1. SXSW 2014: The Radio Wrap-Up…

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    Thanks heaps for following my adventures on this here blog, friends! If you missed them, don’t worry - you can just scroll down and load more right here to catch up on a heap of new music discovery.

    On Wednesday I brought you my annual SXSW radio wrap on Mornings. If you missed it, it featured some of the best moments of that week in Austin, featuring chats with BANKS, Royal Bloodand SOHN, as well as stacks of music from some of the acts I discovered through the SXSW Music week.

    You can stream the whole thing right here if you like, and be the first to say you knew that band when they tour next year’s summer festivals.

    Windows stream is here.

    See you back at home. xo

  2. SXSW 2014: The moments between the madness…

    It’s been a crazy last week. It always is. But usually I try and capture a couple of moments in between rushing from venue to venue to sleep to wake. This year for the first time, I came for the whole shebang. Interactive, Film, Music. It’s been really incredible seeing it all. My brain, ears, heart and feet have been fed time and time over. Here are a few that slipped into my camera this week. I hope they capture what a great city Austin is over this week in March (and most other times during the year, too).

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    6th Street as day turns to night.

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    Sun dappled afternoon delight. 6th Street.

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    Me at the start of this week. I’d post an “after” photo but if you just imagine a wad of melted cheese snuggling into a pillow and whimpering then that’s pretty much it.

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    One of my SXSW highlights was my pal Damo who used to be part of our whiz kid online team at triple j. Here for Interactive, we ended up hanging out a lot and having a great time. Also, the photobomb in this pic is all time.

    I went to this strange but wonderful SXSW Film panel where Jason Schwartzman and Tunde Adepimbe talked about making a film together. They’re literally filming it now, in Austin. Mostly I was charmed by how gentle and polite and meandering and funny Schwartzman is. So yeah, I went up and said hey afterwards.

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    Pedicabs waiting for punters willing to pay, near Rainey St, Austin.

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    As well as SXSW Music and SXSW Interactive there’s SXSW Film, and although I only got along to one screening (PULP, which was wonderful) it was ace to see the creative life force filling screens and lines and happy punters over the whole Music/Interactive crossover.

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    My crew. Over the last week these folks have jumped in and out of each day in panels, films, gigs and taco’s. SXSW is quite a solitary experience at many times; to capture so much of it you often scoot around town on your own, for swiftness. But the best bits are bumping into pals and experiencing some of those glorious moments, together. It’s been an amazing week and I feel very lucky I get to do this. So thanks for reading and watching and listening. Hope I’ve dug up some gold for you this year. x

  3. SXSW 2014: HighasaKite make me fly on Saturday morning…

    I met Norwegian band HighasaKite a couple of days ago, and this morning started my day with them as they were the first band on in a courtyard filled with drizzle. It didn’t matter, cos they brought the sunshine with their song.

    First thing I noticed: Guitar played with violin bow. Is this a Scandinavian thing?

    First thoughts: Whoah. Ingrid’s voice is flawless. Oh and then you add three extra harmonies. Hello warm fuzzies.

    Set length: Short. Only four songs, which I put down to them running late but afterwards I found out Ingrid had a terrible flu and they’d had to cancel their set the night before. I couldn’t tell at all. And the set was a teaser to what epic proportions they could build to. I hope I get to see that soon.

    Special guest: The flugabone. The what? The flugabone. What a freaking awesome instrument. Well played, HighasaKite.

  4. SXSW 2014: Sun Kil Moon stops everything…

    It’s hard to put into words what I saw, and heard tonight. Mark Kozelek is in his late 40’s. For years he has made music. As part of Red House Painters, and more recently as Sun Kil Moon. Tonight he played on guitar, with some delicate drum accompaniment, his latest album Benji.

    I sat in a church pew surrounded by strangers, and listened to his stories. Mark has always written with a melancholy in his heart. For better or worse, it’s what gives his songs such incredible weight. And this new record is so incredibly personal, and cuts straight to the core, that I found myself quietly weeping as he played in this beautiful space tonight.

    I don’t think I can really review what I saw tonight. Only to say, that I never wanted it to end. I even heckled for more. And that to me, is great music. When the stories captivate you beyond midnight and you could sit and listen for days. I hope Mark / Sun Kil Moon comes back to Australia to play this record. Tonight was a gift for my heart.

  5. Over the past few weeks we’ve heard the “Sound Of Screams” from UK band Thumpers. Tonight I was there to listen for myself. 

Band makeup: drums, two keyboards, guitar/vocalist. 

Jumpers on Thumpers: Very colourful. 

Songs: A little bit the same: big explosion of drum/vocal/colour. 

Verdict: Not very exciting… It’s all a blast but then gone. And you don’t remember much.

    Over the past few weeks we’ve heard the “Sound Of Screams” from UK band Thumpers. Tonight I was there to listen for myself.

    Band makeup: drums, two keyboards, guitar/vocalist.

    Jumpers on Thumpers: Very colourful.

    Songs: A little bit the same: big explosion of drum/vocal/colour.

    Verdict: Not very exciting… It’s all a blast but then gone. And you don’t remember much.

  6. I wasn’t quick enough to capture it, but this punk just climbed the traffic light to flip the bird to the Steampunk sign. Yeah. I feel that way too, guy.

    I wasn’t quick enough to capture it, but this punk just climbed the traffic light to flip the bird to the Steampunk sign. Yeah. I feel that way too, guy.

  7. SXSW 2014: Wet help me feel all of the feelings…

    Brooklyn trio Wet may not have realised the pun when they put out their song “Dreams”, but it makes for some fun back announcing as a radio DJ. Today I checked out their live chops to a packed room at Mohawk.

    Immediate stand-out: Kelly’s vocals. Just flawless, with a clear and beautiful lilting quality that gives her lyrics their required depth.

    The stories: Well this is a world of heartbreak really. Wet (and Kelly as main lyric writer) really bares it all on their songs, somewhat of a trend at the moment with artists like BANKS and Kelela. At times, the desperation in her lyrics is hard to bear. Kudos to her bravery for sharing.

    Vibe: Pretty low key; this is gentle music that seeps into your system. That said, the strong songs / singles really stand out. I think Wet have potential to make more of those.

  8. SXSW 2014: Jungle bring the disco soul to Friday arvo…

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    By now you’re probably familiar with South London band Jungle. Their song “Busy Earnin’” has been getting a lot of play on triple j, and today I heard a heap more from their soon to be released album.

    Core: Two guys, one who goes by “J”, the other by “T”. Justin Timberlake fans, perhaps? Live, they usually expand to seven, but on stage today I saw five.

    Vocalists: Three of them. All singing delightful falsetto Bee Gee’s style disco vocals.

    Show number: Today’s set was somewhere between the 12th and 15th gig ever, for Jungle. And they were tight. In time, they’ll settle with more banter and a more comfortable stage presence but in terms of sound? They nailed it.

    What else they got: Well, a heap. If you like “Busy Earnin’” be happy in the knowledge that the other songs on their soon-to-be-released debut are in the same vein; steady, soulful disco that kept me dancing their whole set. And frankly, I’m kind of destroyed today. So that’s a feat.

  9. SXSW 2014: Mas Ysa dishes up a layered dish of erratic beats and wonderful sounds…

    I love heading to a show and not really knowing anything about who I’m about to see. AKA, SXSW. This arvo I checked out Canadian producer and visual artist Mas Ysa, who destroyed my hearing but that was ok cos his beats were so sick.

    Commitment: High. Thomas Arsenault may be behind a handful of samplers and the like but he’s puffed out from jumping about, emoting with a constant “phwoar” look on his face, and building layered beats atop one another in front of us.

    Elements: Gosh, everything. I heard church choirs, 80’s synths, staccato beats, piano and sounds I could barely describe, in his tunes. He also gets on the mic and sings, with vocals processed in the same kind of warbly, shearing underwater sound that Animal Collective sometimes use. The latter was cool, but did grate after a while.

    Plan: To become his bestie. From banter like “now I’m gonna do a bunch of Spin Doctor’s covers”, to breathlessly admitting how hungover he was (but still giving his all), Mas Ysa seems to be continuing the trend of awesome and warm Canadians.

  10. SXSW 2014: San Fermin make me Sonsick…

    A little while ago I was spinning a soaring, Sufjan Stevens style song called “Sonsick” by a band called San Fermin. The band is really the project of 23 year old Brooklyn composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, who creates this world of baroque pop with a bunch of talented vocalists and musicians.

    Set-up: Violin, trumpet, saxophone, two vocalists and the guy creating it all standing to the side, playing keys.

    Surprise: A Mariah Carey vocal acrobatic moment towards the end of “Sonsick” felt a bit too… Mariah Carey.

    Ponderings: It sounds as though Ellis wants to put too much in his pie. On record, the album sounds a little too reminscent of Dirty Projectors and Sufjan for me and live it again felt like there were too many ideas trying to be packed into each song without thinking about the song hook and structure itself.

    New song: “Parasites”, apparently one they’ve not played before. It begins with some cool bleeps and sing/rap moments then throws in a twangy violin moment among other sounds. Again, too many ideas.

  11. SXSW 2014: De Lux and Connan Mockasin play at the same time, I run between both…

    There was a heap of band on my to-see-list at the Windish Party today. That’s the agency that reps them all. And at Mohawk, I ran between the dimly lit small room inside, and their outdoor stage, to catch as many as I could. De Lux have a record coming out in Australia soon, and I was keen to see how this LA band shaped up live on stage.

    Sound: They wear their love of LCD Soundsystem and The Rapture on their sleeve, with a more than healthy sprinkling of Talking Heads. So yeah, think punk-funk indie vibes.

    Look: The lead singer actually resembled David Byrne a bit.

    Best bit: Basslines. Impossible not to bob your head to what they were plucking.

    Vibe: Not feeling it, and the room didn’t seem to be overly, either. It felt a bit too pastiche, like it was “almost” like a Rapture song but not quite. There are a heap of bands plying this sound, and I think there are a heap that do it a lot better than De Lux. I’m unconvinced.

    On the outside stage at Mohawk, Connan Mockasin’s trademark loopy, languid guitar drew a big crowd. The New Zealander ex-pat has been living in London for years and has built a dedicated underground following along the way.

    Looks like: A grommet. White blond hair that looks like it’s eternally in “beach” mode.

    Sounds like: The sweetest, most polite muso I’ve heard. Softly spoken, eloquent and thanking everyone for coming, multiple times.

    Set: Cut short, with little to no time to sound check at SXSW, they must have eaten into their set time and thus, it ended abruptly. Bummer.

  12. SXSW 2014: Fat White Family come from nowhere to become a new favourite band…

    When I scanned the list of more than 1700 bands playing SXSW 2014, a couple of months ago, Fat White Family stood out. What a name. Today I saw the London band play and wow. Just wow.

    Reality: Far from their name, in front of me is actually six skinny white boys.

    Lead singer: Like a cross between Iggy Pop and Kirin J. Callinan, he was equally as entrancing. Between singing lyrics that were not for the faint of heart, he alternately shoved his hand down his pants quite “rigorously” (then sniffed it), writhed on the floor in front of the stage and tongue kissed his bassist.

    Their sound: So surprising, an they kept me guessing as they tipped their cap to The Cramps and The Black Lips but never sounded pastiche. There was a darkness to what they did, a kind of Southern post-punk grittiness (helped by their organist) that was thrilling.

    Calling it: Best surprise of SXSW. Also, relieved that I wasn’t standing right at the front when the guitarist seemed to blow chunks from his mouth. Made me feel ALIVE.

  13. I spent most of today at Mohawk, one of my most visited venues every year at SXSW, and also the site of the horrific crash that killed two people on Wednesday night, and injured more than twenty. Heavy heart.

    I spent most of today at Mohawk, one of my most visited venues every year at SXSW, and also the site of the horrific crash that killed two people on Wednesday night, and injured more than twenty. Heavy heart.

  14. Met up with Royal Blood this morning, the Brighton duo who make a heck of a racket for two humans. Mike (on the left) told me that he used to live in Australia for about 9 months on a working holiday. While here, he went to Splendour as a punter but managed to scam a free ticket by pretending his was a DJ. Well played. Apparently his DJ set? Not so well played.

    Met up with Royal Blood this morning, the Brighton duo who make a heck of a racket for two humans. Mike (on the left) told me that he used to live in Australia for about 9 months on a working holiday. While here, he went to Splendour as a punter but managed to scam a free ticket by pretending his was a DJ. Well played. Apparently his DJ set? Not so well played.

  15. Lucius are a luscious start to Friday. The Brooklyn band kicked off my midday with a harmony filled set. 

Aesthetic: Strong. Two lead singers with matching blonde bobs and dresses. Three blokes with matching black shirts, wooden buttons. Class. 

Sonic aesthetic: Honey dripped vocal harmonies from all five members, a classic balladry rooted in 50’s soul. You’d slow dance to Lucius. 

All rounder quality: 4 of the 5 band members had a drum or some kind of percussion in front of them, as well as their chosen instrument. 

Best bit: The day stage at the convention centre has some of the best sound at SXSW and this band’s warm and full sound were given space to shine. Also I got to sit down for a bit. Bonus.

    Lucius are a luscious start to Friday. The Brooklyn band kicked off my midday with a harmony filled set.

    Aesthetic: Strong. Two lead singers with matching blonde bobs and dresses. Three blokes with matching black shirts, wooden buttons. Class.

    Sonic aesthetic: Honey dripped vocal harmonies from all five members, a classic balladry rooted in 50’s soul. You’d slow dance to Lucius.

    All rounder quality: 4 of the 5 band members had a drum or some kind of percussion in front of them, as well as their chosen instrument.

    Best bit: The day stage at the convention centre has some of the best sound at SXSW and this band’s warm and full sound were given space to shine. Also I got to sit down for a bit. Bonus.