SXSW Overflow 2013: Day Ten (Embers In Ashes, Our Sky Is Falling, Suns, Vampirates, Har-di-Har, die geister beschworen, & More)

ourskyisfalling1Yep, it’s Day Ten of the cool-ass SXSW Overflow Fest shenanigans going on at Super Happy Fun Land, despite the fact that, um, I’m pretty sure SXSW itself is actually over as of yesterday. And I think we’ve got 4 more days to go over here. Hrm.

Anywho, there’re bands playing, and yes, most are pretty good, or at least interesting. Here goes:

EMBERS IN ASHES: Six dudes from Alabama playing guitar-heavy melodic rock that’s obliquely talking about Jesus; that’s Embers In Ashes in a nutshell, right there. And for all that, they’re damned decent, riding a middle-of-the-road post-emo rock sound that I’m generally a sucker for, with guitars are heavy when they need to be but delicate with a melody and vocals that are soaring and up-close.

These guys definitely won’t be for everybody, to be sure, and if modern-day guitar rock with pretty male vocals leaves you cold, well, you’re probably not going to be moved a whole lot. But if you’re at all into bands like MAE or Copeland, in particular, these guys are likely to be right up your alley. Take a look:

OUR SKY IS FALLING: Then there’s Oklahoma City band Our Sky Is Falling, a post-hardcore outfit which dips its collective foot not only into the shredded-throat, triphammer-drum side of things, but also shift deftly into quiet, jazzy bits where the keyboards and gently-crooned vocals take center stage. It’s a neat juxtaposition, and one that could very easily see the band fall flat on its face.

But they don’t, and good on ’em for that. They blend things so seamlessly that it feels natural to go from the screaming and punishing guitars to clean, sweet piano and back again; nothing feels contrived or tacked-on, which is kind of amazing, really. Maybe strings and a little delicate piano is what screamo’s been missing all this time? Decide for yourself:

(Oh, and that’s them over there on the right, rocking the fuck out. Just so you’re aware.)

SUNS: I don’t give a damn what anybody says, I still like The Arcade Fire; hell, if anything, the Bieberite anti-TAF backlash makes me like the band more, because I’m just contrary like that. Fuck those Bieber fans for being butthurt little babies, I say.

I mention this because after listening to a few songs by Chicagoans Suns, I’m thinking they, too, are fans of that aforementioned Canadian band; the music’s similarly high-minded and grand in scope, seemingly fashioned to be played in big, old theaters with gorgeous acoustics. It’s layered as hell, with an oddly old-fashioned feel to the instrumentation and arrangements that bring to mind Ketch Harbour Wolves (another Canadian band I happen to love). Take a listen to album When We Were Us; trust me, it’s damn impressive:

VAMPIRATES: Ah, I thought that name looked familiar… I blathered a little bit about Reno band Vampirates way, way back in 2011, for that year’s batch of SXSW Overflow writeups; apparently they liked it enough to stop back through the Super Happy once again on their way home to Nevada.

Weirdly, I find myself liking ’em more now than I did then, although I can’t really say whether they’ve changed all that much in the intervening couple of years. All I know is that I’m sitting here headbanging along to the band’s breakneck-speed metalcore-ish rock, not really clear what the fuck it is they’re howling about and not caring much anyway. I say “metalcore-ish,” by the way, because they’re really kind of a straight-up hardcore band at heart, but there’re enough metallic guitars in there to blur the lines somewhat. If you like in-your-face, middle-finger-raised skatecore that sounds like it did back when you were in high school, only meaner and louder, hey, Vampirates are your band:

JAMES QUALL WITH DAVID LIEBE HART: Alright, I’ve got to make a potentially-embarassing, indie cred-removing admission. I never watched Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! Never did; didn’t omit it intentionally or anything, but frankly, I watch enough goddamn Cartoon Network during the daytime with the midgets that my fingers just tend to steer clear of that channel once the wee ones are abed.

So when people like James Quall or David Liebe Hart pop up on show lineups with the whole, “hey, they were on Tim and Eric!” tagline, I can’t do a whole lot more than shrug. I think both are comedians, and I keep hearing the “outsider” thing attributed to ’em, but I dunno if that means they do some Wesley Willis-ish mentally-ill-people-are-funny thing or something else entirely.

Anyway, what I’ve been able to dig up so far kind of make me cringe; here’s a song from each:

HAR-DI-HAR: phew. Okay, back to things I can at least somewhat understand, even if I’m not loving it to death. Iowa husband-and-wife duo Har-di-Har are kind of a folk-pop band, but singer/drummer/keyboardist Julie Thoreen‘s stark, otherworldly vocals push it it into a different realm entirely, somewhere colder and more remote than the cheery/sad pastoral scenes their indie-folk cohorts tend to inhabit.

Actually, the more I listen, the more enthralled I become with Thoreen’s voice; vocally, she reminds me of Beth Orton circa Daybreaker, with a similarly husky, almost instrument-like tone, and that’s always something I go for in a singer. Take a listen to the band’s Feudal Kind EP — which, incidentally, you can purchase on a 1GB USB drive and get all of the band’s discography, past and future, FOR EVER AND EVER, so long as you agree to go see the band live, and I think that’s an awesome, novel way to go about building a fanbase, I have to say — right here:

DIE GEISTER BESCHWÖREN: Ah, dammit. die geister beschwören, your band’s name got me all excited (okay, intrigued, really, not so much excited), thinking you were a band actually from Germany, or maybe at the very least some kind of Grimm tribute band, and yet, no, you’re just from Austin. sigh.

To make things murkier still, DGB is apparently the solo work of a guy named Oryan Peterson-Jones, whose main band is actually called Datura Blues, which is less a “band” and more a rotating bunch of musos split between Austin and Portland, Oregon.

This particular incarnation bills itself as “experimental folk,” and yeah, that’s not far off the mark — the music I’ve been able to hear so far is loose and psych-influenced, with lots of washes of sound, fuzzy guitars, and random bits of flute and other instruments tossed in at random to these fragile-sounding acoustic guitar compositions that come off like brief, hypnotic mantras more than anything else. Take a listen:

KAISER SOZE: Back down to earth somewhat, we’ve got Kaiser Soze closing out the night, not by shooting everybody and then burning all the evidence before leading the cops on a wild-goose chase, but with a set of what sounds like it’ll be quiet, melancholy, rough-edged guitar folk.

Kaiser Soze (not to be confused with the Portugese industrial company or the Reno ska band) is apparently the stage name of a raggedy-looking dude named Giuseppe Antonio Volpi, it seems, who sings gloomy, downcast, broken-sounding songs about death and loss and, well, not much else. Here you go:


Alrighty, that’s all I’ve got for now; carry on, folks…

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