Oh My Rockness' SXSW 2010 Preview: Part II!

Band We Like

Oh My Rockness' SXSW 2010 Preview: Part II!

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.

Tanlines - NYC dance duo Tanlines is the new let's-get-this-party-started-right-quick project from Jesse Cohen (Professor Murder) and Eric Emm (Don Caballero, Storm & Stress, Free Blood).

Using computers, drums and a guitar, Tanlines expertly lay down the techno thumps and jungle-meets-Caribbean-meets-Brooklyn rhythms to create something seriously fun to dance with your friends to. Imagine if cruise ships weren't totally lame and you went on one with a bunch of hot people who liked beer, Trivial Pursuit and Frisbee. This is the music I would want to hear blasting on deck as soon as all the hot people and I enter the warmer waters of the greatest vacation of our lives.

Besides beating up and sampling down their own songs, Tanlines has done a lot of rocking remix work for bands like El Guincho and Telepathe too. You should check them out. They make winter feel a tad more bearable.

JEFF the Brotherhood - BOOM goes the brotherhood. JEFF the brotherhood are two brothers, neither of whom is named Jeff. One is named Jake and the other is named Jamin. Both are named Orrall. Whew, glad we got that over with.

Now, JEFF the brotherhood state in no uncertain words on their MySpace page that they "are not garage rock." Fine, ok. JEFF the brotherhood are not garage rock. They are psych-punk... garage-rock. BUST! Anyway, a whole lot of noise is created by just two guys. I love when that happens.

Their dueling guitar/drum rock-outs are distorted and fuzzy and they make ample use of reverb effects. Jake even busts out the wah-wah pedal on occasion for extended guitar solos, too. You know, sometimes the wah-wah is all you really want out of life.

Anyway, if none of the above helps you form a neat and convenient label for JEFF the brotherhood, think of their sound as falling somewhere in the middle of Japandroids and that band Disappears. Throw in some '70s punkness too. And, of course, compare them to every garage-rock band you can think of. BUST.

The Smith Westerns - And... buzz goes the dynamite! Chicago's The Smith Westerns are a fuzzy lo-fi band that has lots of pretty (and slightly psych-y) melodies floating in and around some serious (mostly) garage-rock goodness. The kids are into it! But this isn't garage-rock in the aggressive "my riffs will start a fire and make even this here pile of greasy rags EXPLODE!" kind of way. This is the garage in the sensitive hearts "tool box, everything I do, I do it for you" kind of way.

These four teenagers must be four teenagers in la-la-la-love, because these songs are so sweet. Is this sensitive sensibility why this is sometimes called glam-garage? Who knows? Not I. If you like that band Girls you will probably enjoy these four young lads (and they recently toured together).

People compare The Smith Westerns a lot to Marc Bolan's T. Rex, too. And you see? I would never step out and say they sound like T. Rex myself because that's too vulnerable and risky. Pretty tricky of me, indeed!

The Smith Westerns have recently played shows with The Soft Pack, Neon Indian and Jay Reatard. When's the last time a Chicago band has received this much buzz? Um, let's say Veruca Salt. Man that band was so ALT.

Pearl Harbor - Trippy, man. Trippy. Los Angeles' Pearl Harbor is a laid-back, breezy band comprised of two sisters; Piper and Skyler. Piper is in her early twenties, and Sky (as of this writing) is 14 years old. Yes, 14 years old. Woah.

Anyway, the two sisters make swirling shoegaze-y music that's hazy and harmonious and dreamy and sunshine-y and, well, you don't need more adjectives to get the gist. Like most leisurely, dreamy and swirly pop music, this can be a cerebral head trip where all you want to think about is the fleeting, drifting days under the relaxation of the mighty sun's rays. Told you. It's trippy, man. Trippy.

Pearl Harbor will probably appeal to fans of all those old '80s shoegaze bands (you know the bands I mean... let's not get into it) and Best Coast for sure, that band Dunes, and First Aid Kit maybe (but really that's just because they're two young sisters too). Comparisons foreva!

Now if you'll excuse me, there's a pool raft with my name on it (I like to put my name on all my pool accessories for some reason... it's weird).

Neon Indian - Neon Indian is the blissed-out work of Alan Palomo. Palomo is also in that band VEGA. Neat. Live, Palomo has three other peeps helping him to create a beautifully mellow and melodic world full of calming synth strikes.

Now this here Neon Indian band sure knows how to write a pretty perfect electro-pop song, let me tell you that. Actually, they sure know how to write about twelve perfect electro pop songs, because that's how many songs are on their brilliant debut Psychic Chasms. The songs are smooth like Washed Out's songs are smooth. Or, perhaps they are smooth like Small Black's songs are smooth. But you know, maybe they're just smooth like Neon Indian's songs are smooth. Let Neon Indian BE Neon Indian! Oh the curse of smoothness comparisons!

So this is one of those bands you can put play and let yourself go to a more relaxed state without even really trying. Their silky synth jams and mellow vocals are akin to surfing a perfect wave of chamomile tea, but instead of a board (too dangerous) you surf on your La-Z-Boy. Oh yeah, Neon Indian is just like surfing on a La-Z-Boy.

Air Waves - Brooklyn's Air Waves are a very agreeable pop trio led by singer/songwriter Nicole Schneit. She writes concise, acoustic guitar songs with completely bouncy choruses. They'll induce your lips into a wonderful whistle. They'll make your mouth curl up into a smile. They'll make your toes involuntarily start tapping. They'll even make you squat and squawk like a chicken. Air Waves does strange things to a body, I tell you.

And Shneit sings these addictive songs in a nice, smoky style that sounds at times a little like a more optimistic Chan Marshall. Optimism is always nice now and then, isn't it? Leave the angst at home, I gave at the office.

You know, Air Waves songs would be a good soundtrack to this short film idea we've been thinking about. Hmmm. It's about this loveable-but-confused bug that sways on a seaside hammock trying to figure out his future. Post-graduate degree? Job? See the world? It ends with him deciding to do nothing more than crawl out of the hammock and drift slowly out to sea, leaving the brown sand and the blue horizon behind. FIN.

Sleigh Bells - Sleigh Bells ring. Are you listening? Brilliant, that's just brilliant! By the way, I've been meaning to ask you; who the hell is Parson Brown and what makes him so make-believe worthy? You and your snowman can pretend to be anyone and you're going to pretend he's Parson Brown?

But moving on... Sleigh Bells are a dance-y, punk-y and mostly lo-fi-ish duo from Brooklyn consisting of master melody constructor Derek Miller (he was in Poison the Well) and singer Alexis Krauss (she teaches 5th grade). (Man, I wish Alexis Krauss was my teacher in 5th grade. But no, I got stuck with my mom. It's not easy getting a detention because you forgot to make your bed one lousy morning, let me tell you. Not easy.)

These two create dirty and distorted pop ditties that sometimes sound a little Yeah Yeah Yeahs-ish... but not ALL the time, so don't freak out on me for reaching for a low-hanging band comparison. Sheesh! I'm just trying to help you get an idea. Help ME help YOU! Sleigh Bells got lots of those nice riffs and guttural rhythms with layers of distortion that sounds like you just blew out your speakers. Miller definitely is into the low end of things when he writes these songs. It's all BOOM BOOM BOOM. But there are pretty epic melodies going on here too that work with the noise to add a nice little pep in your step as you rock out. And that's where the dance-y part of this duo's punk comes in. You can bop to the booms.

So check out Sleigh Bells. Who knows? You just might find yourself walking in a musical wonderland. Hey-yo! (James Brown I can see... but Parson Brown?!)

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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