Gold Beach's indie-rock has a pensive, moody sound that is often associated with The National. It's a pretty hip sound right now, but Gold Beach pulls it off well. They augment the usual instruments with a cello, and that makes a big difference in their sound. They also have M83-esque keys in some tunes, making for some unique textures. Their closer "Skin of Yours" used both elements to great effect, creating a memorable, evocative tune.
Avalanche City is one of my favorite bands, so I was stoked to be able to see them at SXSW. They're from New Zealand, so it's not every day that I'm able to swing out and catch a show. (Although they are touring with fun. after their run here at SXSW, so maybe I will be able to see them more often!) The trio composes charming, enthusiastic, beautiful music out of instruments that should give away their style: acoustic guitar, two glockenspiels, accordion, banjolin, keys and vocals from both genders. Imagine all the indie glee of Death Cab for Cutie's Transatlanticism funneled into indie-folk arrangements, and you're near where Avalanche City lands.
Their songs are almost all love songs, but not in the sappy, goopy sort of way. They're all tied into the love of life, adventures (their album is Our New Life Above the Ground), and seeing the world through a wide-eyed wonder. Their upbeat melodies are instantly arresting, and their arrangements are beautifully executed. I sung along with almost every tune, and had a blast. The band sounds just as good live as they do on record, even with the slightly modified arrangements. It was in the top five best sets I've seen at SXSW so far. If you're a fan of happy music, acoustic music, Ingrid Michaelson, or charming indie twee-type stuff, apply within. They're on my list of bands that will be maxing out SXSW showcases next year.