Here ya go kiddies, more Picks for SXSW Music 2012. These bands – Brite Futures, Mind Spiders, Zulu Winter and Oh Mercy, were featured on The Kaffeine Buzz show that aired December 9, 2011 (listen to Episode 11 on Mixcloud).
When I saw Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head at SXSW 2009, I thought one of two things: 1) Damn! These guys are great live, using every square inch of the small stage while belting out tune after tune with enough power to change Morrissey’s mood from gloom to glam-bam-thank-you-ma’am. 2) I wonder how long they can get away with using Ms. Portman’s name?
It was a question I asked them when they performed in Denver a few months later, one that never quite got answered not because they were avoiding it, we just moved on to another topic that was far more interesting…like their music itself. At that time, it was come see, come saw on the part of fans as well. Buuuut it did catch up to them in 2010 and thus, the name change to Brite Futures.
And on the bright side, the new moniker is much shorter and lends a nod to optimism and hope, a thought processes needed to sustain the group through the proverbial departure from a major (Warner Bros/Atlantic) and on to greener pastures with Turnout Records, home to We Are Augustines, Cloud Control and Hey Champ, the latter of which dances with Brite Futures ‘round the electro campfire.
Last November the band released Dark Past, which lyrically, was somewhat of a journaling of everything the Brite members were confronted with and overcame over the past few years, wrapped up with colorful vocals and bubbling, positive beats that are indicative of the five kids from Seattle.
Brite Futures assembled premier CD and vinyl packages, which include the download of Dark Past along with a Limited Edition Poster (signed & numbered), T-shirt and of course, sunglasses…’cause, ya know, their future’s so Brite you gotta wear shades.
The troupe returns to Austin once again for SXSW 2012, having played it a few times by now, so they must consider themselves pros. Here’s a glimpse of what they personally experienced at SXSW 2011:
Pulling at the heartstrings and soul of Chuck Taylor rock and roll, Mind Spiders from Ft. Worth, TX, got its start through the efforts of frontman Mark Ryan, who while on break from his other band, Marked Men, wrote songs for what was supposed to be a side project.
After Dirtnap Records, the label that housed Marked Men, took a listen to the first 7”, Mind Spiders became Ryan’s new full-time gig, which led to adding members to complete the band.
In March of 2011 the self-title debut arrived, packing an adrenaline rush into nearly every track, from the “Mind Spiders Theme,” that rings with vintage analog dreams and a recorded-in-the-bathroom vocal mix, to “Neurotic Gold,” which provides a soundtrack for sauntering down the Bowery, circa 1979 (not in 2012, with the million dollar condos). “One Step Ahead” has the kind of jangle beat that leads a road trip mix, with “Close the Door” coming in later as you’re heading down the highway at 3am, feeling yourself become hypnotized by the white lines in the road.
In 2011, Dirtnap hosted a SXSW showcase featuring other label mates, Bad Sports, Mean Jeans, Something Fierce and Mind Spiders. I expect them to do the same thing this year. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, Dirtnap’s SXSW 2011 sampler is still available for free download.
In their home country, the members of London-based Zulu Winter – Will Daunt (vocals, guitar), Guy Henderson (drums), Dom Millard (keyboards), Henry Walton (guitar), Iain Lock (bass) – have been hailed and heralded into the darling category in the way The Vaccines were in 2011.
Now, the press is guilty of many things, and hyping flash-in-the-pan bands is definitely in the list of Top Ten Sins. But in the case of Zulu Winter there is a real reason for the excitement, a definite case of substance and potential for endurance over simply being the latest buzz-worthy band.
Being a new-ish outfit, Zulu Winter is in the debut E.P. stages, releasing “Never Leave / Let’s Move Back To Front” EP on Double Decker back in October of 2011.
This month Zulu Winter popped a new single up on Soundcloud, “We Should Be Swimming,” which is officially released February 27 on Play It Again Sam Records.
In addition to promoting their own music on the Zulu Winter blog, it’s also a platform to get the word out on their own personal interests that vary in a quite cerebral fashion. For Dom, his posting of a YouTube clip of Loie Fuller’s Serpentine Dance, posed a question to the reader on whether it was in fact shot on an Edison Kinetoscope, originally in black and white with a color filter added after the fact.
The irony is that if you combine the two, playing “We Should Be Swimming” while Miss Fuller swirls like a butterfly underwater, it’s quite lovely.
Just a few bars into Oh Mercy’s “Lay Everything On Me” and any evidence of today’s chaos is purged, being replaced with a relaxed, saucy, cocktail-hour of a mood, where the beats and rhythms are shaken, not stirred.
From Melbourne, the band got its start with Alexander Gow and Thom Savage, with the debut album release in 2009, Privileged Woes, setting the stage for a series of tours, including the opening band slot for Australia’s Crowded House, and an appearance at SXSW. Gow himself, speaking from what seems to be a used bookstore, speaks of the brothers Neil and Tim Finn, who are obvious influences on Oh Mercy.
When it was time for round two, Savage bowed out of Oh Mercy in a cordial fashion, given the two had been friends prior to their musical venture.
The writing of the sophomore album, Great Barrier Grief, took place in Brooklyn, where Gow sequestered himself for months until he had 30 songs in the bucket. Then it was on to Los Angeles to narrow those tracks way down, record and wrap it all up.
When Oh Mercy comes back to Austin for SXSW 2012, Go will be accompanied by Eliza Lam, Rohan Sforcina, and Simon Okely.