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SXSW 2018 Showcasing Artist Picks #1: Ume, Nation of Language, Mint Field


Each year roughly 2,000 bands travel from around the world for one of the most diverse music festivals in genre and country of origin. Having covered SXSW since 2002, this is a magical, abundant holiday for us music geeks. While the craziness of Sx can be a bit overwhelming with so many amazing sounds to choose from at every turn on 6th Street and beyond, those of us covering SXSW are here to help filter through chaos.

Here is the start of my series of SXSW music picks, the bands I’m looking forward to checking out live.


Lead singer and co-founding member of Austin-based Ume, Laura Langer, found thrash punk music in her teens and has never let go, even through the process of adulthood, marriage, and starting a family. It doesn’t hurt that fellow founding member and bassist Eric Larson is also her husband, with the two traversing the journey of writing, releasing music, record deals, and touring over the years. “Eric saw me play my first show ever when I was 15. He said if he ever saw that guitarist again he’d talk to her. A few months later, he saw my band play at a skatepark and we’ve been making music together ever since,” said Langer in a Facebook post promoting the #1RiffADay and #SheShreds Challenge.

On their last album, Monuments in 2014, Ume shifted gears between crash-through-the door, heavy-riffed tracks like “Chase It Down” to the stripped-down, melodic “Within My Bones,” filled with introspection as Langer’s heavenly vocals, which were strung consistently through each song on the record, the loud to the subtle, and in the between space of “Reason”. Previous to Monuments was the epic Phantoms album, filled with hook-heavy tracks like “Run Wild” that again, showcased Langer’s vocal reach.

Ume is now working on their next full-length album with Grammy-winning engineer and producer Stuart Sikes, with plans to release it this summer on Modern Outsider Records.

Having seen Ume perform at BST Summertime in Hyde Park in 2014, I can vouch that their show is not one to miss.

Check out their SXSW artist page for performance details:


Nation of Language

It’s always so wonderful to come across a young act that picks up the electro, synth torch, carrying it to new heights. Nation of Language is that band whose musical light is shining brightly.

After indie punk band Static Jacks went by the way side, the unfortunate fate of many a signed band, the Jacks’ lead singer Ian Devaney regrouped and formed the new sound of Nation of Language, sparked by inspiration from the band OMD. That led to a track dedicated to the Merseyside duo of Andy McCluskey and Paul Humphreys, who, by the way, released a stellar album in 2017, Punishment of Luxury. That song “Laudanum” definitely lives up to its name, slipping you into an intoxicating trip of speeding beats and bleeps as Devaney drives his vocals into fifth gear.

A droplet of “The Forest” intro guitar line glides along on “Indignities,” and the subtleties of “Bizarre Love Triangle” rhythms throb underneath the twinkling keyboards, courtesy of Aidan Noell, as Devaney showcases his vocal range, reaching back to his punk rock days.

Side note: Static Jacks toured with Wombats in 2012 on the Modern Glitch tour, and four years later the Nation of Language joined Wombats’ U.S. dates this year. Devaney also met his fiancé Noell at a Wombats show. I unfortunately got to the Wombats’ L.A. show right before the headliner came on, missing the opening acts. I’m making a strong point of not missing Nation of Language again when they play Sx.

For a more in-depth look at Nation of Language’s history thus far, I recommend the Stereogum “Band to Watch” piece by Ryan Leas, who’s seen many of their Brooklyn and NYC shows and chose “I’ve Thought About Chicago” as his favorite song of 2017.

Nation of Language at Rough Trade NYC:

Check out their SXSW artist page for performance details:



Mint Field

“This track is about the horizon, shadows and how infinite they are,” the band Mint Field says of their second single, “Quiero Otoño de Nuevo,” from the upcoming debut album, Pasar De Las Luces, due out February 23 on Innovative Leisure Records.

The Tijuana-based duo is highly astute in capturing the sound of infinity on “Ojos En El Carro” as well, enabling the listener to close their eyes as they float in a chamber of pink, gold, and purple, where life is free from internet noise and the craziness that is our present. They show fantastic finesse in layering the pedal-heavy psychedelic dirge with vocals that cascade so eerily and beautifully, in the way that Julie Cruise gave us chills at the opening of Twin Peaks.

Mint Field #JamInTheVan session at Coachella, 2016.

Track listing for Pasar de las Luces, Innovative Leisure Records, February 23:

El Parque Parecía No Tener Fin
Ojos En El Carro
Ciudad Satélite
Temporada de Jacarandas
Quiero Otoño de Nuevo
Cambinos Del Pasar
Boötes Void
Nada Es Estático Y Evoluciona
Club De Chicas
Para Gali
Párpados Morados

Check out their SXSW artist page for performance details:

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