SXSW Overflow 2014: Day Four (After Nations, Take One Car, Jacob Latham, The Hat Madder, jungles!!!, Doomsquad, & More)

takeonecar1Alright, people — heading into Day Four of Super Happy Fun Land‘s supremely fun SXSW Overflow Fest 2014, and it’s definitely rolling, with more and more bands from far-flung places being packed onto the bill.

Before I get into it, though, I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least briefly mention the other SXSW-overflow-ish things going on this week. I completely missed this year’s South By Due East over at Dan Electro’s, sadly, and last night’s promising-sounding Suck My South West showcase at Montrose Proper; sorry about that.

Even still, though, there’s some other stuff happening now & in the future, like the ongoing SouthBy Spillover shows at Notsuoh that Bassman Pep‘s been setting up, the four-night S.X.F.U. showcase over at Mango’s, and next weekend’s South-By-Satellite show, put on by the Montrose Rock Revel folks at the newly-rejuvenated Skyline Hall (aka The Meridian), all of which look very cool, at least to me. Get out there and see some bands you’re not likely to see ’round these parts at any other time of the year, alright?

And with that, here’s the list for Day Four (aka Wednesday, March 12th):

AFTER NATIONS: I’ll be the first to admit that I’m often guilty of judging a book by its cover, and yeah, that’s pretty much what happened with After Nations; going solely by that name and some goofy imagery on their FB page, I went into listening to the band figuring they’d be some lame-ass, bland alternarock outfit I could shrug about and move on.

But nope, that’s not the case. Instead, these Kansas City guys are a fiery, turbulent bunch of proggy instro-rockers, quick-shifting through different time signatures and sharp-edged riffs so fast it’ll make your head spin. They teeter on the edge between more metal folks like Pelican and Russian Circles and more flat-out prog people, while throwing in some Tom Morello-style guitar tricks and spacerock-y atmospheres and generally trying to paint some kind of a mental picture. The end result is damn impressive, kind of like a Midwestern cousin to Houston’s own Sunrise and Ammunition, and I’m liking what I’ve heard quite a bit. Your turn:


TAKE ONE CAR: Okay, so we’re sticking with the murky, turbulent rock for the moment, it’d seem, although New Yorkers Take One Car are most definitely a vocal band; they call themselves “talk rock,” and I kind of get why, because vocalist Tyler Irish does a sing-speaking sort of thing, a style of vocals I’ve heard far too infrequently since metalcore shrieking/Cookie Monstering became de rigeur (although okay, there are some howls and roars going on, too, but they’re few and far between).

As far as music goes, both bands play music that’s dark and complex and thoughtful, with lots of spacerock atmospheres and heavy guitars, but Take One Car falls more on the post-punk side of things than the math-rock, really, bringing to mind At the Drive-In or O’Brother, or maybe Titus Andronicus. They’re loud and thundering and frightfully, broodingly serious, condensing honest-to-God sincere meaning into every damn line…and yeah, I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

Oh, and I just realized I’d run across these guys before…in the run-up to SXSW Overflow Fest 2012. I don’t think they impressed me all that much back then, but they sure do now. Here’s their most recent album, It’s Going To Be A Nice Day


JACOB LATHAM: Then there’s fresh-faced Indiana youngster Jacob Latham, who comes strolling in with a bag full of Dylan and Springsteen and McCartney, sits down nonchalantly in a corner, and proceeds to entrance the whole room. Despite looking like he should be playing quarterback for some podunk high school football team, Latham does a damn fine job of melding both classic and contemporary folk influences, pulling together the aforementioned icons with the more up-to-date sound of folks like Blitzen Trapper and Iron and Wine.

I was skeptical at first, it’s true, because a lot of the time even talented relative-kids like Latham (who’s apparently 18) fall into traps that musicians a little older and wiser have already found their way ’round. In this case, though, the guy plays like a seasoned, road-weary veteran, and it’s very cool to hear:


INDIGENOUS ROBOT: Denver band Indigenous Robot are an odd bunch; I think they aim to be a heavy-duty psych-rock band like The Black Angels or Dead Meadow, but they’re far more low-key and “clean”-sounding than I’d expect from anybody in that realm. Granted, the lyrics are a little on the trippy side, and there’re some ’60s-ish guitars weaving in and out, to be sure, but the whole thing’s pretty dang mellow and chilled-out.

Not that that’s a bad thing, obviously, but for my money any psych-rock update needs to burn the freakin’ place down (like those other two aforementioned bands tend to do); otherwise, it’s been done before, y’know? Don’t get me wrong — Indigenous Robot aren’t bad, and I’m liking keyboardist Elyse Elam‘s Doors-y keys, but they’re not really my cup of LSD-laced tea. I want ’em louder, dammit. Here’s their new EP, Castles:


THE HAT MADDER: On the flip side of the coin is Lansing’s The Hat Madder, who stomp/stumble in through a fog of strange, multicolored chemicals and leave me stunned. They’re not particularly loud or heavy, no, but they play with an awesomely desperate, can’t-fix-our-weirdness vibe that I can’t help but love, and which brings to mind The Flaming Lips, Machine Go Boom, and even the pAper chAse at points (see “Mayflies” for the latter).

I think what really seals the deal, though, is the playfulness that suffuses Orgy Opposite; these guys are weird, yep, but they’re also smirking and winking at you while they’re spinning out oddball tales and murky diatribes. Take a listen and see what I mean:


JUNGLES!!!: First off, jungles!!! are Japanese, winging their way here from Tokyo, and they apparently used to be called Red Bacteria Vacuum. And that’s…well, pretty much all I know about the current band. See, I’m unable to find anything recorded by jungles!!!, although there is quite a bit out there from the band in their previous incarnation.

So I guess that’s what I’m going to have to go with, right? As Red Bacteria Vacuum, at least, this all-female trio played (plays?) fiery, snarling, punkish garage-rock with deeply-buried melodies, coming off like Shonen Knife’s angry, bitter younger sisters with their distortion pedals cranked to 11 and completely unintelligible vocals. Check it out:


ZARIGANI$: Well, damn. Just when I thought I couldn’t find out less about a band from Japan, along comes Zarigani$ (pronounced “Zarigani Dollar”) to disabuse me of that notion by putting all the text on their FB page in Japanese, which I can’t read (despite taking a half-semester of the language in college; Ms. Sato would be so ashamed of me…).

So what I’m left with, then, is Google and a handful of performances on YouTube. “Zarigani” is apparently the name of a type of crayfish in Japan, which is cute and all, and the performances are odd and lo-fi and stripped-down garage-pop, as near as I can tell, half in Japanese and half in English. Here; now you know as much as I do:


DOOMSQUAD: Take a breath, then let’s move on to Doomsquad, a gang of Canadians who are at least easier to comprehend linguistically, even if they’re far, far stranger musically. As far as I can discern, Doomsquad plays quasi-tribal, trippy-as-fuck, watery-sounding, experimental electronic music with gorgeously lush vocals drifting/skating over the top. The stark, echoing beats skitter and trip, while heavy banks of Badalamenti-an synths wash back and forth below and that angelic voice just meanders along, leading you onwards to…what? I have no idea.

Still, though, I’d love to listen more and find out, even if it (as I suspect) might mean my soul gets quietly stolen somewhere along the way. Take a gander at the video for “Ovo,” below:


JACKKNIFE STILETTO: And tonight finishes with NYC “vagcore” band Jackknife Stiletto, who (as their name suggests) are another all-female band playing loud, raw, dirty-sounding music. There’s more glam here than hardcore, though, and an overall sound that owes more to the sleazy side of late-’70s punk and mid-’80s rock than anything “core” — think The Dead Boys and the New York Dolls, or maybe early Runaways, and you’ll get the general idea.

The Stiletto ladies put out a new EP, Hear All About It, just this past December; take a listen:


That’s what I’ve got for now; keep an eye out for the next one (and the next one, and the next one…)…

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One Response to “SXSW Overflow 2014: Day Four (After Nations, Take One Car, Jacob Latham, The Hat Madder, jungles!!!, Doomsquad, & More)”

  1. After Nations Announces Allotype Tour- Summer 2015? – Circuit Sweet on April 28th, 2015 at 10:24 am

    […] through different time signatures and sharp-edged riffs so fast it’ll make your head spin.” (Space City Rock – Houston, TX). Influences like The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Mars Volta, and Russian Circles can be heard in […]

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