I didn’t go to SXSW this year…but I sure feel like I did. Why? This year, I went secondhand. And I have to say…I might prefer it this way.
Late in the week in mid-March, I came across this article by Andrea Swensson and it was like I could have written it. Every point she made for not attending the festival resonated with me.
Minus missing out on the actual live experience, why go and stand in lines just hoping to see a buzz band instead of just waiting for them to come through your town? Doing this festival (which I still argue is woefully inaccurate a term) the way it’s intended – going to discover music rather than seeing bands you already know you love – has just gotten too hard.
So instead of being bummed I wasn’t going, I made it my mission to stay tuned to Twitter and Instagram to see who my friends and fave rock journalists were checking out. I read articles. I listened to podcasts. I searched blogs. I scoured Spotify playlists.
And in the end, I came up with just as many new bands to love as I probably would have if I had actually gone – probably more because I wasn’t waiting around to hear them.
Ta dah! Secondhand SXSW!
Here are my faves:
My new Twitter buddy Renee mentioned this band to me shortly after I read this “Day in the life of…” post on Paste Magazine. And you know what? I’m falling in love with people recommending bands to me because of my deep love for the Beach Boys. There’s just something about that surf rock guitar I never get tired of. They just came through Houston Monday night, and I had to miss out because my 80+ year old grandparents I hadn’t seen in two years were in town for one more night (WORTH IT), but I hope they come back soon. Surfer rock 4 life.
Shame on me for not knowing this fantastic Texas artist already. It took Ann Powers showering him with love on an All Songs Considered podcast for me to take notice. And listening to him, I realized I either love music with tons of stuff going on, lots of unusual or unexpected instruments to listen to…or I like simple tunes with just a voice and a guitar. Shakey Graves is the later. He’s playing in Houston at the end of the month, and I can’t wait to go check him out. No music on Spotify, so take a listen here on his Bandcamp page. (I had it embedded for easier access…but for whatever reason, the player isn’t displaying for me now…)
Holy mother of GOD…sometimes songs punch you in the stomach, taking absolutely everything out of you at their power, their energy. They have this pull that sucks you straight in, and you never stand a chance. From the first notes of “Harlem” on NPR Music’s SXSW 2013 preview, that’s exactly what New Politics did to me. And now that they’ve sucked me in and I’m in love…that absolute perfect brand of hooky pop/rock I adore. I’ll go sit in a corner and cry over the fact they’re from Denmark, and I may never see them live.
Shannon & the Clams
Also a find from that Paste Magazine article…any band described as having a doowop and 1950s girl group sound is my kinda band. I’ve only been able to find a handful of tunes online (read: three) but they are simply sublime. This trend back to 1950s & 60s pop is a welcome one in my world. (Thanks, Fitz & the Tantrums…)
Mentioned on Sound Opinions, more lovely pop/rock music with a lush sound full of solid drum beats, melodic guitars, soaring harmonies and…is that a church bell I hear in the back of “Ready To Go?” It’s the kind of music you put in on a bad day and sing along to.
This find came from Entertainment Weekly’s SXSW 2013 on Spotify. Good lord, even EW goes to SXSW? But damn, do I love this song. Who’d have thought that after all, something as simple as rock-n-roll would save us all? So anthematic. So clap-alongable. So much jangling piano in that chorus. *hits repeat*
This is my outta left field pick. I don’t think I’ve ever written about a hip-hop artist. Which is funny because my favorite songs tend to be pop songs with super-fast lyrics that you have to spit out like you’re rapping them almost. I like the tongue-twister challenge. But the cool, laid back sound of “Go Figure” caught my ear unexpectedly (again, courtesy of Ann Powers on that NPR SXSW preview…) and I fell for the lyrics – you call yourself spiritual, not religious when you sleep in. Spot on. Again, no music on Spotify at the moment so head over to his Bandcamp page to listen.
I could go on for days…here’s a few more awesome artists I’ve fallen for in my Secondhand SXSW haze:
On An On
Boy (you’re welcome for the link – cause try Googling “Boy” and “band”…)