Operation Every Band

SXSW 2014 Spreadsheet 42

It’s back to the top of the spreadsheet as I start to dig through the third round of SXSW artists.  Tonight is anchored by a duo of arena-minded rock bands and a couple of synth pop acts.  Highlights:

American Authors (9) - “Best Day of My Life” was the song that really broke through and it is no surprise – crazy catchy with an appeal to rock, folk, pop and “any” listeners.
Priscilla Ahn (8) - That was then, and now is an Ahn who has turned the spotlight inward, experimenting with off-kilter electronic tones with the dark, new single “Diana”.
Air Review (7) - For a relatively young band, Air Review came off with a mature air, exploring minimal melodies with a surprising pop flair.  To find density in simplicity is a challenge many bands face, but Air Review steps up to the challenge with a composer’s ear.
Alpha Rev (7) - At it’s heart, Alpha Rev is a folk rock band, but they’ve turned the switch even further this time around to a sound that is built more for an arena than a campfire.
Lisa Alma (5) – Synth-pop songstress Lisa Alma keeps things pretty minimal on her debut LP and new single “Magic Power”, relying on chill beats, a couple of sonic tricks and a baseline of soft piano melodies.  The whole is pretty melancholy, a cradling notion that should make for a hypnotic, but pop-focused set.
Dave Alvin (5) – Former The Blasters and X guitarist Dave Alvin has been steeped in blues and Americana as a solo artist for the past 25 years.  His latest, 2011’s Eleven Eleven, has Alvin in full storytelling mode, speak-singing amid a flurry of 12-bar jams.
American Aquarium (5) – American Aquarium’s latest Burn. Flicker. Die. covers a ton of territory – blues, soul, bluegrass, rock, country.  It’s just solid through and through, a good sign for an engaging SXSW set.
Keren Ann (5) – Songwriter Keren Ann is representing Israel at SXSW 2014, a diverse artist hat stays mostly in ballad territory, but 2011’s record 101 covers that territory from angles such as folk, orchestral pop and even some synth-pop like on key track “My Name is Trouble” and the experimental countdown of the title track.

SXSW 2014 Spreadsheet 42


It’s back to the top of the spreadsheet as I start to dig through the third round of SXSW artists.  Tonight is anchored by a duo of arena-minded rock bands and a couple of synth pop acts.  Highlights:


American Authors (9) - “Best Day of My Life” was the song that really broke through and it is no surprise – crazy catchy with an appeal to rock, folk, pop and “any” listeners.

Priscilla Ahn (8) - That was then, and now is an Ahn who has turned the spotlight inward, experimenting with off-kilter electronic tones with the dark, new single “Diana”.

Air Review (7) - For a relatively young band, Air Review came off with a mature air, exploring minimal melodies with a surprising pop flair.  To find density in simplicity is a challenge many bands face, but Air Review steps up to the challenge with a composer’s ear.

Alpha Rev (7) - At it’s heart, Alpha Rev is a folk rock band, but they’ve turned the switch even further this time around to a sound that is built more for an arena than a campfire.

Lisa Alma (5) – Synth-pop songstress Lisa Alma keeps things pretty minimal on her debut LP and new single “Magic Power”, relying on chill beats, a couple of sonic tricks and a baseline of soft piano melodies.  The whole is pretty melancholy, a cradling notion that should make for a hypnotic, but pop-focused set.

Dave Alvin (5) – Former The Blasters and X guitarist Dave Alvin has been steeped in blues and Americana as a solo artist for the past 25 years.  His latest, 2011’s Eleven Eleven, has Alvin in full storytelling mode, speak-singing amid a flurry of 12-bar jams.

American Aquarium (5) – American Aquarium’s latest Burn. Flicker. Die. covers a ton of territory – blues, soul, bluegrass, rock, country.  It’s just solid through and through, a good sign for an engaging SXSW set.

Keren Ann (5) – Songwriter Keren Ann is representing Israel at SXSW 2014, a diverse artist hat stays mostly in ballad territory, but 2011’s record 101 covers that territory from angles such as folk, orchestral pop and even some synth-pop like on key track “My Name is Trouble” and the experimental countdown of the title track.

SXSW’s closing ceremonies for OEB was curated through a solo acoustic Iron & Wine set that turned into a most magical hour at Central Presbyterian Church tonight. After a couple of new tracks from the upcoming Ghost on Ghost, Sam Beam opened up the rest of the set to audience requests, leading to some brilliant deep cuts (“Lion’s Mane”, “Jesus the Mexican Boy”), a dynamic performance of “The Trapeze Swinger” as the third song of the set and a rare performance of The Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights”.

Seth Sentry just killed it at Maggie Mae’s. One of the best hip hop sets I’ve ever seen at SXSW.

Seth Sentry just killed it at Maggie Mae’s. One of the best hip hop sets I’ve ever seen at SXSW.

Devendra Banhart filled the ‘opening slot’ position for Iron & Wine with a beautifully loose set at Central Pres. Banhart wowed the crowd with minimal solo cuts from his bilingual catalog.

Hiatus Kaiyote’s Nai Palm shares her beautiful vocals with the pulsing Maggie Mae’s crowd. Beautiful set from the whole group.

Hiatus Kaiyote’s Nai Palm shares her beautiful vocals with the pulsing Maggie Mae’s crowd. Beautiful set from the whole group.

Gold Fields tore up Maggie Mae’s,  so much energy.

Gold Fields tore up Maggie Mae’s, so much energy.

The Milk Carton Kids deliver the prettiest, tenderest and funniest set of my SXSW at Central Presbyterian Church. An absolutely stunning performance to a packed chapel.

Want to know where breezy Cali pop and blissed out ambience meet? Check out WALL., who are current lulling the Central Pres. crowd into a hushed, engaged mass.

I missed posting this set last night - here’s Little Green Cars bringing their rootsy, rock harmonies to Antone’s Friday night.

Dustin Wong fills Central Presbyterian with psychedelic electric loops on the last night of SXSW.

Lord Huron floors the OEB crew at Antone’s.

OEB favorite Lissie’s SXSW showcase at Stubb’s last night was criminally cut short (they gave the band a surprising ‘one song left’ after only about 4 songs), but powerful highlights still came in the form of a couple tracks from Lissie’s upcoming sophomore record. This is some of Lissie’s fullest, band-centric songwriting yet.

Walk Off The Earth played a punchy set of indie pop at Stubb’s on Friday night, though their songwriting fizzled a bit as compared to prior band The Mowgli’s.  After opening with their strongest sounding track, Walk Off The Earth closed out with their famous musical gimmick - Gotye’s hit song reinterpreted with all five musicians playing on one guitar.

Walk Off The Earth played a punchy set of indie pop at Stubb’s on Friday night, though their songwriting fizzled a bit as compared to prior band The Mowgli’s. After opening with their strongest sounding track, Walk Off The Earth closed out with their famous musical gimmick - Gotye’s hit song reinterpreted with all five musicians playing on one guitar.

Lord Huron floors the OEB crew at Antone’s.

The Mowgli’s hit the big stage at Stubb’s - sounds like the next evolution of the Head and the Heart.