The 10 Bands You Need to See @ SXSW 2012! - Oh My Rockness

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The 10 Bands You Need to See @ SXSW 2012!

February 23, 2012
Now, I’m not sure if you’ve heard this. But there are a ton of bands playing SXSW this year. And we’ve listed hundreds of shows for these bands. But who wants to read about hundreds of bands? You want to read about the 10 best bands playing, right? Right. So here are the 10 bands we are most excited to see at this year’s SXSW. They’re in no particular order, so don’t read too much into how they're listed.

Chad Valley- Oxford's Chad Valley (real name: Hugo Manuel) creates homemade electro-pop bliss that sparkles with radiantly danceable synth melodies. These are some seriously smooth NEON anthems with lots of that laid-back groove going on. The sweetly sublime sounds Chad Valley makes is often compared to Ernest Greene's Washed Out. And that's understandable because they both do a very similar thing. But it's such a good thing that there should be plenty of room in your musical heart for two one-man band bros whose music is directly kissed by the sun.

DIVE- Brooklyn's Dive is Cole Smith (Beach Fossils) + Devin Perez + Andrew Bailey + Colby Hewitt (ex-Smith Westerns). This great new group (who says "group" anymore anyway?) plays shimmery and shiny pop that swirls along with that super clean reverb-y guitar sound that gets me in the gut every time. There's definitely a bit of Kraut rocking around under these melodic jams too... something not in the Beach Fossils repertoire... yet. Go see these guys so you can say you saw them before they took over the world.

Purity Ring- Purity Ring creates great dub-step-y electro with lots of samples and lots and lots of super melodic hitches and machine made catchy glitches. My favorite Purity Ring jam is "Ungirthed," so maybe start your listen there. In it, singer Megan James' perfectly sweet soprano acts as a nice and unexpected contrast to that song's staggered synth breakdowns. It's perfectly crafted and, well, just darn good stuff (language, Rockness, language!). Oh, and their explosive live show is one of the best in the biz. As good as they sound from your speakers, they sound even better from the stage. I'm tellin' you....

TRUST- Well this is nice and creepy. Trust is a dark electronic dance duo comprised of Robert Alfons and Maya Postepski (she plays drums in Austra's live band). They're from Toronto and they make gothic club hits to nourish the souls of the damaged. So yeah, these synths and big beats aren't necessarily bright and happy - they're a warning that something is lurking somewhere nearby. But I'm not scared, because this is just music which is just a form of entertainment, right? Right, guys? Guys? OH MY GOD THEY FOUND ME! I DON’T KNOW HOW BUT THEY FOUND ME!! Good band.

Howler- Minneapolis' Howler is the once side-project now main-project of Jordan Gatesmith. He is (was?) in that band Total Babe. He's also 19. He was also named by NME as one of the "50 coolest people of 2011." Oh, brother. So Howler plays that lo-fi surf garage thing that's been popular these days. But it's not really THAT lo-fi because these super catchy songs definitely have some polish. That's not to say lo-fi doesn't have much polish; it's just that lo-fi doesn't seem to have much polish. When I first heard Howler I thought they sounded like Surf City. Other comparisons range from The Vaccines (Howler's upcoming tour mates) to The Strokes (haha) to any of those other bands that sound abrasively sunny but like... kind of doo-wop, too. You know what I'm saying? Good, because I don't.

Big Deal- "All I want to do is talk, but seeing you fucks me up." That's the chorus to one of Big Deal's songs. I feel like that gives you an idea of what this London duo is all about. But my feelings are often wrong (When I don't "stay true to myself," as reality show cast members tend to say... FART NOISE). So let me explain further. Big Deal is Alice Costelloe and KC Underwood (oh, he's American; isn't that fun). Together, they write fuzzy, sparse songs full of relationship-weary pathos. These slow moving, mostly acoustic songs are generally about being fucked up and not being able to think straight and just not wanting to think about the problems of love in general. Sounds like a party to me!

Spectrals- Spectrals is 21-year-old U.K. chill popper, Louis Jones. As Spectrals, Jones creates (mostly) sunshine guitar pop that mixes some slow soul swirl with a little bit of laid-back doo wop retro rock. Yes, that's a fancy way of saying not much at all. So how about this; do you like Real Estate? If you do, you have a 95% chance of liking Spectrals. Same kind of breezy jingle jangle guitar thing at work here. I think if you like Girls you'll also be into this too. These jams are about as easy going as you're going to find out there in indie land. Jones has a good voice but it doesn't overpower anything. Rather, his voice acts as a warm compliment to the groovy melodies (yes, I did just write "groovy"... you trying to tell me you've never done it?).

Bleached- Bleached is the bright and energetic duo of sisters Jessica and Jennifer Clavin. You might know them from that really good band Mika Miko. As Bleached, the Clavins crank out the short and quick classic punk rock riffs of yesteryear (with a little bit of sunny surf buried down deep in there to keep things sounding 'happy punk' instead of 'I'm a smack addict and angry and utterly utterly alone' punk). So to get a grasp of what this band's sound is all about imagine if Max's Kansas City was in Southern California instead of NYC and Bleached played there for free to a crowd drunk on free booze every Thursday night. You'd also have to imagine a time machine to imagine all that, I suppose. Hell, stop imagining and start listening. You'll see what I mean.

Grimes- I guess you can call this ethereal atmospheric electronic music, but then you'd probably want to walk away from this profile at best and... well... let's not get into worst case scenarios here. You and I both know that what I just said to describe Grimes' music means absolutely nothing. "Ethereal" music like this is hard to describe. That's why people say things are "ethereal." No one questions "ethereal." Let's start over and try to do a better job of describing Grimes. How about this, "Grimes sounds like a pop triumph!" Oops, that's another thing that doesn't mean anything. How about, "Whatever Grimes is; chillwave and Dub Step this is not." Closer. How about, "Don't walk! I command you to RUN and see Grimes play!" Farther. Ok, final try. "Grimes is good music made with good machines and sung by a good singer who has a good voice." BOOM! (Grimes also sounds like whales jumping out of the sea in slow motion.)

The Wedding Present- They're playing "Seamonsters" in its entirety! That's only, like, ONE OF THE BEST RECORDS EVER!!!!

Check out our SXSW SHOW LIST for many, many, many more band and show suggestions!


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