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KO’s Band Picks for SXSW 2010

The Crookes


The Crookes

I couldn’t help but think of Morrisey when The Crookes single “Chorus of Fools” first stole my heart. I guess I wasn’t that original, because The Crookes bio reads, “Influenced by the optimism of The Beatles walking down the airliner steps at New York airport in ’64 and the melancholy of The Smiths waiting by the cemetery gates in Manchester in ’84,The Crookes tap into 50 years of British pop for their sounds, and 100 years of British social history for their words.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

But this isn’t a return trip to those cemetery gates to lay flowers on The Smiths’ grave. The Crookes take you on a tour to new magical lands, filled with optimism and sparkle. Again, not a lot of info on the lads, so I can’t tell who from the group – George, Alex, Daniel, or Russell – is responsible for the lead vocals, but they are pure honey. This is complemented by lush lyrics, crafted with heart and passion.

Mar 17 SXSW – Dirty Boots Launch Party @ Wave Bar Rooftop, 6th St. – 1:00P Austin
Mar 18 SXSW Yorkshire Showcase @ Latitude 30 – 12:00P            Austin
Mar 18 SXSW – Friends Bar, 6th St – 10:25PM         Austin
Mar 19 SXSW Caffe Medici, Guadalope & 22nd (University District) – 3:00P       Austin
Mar 20 SXSW – PRSF British Music Abroad Brunch – British Music Embassy @ Latitude, St. Jacinto – 12:00P            Austin

RSVP at (Yorkshire Showcase)


Viva City

This U.K. band begins its trek through the U.S. in Colorado, starting off in Ft. Collins to play Road 34, and then at the Meadowlark on Saturday, March 13.

Considering Viva City’s explosive electro-dance floor bangers, the group is bound to blow out the walls of the small venue on Larimer. I would be jealous of those attending if it were not for the fact that me and my mates will have three chances to booty shake to Audio Endlessly” and Viva City’s latest track, “Have You Ever Felt So Messed Up,” which comes out in the U.S. on March 22.

A music source that has brought me much joy over the years, BBC 6 Music, has paid high tribute to Viva City summing things up with two simple words: “sheer genius.”

Mar 12 Road 34 at 8pm – Fort Collins
Mar 13 The Meadowlark-  9pm Denver
Mar 15  On The Rox @ The Roxy – 8pm Hollywood
Mar 16 SXSW The British Embassy, Latitude 30 – 7pm Austin
Mar 18 SXSW Dirty Boots @ The Wave Bar – Austin
Mar 20 SXSW The Prague – Austin
Mar 28 The Viper Room – 10pm Los Angeles


We Were Promised Jetpacks

With a daring sense of urgency deliver by We Were Promised Jetpack is at times also complemented with a subtly that pours in like San Francisco fog over the Golden Gate at rush hour. Adam Thompson’s vocals are mesmerizing and at times, breathtaking to behold. Although their sound is known for its heart-racing energy, some of my favorite moments come through the delicate natures of songs like “Keeping Warm,” the acoustic version where the musicianship shines.

The Scottish band must have packed out the room at Monolith, because I got close enough to the door and was told they were at capacity. Then they actually came through Denver again last Saturday for a show at Hi-Dive and I was tied to this computer until the wee hours.

Thankfully there are six chances to breathe We Were Promised Jetpacks into your cellular structure, or to check them out multiple times during the course of SXSW. I can already feel the sweat of the band and the audience going crazy to ironic song title, “Quiet Little Voices,” from their 2009 release, These Four Walls.

Mar 12 Grog Shop      Cleveland, OH
Mar 13 The Summit (+18)      Columbus, OH
Mar 14 Radio Radio (+21)     Indianapolis
Mar 15 The Old Rock House St. Louis, MO
Mar 17 SXSW – Fader Fort – 3:45P    Austin, TX
Mar 17 SXSW – Parish – 11:00P         Austin, TX
Mar 18 SXSW – Galaxy Room – 3:30P          Austin, TX
Mar 18 SXSW – Yard Dog Gallery – 5:00P    Austin, TX
Mar 19 SXSW – Mohawk – 1:00P      Austin, TX
Mar 19 SXSW – Emo’s East – 5:00P  Austin, TX


Let's Wrestle

Let’s Wrestle

When reading a band’s bio, nine times out of ten there’s an “art-school-meets-guitars” moment in there somewhere. The “thing” that brought the band together. But meat and records; that is a new one.

That seems to be the way the menz in Let’s Wrestle bonded. Meat and records, dice and fruit cake, Twinkies and pretzels. It doesn’t matter. What does is the debut release on Merge Records, In The Court Of Wrestling Let’s, out soon after the dust settles from the British invasion at SXSW 2010.

“I’m In Love With Destruction” is a great representation of the sunny and sharp side to Let’s Wrestle, where the vocals and organic harmonies are fresh and bright, like a ride ‘round the merry-go-round, while the vocals push you off into the tanbark where your face grazes a wrapper from the night before, promoting “ribbed for her pleasure.”

Lots of wha-wha guitar and pedal work, rubber band-aided to melancholy lyrics in “My Arms Don’t Bend That Way, Damn It!” doesn’t stop one from bobbing and swaying to the melody with a smile, even as singer and guitarist Wesley Patrick Gonzalez revels in “My friends are in prison/ and I swear I want to go / ‘cause I hate everyone.”

Read the rest of the review of In The Court Of Wrestling Let’s

Alvarez KingsAlvarez Kings

I must have played the Alvarez Kings’ single “You Me Us Them” that’s posted on the SXSW website at least 20 times already. The hooks from this South Yorkshire four-piece are made of solid steel with a crafty barb at the end. Basically, there’s no letting go.

I’m a huge fan of putting bass in the forefront, and this song alone has me so excited to see Alvarez Kings for the first time. The lead vocal from Simon grabs you by the ears and penetrates your brain. I got more of a taste from, where the kimono opens to reveal even more musical gems (“An Honest Dilemma” “Funeral Reunion,” and “The Sequel”), including the soon to be released Debut Single on March 29.

So far it looks like they only have one gig scheduled – the official showcase on Saturday, March 20, BD Riley’s at 8:00pm, but will be in Austin for the duration. If we hear of newly announced performances, we’ll come back and update this post.

Zlam Dunk

When I hear a band has ordered from the King of Schwag Catalog and plans to give away “Sunglasses, coozies, foam fingers, VHS copies of Purple Rain” to music fans, that automatically puts them in the Picks list for SXSW. Foam Fingers. Come on!

The fact that they’re ranging a party in my ears before the first beer is popped is pure bonus at this point. I think Zlam Dunk will wear the crown, although it may get a bit bent in the process, for bringing the party to the mass of people coming into Austin.

With a definite lean into the punk rock pond, fueled with intense in vibrant vocals, these Texas boys know how to get down and get you down on the dancefloor. They’ve been known to pack ‘em out, and I’m sure SXSW will be no different.

Zlam Dunk plays:

Mar 16 Triple Crown Pre-SXSW PARTY!!   San Marcos, Texas
Mar 17 Red River Music Blog Launch Party @ The Parlor – 12pm   Austin
Mar 17 FREE Club Primo’s W/ Ringo Deathstarr, Motel Aviv – 8:00pm      Austin
Mar 18 SXSW free @ PLUSH! – 12:00pm    Austin
Mar 20 ALT PRESS SXSW Day Party @ Emo’s – 12:00pm            Austin
Mar 20 Official SXSW Showcase @B.D. Riley’s – 7:00pm  Austin
Apr 22 Sewell Park RIVERFEST w/Swayze and The Couch – 8pm             San Marcos

Race Horses

I’ve mentioned I’m a big fan of ‘60s Brit-Pop, and Race Horses take me right back in time, complete with pop-perfect backing harmonies (She wanted cake, cake, she wanted cake, woooooo) and guitar lines. The group’s melodies have the lofty loveliness of Queen with the periodic quirkiness of a Yellow Submarine ride piloted by the Monty Python crew. Simply brilliant.

I couldn’t find a lot of information on them, other than on Doing a search on delivers the Music From Wales showcase as part of the British Music Embassy series during SXSW. It seems they spend most of their time touring the U.K., which is logical I suppose. But I hope when Meilyr Jones, Alun Gaffey, Dylan Hughes, and Gwion Llewelyn venture stateside the bond will be formed and Race Horses will make a plan to return sometime soon.

Race Horses perform on Thursday, March 18 (showcase starts at 3pm, not sure of their particular time slot) at Latitude 30, along with Polly Mackey, Cate Le Bon and Straight Lines. More information at


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