Saturday 19 Apr
 
 
CD reviews

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
 

Speed Set: SXSW Saturday


Twelve bands in 700 words. Let’s go.

By Stephen Carradini March 22nd, 2011
Typhoon

Just as SXSW-curated Speed Sets banged out a lot of music quickly, I’m going to do a Speed Set to bang out a lot of information quickly.

Danish electro-pop diva Oh Land played a very solid set. You may have heard the infectious single “Son of a Gun,” which she closed with. The rest of her set was nice, but not anything especially fantastic.

Versus played a similarly solid set of guitar-based indie rock. They’re a Merge Records band that has been around in various forms since 1990, so that should tell you a lot about the quality and content of the set. It ain’t trendy, but it’s consistent, strong music.

Dance-punk phenomenon !!! (aka Chk-chk-chk) turns its myriad of instrumentalists into one funky, fast-paced machine live. Their lead singer is an absolute wonder, as he prances, dances, makes eyes at the crowd, wanders into the audience, hollers, sings and generally goes ballistic. He put his hand on my head and sung into my face from several inches away for a line. I am not unique in this treatment. Yes. You must see them live.

Malajube’s rock was equal parts Muse and The Bravery. It was fun, but I keep wondering how long the hat-snare dance-rock beat is going to last.

Little Scream’s epic-leaning indie rock included a bass flute, group vocals (primarily led by a female vocalist) and great songwriting. They’re also from Montreal. Has Arcade Fire asked them to tour together yet? Please say “yes” when they do, Little Scream.
 
Owen Pallett’s looped violin and piano lines create polyphonic, mind-blowing, mini-symphonies. The fact that you can sing along to them is just a bonus. His energetic tunes had the impressed audience smiling. Pallett proves that string virtuosos can be cool.

Braids laid down a mesmerizing set. Starting off with highlight track “Glass Deers” off their album “Native Speaker,” they entranced the audience with their ambient, fuzzy indie rock. I got lost in the sound; it’s like listening to a warm blanket. They thoroughly impressed me, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Erin McLaughlin played a quick but beautiful folk show. Her poignant, acoustic-based songs speak for themselves. I was so moved that I bought her EP (the only music I bought in the entire SXSW week). You must check it out.

Slije Nes’ gentle and ethereal tunes so affected me that I was tearing up during the set. The Norwegian woman spent much of her time sitting on the ground playing, and she turned all the lights off, except for one tiny strand of Christmas lights piled next to her foot pedals. It created an intimate, immersive experience, as her gentle voice and hushed accompaniment (how quiet? One of the songs features the percussionist scratching his arm into a microphone — and we could hear it) created an absolutely fascinating performance. Beautiful, beautiful music, even when she ratcheted up the electric guitar volume for one track.

Sharon Van Etten’s speaking voice was hoarse, but her singing one was not, as she filled Central Presbyterian Church with her mournful voice and somber harmonium. It was gorgeous.

With horns, strings, four percussionists (two with drumsets, two with auxiliary percussion) augmenting your average guitars and such, Typhoon’s sound filled an entire church. When all twelve of them sang, it became a revelatory experience. The songs are brilliant in their recorded format, but they become something else entirely when played live. It was easily the best set I saw at SXSW. If you haven’t heard of Typhoon yet, you will. (That's as many of them as I could fit in a frame, up there at the top of the post)

The Rural Alberta Advantage’s “Departing” just came out, and I found it to be a lot different than their previous work. Live, however, the new tunes fit in neatly with the older ones. The set was fun, with a nice mix of old and new songs. The highlight was the encore/closer, which had the three members of RAA come down from the stage to the audience for an acoustic version of “Good Night,” the somber closer of “Departing.” It was an incredibly fitting end to a massive week of music.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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