SXSW Overflow 2013: Day Nine (The Jarheads, The Horde & The Harem, Schwervon!, Next 2 the Tracks, All the Apparatus, & Alex Vans & The Hide Away)
Alright, so it’s a little bit lighter tonight up at the SXSW Overflow Fest at Super Happy Fun Land, but don’t take that to mean that it won’t be a good show. Hell, if anything, the SHFL folks are making things even more entertaining than usual, switching things around a bit in honor of St. Patrick’s Day (which, yes, is today) — in the holiday’s honor, there’ll be green beer, Irish car bombs, and free bowls of that ever-so-Irish staple, stew.
Now, for the bands playing:
THE JARHEADS: Alright, so I’ve got no clue what “progressive punk” means, but hey, after listening to The Jarheads for a little while now, I don’t honestly care. For me, at least, the Mississippi band brings to mind a slew of proto-emo, punk-influenced rock bands, most of which I happen to love to death; Samiam was the first thing that popped into my head — especially with Grant Beatty‘s vocals — but there’s also a resemblance to Knapsack, to Superchunk, to Silver Scooter, and even to Jawbreaker (albeit minus some of the bile). Which, yes, pretty well describes a large chnk of my music collection circa 1998…
It’s awesomely melodic while remaining loud, with guitars that refuse to do nothing but chug along, Hüsker Dü-like song structures, shy-boy vocals, and a damn fine sense of melody. Check out the band’s self-titled full-length, below:
THE HORDE & THE HAREM: The Horde & The Harem was an interesting, nice surprise; with a name like that, I’ll admit to being a little wary of getting stuck with some godawful metal band or something. Happily, though, that wasn’t the case — instead, TH&TH are a smart, friendly, open-hearted folk-pop orchestra from Seattle who apparently bonded over the unanimous love of riding bikes and stayed together to make some excellently sweet, fun, bouncy music that’s like the middle ground between The Decemberists and The Polyphonic Spree, if the two got together and hung out listening to Buffalo Springfield albums.
They’ve got the wide-smiling, shiny, jaunty pop of the latter, but it’s made more baroque and intricate than the aforementioned ensemble, and hey, it works out nicely, especially with the soulful call-and-response vocals of guitarist/singers Ryan Barber and Noble Monyei. There’s a great, great rootsy feel to a lot of it, too, while never truly diving fully over the line into the country realm. Here’s a free download of “Chasing Crows” to listen to, from the band’s album A Long Midwinter:
SCHWERVON!: And speaking, kinda-sorta, of names, there’s Schwervon! If The Horde & The Harem had me wary, this Kansas band had me full-on worried; band names like that are the kind of thing you thought was funny once back in 9th Grade, based on some in-joke only you and your friends truly get, and that can be a bad sign. I’ve been there myself, so I know how it goes — the one band I was ever in started out as “HugeLarge,” based on an MST3K reference me and the other guys thought was hysterical at the time. Once we got more serious, though, we decided a name change was in order.
Not so for this NYC-by-way-of-KC duo, but hey, it doesn’t appear to have hurt ‘em any. Bandmates Matt and Nan (no last names, dammit, ’cause that’s fucking punk rock) make some seriously Sebadoh-/Pavement-influenced indie-rock (the latter of which makes sense, considering their album was recorded with Doug Easley) that’s smart and serious and puts the lie to any thoughts of potential lunkheadedness related to their band’s name. There’re some GBV-ish arrangements, too, plus an undeniable hint of Matt & Kim and a resemblance to sadly-dead Canadian band Immaculate Machine in Nan’s vocals, all of which adds to their appeal. Ignore the name, love the band. And hey, here’s full album Courage, for proof:
NEXT 2 THE TRACKS: Okay, that’s interesting; the SHFL info on Next 2 the Tracks says they’re from L.A., but the band’s own Facebook page says they hail from El Paso, TX, and Albuquerque, NM. The latter assertion definitely makes more sense, after listening to a few of the band’s songs, because the music the trio makes definitely evokes those empty, lonely, sunburned, open spaces way, way the hell out in West Texas and New Mexico. And frankly, it ain’t bad — despite some unnecessary sheen on the recordings, it’s dusty and authentic-sounding, with a real, honest-to-God Western-rock vibe.
If that sounds like it’s up your particular alley, take a listen to a couple of free tracks from the band, below:
Next 2 the Tracks – “Caballo de Lumbre”
Next 2 the Tracks – “Luna Mia”
Next 2 the Tracks – “Never Fold (Touch Sky)”
ALL THE APPARATUS: And now, for something completely different…namely, Hawaiian-Oregonians All the Apparatus, who are about as far removed from the previous band as could possibly be imagined. The band’s an epic-sounding, rambling, fists-in-the-air, drunkenly-smiling indie-rock carnival of a band, with a 10-person roster and a jubilant, hearts-on-sleeves sound that’s infectious and rambunctious and, well, hell, I’m liking it quite a bit.
Back in their native Hawaii (they got their start on the sidewalks of Waikiki, of all places), they apparently got tagged as “Honolulu’s own Arcade Fire,” and yeah, I kind of get the comparison, but where Win Butler & company are deadly serious even at their wildest moments, these folks seem to genuinely be packed full of joy and love for performing; you can practically hear the smiles, honest. Their songs are broad-ranging and theatrical, echoing The Decemberists’ dramatic compositions but with a distinct sound that brings to mind the Tropics, the circus, and Vaudeville, all at the same time.
Listen to the band for yourself:
ALEX VANS & THE HIDE AWAY: Then, last but not least, there’s DC band Alex Vans & The Hide Away, which takes hold of sarcastic, bitter-edged indie-rock, doses it up with some badass vintage keyboards, and throws it out, disoriented and angry, onto the dance floor. Rather than wilt and crawl away, though, the music fights back by getting the fuck down, stomping and bumping along defiantly like the bastard child of The Strokes and Superdrag.
Vans himself is certainly the star of the show, with a just-barely-cracked voice that’s cool yet confident, but his band is definitely up to the task, playing like rockstars in a band far more famous than they actually are; check ‘em out down here:
phew. That’s all for now; keep checking back, and get on up to SHFL to hear the real thing for a measly $8 a night…