Last week at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas, The Key editor, John Vettese, and I saw a collective 58 bands in 3 days. Here are ten that stood out:
Sir Sly – This five piece from Los Angeles have a confident and charismatic front man, grooves and hooks galore.
Little Green Cars – Dublin’s Little Green Cars charmed us with their gorgeous harmonies and finely honed control of rock and roll dynamics. Lead singers Stevie Appleby and Faye O’Rourke are like the Buckingham/Nicks of Ireland.
PAWS – This three piece from Glasgow play very catchy, garagey, fuzzy, guitar driven pop-rock. Just the way we like it.
Charles Bradley, the “Screaming Eagle Of Soul,” brought the house down at Austin City Limits during the Daptone Records Revue and at WXPN’s Public Radio Rocks The SXSW Day Stage broadcast on Friday. We needed towels to dry off after the show, and we weren’t even on stage.
Philly’s Lantern were among many local bands who ventured down to SXSW. Their show as part of Jack White’s Third Man Records Rolling Store showcase was a perfect dose of rock and roll medicine for their Saturday afternoon 80+ degree and sunshiny Austin showcase.
Small Black played the Jagjaguwar Records showcase on Friday and brought their fuzzy / psych-pop to life in a big way with body-moving basslines and massive disco beats.
Rhye – the New York smooth operating duo of Mike Milosh and Danish producer/songwriter Robin Hannibal were accompanied by a four piece who played intoxicating indie-cosmopolitan songs that owe a debt to Sade, the Blue Nile, and Roxy Music’s Avalon. We swooned along to every second of their celestial set.
Autre Ne Veut is Brooklyn R&B singer Arthur Ashin. At the hipster #MEGABLAAG party at the Empire Control Room, Ashin played material from his excellent new album, Anxiety. During the set, he sang his heart out, accompanied by a female vocalist, Crist Jo Zambri a drummer and pre-recorded tracks and samples from the album. It was one giant singalong as Ashin channeled a bit of The Weeknd and Stevie Wonder on Midnight Love. Yes, that good.
The Specials took over the Hype (Machine) Hotel for a non-stop journey through the past, delivering one hit after another from the band’s super ska-studded past. For 50 minutes, they brought the Pogo back.