I had a nice hang with Drums guitar players Jacob and Adam in their hotel lobby last Thursday afternoon. Great guys! Their low-key, introverted manner belies their onstage energy, as I saw for myself the following two nights. We covered lots of ground. If you have a chance to see them live before the June release of their full-length album, you’ll get a feeling for where they’re going musically as the guys confirmed after their Friday night show. The live vibe stuck me as a cross between Joy Division, The Strokes, and The Zombies. They definitely back-up the hype, and it will be fun watching these guys grow. Check out the interview at my Go Deep Music site.
Archive for March, 2010
You can link to my interview page for my chat with Atlanta band The Constellations. I grabbed Elijah, Jamie, and Ryan last Saturday before they played an awesome outdoor gig in blustery weather at Austin’s Cedar Street Courtyard. There were no quiet indoor places nearby and the club was loud, so we ran around the corner and found a doorway to huddle in. Most of the band were suffering from food poisoning but Elijah, Jamie, and Ryan were the healthier ones. The other five members rallied big-time when it was time to play. Check out their fine songs on my interview page, or on their site.
The biggest day 4 buzz was the weather, with the high temperature in the low 40′s and lots of wind. Normal high for this date is 73. The Constellations are great guys, and our chat will be posted online in a few days. They played another awesome set. If I have to pick one stand-out newer band at SXSW this year, it would be them. Their “Southern Gothic” album drops in early June, and I feel they have a chance to be the biggest new band of the year. They’re loaded with really strong tracks and plan to tour constantly. I can listen to Australia’s Middle East’s vocals/harmonies for days. Marina & the Diamonds is tearing up the UK charts with her electro/dance/pop. She’s got some great songs, loads of charisma, and a voice that reminds me of Lene Lovich. Her CD drops in late May. After writing about Dan Black yesterday, I saw more of him today. He had some good songs, had people dancing, and has lots of charisma as well. Scissor Sisters were a hoot as always, and an album is coming soon. Kate Miller-Heidke possesses an amazing voice, great looks, and funny between songs banter. She’s got a song with a line close to “You won’t friend me on facebook? Are you fucking kidding me?” It’s on her myspace.
There were lots of artists I caught, who didn’t blow me away. In fairness to them, I didn’t include them in these recaps. One can only cover so much in four days, so here are a some other artists getting a buzz this week, that I didn’t get to catch in no particular order. Broken Bells, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Dum Dum Girls, Harlem, Rogue Wave, She & Him, Malachai, Memory Tapes, Neon Indian, Neon Trees, Spoon, Temper Trap. As one friend said, that’s not too long a list. We could use a week of this but I don’t think our bodies would allow it. That Sunday morning flight back to LA is typically very quiet, and I’ll experience it way too soon for my sleeping habits.
Muse! As my fave band of the past decade, it hardly matters that 75% of the sound mix was bass guitar and bass drum. They rocked. Metric preceded them, and the little indie band of a few years back is now aiming for arena-level with their sound and presentation. I caught one Dan Black tune and wish I’d heard more. His “Symphonies” radio hit is laid back but his live show rocks. Dan is a star, and all over the stage. The Drums showed why England loves them. While the band has heavy 60′s influences, the upbeat sound of the show was more along the lines of Joy Division. They bring a slightly dark kind of “joy” to their shows, and they know how to play. Their June album will be darker than current EP tracks like “Let’s Go Surfing”, and they confirmed afterwords that the live sound is similar to the new album’s direction. Keep an eye out for my Drums interview, which will be posted next week.
Three good groups so far that I’d like to see again in more compatible venues. Glascow’s The Law are a high-energy, harder party band with melodies and good songs, who have gotten promising US airplay with only a digital release so far. Delorean are electro artists from Spain who have some good ideas and are very easy on the ears. UK electro band Chew Lips have have interesting melodies, and a good look featuring their sultry lead singer who goes by the name of Tig. Their more uptempo stuff works better for me.
I said at the beginning of SXSW that I recommended The Constellations as a band to see. They backed it up last night! 8-strong onstage, everyone was in motion, the playing was stellar, the songs consistent, and Elijah Jones aces the front man role. The “Felicia” single will be worked at radio next month, and I’m more convinced than ever that this band is poised for a great summer. The club might have been fairly empty, but that wouldn’t happen next year at this time. Fanfarlo played a great afternoon show as expected, and I was really impressed with Surfer Blood’s daytime intensity. The Soft Pack had their main showcase and delivered the goods. No frills here, but they play their fine album the way it should be. I braved a long line of XX fans to see the UK indie-goth artists play a clean show. Their sounds came through beautifully, but the softer, darker tone just didn’t contain enough energy for me. Most of their fans in the place would probably disagree. They may always be a band that I respect but don’t love. Some major artists play every night, but I tend to use this week’s opportunity to stick with the “baby bands” that are the future of what we’ll be hearing.
It was a good day with no knockouts out of about 13 bands I saw. Fanfarlo might have been, but I dug them recently in LA so checked out unseen talent. Ezra Furman and the Harpoons have some good new songs and a more aggressive approach. The latest project for Art Brut’s Eddie Argos is Everybody Was In the French Resistance…Now. Who else but Eddie could come up with that kind of name? I had to leave early for another gig but what I saw of their set was a blast. My evening highlight was the Codeine Velvet Club, a side project featuring Fratellis leader John Lawler. The music is happy, he’s got a female singer who’s almost an equal partner, and they had a brass section to boot. SXSW usually does an amazing job of organizing, but there are a couple of smaller venues that shouldn’t feature evening showcases by band of the current stature of Surfer Blood. I left that gig due to a poor location, but the good news is that I revisited New Zealand’s very young Bang Bang Eche, who sound just like their name. I’d seen them last March in LA. Their energy is amazing and front man Zach Doney is a star. It’s a band that will be perfectly positioned once they come up with “the” song. Interesting buzz bands Morning Benders and The Strange Boys both played workman-like sets without frills.
We had a good chat recently before they played a big LA show. Check it out here.
As SXSW approaches, my top albums of the new year are by Yeasayer, Hot Chip, Vampire Weekend, Gorillaz, and The Soft Pack. You can check out many of my current fave tracks on the front page of my website or on my last.fm radio station.
***My tops on late night TV so far this year (links active as of today):
Conan: Vampire Weekend
Kimmel: Silversun Pickups
Fallon: The Cribs, Hot Chip
Ferguson: Hot Rats with Sex Pistol Steve Jones
SNL: Vampire Weekend
Here’s a link to the latest Go Deep Webcast. Would love your input. The playlist:
The Knack – (Havin’ A) Rave Up (Go Deep theme song)
Here are the shows I’ve checked out over the last couple of months.
Local Natives played just before Christmas at The Echo. They are local to LA but have been quite the rage in England. They’re a band that the Animal Collective/Grizzly Bear crowd will love–very strong musically but not exactly made for radio.
Hockey were at Spaceland in January. Their songs are groomed for radio and they play well. A harsh sound mix marred the show.
I caught some of Fyfe Dangerfield’s show at Scala during my London trip. He has a splendid voice, and the sold-out venue was loving him. For my tastes, I wished the set was more uptempo. He mostly played solo and was occasionally backed by two string players.
Speaking of London, the UK’s V.V. Brown delighted her Spaceland crowd back in LA. She’s got a great voice and is very likable with lots of energy.
Sticking with our UK theme, Editors brought their newly synth-heavy approach to The Wiltern. The older guitar-oriented songs worked the best. New single “Papillon” was part of the encore and was the one new tune played with the joy of the band’s popular early favorites.
Brendan Benson’s Troubadour solo gig demonstrated that he’s come a long way and that he’s now got a solid band with him. I hoped to see him change things up a bit, as it all started to sound alike about two-thirds of the way into the set.
Australia’s Skybombers are in LA recording their second album, and they took a break to play at The Viper Room. Indications are that their keen sense of melody remains in tact, although this album will probably be a bit less intense.
We Were Promised Jetpacks sold-out The Troubadour. These Scottish dudes have power and integrity. Lots of people were singing along, but we may not hear much of them on the radio besides their track “Quiet Little Voices”.