Monday, March 5, 2012
GUEST: Giselle's SXSW picks
Navigating the music lineup for SXSW can be exhilarating, exhausting, frustrating and overwhelming for many music fans and that includes myself. And I'm not even talking the bounty of unofficial shows that straddle the Festival. All in all, SXSW is a happening and provided you can deal with the crowds, there's no better place to be if seeking out new and emerging artists is your thing (in addition to catching a few existing headliners slipstreaming on the action).
I turn to a lot of people to learn about bands I should know about and for SXSW, my friend Giselle of Bands With Phones scours the list like a champion fantasy leaguer prior to draft day. So I'm thrilled she agreed to pen the first guest column on TBB to highlight a half-dozen bands on her radar for next week's big show.....
Last year was my first SXSW and I decided to take full advantage by using it as an opportunity to discover a lot of new bands. I researched as many of the bands I could and came up with quite a few new favourites. I've done the same this year and thought I'd use this opportunity to highlight a few bands that may be new to fans of this blog (Thanks TBB!).
ROSIE AND ME (Brazil) Showcase at St David's Historic Sanctuary, March 17
They were listed on the first batch announced for SXSW 2011, but weren't able to make the festival for financial reasons (it's expensive from Vancouver, I can't imagine the costs from Brazil). They've just released their debut album, The Arrow Of My Ways (stream http://rosieandme.bandcamp/) and well, they're not really doing anything different here, but the banjo and the female vocals make for a great listen. They’re one of my must-sees this year and the church venue should provide a perfect setting for them.
THE LIGHTHOUSE AND THE WHALER (USA) Showcase at IFC Crossroads House at Vice, March 16
Not a SXSW discovery for me, I stumbled upon them in the summer and fell in love straight away. MTV describes them as "really cool melodic folk rock" and they haven't really strayed far from the path set by Mumford and Sons. There's a lot of bands in this genre including Of Monsters and Men and The Lumineers, who are also on my schedule this year, but I'm recommending this band because their performance at CMJ. Despite not knowing a single song, they just blew me away. Whatever that magic 'something' is that makes a band really special live, this quintet from Cleveland definitely have it. How they are unsigned, I have no idea.
SOLANDER (Sweden) Showcase at St David's Bethel Hall, March 14
I fell in love with this band at first listen. The album, Passing Mt. Satu can be streamed at http://solander.bandcamp.com/ and it's wonderful. It reminds me of a cross between Fanfarlo and Sigur Ros and is a superb example of the indiepop that the Swedes seem to do so well.
K.FLAY (USA) Showcase at Antone's, March 14
OK, full disclosure, I came across K.Flay just after last year's SXSW and have been a big fan ever since. Hip Hop/Rap is usually not my thing, but throw in witty and intelligent lyrics and songs that use "Heavy Cross" by the Gossip and "Crystalized" by The xx as backing tracks and I'm a lot more interested. I've seen her twice and she's great live...although difficult to photograph because she never stands still. She's on the lineup for Bonnaroo this year so I think her star is on the rise. Download the recent Eyes Shut EP for free.
FENSTER (Germany) Showcase at The Loft, March 16
I’ve only heard one song but it is, dare I say, rather jaunty. Whenever it comes on, I find myself tapping and humming away. The song caught my attention at first listen and I found out afterwards that they’re on the Morr Music label (former home to one of my favourites, Surf City). I don’t imagine they’ll be playing Vancouver anytime soon so I’ll be catching them at SXSW.
TANGO IN THE ATTIC (Scotland) Showcase at Easy Tiger Patio, March 14
I spent a rainy Sunday a couple of weeks ago going through about 60 bands and just when I was about to give up hope, came across these guys. I know nothing about them and have only heard this one song but it has a lot of things I like...great drums, a superb bass line and it's a bit shoegazey. If you're looking for a band that's a cross between We Were Promised Jetpacks and Surf City (and really, who isn't) this may be the band for you.