Posts Tagged ‘SXSW’

Not SXSW: Reflections

Monday, March 19th, 2012

The last week of receiving and listening to a huge amount of new music was an invigorating experience for me as a writer. It is very easy to get distracted by the day in, day out cycle of tweets, posts and snarky commentary that too often typifies online music coverage. Although there is no question that a SXSW appearance can be invaluable for certain bands, I must question the sincerity of an enterprise whose central is uniting the music press, record labels and corporations into an unholy alliance for a week of self-aggrandizing reinforcement over a dying business model that will certainly result in a loss for the vast majority of artists attending. No doubt the live experience is even more vital now than ever, but SXSW’s mission of “discovery” seems more beside the point than ever with the Internet at any artist’s or fan’s disposal.

I want to thank all the bands that sent me their music and engaged in a dialogue about South By Southwest. Please don’t take it personally if you were not featured. There was a ton of material to listen to, absorb, and hopefully say something meaningful about. Selections were mostly subjective and were limited by time and space, rather than my own disinterest in any of the material. I have saved every submission (around 40!) and may feature some of them in upcoming pieces. I leave with you a few stray groups that deserve your time and I hope you enjoyed listening to and reading this series as much as I enjoyed creating. And maybe, just maybe, it made you feel a little less cynical about music during a week when it’s easy to be a skeptic.

Younger : “New Message”

Younger is a Chicago/San Francisco collaborative duo who explore long-form compositions that combine disparate genre approaches. The epic-length “New Message” progresses form ambient to synth noodling and ends up as gorgeous Arthur Russell-inflected electronic pop. The juxtaposition is jarring at first, but repeated listens reveal the clever logic at work from a group that’s not afraid to combine current trends in popular music with an adventurous approach to composition. “New Message” is available on a 12″ from Positive Beat Recordings, due for imminent release.

Radio Shock: “Cucumber Salad”

“Cucumber Salad” is the last track on internal symmetry, the latest cassette from Radio Shock (available here). The self-described “Jank Music” of Radio Shock, the moniker of Brooklyn’s MP Lockwood, creates nasty, lo-fi jams that are a mix of purposefully clumsy techno, the cold aggression of Suicide and the don’t-give-a-fuck attitude of forgotten early aughts fashion punks A.R.E. Weapons. “Cucumber Salad” is a relatively terse and subdued piece, a user-friendly introduction to the world of Radio Shock.

Tetras – Pareidolia (Album Preview)

Tetras are an improvising trio consisting of Jason Khan, Jeroen Visser and Christian Weber. They have just released their debut double LP Pareidolia on Flingco Sound System, also available through VR friendly label/distro Experimedia. This 16-minute sampler contains selections from all the tracks on the album. I highlight Tetras not just because of their sterling international avant credentials and the very special chemistry the players have together, but also to draw attention to the fact that SXSW offers very little room for artists straying too far outside of the “rock” idiom, however broadly defined. Contemporary composition and improvisation, jazz and international music of all stripes are just a few musical worlds that are largely excluded from the party. This is particularly disappointing in the modern era, as genre definitions have collapsed and dude to the ubiquitous availability of massive music catalogs, listener adventurousness seems to be on the increase. It would be great for SXSW to give a platform to these emerging and increasingly popular musics.

Call For Submissions: Are You An Artist Who is Not Going to SXSW?

Friday, March 9th, 2012

As a kind of counter-programming to SXSW, Visitation Rites contributor Max Burke is putting together a series of features on artists who WILL NOT be attending the festival this year. He will be publishing the round-ups from Brooklyn over the duration of the Austin event, and is extending an open invitation to anyone who might be interested in submitting their work:

The entire music internet is about to descend on Austin for the next week. The hive mind/snowball effect of South by Southwest has become increasingly overheated in recent years, resulting in a non-stop slurry of hyperbolic tweets, “I was there!” Instagram posts and empty threats of hype, hype and more hype. As an antidote, for the next week or so I will be taking open submissions of bands and labels that are not participating in SXSW. Please send single tracks and videos with relevant background links . I can’t guarantee that all submissions will be written up, but I will make a good faith effort to listen to all of them with open ears.

Sightings: Soft Healer “Grand Isle” Live at Wurhaus

Friday, March 25th, 2011

For me, SXSW is a time to fall in love with new music and to remember the music that I already adore. The warm air and twilight BBQs certainly make it easy to lose your heart for a moment. In perhaps the oddest of settings, I was reminded of my deep affection for Austin based quartet Soft Healer. They played on the later side at a Libertarian bookstore called Brave New Books during a showcase put on by the members of Sun Araw and Prince Rama (Prince Sun Arawma). I had seen Soft Healer long ago in Los Angeles, but I was easily re-seduced by their skronk tinged, guitar groove fueled psychedelic rock. Amongst the numerous alien conspiracy books, Soft Healer’s set was one of the most cosmic aspects of the night. This video is not from that particular show, but from the previous day at Wurhaus. The song is called “Grand Isle” (a reference to The Awakening?) and is off of their new 10″ on Monofonus. Kick back and enjoy this interstellar jam.

Words: Samantha Cornwell

Soft Healer’s 10″ on Monofonus Records is available now.


Monday, March 22nd, 2010

SXSW 2010 was as blissed-out an exercise in excess as an exercise in excess can be. All in all, the Visitation Rites mobile reporting team (videographer Samantha Cornwell and I) probably caught more sun, saw more live bands, walked more miles, ate more tacos, drank more beer, laughed more, bickered more, took more photos, tweeted more tweets, shot more video, and reunited with more old friends than in all of 2009 combined. After five consecutive days of non-stop partying and documenting, however, we couldn’t help feeling a bit crestfallen when we realized that SXSW wouldn’t last forever.