SXSW 2014 Spreadsheet 51
What a wild set! From fuzzy surf pop to inventive folk music to 8-bit electronic craziness, this one is all about the musical diversity that is SXSW. Don’t sleep on the middlers here too (Behrens, Vargas Duhon, Stone and Egge - sounds like some sort of law firm), all of them make a case as a notable stop on any South By schedule. Highlights:
Ages and Ages (9) - One by one his band joins in – drums, piano, handclaps, harmonies. A minute-thirty in, “Divisionary” turns into an orchestral folk anthem, an album’s worth of adventuring in the blink of an eye.
Alvvays (8) - Frontwoman Molly Rankin has a melancholy delivery, a laid back vibe that goes well with a sound that includes some generous helpings of California surf rock.
Anamanaguchi (7) - The NYC quartet pulled off what is a surprisingly mature record with last year’s Endless Fantasy, an album pulled together by twisty melodies and an unrequited love for sugary sweet pop music.
Angel Olsen (7) - Witness. Even while burying her voice in experimental rock/pop layers, the lyrical value in “Hi-Five” and “Forgiven/Forgotten” completely stand out, twisting simple statements of the everyday into an exploration of undertones and meaning.
Aaron Behrens and the Midnight Stroll (6) – Aaron Behrens is a familiar face around Austin, fronting the mighty Ghostland Observatory as his day job. The Midnight Stroll is a dirty, blues rock band, but the flip the script intermittently with an uplifting, hooky chorus like on lead single “Day and Night”.
Alex Vargas (6) – Alex Vargas has a brilliant voice, an intense instrument that works best in a soft whisper, but is often unleashed into vocal fireworks. His songwriting spins a little too much on the acoustic pop front, but that tone is just so, so nice.
Andrew Duhon (6) – Andrew Duhon is a nice compliment to any modern folk showcase this year, a well-voiced acoustic troubadour whose latest emotionally-driven LP The Moorings is a nice alt-country record with a sweet authenticity.
Angus and Julia Stone (6) - While new singles for Australian brother-sister duo Angus and Julia Stone have yet to drop, I’m sure the return of the introspective folk rock band will be a big deal around SXSW (the spent the last couple years focused on solo efforts) – the band is huge in Australia which has surely drifted to American shores off the acclaimed 2010 record Down the Way.
Ana Egge (5) – Brooklyn singer-songwriter Ana Egge is an understated artist, spinning emotional yarns over a soft, Americana tone. Her 2011 record Bad Blood digs into some electric blues territory to amp the energy up just a bit.