SxSW 2013: Day Party Pics

No, I am not done yet. This one and a gallery of the showcases is all that is left. If I can muster it, I’ll do a best of post. Best-ofs are easier well removed from a festival because lasting memories help define what really got you going.

Anyway, this giant gallery of daytime show goodness includes some candids and portraits from around the conference during the unofficial events. Highlights include Wax Idols, Nobunny, The Soft Moon, Criminal Hygiene, Bleeding Rainbows, that band Thurston Moore is in, Delorean and so much more.

Click through. Play a game of “oh yeah, I was there.”

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Wax Idols – Discipline & Desire

wax-idols-discipline-and-desireRating: ★★★★☆

If you’re looking for a repeat of Wax Idols last record, No Future, then you should probably take a second to reflect before you press play.  There are hints, though slight, of the band of old, but Hether Fortune and her band mates have come to give you something entirely new with Discipline & Desire; it’s refreshing to see a group push themselves, no matter what the risks.

“Stare Back” immediately puts you on your back foot, opening with discordant noise and a bubbling post-punk bass line.  Fortune soon enters with an echoing wail.  The repetition of “stare back” is met each time with an emphatic drum hit.  Swirling vocals come in and out of the foreground, but what’s most noticeable is the tracks exploration into a noisier punk realm.  But, just because Wax Idols have opted for a heavier-handed approach doesn’t mean there aren’t inherent pop hooks, which you’ll find immediately following the album’s opener on “Sound of a Void.”  Personally, I love the way the guitar parts work together, weaving a pristine pop hook between the distorted wall of guitar noise.  Also, the driving delivery of the vocals approached the anthemic attitude that was present on past efforts.  They keep that attitude up with “When It Happens” by using perfectly placed backing vocals, which balance Ms. Fortune’s guttural singing.  Three songs in and you can see that despite a darker approach, there’s still a knack for infectious tunes.

I think the biggest success of Discipline & Desire is the group’s ability to travel back and forth between approachable pop and discordant post-punk.  The perfect song for that hypothesis is “Ad Re Ian,” which really lives in both worlds.  The verses are possibly some of the most accessible and poppy moments Fortune has put together under the Wax Idols moniker, but the choruses represent the band knack for blasting off into dangerous punk jams.  Still, holding through it all is this faint dreamy vocal that supersedes every established notion; it’s probably one of my favorite moments on the record.

But, if I had to pick a favorite to claim as my own, I think I’m going to stick with “Elegua.”  It’s the closest thing to a ballad that lives on Discipline & Desire; I think if also demonstrates the vocal qualities of Hether, which people often overlook.  There’s a gentle quality to her delivery, almost a whisper at times, that fits perfectly with the haunting meandering of the guitar, constantly being accentuated by firing of snare hits.  About 2.5 minutes in, the song continues to forge its own path, pushing towards a swirling closing that  really encapsulates the idea that the Wax Idols have continued to push themselves in every aspect of their sound.

In my mind, it would have been really easy for Wax Idols to retrace their steps from No Future, which I consider a great record, although having spent weeks with this new effort, I’m glad they didn’t go that route.  Discipline & Desire definitely darkens the mood at time, but the group’s ability to explore their own sound has left us, the listeners, with so much to be grateful for.  It’s angry, sometimes ferocious even, but it also has a softer underbelly that will allow this album to sink deep into your heart.




Darkened Pop from Wax Idols

wax-idols-hether-fortune-11Okay, so yesterday I begged you to go see Wax Idols during SXSW, and I absolutely stand by that shout out.  This new single, that just came out today, is precisely the reason that you need to get into their music.  There’s definitely a black wash over this track, harkening back to a more devious time in rock n’ roll; I like the fact that listening to the group never makes me feel safe…though that’s hard to explain.  Their new album Discipline & Desire is set to come out on Slumberland on March 26th, so brace yourself for an album that’s going to be spinning for you for a long time to come.



ATH & SXSW: 3 to Watch Part 2.

sxsw-&-athWell, it’s that time of year again; your liver hurts just thinking about it, and your Excel program has never seen so much action since Windows 98 first came out. Let’s put all that anxiety aside and concentrate on some really rad bands that are going to be making it our way in the next few weeks. These are three of the bands I’m most excited about seeing, and I have a feeling that I’ll see one or more of them at least twice…I’m just that guy.

More shows are popping up by the day.  Keep your ears to the Internet for the coolest party info.

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Darkly Tinted Tune from Wax Idols

It says a lot, to me at least, that among the forty emails I waded through yesterday, this Wax Idols tune was one of the standouts. I’ve adored the group for some time, and I’ve really been looking forward to this their new record, Discipline & Desire.  For me, this jam completely encapsulates both sides of the band, you know–where they’ve been and where they’re going. There’s a subdued haunting introductory pop that comes back and forth with Hether calmly singing atop, but then it blasts off.  It goes into a dark post punk bit of a stomp, living a bit in the group’s sonic past.  When it shoots off into the bright guitar excursion towards the end, it’s clear that they’ve got a hit. You can get the record on March 26th from Slumberland Records.

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Grim New Tune from Wax Idols

With the release of No Future, Wax Idols quickly made my radar as a band to keep an eye on, and news has finally come out that the group’s second outing is being geared for release on March 26th from Slumblerland Records. Listening to the first single from Discipline & Desire, you can tell that the group has put a darker mood into the record, replacing the anthemic power-punk with a more haunting array of sounds.  For one, singer H. Fortune has a more pronounced, albeit more gloomy, vocal presence, while the rest of the band does their best to round out the complete emotional state.  This is shaping up to be a nice gem for your March listening pleasure.

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Killer Rocker from Wax Idols

I’ve raved to everyone about Wax Idols; their album No Future was one of my favorite records of the last year. Now, while the group is working on their new album (rumored to be on Slumberland) they’ve got a awesome stop-gap 7″ for you on Suicide Squeeze.  The title track, “Schadenfreude” is a jagged guitar rocker, with singer Heather spinning the pop goodness just as you would expect.  There’s a little bit of that brattiness that makes her such a furious frontwoman, but the chorus alone is worth the cost of the 7 inch.  You should definitely pay attention to this too underrated group.


Download: Wax Idols – Schadenfreude [MP3]

Wax Idols – No Future

Rating: ★★★½☆

It seems like a lot of bands are really channeling a nice mix between garage and punk, especially the bands coming out of California.  You could probably toss Wax Idols into that, but you’d be amiss if you just lumped them in with the rest of those groups, as the band, predominantly the work of Heather Fedewa, goes beyond just rehashing the hits on No Future.

Listening to the opening track “Dead Like You” you definitely can feel a bit of Cali guitars blasting through, but Fedewa’s delivery, as well as the call-and-response backing vocals are a bit more than that, harkening back to more innocent punk rock days, sort of like a more ballsy version of the Donnas.  For me, the biggest differentiating factor is the amount of heart and soul you can clearly see shining through the music on No Future.

“Dilno” is a fast paced track, almost ending before the track even gets going, but that’s where a lot of the Wax Idols tracks are so successful, giving you a simple, no frills approach to the middling ground between punk rock and garage music.  And come on, who’s not going to enjoy the sporadic shouts in the background.  Of course, there’s more than just nostalgic girl-punk leanings.  Just one listen to “Gold Sneakers,” the record’s phenomenal track.  It’s got everything you could ask for from a band: great hooks, catchy lyrics, and some distorted guitar to go with precision drumming.  A lot of cliche girl-core tracks just don’t ring as true as this number.

You’re also going to enjoy some of the variance throughout No Future, such as the semi-Blondie homage on “Bad Future.”  Fedewa definitely maintains a bit of that sex appeal, but you can tell she’s a touch more bratty, in the most endearing way, of course.  It’s a pleasure to see that not everyone comes off sounding as tired and bored.  Punk was supposed to be fun, and it seems that’s just what we’re hearing here.  “Grey Area” similarly takes off in the same fashion, giving a bit of grit to great pop tradition of bright guitars and pounding rhythms.  Seems like these tracks were made with a youthful vitality only achieved through spinning around in your bedroom with the stereo on high.

Perhaps Wax Idols doesn’t have the brand recognition that you’re looking for, but that’s sort of sad, as you’ll have twice as much fun jamming to this record as you would if you just picked up the run of the mill garage girl-core album.  No Future has twists and turns, and most of all, it has fun.  It’s a reminder that music can have serious tones, but doesn’t have to be tired and banal.  Let’s put the fun back in rock n’ roll, and jam to this record all night.

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