SXSW 2014, preview #2

In my dream world, I’d have time to post mp3s and links for all of these, but ha ha.  You know how to use the internet.  Proper posts will come after SXSW.

Here’s some of my favorite new finds and previously known faves, roughly in order of excitement. 

Pompeya - best Russian indie disco, ultra stylish

Lemaitre - breezy, fresh, super alive Norwegian pop / french disco.  live Whitest Boy Alive meets Daft Punk

Black Atlass - Junior Boys meets George Michael opening for Arcade Fire

Chela - chvrches songs covered by haim

Sylvan Esso - arty, edgy, hip, with heavy synths and a lilting indie girl voice like mirah

TOPS - Shangri La as re-envisioned by 90’s indie rock

SOHN - my top pick of sxsw 2013, super beautiful and intense indie r&b

Breton - cinematic and expertly crafted rock / dance / synth / sinister / noise

Psychic Twin - great girl synth pop, kinda grimes-y, kinda casio pop

Aloe Blacc - modern soul / funk

Baptist Generals - cranky edgy twangy desperate grimey indie rock/folk/country

Conner Youngblood - sweet, ethereal, and gripping singer-songwriter with hints of Caribou or Bon Iver

Warpaint - modern indie rock, moody, airy, very female, haunted

Jagwar Ma - I thought for sure this was a Panda Bear / Animal Collective side project when I first heard it.

Young Fathers - in a cross fire of indie r&b, agitated rock, avant experimentation, and macklemore raps

Tokyo Police Club - young thoughtful post-punk

Holy Esque - WU LYF meets Future Islands

Jungle - classy modern funk / groove

Weekend - very shoegazey, great songs

Wye Oak - super smart, emotional, dry, swirling rock, dark, beautiful, energetic

Pure Bathing Culture -  at once very rock and very synth, dreamy nostaligic indie

Preatures - haim-esque indie girl rock

Yellow Ostrich - smart and playful, more indie than Death Cab

Empress Of - arty chillwave with girl vocals

Hundred Waters - ethereal and edgy, lush girl vocals over synths and organics, hints of malice, sorta like Glasser

Ema - a dangerous, noisy, angry lana del rey / avant performance

Phantogram - the original and still best edgy electro rock / indie pop / sinister thing

Gap Dream - breezy cool gritty mumbly grimey twangy pop, Mini Tigers or velvet underground + beach fossils, with synths

Jensen Sortag - idm-y chill cerebral, modern, r&b/pop touches

Alvvays - slightly punkier Tennis / Best Coast / 90s indie girl

Connan Mockasin - avant pop, arty and creepy and wacky

Perfect Pussy - riot grrl-y, but more pop punk

Random - chiptunes with great rapping

Kelis - probably won’t be playing Milkshake because she does modern soul now

Gardens & Villa - great indie / prog rock, touches of Phil Collins / Peter Gabriel, lots of flutes

Nothing - loud sinister male shoegaze

Little Dragon - you know them, right?

How Sad - indie pop, dude vocals, slightly silly but well composed

Happy Diving - slugdy but unpretentious dude indie college rock, very 90s and good

Lyla Foy - hip, nice, sweet,unpretentious vocalist with soft beats and keyboards

Wolf Alice -  mellow and avant, floating hip girl vocals, 90s indie rock.

Cherub - sassy stylish slightly cruel dude top 40 / dance

Miniature Tigers - fun and poppy of montreal, sexy instead of crazy

Lisa Alma - kate bush / indie r&b, arty, clean, sparse

Fat Tony - goofy indie hip hop with crusty synth sounds

Cate Le Bon - 70’s contemplative led zep / televsion mixed with sharon von etton, good songwriting, infectious and stirring.  so wes anderson.

Maya Vik - lilting indie pop, swedish sounding, smoothly emotional, high energy

Sean Nicholas Savage - lofi indie crooner, garbagey percussion, good songwriting, awkward and poppy, fun

Vance Joy - indie rock/folk with an irish twinge

Perfume Genius - mellow dude singer songwriter, sorta like antony and the johnsons but less gay

Your Friend - girl vocal mopey slow big rock, well written, dramatic, interesting

Golden Youth - formal sounding indie rock with refined girl vocalist, busy and clashy music, cranberries are a vague reference

Bad (or Fat?) History Month - clashy indie jangle rock, dude vocals

Trust - gothy mumbly operatic cure-esque synth rock

Soldout - indie pop between haim and phantogram

Little Boots - charli xcx or sky ferreira style indie pop diva

Wild Ones - very chvrhes but more rock

Milagres - rhythmic indie rock with melodic vocals, slightly twin shadow

Kelela - clean intense swedish sounding electro top 40 type thing, girl vocals

Lovelife - no ceremony esque inhuman anthemic electro, male vocals

Young Summer - dreamy indie girl pop, chilltronica, like Goldroom

Diane Coffee -  indie doo whop pop chantreuse (but male), like the ariel pink of 50s radio pop

Eagulls - poppy, unhinged, yelly, bruce springsteen meets sloppy punk

Royal Blood - hip, sexy metal

Panama - Cut Copy meets Big Country opening for Toto.

The Front Bottoms - punky mountain goats with good songs

Love Inks - great local girl indie rock / pop

Cyril Hahn - awesome remixes / crushes of top 40

Mirah - reinvented indie girl pop/folks in the early 2000s, her newer stuff is more maternal but still great

Lovely Bad Things - good indie pop, poppy but a bit agitated and rough, a little nostaligic like Tiger Trap

Ghost Loft - edgy synth pop not unlike Sir Sly but more electronic and hip

Banks - heavy chilltronica pop with girl vocals, very yoga music

Big Ups - old school rough punk, like a hip / edgy Minor Threat

RAC - super great remixers / dance party purveyors

Classixx - good dance dj / producer of disco / electro

London Grammar -  highly emotional slow clean dark ballads, girl singer

To lay your heart and head upon.

CON VOS - Coast (free EP download)
Probably this moment’s most underrated offering in any medium, this song is absolute perfection.  Sade and silky synth disco with 80s cruise vibe.

SomeKindaWonderful - Reverse (Oliver Nelson Remix) (SKW, Oliver Nelson)
Not to be confused with regular old Oliver, this dude makes crisp, muscely remixes that showcase the vocal style of hip dudes like SomeKindaWonderful. Peppy and angsty dance pop to rival RAC.

Hoodlem - Firing Line  (name your price)
IDM R&B? Incredibly deft sonic texture and intelligent songwriting, gripping vocals, expertly walks the line between avant and pop.

Seinabo Sey - Younger  (website)
Anthemic and clashy, human and inhuman, a Lianne La Havas song remixed for its initial release.

Beat Culture - Drifter (ft. Psychic Twin)  (buy)
Restlessly calm, plodding but agitated, gradually expands like a modern indie synth homage to a Cheap Trick ballad.

Young Fathers - Come to Life  (buy)
The bridge of an off-balance Yeasayer song, all intensity and chanting, with organic 90’s rapping over it.  Shadowy and jumpy.

LIPS - Freddy Bardot  (buy)
I have the entire LIPS EP, so I can assure you they are not literally Little Dragon.

FTSE - Brave New Wurld (buy)
Slithery and heavy like Tricky. Dark with whispered British vox, even.

Doja Cat - So High  (FB)
You don’t have to be a stoner to recognize this song is genius.  Casually crushed top 40 / west coast ultra blazed.

iamforest - Your Lights  (name your price)
Sunset splayed across the entire horizon on a misty hillside, realizing you waited too long to save something important.

SXSW 2014, preview #1


Here’s some SXSW 2014 bands to see, based on my scan of the official showcase listing at  These are all great bands, but usually I get most excited when I discover new ones who are also coming.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for sample tracks and deeper cuts from more research.

Here’s my top 7, all of which have had songs posted on this blog. 


Aloe Blacc
Conner Youngblood

Full list after the break:

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There’s a million names to choose from.

Nova Albion - City Streets (MyKill Remix) Extended  (MyKill,  Nova Albion)
Electro pop Arcade Fire.  A sleek, clean-shaven dude wearing a classy, dark, well-tailored suit and pure black sunglasses staring pensively into the distance like every truly manly modern man should, contemplating those myriad troubling issues that trouble the modern man.

Brothertiger - A House Of Many Ghosts  (name your price)
Impressively tender use of haunted house screams.  A touch of gawky white boy lingers in Brothertiger’s fantastic electropop.  For fans of Land Of The Loops and Junior Boys.

Mayer Hawthorne - Her Favorite Song (Oliver Remix)  (Mayer Hawthorne, Oliver)
Mayer does a male Amy Winehouse or other times a cruel, less retro, indie radio pop. Oliver is pure electro sexy dance funk.  Clean shaven and modernly manly, suit, sunglasses, myriad troubles, etc..

imageMiley Cryrus - Party in the USA (Girraffage Remix)  (name your price)
It probably doesn’t seem it, but you owe it to yourself to get addicted to this song. Giraffage’s amazing remix ridicules the shallow and validates the pop muscle of this actually pretty damn good teenbopper gem.

Marina and the Diamonds - Hollywood (Monarchy Gliese Remix)  (Marina, Monarchy)
Marina’s exotic voice intertwines with serpentine songwriting and the simple, big synths which make this remix sound like a lost Berlin track amped up to a dance floor filler.

The Weeknd - Wicked Games (HugLife a.k.a DJ Slink Remix)  (The Weeknd, DJ Slink)
Super slick and seductive with a double hint of malice a la Portishead blended with some slo-mo fist pumping hip-hop, all grainy in high contrast black and white.

Mariah Carey - Touch My Body (Cyril Hahn Remix)  (Cyril Hahn)
I mean come on. I can’t imagine not being so fucking into this epically cosmic repurposed pop. 

Robin Schulz - Cheating (Bootleg)  (Robin Schulz)
The sparse, raw guitar, voice, and drum machine works so well that I actually enjoy the sassy blues base. It’s guileless and strong. I suspect this guy is going to blow up.

Something always told me us two would be serious.

Chela - Romanticise  (buy)
CHVRCHES as covered by Haim is definitely a formula for indie success.  You might have heard Chela sing on that Goldroom track, Fifteen?

Ginger & The Ghost - One Type Of Dark (Ta-ku Remix)
Like an android witchcraft ritual conducted in a sandstorm where the sky cracks open and horse spirits pour in.

The Pluto Moons - I Got Skin  (buy)
Unfiltered weirdo white dudes with guitars is sadly not a prominent phenomenon right now, but thanks to Canada it never truly goes away.  Gospel / indie rock / hints of Ween (musically only).

David Lemaitre - Megalomania  (buy)
If Lemaitre sounds like Phoenix / Daft Punk / Tahiti 80 it’s because he’s also French / Disco / pop.  Okay fine, Norwegian, so I meant Whitest Boy Alive. Lots of breezy, fresh, chill songs by this duo.

Steffalo and Chrome Sparks - Eyes For You
Normally pleasingly off the rails, Chrome Sparks matures up a bit for this release, a soft and dreamy fast electro groove that reminds me of those AI compilations by Warp back in the early 90’s.  Remember how good those were?

Planningtorock - The Breaks  (buy)
Planningtorock collaborates with The Knife, all bombast, opera, synthesizers and completely avant vocal rock.

Jaymes Young - One Last Time  (buy)
Crystalline, dark, loving.  Sad and sexy.  A slow storm on a hot night.

Viaducts - Cold Nights (Plaitum Remix)  (buy)
Plaitum is super new and their songs are smart, dark electro pop, but this remix is one of their sharpest releases, almost Four Tet esque.

Chinese Man - Racing With The Sun
A somber recreation of Harry Belafonte’s Banana Boat Song, as covered by Diplo.

I can take it for a little while but a little while ain’t gonna be what you had in mind.

Conner Youngblood - Scramble (II)  (buy)
Conner Youngblood - Monsters
You might hear a little Caribou, a touch of Bon Iver, even some strains of Timbaland, but this music is really its own fresh invention, very sweet, ethereal and gripping.  Conner is giving away his awesome albums here and here.

Cherub - Doses and Mimosas  (buy)
A classy and polished downslide into radio pop and degeneracy, a perfect track for throwing your hands in the air on a boat party.

Woozyhelmet - May Be a Rock  (buy)
In a town brimming with bands, Woozyhelmet is one of Austin’s most overlooked musical talents, often overshadowed by their larger, more accessible sibling Octopus Project.  Theirs is a brilliant variant of awkward and infectious pop punk, each song a tangle of clumsy urgency and wild eyed emotion.

Wild Belle - Shine  (buy)
Isles is a perfect white person reggae album for the summer, oh so chill and sunny and smiles and icy drinks, which made me come around to fully respect and appreciate Wild Belle.

Jessie Ware - 110%  (buy)
Uptempo and clear with silky vocals kinda like a gentle, sophisticated techno thing per SBTRKT or Disclosure or Little Dragon.

José James - Trouble  (buy)
Modern, highly talented, not-too-smokey jazzy funky soul like Jamie Lidell except an actual black guy. 

Careening art pop madness at its most colorful.

Phosphorescent - Song For Zula  (buy)
I’m not sure what inspired them to write the indie version of Hallelujah, but it totally works so I’m glad they did.

Solange - Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work  (buy)
Beyoncé’s sister sounds like an indie diva now that she too (like Sky Ferreira) is working with Dev Hynes, aka Blood Orange slash the indie reincarnation of Price.  It’s not always exactly like her singing a Blood Orange song, but it is this time.


I found a folder on my hard drive containing 287 mp3s I had downloaded in December 2008 but never listened to.  I was moving from LA to Vermont and this music must have gotten lost in the shuffle.  Cracking open this dusty batch of blog downloads was a glorious trip back to a time when the electro dance scene was peaking. 

I made this mix out of my top 25:

GeminiRadio – Time Capsule 2008 (continuous mix)

A bunch of this music is just mind-blowingly good.  It’s stylish, fun, and sexy and like nothing else reminds me of the first day of summer break.  It’s experimental, too - there are train sounds and arty disco and measure-shifted spastic drum fills and whole new subgenres that no one ever followed up on. 

This scene collapsed the same way all dance scenes do, evident in the 200+ songs that didn’t make the cut – they’re hyperactive with an unimaginative aesthetic sameness, converging on whatever went best with the trendy drugs of the moment.  The party cool kid vibe makes for an empty diet, which gradually gave way to musicians with a bit more substance like Miike Snow, Caribou, and Yeasayer. 

Track listing and individual tracks after the jump, below.

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Big, big deal if you’re wrong.

Jai Paul - In The Company of Wolves (you can’t buy yet)
This is likely to be one of the most important albums of 2013.  In keeping with years of enigmatic positioning, it was leaked for a day then hastily retrieved.  I managed to snag some of it, which I now share with you until the helicopters start circling.  Introducing the future of indie R&B: heavy, sexy lyrics, restless rhythms, deep synths, and virtuoso songwriting. So itense, so fresh.

NZCA/LINES - Okinawa Channels (buy)
Popcorn percussion, woven synths, and gentle vocals. A slim and clear song like colorful glass.

The Orwells - In My Bed
Lo-fi retro punky rock n’ roll that really nails the swagger.  If this doesn’t make you want to clutch a microphone and belt it out, you were never meant to be a rock star. (That’s okay, though.)

Shakey Graves - The Donor Blues (buy)
His new EP demonstrates some increased range and opens with this heartbreaking 4-track folk in the vein of super early Sebadoh and Beck.

Labyrinth Ear - White Gold
This band has all the sophistication and poise of Phantogram - tense, atmospheric electro fusion. They’re Phantogram’s hot, sinister younger sister.  Get these EPs.

Melody’s Echo Chamber - Crystallized (buy)
Double barrel of Stereolab and Broadcast that you haven’t heard this clearly since the 90’s.  The full album has wide range and nice experimental stretching.

Ela Orleans - Longing
Psychedelic collage of sqelch and beats and staticy organs with spooky, arty vocals like a shy owl.

The Silent League - Yours Truly, 2095 (Memory Tapes Version) (buy)
This is a post Mercury Rev project remixed by a post Hail Social guy, so there’s some awesome pedigree and explains the weird pop combined with sensibly composed, versatile electro.

Standard Fare - Darth Vader (buy)
Completely disarming with a strong sound and a meandering lyrical style, these songs are capable of surprising emotional aikido.  One of my favorite modern indie bands whose albums are completely worth your hours and dollars.

Mock & Toof - Farewell To Wendo
One foot in each of the US, English, and Japanese electronic music scenes, progressive beats and instrumentation, unforgettably brazen lyrics, simultaneously cold and emotional, human and alien.

SXSW 2013 Retrospective

BACK! Okay let’s start by putting SX’13 behind us, now that I’ve recovered from the various spring circumstances.  Here’s what I saw.  Bold means I especially enjoyed their set.


AlpineOctopus Project,  Murder By Death,  Surfer Blood,  Divine Fits,  VacationerBeacon,  Hands,  Dog Bite,  Part Time,  Fear Of Men,   Alex Bleeker And The Freaks,  Young Dreams,  Mitzi,  Shogu Tokumaru,  IO Echo,  Widowspeak,  Torres,  Blue Hawaii,  Hundred Waters,  Diiv,  Azari & III,  Icona Pop,  Local Natives,  John TalabotCaveman,  Savages,  Delorean,  Sky Ferreira,  Suuns,  Kariim Oulette,  Diana,  Autre Ne Veut,  The Neighbourhood,  Charli XCX,  Sir Sly,  St. Lucia,  Flume,  CHVCHES, a really amazing new jazz trio whose name i never caught but who sounded like squarepusher,  Hanni El Khatib,  Lianne La Havas,  Chaos Chaos (formerly Smoosh),  Nova Rockafeller,  No Ceremony///,  Reverend & The Makers,  K. I. D. S.,  Doldrums,  SOHN Guards,  Billy Bragg,  Indians,  On An On,  Cy Dune,  Roadkill Ghost Choir,  Magical Clouds,  Pat Jordache,  Haerts,  Wavves,  Totally Enormous Extinct DinosaursYoung Galaxy,  Darwin Deez,  Lemuria,  Merchandise,  Octant,  HumansBrothertiger,  Mø,  !!!


SOHN - Red Lines (buy)
I wound up at this show accidentally. Hot, crowded, red-lit room with excruciatingly beautiful R&B songs swirling through the swaying crowd. Pure SX magic.

Reverend and the Makers - No Wood Just Trees (buy)
Dance party on par with LCD Soundsystem or The Presets though sparsely attended, in some forgotten corner in the last slot of Thursday night. Tall, drunken Brit belting out blase lyrics over commanding dance bangers not quite like anything I’ve heard before.

Alpine - Tough Skin (buy)
My first SX’13 show and one of the best.  Alpine has an incredibly precise, clear sound that works surprisingly even better on stage with cerebral power and sexy energy.

Hanni El Khatib - Family (buy)
Dry, serrated guitars and wailing drums with some greasy style and burnt sunshine that make Hanni El Khatib stand out against piles of similar SoCal retro surf bands.

Chaos Chaos - Antibiotics (buy)
Their recordings can’t capture the unrestrained enthusiasm, telepathic chemistry, and prodigious talent of these two young sisters.  One of my favorite shows to attend.

Merchandise - Anxiety’s Door (buy)
Dark 80’s pop like The Church and Echo & The Bunnymen, but they hit it with an edgy punk energy.

Indians - Cakelayers (buy)
I only barely remember their show, but I can get lost in this patient and expansive alt folk song.

Fear Of Men - Doldrums (buy)
An Adrian Tomine comic sprung to life, with obvious inspiration from some of the best 90’s indie girl pop - Heavenly, Go Sailor, Cub, Velocity Girl, etc..

Sky Ferreria - Lost in My Bedroom (buy)
It’s probably hard to rock a stage as a 21 year old pop diva in the making, but she held her own and every photo I took of her looked like a magazine cover.

Autre Ne Veut - Counting (buy)
He won a lot of hearts with his unrestrained, full bore R&B vocals and forcefully emotional songs.

Young Galaxy - Blown Minded (buy)
Inclusive but serious, cosmic plodding synths and somber verses.  Translated better live than most synth pop bands can.

Divine Fits - My Love Is Real (buy)
I love Dan from Wolf Parade, and I’m bored by Brit from Spoon, so this show was an unusual flip flop depending on who was singing.  The “Handsome Furs with a bit more Tom Petty” formula is a powerful one, though.

Savages - Husbands (buy)
Yelpy (post)-punk a la Slits, Crass, Bikini Kill, etc..  Super ferocious and capable on stage, beautiful and frightening.

Doldrums - Egypt (buy)
Post-hippie, art-punk, noise-pop, electro-psyche.  Reminded me of the band Mahjong in a highly favorable way.  Stage energy on par with a jam band of teenagers.

Torres - Waterfall (buy)
Captivating songwriting in the 90’s indie chanteuse vein (PJ Harvey, Tori Amos, Throwing Muses), worthy live show that only promises to improve.

Vacationer - Dreamlike (buy)
Turns out Vacationer is fronted by a short, pretty dude formerly from Philly pop-punk band The Starting Line.  The trajectory makes sense, and the pedigree only helped their performance. 

BELOW HERE are a handful of the best SX-related songs previously posted, those that truly deserve a second chance in case you didn’t dwell on them enough.

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SXSW 2013 Preview, part 3

This post was written during the thick of SX and has like thirty or more SoundCloud widgets, so it’s SUPER SLOW.  Unless you’re totally devoted, I would just read one of the other SXSW ‘13 posts instead (the best stuff appears in those).

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