A Guide To the LA Bands At SXSW
So I'll be covering SXSW next week for the LA Weekly. I have never been nor do I have any idea of what to expect. I'm pretty excited to go though. I've been asking around and have generally been met with the boiler-plate response that "SXSW is awesome." However, one friend did tell me to expect lots of free BBQ, free liquor, free indie rock and lots of loose women. Which by my guesstimation sounds eerily similar to heaven, or at the very least Freaknik for white people.
If I were bucking for cool points, I'd say that that the LA band you need to see most at SXSW is No Age or Health. Of course, bucking for cool points by writing about a trendy band on the Internet is perhaps the most un-cool thing I've ever heard (every time you say this out loud, another blogger dies). Nothing against Health or No Age, they'll both appear later on this list, but right now, the best band in town is The Deadly Syndrome.
I've brought nearly a dozen people to see these guys in the last year and all but one of them has walked away impressed. Last month, when I was in Mexico at my friend's wedding, I got to talking to another guest from Seattle who was really into music. When he found out what I did for a living (at least one of us could figure it out), he asked me if I knew about The Deadly Syndrome and then proceeded to tell me they were his new favorite band and wondered out loud why nobody really knew about them. I didn't really know what to tell him other than that a) they don't have mustaches b) they don't wear dresses and c) they're from LA. You should see them next week if you're in Austin. If you don't like them, you're allowed to write hate mail in the comment section.* Deal. Deal.
*Offer does not apply to people who voted in the 2007 Pazz & Jop Poll.
Saturday, March 15 2:00 p.m.
I'm not only writing about Health to win cool points (they're like the 500 ring in a game of hipster skee-ball), I'm writing about them because I like their taste in neon hoodies. I mean, who knew that it was possible for 1988 and 2008 to exist in one American Apparel American made dimension? Retina-shattering use of neon of aside, these Smell staples are pretty awesome live and worthy of the advance hype. I mean these guys are an electronic-minded art-punk band and if that doesn't get the Pitchfork types going, I don't know what would. (Panda Bear as Obama VP?)
The Mae Shi play like The Deadly Syndrome out of an alternate universe, or at least The Smell. Both bands share boundless enthusiasm, a remarkable cohesion and a knack for fun, kinetic acts like four people banging on a drum kit at once, or singing under white sheets, or bringing ghost cut-outs on-stage. It's the sort of stuff that makes cynics roll their eyes but helps them stand-out and adds to the show's energy. The Pitchfork review for their new record, HillyH, pretty much nailed it when it declared that "the L.A. six-piece has finally made an album that matches their grand ambitions, one that weaves most of their songwriting tricks together with some new ideas, and manages to be listenable and cohesive."
(Playing 3/13/08 Austin @ Jaxart/Eenie Meenie Party ; 3/14/08 @ Fader Acoustic Performance (SXSW)
I wrote about the Owls recent performance at the Echo here. I've been a big fan of them for some time now and they continue to improve every time I see them. JaxArt recently released their very good, Snowglobe EP, yet they remain unsigned and hopefully, SXSW will find them gaining the bigger profile that they deserve.
Division Day may have been subjected to the harsh scrutiny that comes with blogosphere adulation a bit before they were perhaps ready. But they've honed their skills over the last year and a half to emerge as as one of Silverlake's finest bands.
Astralwerks snatched these guys up over a year ago and has proceeded to do nothing with them. I don't know where there new album is, but I do know that the label has completely squandered the momentum The Little Ones had built up over a year ago. Still, their brand of Shins-lite jangle-pop is always a really fun time live.
I'm still not entirely sure about No Age. Randall Roberts my editor at the LA Weekly thinks they're the best band in town. Ian Cohen said that when he saw them open for Battles, it was the single greatest disparity in musical ability that he'd ever seen between two acts. I like their album, Weirdo Rippers well enough, it has some great moments and some completely superfluous ones. I suspect that I'll probably really like them in three years when they decide to focus on song craft and thus alienate their original fan base. Hopefully, I'll get the chance to check them out in Austin.
Managed by Paul Rosenberg of Eminem fame, this LA by way of N.O. duo has a shot to become the biggest rap group out of LA since J5. Whether they will or not remains anyone's guess, but Interscope's already given them a deal and their debut single, "Cappuccino" is one of this young year's hottest singles. Plus, any group that traces their decision to rap back to listening to the second Gravediggaz record gets my nod of approval.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.