SXSW Overflow 2013: Day One (Time and Distance, Hip Hatchet, Otonana Trio, & Friend Roulette)

Damn. I have to say, this year SXSW crept up on me even more than it usually does; I’ve been pretty distracted with personal- and work-related stuff lately, so much so that until Jason Smith posted his excellent preview of the bands he’s hoping to see, I hadn’t even realized it had started. Not even exaggerating, folks.

I’m also saddened to report that not only will I not be there, but hell, I won’t even be in the state this week — some family things are necessitating a last-minute trip to Arizona, so I won’t even get to enjoy the Austin spillover down here in H-town. sigh. On top of that, I’m not sure how reliable my access to The Interwebs is going to be for the next several days, so please bear with me if things get quiet over here.

Now, stepping back to the spillover thing, I’m happy to report that today (Saturday, March 9th) is also the start of the SXSW Overflow 2013 madness over at that always-kooky Super Happy Fun Land.

Yep, from March 9th through March 22nd, SHFL will once again be playing host to a crap-ton of bands headed either to or from SXSW, something like 100 of ’em, all together. And for $8 a night or $24 for the whole shebang, you can swing by and enjoy some damn-cool bands that even folks at SouthBy are likely to miss.

As in years past, 2013 looks like a wild-ass grab-bag of bands and musicians of all different styles, and I’ll be doing my best to try to give you a quick glimpse of ’em for each day that the Overflow Fest is running. Apologies in advance if I miss a day or two here & there… The full schedule’s up on the SHFL site, over here, and the Facebook invite (which I think has the most up-to-date info) is over here.

Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got to say in general; on to the bands:

TIME AND DISTANCE: It’s kind of amazing to me, honestly, that despite all the years and bands and — let’s be straight, here — clichés, that whole melodic pop-punk thing still works for me. But yes, yes, it sure as hell does. Give me crunching, heavy-yet-gorgeous guitars, whoa-oh-oh vocals, and head-snapping rhythms, throw in some stutter-stop breakdowns in the middle, and I’m hooked, well and truly.

West Virginians Time and Distance hit all those buttons and more, playing hooky, melodic-as-hell, punk-tinged, utterly irresistible pop-rock that somehow gets a little rootsy (appropriately, given their home state), resulting in a sound that grafts Jimmy Eat World’s guitar-heavy melodicism with ’80s arena-pop like The Outfield and ’90s jangle-rock like The Gin Blossoms or Buffalo Tom. Now, I know how that sounds, but trust me — if you’re at all into melodic rock, this moves along like a well-oiled machine. I feel like I’m listening to a band I heard once in college, liked like crazy, and then could never find again ’til right now. Wow.

Here’s the band’s most recent release, ONep, if you want proof:

HIP HATCHET: Not currently a band but a guy, Hip Hatchet‘s Philippe Bronchtein apparently used to tour with a fairly big ensemble to spin out his Iron and Wine-esque, deep-voiced country-folk hymns; these days, though, it seems that it’s just him, a guitar, and a piano. And hey, I’m good with that, so long as the songs can hold the weight.

Here, thankfully, they can. With Hip Hatchet, Bronchtein comes off a world-weary, heavy-hearted troubadour following the backroads because he’s trying to escape his demons through distance rather than the bottle or the company of others. He rumbles along through songs that are pleasantly complex, at least for folky tunes like these, evoking a less-desperate Damien Jurado at points and David Ramirez at others; the difference between Ramirez and Hip Hatchet, though, is that while the former seems to have survived his ordeals and is now trying to set things right, Bronchtein has lost his fight, and he knows it. Take a listen to Joy and Better Days, below:

OTONANA TRIO: Okay, first things first. When I’m trying to see what a band sounds like, few things irk me more than making somebody “Like” your band’s Facebook page before you’ll let them hear you. Seriously, that’s fucking stupid; I don’t “Like” things online unless I damn well know I actually freaking like them, and if I haven’t heard your band yet, how in the hell is that supposed to happen? All the you-have-to-Like-us-first crap does it predispose me to not like your band. Bad move.

Unfortunately for Japan’s Otonana Trio, while they do fight their way back somewhat into my good graces, it’s not enough. The band’s grimy, bluesy, funky, slap-bass-happy rock, complete with broken-English lyrics and surf-y/garage-y guitars, is something I might’ve liked a couple of decades ago, when I was fully into my funk-rock phase (what, like you never had one? As if…). Nowadays, though, while it’s not bad, it’s not really for me.

That said, the video for “Don’t Call Me In A Morning” is pretty entertaining:

FRIEND ROULETTE: Last but not least, there’s Brooklyn band Friend Roulette, who don’t resemble anybody else playing tonight in the least — which, to me, is part of the appeal of shows like the SXSW Overflow series. Rather, they’re gentle, moody-yet-beautiful chamber-pop that swings and sways gorgeously beneath Julia Tepper‘s delicate violin and somewhat Neko Case-ish voice. (Seriously, I keep expecting her to break into “Deep Red Bells” at any moment.)

I haven’t been able to listen to as much of this band as I’d like, but after a brief listen, I’m pretty enthralled — it’s wonderfully-arranged, fragile and ornate like a beautifully-crafted chandelier swaying in the breeze in some palace somewhere. I’d say this almost sounds like it could’ve been on the soundtrack to Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette…except that the movie was so godawful bad I wouldn’t want to tar Friend Roulette with that particular brush. But you get the idea.

Listen to some tracks on their SoundCloud page:

That’s all for now; keep checking back for more…


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4 Responses to “SXSW Overflow 2013: Day One (Time and Distance, Hip Hatchet, Otonana Trio, & Friend Roulette)”

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » SXSW Overflow 2013: Day Seven (Charles Ellsworth, Yusif!, Pillage & Plunder, Tom Blacklung and the Smokestacks, Big Mess, Kal Marks, & More) on March 15th, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    […] OTONANA TRIO: Hrm. This feels weirdly familiar, somehow… […]

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  4. SPACE CITY ROCK » SXSW Overflow 2014: Day Three (Small Houses, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, Hawk and Dove, Dylan Taylor Band, White City, Hollis Brown, & More) on November 20th, 2015 at 10:48 am

    […] another name I recognize, with Tokyo pop-rockers Otonana Trio, who I rambled on about a bit this time last year. Sadly, I’m not liking their watery, goofy, funky rock much more now than I did then, but […]

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