SXSW Overflow 2013: Day Twelve (Vox Vocis, Kids From Nowhere, Pocket Vinyl, & Si Mori)

kidsfromnowhere2Well, damn. I just looked at today’s SXSW Overflow Fest schedule on the Super Happy Fun Land site, and lo and behold, it looks like after I posted yesterday’s writeup, two of the four bands scheduled (Sugar Baron & Pocket Vinyl, aka “The Two Bands I Was Interested In Seeing”) dropped off the bill. Ouch.

Hopefully things are back on track for tonight — Wednesday, March 20th, that is — even though we’re seeing more local bands creeping into the lineup, with two from the Houston area tonight (and one very familiar name). Here we go:

VOX VOCIS: Alright, this one’s definitely unique, if nothing else; Vox Vocis (gah! Latin! it burrrrns!) are a quintet of prog-jazz-pop kids from the Alvin ‘hood, playing songs that all apparently follow a Coheed and Cambria-esque storyline about somebody named Cadence Casso. They call themselves a “concept band,” which is a neat thing, to me — I’ve listened to dozens of concept albums, and there’re a handful of bands out there like C&C who kind of end up being a “concept band,” but it’s never strictly by design. These kids started the band with this particular goal in mind, which is kind of cool.

Musically speaking, the band’s intriguingly hard to pin down. They’re proggy, almost jazzy, sometimes kinda metal, and sometimes fairly gentle and low-key, with some ridiculously pretty three- (and four-?) part vocal harmonies. It’s damn promising stuff, even if I’ve got no idea what the overarching plot for all of it happens to be. And no, I can’t dislike a band that proudly claims Coheed and Cambria, Genesis, and Journey as influences. Take a listen here, although be warned, you don’t really get the harmonies so much in these recordings:

 

KIDS FROM NOWHERE: And now, for Kids From Nowhere a band that sounds like it should hail from some sleepy, rough-around-the-edges little Texas town. Except that, well, they’re actually from Tel Aviv, as in Israel. To be fair, frontman Zach Wheat is from The Lone Star State originally, but still, it’s a little jarring to hear an Israeli band that grooves and bumps along like it was birthed in a roadside honky-tonk.

Actually, that’s a little too simple, really — Kids From Nowhere isn’t a country band, strictly speaking, but instead blurs the lines quite a bit, merging old-school gutbucket country-rock with in-your-face blues, snarling glam-rock, and stomping garage-punk. There’s a resemblance to Hanni El-Khatib here, and some to The Black Keys, but I also keep thinking of the Velvets and hillbilly-metal dudes Grady, too. Check ’em out:

 

POCKET VINYL: Yay! Pocket Vinyl may not have played last night at the Super Happy, but damn, I’m glad to see they’re not off the bill entirely. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly creative enough to write something brand-new about the band, so I’ll just cut-and-paste from the show last night that they didn’t end up playing:

Right, so Pocket Vinyl are a duo. Kind of. I mean, there’re two of ’em, Eric Stevenson and Elizabeth Jancewicz, and they’re married, but only Eric actually plays any music, covering the piano, harmonica, keys, and guitar and singing on top of all that.

So, what does Elizabeth do while all this is happening? Well, she’s painting. No, seriously; while her husband stomps and careens through a deft set of sharp-edged, Ben Folds-on-drugs piano-noir rock, Jancewicz paints, and the band sells (or tries to sell, at least) the finished painting at the end of the show. Which is cute and quirky and not a bad shtick, but it helps that the actual music being played is awesomely desperate and murky and still somehow beautiful. Listen & see what I mean:

SI MORI: The second of the two local bands playing tonight, Si Mori follow a decidedly different track than their cohorts. The duo(?), about which I’m having a hard time finding any info beyond a measly couple of names (Evan Jackson and Andrew Deliganis, specifically) plays a dark, gloomy, vaguely menacing style of indie-folk that’s multi-layered and dense and carefully-constructed.

Weirdly for a folk-ish band, the vocals are less crucial than the rest of the arrangement, it feels like, drifting to the background where they act as just another instrument, another piece for the ambient noise to ride to the end. It’s sleepy and raggedy, and after a while it’ll be as plain as can be that what you really want to do is lay your head down and not wake up, maybe not ever again. Here’s from new EP Bones, released this past January:

That’s it for today/tonight; only two days left of SXSW Overflow this year, y’all…


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