Since opening up my call to artists who are not attending SXSW, I’ve been inundated with an array of great new music. As the clock ticks away at SXSW, I’ve attempting to listen to and sift through all this material as fast as possible. In the next few days I’ll have some more elaborate and well-defined features, but for this go-around I wanted to shine the spotlight on some artists who have a minimal Internet presence beyond a Bandcamp or Soundcloud page, and whose sound should have much wider appeal. Underground music has reached a critical mass of outlets and points of distribution, and day after day music pours itself out of artists and onto the Internet. The greatest and most awe-inspiring result is how excellent much of this music is, how it fulfills the promise of discovering your new favorite band out of nowhere.
Alex Tedesco: “Trust”
Alex Tedesco is an artist from Detroit who started off working in sound collage and ambient modes. With his just-released Pretty Lies album (available on Bandcamp and Soundcloud) he has gone all in on songwriting. His deep baritone is most strongly reminiscent of Magnetic Fields, but the inventive production and theatrical flourishes of his music bring to mind Xiu Xiu and a host of other nu-goth cohorts who have wedded transgressive lyrical content with the benefits of cheap and easy access to sophisticated production techniques. “Trust” is one of the more beautiful and understated tracks, but Pretty Lies is a fully formed musical statement, worthy of your time and attention.
Wapinitia is a one-man bedroom recording project from Maryland. “Bed” is a gnarly, no-nonsense jam that dates from 2009. Most of Wapinitia’s material is acoustic, but the blown-out distortion of “Bed” is more compelling to my ears. As far as new music credibility goes, this is the first time that any Wapinitia material has been highlighted online.
Soft Parts: “Bay 12″
Soft Parts’ music came to me in the most mysterious way possible: in an email, with the subject “Submission” and just a Soundcloud link. The Bandcamp page is no more enlightening: “just some guy,” it states in the headline. The music on offer is sound collage, a bit too dynamic to be ambient or droney, instead reminiscent of scene luminary Oneohtrix Point Never’s sample-based symphonies in miniature or a damaged take on Monster Rally’s goofy po-mo pop. “Bay 12″ is a bite-size chunk of the oeuvre to date, concisely conveying the dizzy, transporting vibe and brittle atmosphere that exemplify the Soft Parts sound. The longer “Carbon Dating” is also highly recommended; a bit more space to breathe allows the compositional sophistication of Soft Parts to reveal itself.
Palmz: “Teenage Heartthrob”
Finally, Palmz from beautiful Santa Cruz, California bring us a video that some classic footage from the Florida Department of Tourism with a gorgeous, throwback doo-wop song. Palmz is led by Lexie Corfiatis, and the group’s embrace of early rock’n'roll aesthetics is refreshingly devoid of irony, avoiding the contrivances of Best Coast and often achieving the haunting catharsis of contemporary masters like The Sandwitches. All of this is on display on the mini-album X-Ray of Fun, which glides effortlessly between ethereal, shoegaze-influenced guitar jams and pitch-perfect girl group pop. It’s a miracle that the group hasn’t found a wider audience, as they seem to be hitting all the right points of influence in a highly personal and refreshing manner.
Words: Max Burke