We’re nigh approaching SXSW season, so naturally you should be taking advantage of the fact that your city has great music to see year round and head out to a show this weekend before it’s so crowded that you can’t stand it. Below are merely the highlights and my picks as to where you should post up Friday and Saturday nights. Wherever you go, you really can’t go wrong; the weather should be lovely, so go outside during the day and round out your night somewhere downtown…
Local Austin act The Octopus Project have continuously morphed and change from their inception, and with Memory Mirror just a few months away, it looks like they’re really pushing the usage of vocals as their albums progress (I hear something like 80% of the tracks on this one wear vocals). Here you get female and male vocals, though the male role serves more for emphasis on the melodic notes. It seems like a more spaced-out version of early Air, pulling in the sexualized side of electronica, then altering it with this pulsating, dreamy wash. I know a lot of people who can’t wait until the April 7th release date via Robot High School. Are you one of those?
There’s always been something in the British waters, and music, that have gotten to me. I’m especially keen on the country’s pop breeding ground, which is where I find Weird Milk fitting in. They employ some sharp guitar cuts, and the melodic vocal approach reminds me a lot of mid-career Mystery Jets…that’s my favorite period of that band. This is the band’s first proper single, and it’ll be released by Ra Ra Rok Records on March 24th, but stream the jam below; it’s okay to embrace good pop music folks.
We raved, or I did, about My Life in Steel and Concrete, the last LP from Austin’s Quin Galavis. One of the great things about that release is that it showed Quin covering some new territory, while still sounding wholly, well, Quin. It looks like this will continue on his forthcoming, The Battery Line. His voice has often gone overlooked in his work, but he’s got perfect control of it throughout this track, touching high notes with just a hint of a passionate quiver. While I love when Galavis goes loud, his soft underbelly of late is pretty stunning. The new release comes this May via Super Secret Records.
It’s fair if you haven’t heard of Sodastream, but that’s no reason not to spend a little time getting to know the Aussie act today. They’ve just released Little by Little, filled with careful wordplay and subdued indie folk. It reminds me of an odd cross between Weakerthans and Mountain Goats and Belle and Sebastian, with each note purposeful and each word poetically placed. There’s tons of great orchestration too, adding a layer of depth that builds the album up, giving you a more meaningful listen. Ready to be carried away by words and melody? Here’s the place.
Those of you who fawned over Ex-Cops will surely want to hear what Brian Harding is up to with Blond Ambition. I mean, if you’ve listened to the Tres Oui EP we just put out, you’ll know that this jam is right up our alley; it’s a quick little ditty dripping with pop and awash with synth feelings. Harding’s dedicated the track to the trans community, encouraging support for those who don’t always feel that they can share their voices; I’m in agreement with that statement. The title of the project’s debut album is Slow All Over, and it’s slated for a release on May 19th.
I don’t want Adam Torres to stop writing, or singing for that matter. The opening moments of this track display how powerful his instrument is; there’s this blissful fragility, almost like the pained tones of Jeff Buckley. Of course, he wouldn’t be quite as successful without the accompanying bits behind him, especially the violin work of our favorite, Aisha Burns. If you thought Pearls to Swine was an artist at the pinnacle of his powers, it looks like Torres has no intention of slowing down. Look for his new EP, I Came to Sing the Songs, via Fat Possum on February 24th.
Man it’s been awhile since I’ve heard anything from Toronto based outfit The Wooden Sky. Maybe it’s for my lack of paying attention, but either way, I’m happy to be sharing this new song from them called “You’re Not Alone”. The track is something you’d get if you combined the best parts of Grizzly Bear with the crazy vocal twang of Sturgil Simpson. It’s a true gem and I’m happy to be reacquainted with the band.
The Wooden Sky will release their new album Swimming in Strange Waters via Nevado Music on April 7th.
Eric Slick spends a great deal of time behind the drum kit for Dr. Dog, and while we love that act, his solo effort looks like something I’ll devour. Fuzzy guitars buzz while drums push the speed from the get-go; the drums push you towards the explosive pop burst that serves as the chorus. It drives you forward, then pulls back for a brief bit of respite, knowing there’s some pop sensibility underneath Slick’s belt; a mix of heavy and soft never bothers this fella. He’s titled his new album Palisades, and it will see a huge release via Egg Hunt Records on April 21st. He’ll also be jamming at SXSW if that’s on your radar!
In such a mad world, we should all be forgiven when things slide under the radar, but I should have known better than to skip out on a Beko Disques release! Late January saw the release of the Caligula EP by Djokovic. It’s two tracks of drifting, dreamy pop music, built on the back of carefully wrung guitar chords and an ethereal atmosphere. The vocals don’t come in until after the first minute, but by then, you’re already completely lost in the song. I figured it’s the best way to start off Thursday, lost in great pop music. If you slept on this too, then now’s the time to correct that mistake!