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Jen’s Band Picks for SXSW 2010

The Antlers

The Antlers

After listening to Hospice on a rainy road trip from Athens, it became my favorite album of 2009. Solemn with dark subject matter, but so beautiful and intimate that you don’t struggle with wallowing in Silberman’s heartbreak. In January, I saw them put on a powerful and haunting show at a tiny packed venue in Akron, OH. I left thinking a lot more people should have seen that. The Antlers play Friday, March 19, 3:45pm at the Brooklyn Vegan Party at Club Deville.

The Deep Dark Woods

These Canadians put the ‘country’ in alt-country. Winter Hours is one of my favorite albums of 2009 – heartbreaking lyrics, beautiful harmonies, mourning yet soothing vocals. It has gotten a lot of spins by me this cold winter and I was beyond stoked when I saw they were coming to Austin. I’ll be front and center for them at Hear Ya’s party, Friday, March 19, 12pm at Beauty Bar.



I only discovered Midlake this past Fall when a friend played a 2006 song, “Roscoe.”  How did I ever miss this song? The newly released The Courage of Others is less inspired by classic rock (read Fleetwood Mac), leaning in closer to late 60’s British folk rock. It’s definitely darker, and is all kinds of amazing!  Perfect winter music – contemplative, lush, melancholy. Lots of comparison to early King Crimson. Midlake plays its official SXSW showcase on Thursday, March 18, 1am at Buffalo Billiards.


Bang Bang Eche

Dancetastic punk from four New Zealand teens. They were featured on a KEXP live show last year and their frenetic music is addicting! I’m thinking this may be how I go out Wednesday night, 1am at Valhalla.



My favorite discovery of SXSW 2009. I stumbled upon them at Emo’s Annex and was instantly impressed with their melodic string sound and superb musicality (reminiscent of Beirut). Perfect time of day, perfect buzz, perfect band, perfect moment. I’ve been waiting to see them ever since. Check them out at the Paste Magazine Party @ Galaxy Room on Thursday, March 18, 2pm.

The Love Language

Now, to one of my top shows of 2009.  I saw them up close in a small room at the Monolith Festival at Red Rocks in Denver, and the smile never left my face. This band is an absolute joy to watch. It’s difficult to place The Love Language into any particular genre (or for that matter decade), though there is definitely a boppy ‘60s vibe. A sweet live show full of energy and joy. Try to catch them Thursday, March 18, 1:30pm at the WOXY/Homeslice Pizza patio out on South Congress. If not there, than on March 20, 1:30pm at the IFC Live In-studio, or Saturday, March 20, 2:30pm at the PureVolume Party.

Fang Island

Fun, fast, driving, upbeat rock tunes that are like one screaming guitar shred, but with three guitarists. I’ve gotten to know this band more through their videos, including a clip of them performing live for a classroom of kindergartners ( So awesome. I’m thinking these guys are headed for some decent buzz in Austin, and I’m very excited to see them live.



Native’s first full-length Wrestling Moves was produced by Chris Commons, the drummer of These Arms are Snakes. ‘Nuff said!! I’m not sure I love Bobby Markos’ voice, but the drums are off-the-chain. Catch these math rock Midwest boys Friday, March 19, 11pm at the Sargent House party at Habana Calle 6 (with Fang Island).

Memory TapesMemory Tapes

Dayve Hawk uses backing track (Loney, Dear style) in this blissed-out synthpop, but with live drums, guitar and vocal. Apparently this dude never plays live, and may never again, so don’t miss out! He’ll be all over the place in Austin, but I’m thinking Saturday, March 20, the 10pm show at Cedar Street Courtyard would be muy perfecto!


The Middle East

Australian band making their first US appearance in Austin (then on to Coachella and Sasquatch). “The seven-member group uses a wide array of instruments, including the glockenspiel of all things, to create a harmonically-dense indie-folk sound.” Sounds right up my alley! Catch them at the Brooklyn Vegan showcase at Club Deville on Wednesday, March 17, 10pm or Paste Magazine Party at the Galaxy Room on Thursday, March 18, 5pm.



Fun electro-pop from Norway with a supposed impressive live show. If shaking your romp seems like a good way to start the day, the group is at Cedar Street Courtyard Thursday, March 18, 11am.


Local NativesLocal Natives

Okay, two drummers…that’s really enough for me. But after spinning Gorilla Manor for the past two weeks, I’m completely addicted. Comparisons to Fleet Foxes and Grizzly Bear aside, this is more an amalgamation of multiple genres and regional influence. From “Sun Hands” to “Warning Sign,” the album is all over the place, and this has become my most-anticipated act of SXSW. These guys are going to have a huge year. With at least ten shows, you won’t be able to miss them! I recommend Cedar Street Courtyard Friday March 19, 3pm with Delta Spirit (another must-see…below) and Temper Trap.

Fair to Midland
Not unlike Porcupine Tree, Fair to Midland is a progressive metal band that’s been around for over a decade making heady, powerful, eclectic music. When I need to mix it up and get my metal on, it will be FTM. Fair to Midland is playing Sarathan Records party @ Friends Bar on Friday, Match 19, 1am).

Titus Andronicus

This act reminds me of the screaming Conor Oberst in Deseparecidos. I missed their radical SXSW set at Maggie Mae’s last year that got great reviews. They’re performing at Fucked Up’s official SXSW showcase at Red 7 Patio with Rival Schools and Dinosaur Jr.’s J. Mascis, on Saturday, March 20, 8pm.


Retribution Gospel Choir

Poppy melodic traditional rock with some dubby guitar riffs. Haven’t heard much, but I like the Kozelek cred (Mark Kozelek, initially a member of the band, produced the band’s first record in 2008 on his Caldo Verde label) and dig the track “Hide it Away.”



After seeing them at last year’s SxSeattle party at SXSW, I was hooked. I’m not sure why they’re not huge yet. Absolutes is one of my top albums of 2009. Piano driven, anthemic rock with painfully honest lyrics and a passionate (and adorable) front-man. Oh yeah, and super cool guys, too. What’s not to love?

Broken Bells

Broken Bells

The self-titled debut, Broken Bells, a collaboration between James Mercer and Danger Mouse, is essentially a Gnarls Barkley album with Shins-style vocal lines and lyrical themes. In two words: it’s awesome. Catch them at Thursday, March 18, 11pm at the NPR Showcase (Stubb’s) or Friday, March 19, 11pm at Dickies Sounds (Lustre Pearl).


Carolina Chocolate Drops

This is a first-band-of-the-day-sit-out-on-sunny-patio-listening-to-old-timey-string-band band. The band plays the Paste Magazine Party @ Galaxy Room (inside stage) on Wednesday, March 17, 4pm – right before Roky Erickson w/Okkervil River.



Not your average folk band. The ethereal, beautifully crafted music is gorgeous. But Jonathon Meiburg’s bellowing vocals and dramatic sonic scope penetrate my bones. I first saw the former Okkervil River member sans band, singing to six of us at Criminal Records in Atlanta. I kept looking around in disbelief that so few of us were witnessing this. I was mesmerized, and still am to this day. Paste Magazine Party @ Galaxy Room (inside stage) on Thursday, March 18, 1pm.


Delta Spirit

It’s ridiculously silly how good these guys are live. I saw them six times last year, including twice at SXSW, and a special trip to Shubas in Chicago to see them with Other Lives. Do not miss! Cedar Street Courtyard Friday, March 19, 1:50pm.


Rival Schools

Post-hardcore 90s super group. After a few reunion shows last year, Schreifels recently confirmed a follow-up to the much underrated United by Fate to be released this summer. I cannot express in words how exciting this is. Rivals Schools play Red Patio 7 on Saturday, March 20, 11:15pm.


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