March 11, 2012

If I Threw a SXSW Party... (A SXSW 2012 Preview)

This week, the music world and lucky wristband holders overrun Austin, TX for its 16th annual marathon festival and conference event known as SXSW (South by Southwest.) Day in and day out, exhausted bands pack into any location and venue fit for a show to play hundreds of official showcases and free sponsored parties (some multiple times a day) that likely include whoever you're listening to at this exact moment. While the purpose of SXSW is to shine a spotlight on the burgeoning younger generation, the likes of Springsteen and Jay-Z playing small, intimate shows prove that no band is too big or too small to make a headline. Add to that every single record label, website, magazine, trendy fashion brand, beverage maker -- you name it -- is putting their name on the week's events, it's safe to say everyone who is anyone will be in Austin this week. Except AwkwardSound. Unfortunately for AS, a small-time one-man band operation hasn't yet reached a certain level of success to throw its own party, but a blog can dream, can't it? Here's the 10 bands at this year's SXSW that AwkwardSound would love to have at its imaginary party. If you're messing with music in Texas this week, check them out on the days and locations provided...

Bleached
Tuesday, March 13th - Scoot Inn (1308 E. 4th St.)
Wednesday, March 14th - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St.)
Wednesday, March 14th - Hotel Vegas (1500 E. 6th St.)
Wednesday, March 14th - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St)
Thursday, March 15th - The Mohawk (912 Red River St.)
Thursday, March 15th - Club Deville (900 Red River St.)
Thursday, March 15th - Urban Outfitters (2406 Guadalupe St.)
Thursday, March 15th - 504 Trinity St.
Friday, March 16th - The W Hotel (200 Lavaca St.)
Friday, March 16th - Baby Blue Recording (1522 E. 12th St.)
Friday, March 16th - Longbranch (1133 E. 11th St.)
Saturday, March 17th - Red Eyed Fly (715 Red River St.)
Saturday, March 17th - Emo's East Side (2014 E. Riverside Dr.)

BUZZSound Bleached, which features the sisters Clavin formerly of Mika Miko, bring their sunny-sided blend of Los Angeles carefree noise pop to the SXSW stage for the first time. The duo has put out a string of singles on various labels thus far but has yet to detail a formal debut, so this could turn into the perfect opportunity to shop around their product. On the other hand, judging by the bands insane appearance schedule, Bleached may just be a group of garage rockers who are there to enjoy the all-day-all-night parties.

Bleached - "Searching Through The Past"


Ceremony
Friday, March 16th - Scoot Inn (1308 E. 4th St.)
Saturday, March 17th - Red 7 Patio (611 E. 7th St.)
Saturday, March 17th - 1100 Warehouse (1100 E. 5th St.)

If you're a regular reader of AwkwardSound, then it should come as no surprise to see Rohnert Park's Ceremony appear on this list. By the time SXSW arrived, they will have just released their highly Recommended Matador debut Zoo, an LP that's sure to garner a heavy amount of similar critical buzz and -- despite the fact that they've already had a huge following in the underground punk and hardcore scene -- a slew of curious newcomers from the indie elite. Expect swarms of sweaty all-age punks packed into tiny spaces wherever these Cali punk rockers appear.

Ceremony - "World Blue"


Charli XCX
Thursday, March 15th - Central Presbyterian Church (200 E. 8th St.)

Nobody on this list has more to prove in Austin than the UK's Charli XCX. SXSW will be among the very first times the 19-year-old goth pop starlet has ever performed on American soil and with both industry insiders and the music media in attendance there to give the rest of the world their first impressions on the recent IAMSOUND signee, Charli XCX can't run the risk of making any mistakes. SXSW is one incredibly diverse music fest however, and the BUZZSound's solo pop performer presence at the very least stands out already.

Charli XCX - "Nuclear Seasons"


Cloud Nothings
Wednesday, March 14th - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St)
Thursday, March 15th - The Mohawk (912 Red River St.)
Thursday, March 15th - The 512 (408 E. 6th St.)
Friday, March 16th - ND (501 Brushy St.)
Friday, March 16th - 1100 Warehouse (1100 E. 5th St.)
Saturday, March 17th - The Mohawk (912 Red River St.)

Dylan Baldi and his clan of pop-punkers have already made a huge name for themselves in 2012 with their phenomenal Steve Albini-engineered sophomore LP Attack on Memory, so it's no surprise that it looks they're also one of the most in-demand bands playing this year. What will be most interesting about Cloud Nothings' sets at SXSW is finding out how well they've merged the harder edges of that release alongside tracks from last year's self-titled lo-fi bedroom pop debut, if at all. Their showcases will also be among the most high-profile appearances for the Cleveland band as an official quartet, and given the success of Attack..., SXSW can very well make or break their future depending on how it all plays out.

Cloud Nothings - "No Sentiment"


DIVE
Wednesday, March 14th - MI Annex (22 E. 6th St.)
Wednesday, March 14th - Urban Outfitters (2406 Guadalupe St.)
Thursday, March 15th - The Mohawk (912 Red River St.)
Thursday, March 15th - Club Deville (900 Red River St.)
Friday, March 16th - Baby Blue Recording (1522 E. 12th St.)
Friday, March 16th - House party (3312 Pecan Springs Rd.)

Z. Cole Smith is getting as much buzz here on AS with his new project DIVE as his other band Beach Fossils seem to be, and rightfully so. The Brooklyn quartet has already won over the Brooklyn club circuit alongside the surrounding Tri-state and northeast regions, fine-tuning their lo-fi pop sound in the process. Now they're heading to Austin where they'll surely get ample feedback on the progress they've made, with their latest listen "Geist" suggesting that DIVE's music has evolved to fit the stage.

DIVE - "Corvalis"


The Men
Wednesday, March 14th - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St)
Thursday, March 15th - Elysium (705 Red River St.)

Next to Zola Jesus, The Men are the crown jewel of the Sacred Bones roster, and their new Recommended Listen Open Your Heart has let it be known that they're a tour de force to be reckoned with to anyone who didn't receive the message last year. Given the more accessible turn they've taken on their latest release alongside near-universal acclaim, it probably will not be much of a surprise if the consensus among wristband holders and partygoers leaving SXSW dub The Men as the new saviors of rock 'n roll.

The Men - "Oscillation"


Mr. Dream
Wednesday, March 14 - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St)
Wednesday, March 14  - Roy’s (340 E. 2nd St)
Thursday, March 15 - Bar 512 - Downstairs (408 E. 6th St)
Thursday, March 15 - Roy’s Austin (340 E. 2nd St)
Friday, March 16 - Lovejoy’s (604 Neches St.)
Friday, March 16 - 508 House - Outdoors (508 E. 8th St)
Friday, March 16 - The Grackle (1700 E. 6th St)

Unlike their current tour partners Cloud Nothings and one of their fellow SXSW showcase mates Screaming Females, Mr. Dream are the only band of the three who sound like they've worked with Steve Albini without actually having done so. The scuzzy Brooklyn punk trio just released a pretty excellent transitional EP in Fatherland, and AS' guess is that they'll be using the SXSW platform to show off their rock chops with material from their past, present and future catalog including forthcoming sophomore LP Montreal Sex Machine. Given Austin's hot and sticky weather pattern, Mr. Dream is also the year's most obvious candidates for "Band Most Likely to Play Shirtless."

Mr. Dream - "Fatherland"


Screaming Females
Wednesday, March 14th - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St)
Wednesday, March 14th - Bar 96 (96 Rainey St.)
Thursday, March 15th - Beerland (711 Red River St.)
Thursday, March 15th - Roy's (340 E. 2nd St)

Screaming Females have been making noise quietly across DIY venues and the underground scene for quite some time, but their upcoming Steve Albini-engineered release Ugly is aiming for a bigger audience. What better way to gain one than hitting up Austin's biggest festival where -- unlike most bands who aren't use to playing marathon sets -- these road warriors should have no issue delivering their all on stage regardless of how many times they appear in one day.

Screaming Females - "Wild"


Trash Talk
Wednesday, March 14th - Lustre Pearl (97 Rainey St.)
Thursday, March 15th - The Mohawk (912 Red River St.)
Friday, March 16th - Scoot Inn (1308 E. 4th St.)
Friday, March 16th - Icenhauer's (83 Rainey St.)
Saturday, March 17th - Emo's East (2014 E. Riverside Dr.)
Saturday, March 17th - Secret late night party (follow @trash_talk for details)

With Ceremony filling the spot as this year's more "subtle" taste of hardcore at SXSW, then Trash Talk will easily offset that when they set Austin on fire with their presence. Named AS' Best Live Act in 2010 and still riding high on last year's viciously excellent Awake EP, Trash Talk are the band you want to watch if you'd like to see whatever hole in the wall they're playing in close to being destroyed.

Trash Talk - "Slander"


Whirr

Wednesday, March 14th - Scoot Inn (1308 E. 4th St.)
Saturday, March 17th - The Iron Bear Bar (121 W. 8th St.)
Sunday, March 18th - The Beauty Bar (617 E. 7th St.)

SXSW will act as a coming out party of sorts for Whirr, a band who more often than not is footnoted as being a sideproject of black metal-making Deafheaven guitarist Nick Bassett (who will be pulling double duty in Austin with both bands.) It's one of the few times that the big, lush-sounding shoegaze band has stepped outside the confines of the Bay Area, but on the cusp of the BUZZSound's debut album Pipe Dreams due out this week on Tee Pee Records, here's hoping new eyes and ears will disassociate Whirr from it's members affiliations and hear them in their own unique loud light.

Whirr - "Blue"

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