from back in 2009, but hey, it’s still good:

TAMARIN: Wow. That’s a lot of people in what sounds like a smallish, low-key band. There’s a core of six people in Philly folk outfit Tamarin, apparently, with another five lending horns, vocals, and banjo as necessary. Seriously? Damn. I’m thrown off, frankly, because while I do like the band’s warm, roots-influenced indie-folk — it’s especially cool the way all three vocalists trade off verses in the same song — it just doesn’t sound like something that needs almost a dozen people, y’know?

Eh, whatever — it works for ’em, so who cares, really? Take a listen to a couple of tracks from forthcoming album Shake the Ghost:

THE GALLERY: Only heard a little bit of L.A. band The Gallery, but it’s an interesting throwback, not to the usual emo/indie-rock stuff I hear mostly these days, but instead to the whole California-rock thing from the late ’70s and early ’80s — I’m hearing a whole lot of Tom Petty in there, and some of The Eagles, as well, although I’d hold back the kneejerk smirks, y’all, because they make it work (although, sorry, “The Gallery” is a terrible, terrible name for a band).

Here’s last year’s EP, Come Alive, to listen to:

THE SHIVAS: And now for a different kind of throwback/retro band, this time from the hazy, psych-rocking ’60s. The Shivas may be from Portland in 2012, but they honestly wouldn’t have sounded out of place at some Haight-Ashbury club back in ’69, with those mod rhythms and thick-sounding guitars. I can’t say these folks are my favorite band in the ‘Fest, but hey, they’re growing on me:

THE PHOTO ATLAS: Last of all tonight comes Denver band The Photo Atlas, who blaze along with a bouncy, dark-tinged, danceable kind of rock that brings to mind The Rapture if they were bent on furious vengeance, or a less-electronicized (but still bleakly mistanthropic and urban) version of The Faint. Think Radio 4 with a less-political bent, and you’ll be close.

No player for this one, but take a listen to their Reverbnation profile…

That’s it for tonight; more tomorrow, if my head doesn’t crack open in the meantime…

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