LA at SXSW Tip #1: Is Fol Chen the City's Best New Band?

At least 171 Los Angeles-area acts will represent at the South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin, Texas, next week, and they range from metal (Ancestors, Metallica, Black Math Horseman), acoustic (Jim Bianco, Tom Brosseau, Tori Amos) and punk (Japanese Motors, the Mae Shi, DEVO) to hip-hop (Blu, U-N-I, Busdriver), guitar rock (Red Cortez, Mika Miko, Silversun Pickups) and beyond (Crystal Antlers, Pocahaunted, Magic Lantern, Sun Araw). To look at the list in its entirety is to at least partially understand the depth of music emanating from LA.

In anticipation of next week's music, we've compiled a list of artists we've been particularly struck by in our musical wanderings. Over the coming days we'll be highlighting them, offering MP3s, offering advice on licensing opportunities, and generally trying to sway the supervisors, creatives, label peeps, movers and/or shakers to check out these artists when you're wandering the streets of Austin.

TIP #1

Fol Chen

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L.A.'s best new band? Probably. Fol Chen's beguiling, witty synth-pop with guitar, funky keyboards and West Coastian harmonies comes from a semimysterious unit that, according to its bio, sounds like "that mysterious black object that the creepy family is staring at on the cover of Led Zeppelin's Presence album." Featuring principal Samuel Bing, who may not be either a relation to or impersonator of the visionary early-20th-century Parisian art dealer, the band even has a plot line: "We are using secret powers and the guidance of legendary DJ Donna Donna to combat our nemesis, John Shade. We are cryptic and joyful and we would like you to dance." Fol Chen's debut, Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made, just came out on Sufjan Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label.

Commercial-placement idea: "Cable TV" is a latent hit, for sure -- and perfect for a Holiday Inn ad: "Won't you come away with me?/I'm not rich but the first night is on me/You know I just got paid baby/I know a place and they got cable TV."

Note for Angelenos: Fol Chen is playing with Bodies of Water and LAKE tomorrow night at Echo Curio in Echo Park.

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