SXSW is just a little over two months away, and I'll be making my return in 2012 as a legitimately badged representative of SoundLand, the music festival I coordinate. (HOORAY!)
Having taken two years off from South By and the better part of a year off from new music in general, it's no surprise that the first three rounds of announced acts playing the music portion of the fest are chock full of a shitload of unfamiliar names. So I'm checkin' 'em out, one by one. Let's dive in, shall we?
"Ooh la Allah-Las." I think I actually said that aloud as I trudged through the mediocre start of the alphabet and finally clicked to check out "Catamaran." More than twenty acts deep into my quest, they were the first band to smack me across the face with goodness - of the jangly, shuffling '60s variety. My rambling notes lumped them in with Black Lips and King Khan, but deemed them "way more ear-friendly." I also noted that "'Catamaran' is fucking awesome," which as you can hear, it is indeed.
I had heard of Anamanaguchi prior to spotting them on the SXSW bands list, but I had never actually heard them. Nor did I realize that they were a chiptune band (for the uninitiated, chiptune - which I tend to accidentally call bitchip - is a genre that employs the sound chips from vintage computers and video game consoles) until I checked them out. Supposedly they're a rare kind of chiptune band that also employs live guitars, bass and drums over the electronic stuff, which in their case comes mostly from a hacked NES and Game Boy. The original version of "Airbrushed" is a bit manic for my taste, but the RAC remix brings a kind of dreaminess that makes my heart jump up and slide down a flagpole to a chorus of pixelated fireworks.
I'm a sucker for a handclap. And a clever name. Above all else, I'm a sucker for an international band playing SXSW - in part because they came a long way, but mostly because they are entirely unlikely to travel to Nashville at any time in the near future.
Yukon Blonde has a little Local Native, Fleet Foxy thing going on, and god knows there are enough bands copying that familiar formula these days. But it only took one verse and a chorus of "Fire" for me to be tapping my toes and whistling along to the "wooooh-wooooh ah-ah-ah" harmonies. I haven't dipped any deeper into their catalog, but this one song is enough to make me bummed I missed their show at 3rd & Lindsley here in Nashville two months ago. In my opinion, this sounds catchier than anything on the last Fleet Foxes record.
As a rule, I try to avoid "lo-fi scuzz-rock" - it's a genre that's likely to get you kicked in the head here in Nashville (no really, I'm way too old for shows where kids still actually crowd surf). And I was about to write off The Zoltars as "not my thing" until I got to the chorus of "Party at the Batcave." I'm sorry, I mean "Bat cay-ay-ay-ave." Catchy as SHIT. God help us, this song is going to be stuck in our heads until 2013.
More coming soon, when I have another good batch of gems. Is there anyone I should definitely check out?