Oh My Rockness' SXSW 2010 Preview!

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Oh My Rockness' SXSW 2010 Preview!

February 25, 2010
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It's SXSW time yet again! Shows! Parties! BBQ! Beer! Yeah, you know the deal. Anyway, thanks for checking out Oh My Rockness' special SXSW edition of our showlist site (for all of you who stumbled upon this a roundabout way, Oh My Rockness permanently lists shows for NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles. Check us out!) Like every year, there are a billion bands playing down here, and unless you have a jetpack (we were promised one&.once), there's no way you're going to catch all of them play. So you'll have to be smart, synchronize your watches, and plan accordingly.

Below is a list of some of the bands we're definitely going to see. It's by no means all-inclusive (For a list of a WHOLE BUNCH MORE OF BANDS playing SXSW, go HERE!), but we hope it helps you plan your attack during these five days of music debauchery.

Active Child - This is good stuff from just one dude. No, the dude in question is not "The Dude," but rather Los Angeles' Pat Grossi. Using the moniker Active Child, Grossi creates electro bedroom recordings (actually, I have no clue if it's in his bedroom, or not -- he could record in his utility room for all I know) that synthetically soar on the wings of Grossi's sublime vocal range. Sometimes he'll go all low like Ian Curtis, and other times he'll explode into pretty falsettos like Antony. Not many dudes can do that.

With Active Child, there is a plethora of layered keyboard (+ other tech gear) lushness (including some harp action, I believe) going on here. And that's all coupled with these deep, almost club-style beats that make for a singularly unique musical world. A world I want to hang out in for a bit, maybe play a little hop-scotch.

In a way, this kind of reminds me of TV On The Radio, but opting for a little less rock and a little more folk, and a lot more electro-ness. And not to belabor this point, but we feel we should mention again those Grossi vocals. They are the key to this whole operation. Well, that and the synths... and the beats.

As I say, Active Child is good stuff. Yes, we're being entirely redundant about all this. Don't get mad about it. This aggression will not stand, man.

Best Coast - The east coast has Real Estate and the west coast has Best Coast. There seems to be a new musical movement happening across this fair land. This movement consists of laid back lo-fi sun-drenched melodies meant to bliss you out.

Ok, in fairness, that sound's been happening forever (like way back in the cavemen days of the '60s!), but only recently does this sound seem to be catching on with the cool concert kids.

Anyway, Best Coast is comprised of principle singer/songwriter Bethany Cosentino. Now because of all the laptop-meets-guitar-meets-lo-fi layers going on here, it's hard to decipher exactly what Cosentino is singing about. But if we had to venture a guess, we'd say it's all about weed. But again, that's just a guess (based on the title "Sun Was High (So Was I)" and a picture on Best Coast's MySpace page of a mountain of --- weed).

On that same MySpace page, Cosentino lists Connie Francis as her influence. And we totally hear that! So think of Best Coast as that "Who's Sorry Now?" song meets Real Estate (or Ducktails) meets haze meets sun meets the wacky tobaccy.

Julianna Barwick - Now I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone before. But you can't tell ANYONE! At the college I went to, in a hidden corner of a forgotten building, there was this small room called "The Heaven Room." The room was all mirrors; the floor, the four walls, the ceilings. And on the mirrored ceiling there were little patches of painted-on clouds hovering slightly above you, just like little wisps of a dream.

The effect was that it appeared you were floating in the firmament somewhere beyond this universe's borders. And as you stood, solitary, and looked at your image reflected back at you from heaven, soft angelic music played in the background apparently to calm any and all of your earthly cares. It was all very cheesy, of course. And I kind of loved it.

"The Heaven Room" was definitely a guilty pleasure, kind of like how Blink-182 is a guilty pleasure... but not really like that at all.

My point is this; when I listen to the effortlessly ethereal (and dare I say, angelic) voice and dreamlike melodies of Brooklyn's Julianna Barwick, I think of that "Heaven Room." THIS is the music I wish would have been playing in there. Then I wouldn't have felt guilty at all for ditching class to stare up at my image above the clouds and above space and above time. THIS is the music I wish would have been playing in "The Heaven Room." Now, please don't tell anyone I told you this about my college days... ever.

Delorean - Warm happiness. That's how I'd characterize Barcelona's Delorean. They're a synth-pop band that makes for a completely carefree listen. Not that you won't care about them when you listen to them, but that you'll forget all your cares when you listen. Get it?

These guys started out by doing a lot of remixes for bands such as The Mystery Jets, Lemonade (who were awesome when they played our Rockness SXSW show awhile back... just had to throw that in there), The Teenagers and The Big Pink. But then Delorean got all "original music" on us and started writing and releasing their own stuff.

And such pleasant stuff it is! It's likeable dance music that doesn't thump too much. And the thumps are what offend most of the people who don't like dance music (and the stupid robot voice). My mom might like this, and she's definitely anti-thump. Mental note: send some Delorean music to Mom.

Delorean also sounds very pop-European. What does that mean exactly? I have no idea. But pop-European is like pornography, you know it when you see it, er, listen to it, er, something like that. Or, they could just sound a little like Phoenix. Hmmm, I wonder if Delorean will ever be in a Cadillac commercial. Remember when Hum was in that Cadillac commercial? That was pretty cool.

Anyway, the nutshell is this, Delorean is non-thumping European pop that gets parental approval. And that, my friends, is what warm happiness is all about.

Washed Out - This is soooooo smooth. And yes, that's a lot of Os. Washed Out is the one-man bedroom pop project of South Carolina's Ernest Greene. And woah dude, he's put together some of the finest music to "chill" to (as much as I hate that word --- "chill" is almost worse than "funky") that we've heard in a long time.

His synth/guitars/laptop songs have such an easy electro swirl about them and are crafted with perfect pop execution. Though he recorded them in his home, there's nothing about Greene's songs that sound amateur. Maybe Timbaland is his neighbor and came by to borrow a cup of sugar and on his way out helped on Greene's mixes. Who knows?

His vocals, though partially hidden under a few relaxing layers of technology tricks, are the exact fit needed for Washed Out's hammock rock vibe. You can definitely dance to some of these songs, because they've got all those smooth beats and rhythmic things going on. But we prefer to just slowly sway on our back while staring up at the underside of a palm tree. Why work up a sweat?

Listening to Washed Out reminds us we don't have a care in the world (until it's over, then we remember our student loan debt and how we need to go to the store and get a container of milk, a loaf of bread and a ----- DANG IT! We knew we'd forget the third thing Mom told us to be sure to get!).

The Drums - We're about to write about one of our very favorite new bands. Ready? Here it comes! Pre-tty... pre-tty... pre-tty... catchy. That's our attempt at a Larry David impression. But it's also a fine way to begin a profile for The Drums.

As of this writing, this band has played exactly two shows. Two shows! But seeing these guys play, it's as if they've been rocking this blissful pop forever. We just saw them at that second show of theirs, and we can definitely say it was one of the most enjoyable experiences we've had at a "rock concert" in quite some time.

Singer Jon Pierce is a showman through and through, and he's a big reason why this band was so fun to see. He bleeds confidence and oozes congeniality. Plus, there is plenty of power in his pipes.

Along with Pierce (who was in Elkland), The Drums other principal player is Pierce's longtime BFF, Jacob Graham (also in Horse Shoes). But on stage, the songwriting buds come with a crew of four (not counting a couple of female backing singers) to make their pop sound more like POP.

This band just knows how to write a song that shimmers and sparkles and jingles and jangles. It sounded like every song they played was a potential summer hit. The Drums are definitely '80s Britpop inspired, but also are into some strange activity called "surfing," so they rock a sound inspired by that obscure marine activity too.

The band lists some of their influences as being The Wake, The Smiths and Joy Division. But why not throw in some New Order too? But whatever and wherever they cull their influences, our motto has always been "breezy guitars + easy beats + dynamic vocals = bro-ham party time." The Drums' music all adds up to something that's nice and lovely and happy. And catchy; pre-tty... pre-tty... pre-tty... catchy.

Teengirl Fantasy - And here I thought Zach Morris was every teen girl's fantasy. I guess I was wrong. Should've known it was electro! Stupid! Stupid! No wonder I never got any dates in 7th grade.

Teengirl Fantasy is Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss, two students from some school called Oberlin in a state called Ohio (they've also spent some time studying in this place called Amsterdam, also known as Hamsterdam to fictional Baltimore residents... speaking of which, these guys would fit in very nicely with that whole Wham City scene).

Together, they use their synths and machines and mircrophones and mighty gear to mix it up, build it up, tear it down, and get those glitches going all over the place. If you like your electro with some disco POP drone, Teengirl Fantasy is the duo for you. You'd like them if you like Fuck Buttons, too.

Anyway, you can't help to NOT help to not dance to this. That's our way of saying Teengirl Fantasy is very danceable indeed. This crew of two has recently played shows with bands like Neon Indian, Beach Fossils and Dan Deacon, and they have an album coming out on the stellar True Panther record label (Girls, Lemonade and lots more bands we like).

That all being said, Teengirl Fantasy is definitely a dream come true (we just HAD to end this with a cheesy tagline... we're looking to make our next million making bumper stickers).

For a list of a WHOLE BUNCH MORE OF BANDS playing SXSW, go HERE!

The 2010 SXSW Music Festival runs from Wednesday, March 17th, to Sunday, March 21st, in beautiful Austin, TX.

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