With the flood of music coming from Sweden, Josefine Lindstrand’s debut might be undeservedly left unnoticed. You won’t find much about it on the blogosphere, but by no means mistake not: Josefine is not a beginner in the music world. Swedish singer and pianist, Josefine, has previously collaborated with Django Bates and Uri Caine, as well as indie pop artist Maia Hirasawa and lent her vocals on two of Efterklang’s records. “Send Out The Singers”, from There Will Be Stars (2009), features a oh-so-lovely marimba and gentle whistlings that make this track irresistible. While “Jewels” carries tender vocals, elegant trumpet and piano arrangements recalling late-night cabaret jazz.
She & Him
After trying to catch She & Him twice before during SXSW, we were finally successful Saturday afternoon! Zooey and M. Ward were the headliners at the Rachael Ray day party at Stubb’s BBQ (a party Local Natives played a few hours earlier). Despite the freezing, gloomy mess that was Saturday’s weather, Stubb’s was at capacity with a line down the street. Strangely enough, when She & Him hit the stage decked out in their finest outerwear, the sun just began to peek through the clouds. Zooey and M. Ward (and the band) played a short collection of songs from both their debut (Volume One) and new release, Volume Two, including “This Is Not a Test” and their cover of the NRBQ song, “Ridin’ In My Car”. After playing “Change Is Hard,” Zooey brought out two familiar faces, Lily and Abby of Los Angeles’ The Chapin Sisters, to accompany her on background vocals. Their winsome, upbeat folk-pop was an ideal counter to the uncharacteristic cold weather, and a great start to the last day of SXSW! Take a listen to “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?” from the debut, and “Thieves” from Volume Two, which is out today:
I first stumbled upon Hey Marseilles at SXSW last year, and last fall Julija covered them at Bumbershoot in Seattle. This year we caught the Seattle natives play St. David’s Historic Sanctuary (the church we saw Sofia Talvik play a few days earlier), where they filled the gorgeous space with their unique brand of orchestral pop. Their set included “From a Terrace,” as well as a Daniel Johnston cover (“True Love Will Find You in The End”), before ending with an audience-assisted rendition of “Rio” (mostly involving a little call-and-response clapping on our parts). The band played a multitude of instruments including violin, cello, accordion, trumpet, drums, a concert bass drum, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards and the requisite tambourine & shakers (yes, the number of instruments on stage outnumbered band members). Halfway through the set, singer Matt Bishop said, “I haven’t been in a church in forever, but I’m sure glad to be here now.” From the standing ovation the crowd gave the guys of Hey Marseilles, they were glad to be there too. Hey Marseilles skillfully weave together complex orchestration and effortless melody; the result is music that is worldly, lighthearted, and reflective. If you haven’t been listening to the boys of Hey Marseilles since we first mentioned them, it’s best you start. Take a listen to two of my favorite tracks from their 2008 debut, Travels & Trunks:
A note from Serena (our photographer): “I saw a ton of awesome musicians play at SXSW and these guys were my fave!”
The Wave Pictures
We headed back to Latitude 30 on Saturday night to catch the tail end of the Moshi Moshi showcase; everyone else might’ve been freezing outside but we were doing just fine down on San Jacinto and 5th. The Wave Pictures were one of the last bands to play the showcase, and they made it worth the wait. The London based trio have been playing together in some form for over 10 years, resulting in an ease on stage that is palpable. David Tattersall (vocals, guitar), Franic Rozycki (bass) and Jonny Helm (drums)’s set included a new track, “Epping Forest” and “Strange Fruit For David”. For the song “God Bless The Reverend Gary Davis,” we were pleasantly surprised to see drummer Jonny Helm step out from behind the kit to take the vocal lead. The Wave Pictures’ songs are charming, funny and deeply emotive all at once. Their lo-fi, indie rock leans toward the sparse and simple, with a heavy emphasis on lyrics, served pretense-free by David Tattersall. Take a listen to “Just Like a Drummer” below:
Sheffield duo, Slow Club, closed out the Moshi Moshi showcase on Saturday night. Rebecca Taylor (percussion) and Charles Watson (guitar) started off the set with “I Wanna Live,” which they sung together with a sparse synth accompaniment. For the rest of the night, the duo played a set that would sway between the sweet and tenuously sung “I Was Unconscious, It Was a Dream” to the raucous upbeat energy of “Because We’re Dead,” and the audience loved every second. To qualify Slow Club as simply “folk” would be doing Rebecca and Charles a disservice — it’s a too-simple way to categorize their music which requires more nuance. Alternating between energetic rockabilly to soothing ballads, Slow Club manage to strike a balance. The set included a number of songs from their album, Yeah So, as well as a few new tracks. After Rebecca introduced the new song, “Gold Mountain,” she amended, “Well, not that new, since we’ve played it a million times this festival.” A million or not, it was still a treat. After inviting “all their mates” up on stage, they closed out the night with a cover of Tracy Byrd’s jubilant drinking ode, “Drinking Bone”. Though I’ve been a fan of Slow Club for a while, I’d never gotten a chance to see them live, and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Seeing the duo live for the first time was the perfect way to round out SXSW. Take a listen to “I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream” and “It Doesn’t Have To Be Beautiful” from Yeah So:
The Living Sisters
When The Living Sisters hit the stage at the Paste/Vanguard/Sugar Hill party at The Belmont, there was a slight change of line-up. Inara George, who is pregnant (and expecting very soon!) couldn’t make the trip to Austin. However, girls remained a trio, with Alex Lily (of Obi Best) filling in as a “step-sister”. We missed Inara, but Alex did a phenomenal job standing in, her crystalline voice blending gorgeously with Becky Stark’s and Eleni Mandell’s. Their set included “Double Knots” as well as a sweetly sung cover of the Doris Day classic, “Que Sera, Sera”. Alex and Eleni would alternate playing guitar, which remained the only accompaniment to their voices for the set. As Becky said, “We’re The Living Sisters… and we love to live.” Well ladies, we love you too. If you missed our feature of The Living Sisters, check it out here. Also, take a listen to another track off their upcoming album, Love To Live, the stunning “How Are You Doing”:
When Paul first broke MOVITS! on Aurgasm last year, they were unknown outside of Sweden. Luckily our readers took notice — did you hear the story of how Aurgasm managed to sell every MOVITS! cd in existence? (And apparently land them on the Colbert Report?) The guys just completed their first tour of the US earlier this year, and were at SXSW playing a handful of shows. We caught them keeping the energy up and laying down the jams on South Congress, at The Home Slice. MOVITS! already had the crowd dancing by the time Johan announced “And now the first official dance break of the day!” and the energy levels never faltered. After a song, Johan would briefly explain what the it was about, but the crowd wasn’t deterred by the language barrier and kept dancing for the whole set. Everyone may have been talking about Courtney Love and Hole’s show at Stubb’s, but the party was really happening south of the river.
As we discovered earlier today, Alex Lily was pulling double duty at SXSW this year (strangely enough, both were Aurgasm features!). After playing as part of The Living Sisters, Alex was joined by Bram Inscore (keys) and Mike Green (drums) to play the Victorian Room at the Driskill Hotel as Obi Best. According to Alex, this was their first SXSW show as Obi Best, and they didn’t disappoint. The trio kept the energy up, playing a handful of songs from the album Capades, such as “Swedish Boy” and “It’s Because of People Like You”. Despite Mike being sick, and Bram having two broken keys, Obi Best’s upbeat electro-acoustic jams kept the crowd cheering. They also played a few new songs, “Knock on Any Door” and “Tropical Fish” for those of us lucky to be in the audience. If you haven’t, check out our feature of Obi Best from back in 2008.
The guys of Local Natives have had a big year since we featured them last year. Now signed to a label and with a full-length out, they’ve been keeping themselves busy with touring… constantly. Andy, Kelcey, Matt, Taylor and Ryan just finished a tour of Europe when they hit SXSW… to play nine shows. (Yes, nine.) However, by the looks of the entirely packed tent at The Galaxy Room backyard (part of the Frenchkiss/Mom+Pop Showcase) on Friday night, nine might not have been enough! Local Natives are an amazing band to see live, their energy barely restrained as they pounded, clapped and sang with a fervor. If you like these guys on CD, you need to catch them on stage! Until then, take a listen to a more low-key take of “Camera Talk” that the guys recorded for us last year:
April Smith and the Great Picture Show
After a long wait outside, we finally made it into The Ale House, which was at full capacity (and remained full all night). We caught the tail end of April’s set, which was a great surprise. April Smith and the Great Picture Show played a boisterous and high-energy set of jazz-influenced songs that had The Ale House shaking with every stomp and clap. April and her band were a great surprise to catch in this week in Austin! Take a listen to the track “Movie Loves a Screen” below.
It was a tight fit on the tiny stage at The Ale House for Fanfarlo and their instruments (which included: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, mandolin, keys, bass, trumpet, clarinet, melodica, glockenspiel, and a tom). After a long set-up, Fanfarlo took the stage, and Justin Finch (bass) just exclaimed, “It’s a clusterf*ck!” — that was exactly it. However, after the chaos of arranging themselves on stage and sound-checking all their instruments, Fanfarlo proved it was worth the wait. They started off the night with “The Walls Are Coming Down” with an acoustic/acapella intro, but turned up the energy by the end of the song. Their complex instrumentations and lush melodies were a highlight of the night. Most of the band played musical chairs between the songs, switching up instruments frequently. By the end of the night, The Ale House was bursting with energy, as Fanfarlo played most of the tracks from their album, Reservoir, including “I’m A Pilot,” “Fire Escape,” and “Luna”. These guys have been a favorite of mine for a while, and are always even better live! Take a listen to “Luna” and “Harold T. Wilkins, or How To Wait For a Very Long Time” below:
If you’re familiar with The Hotel Cafe in Los Angeles, you’ll probably notice some overlap with the artists we feature and those who frequently play there. This is not entirely a coincidence, as I’ve been a fan and attendee of the Hotel for a number of years now. So it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that we hit the first night of their showcase at The Parish downtown.
Laura Jansen isn’t an entirely new face here on Aurgasm; she contributed vocals to the Jason Kanakis song, “Anything,” we featured last year. However, when she hit the stage at The Parish, it was with her own songs and her own band. The singer-songwriter’s set was filled with tracks from her two E.P.s (Trauma. and Single Girls). Whether Laura was playing the charming and tongue-in-cheek “Wicked World” or wistful “Single Girls,” there was an exceptional loveliness that permeated throughout the entire set. Take a listen to “Bells” from her Trauma. EP below, and keep an eye out for more Laura on Aurgasm!
Icelandic singer-songwriter Ólöf Arnalds has been a major part of the Icelandic music scene; most famously as a touring member of the experimental group Múm. However, since her solo debut, Við Od Við in 2007, it’s been clear that she’s a musical force solo as well. She played to a packed crowd at the Victorian Room in the historic Driskill Hotel on 6th Street. Ólöf’s set included a playful rendition of “Mr. Sandman,” the beautiful “Madrid” and a cover of Arthur Russell’s “Close My Eyes”. Before playing “Klara” Ólöf explained that she wrote the song for her younger sister’s 18th birthday. She told the crowd that earlier today they were video-chatting and Ólöf mentioned that she was a bit nervous about the show, to which Klara said, “Just remember that you are a giant.” Ólöf admitted, “I’ve been working on that today,” but truth be told, Ólöf had nothing to worry about — she had the crowd entranced from the beginning.
When I’ve previously seen Greg Laswell play live, it was usually solo, or perhaps with a guitarist, bassist and drummer. Not so at The Parish. Greg’s band was a much more fleshed out affair (if I counted correctly, they totaled eight). Rather than being overkill, the layered instrumentation gave an immense body to his songs, resulting in much grander live set. Greg played a number of songs from his previous albums, and previewed a few from his upcoming record. The new record, Take a Bow is set to release this May, but to tide yourself over until then, take a listen to “Around the Bend” below.
[If you look closely at the video above, you might spy Jason Kanakis!]
It’s been a few years since we mentioned Cary Brothers here on Aurgasm; we first posted about the singer-songwriter back in 2007. Since then, he’s dropped the major label, and is self-releasing his newest album next month. What has not changed, however, is Cary’s poignant songwriting. His set at The Parish consisted of entirely new material, and if that’s anything to go by, the new record is not to be missed. Until you can get a hold of the new album, here’s a song we featured a while back:
Icelandic indie rockers Seabear packed the tiny “stage” at The Hideout on Congress. They also packed the venue, with a line of hopefuls at the door waiting to get in (sorry if you didn’t make it in). The band played a number of songs from the latest album, We Built a Fire, which was released earlier this month. Seabear may have started as a one-man project of Sindri Már Sigfússon, but we’re glad he expanded to take on six other musicians. Their lush instrumentation and gorgeous melodies have made them a favorite of mine for a while. Seabear’s stop at SXSW kicks off their first ever U.S. tour, so catch them live if you can. If you can’t, just take a listen to one of my favorite tracks off We Built a Fire:
Nas and Damian Marley
After we arrived into Austin and got our badges and photo passes, we cut across town to catch the tail end of Levi’s annual FADER FORT. With a stacked line-up all week that includes Aurgasm favorites, Local Natives, we got to the Fort in time to discover Wednesday night’s “Special Guests” were none other than Nas and Damian Marley, who have a collaboration album, Distant Relatives, tentatively dropping this May. The crowd didn’t need any encouragement when Damian said, “If you’ve got a lighter, put it up in the air. If you don’t have a lighter, hold up your cell phone! …if you don’t have a cell phone, just hold up your hand.” Damian, in case you didn’t know, our hands were up since you first stepped on stage, and never dropped.
Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik may have played to a smaller crowd at St. David’s Historic Sanctuary on Wednesday night, but her poignant songs had the audience enraptured. Strangely enough, Sofia mentioned “This is the second church we’ve played in this tour. It’s weird, I’m not even religious!” Sofia’s songs, which range from melancholy to blithely anecdotal, all contain a hint of wistfulness within them. Set against the backdrop of a 157 year old church, Sofia’s dreamy folk-pop was a beautiful way to start the evening.
Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat and her autoharp may have run into a slight technical mishap during her set at Emo Jr.’s, but the crowd (and Basia) didn’t even falter. The folk songstress’ set included tracks from both her debut album Oh, My Darling, which was shortlisted for a Polaris Music Prize in 2008, and her newest record, Heart of My Own. Basia was backed by Allison “Wonderland” Stewart on viola and backing vocals, and her brother Bobby on drums, and all three kept the crowd at Emo’s wanting more.
Before English folkster Johnny Flynn started his set at Latitude 30, he told the crowd, “Tonight’s show is dedicated to my goldfish, who died today,” and started right in with the buoyant track, “The Box”. Playing songs from his 2008 debut, A Larum, as well as his newer Sweet Wiliam EP, Johnny kept the crowd tapping and bobbing their heads along with his marvelously upbeat and terrifically English indie folk. Though he was backed by a cellist, bass player, drummer & keyboardist, Johnny himself played acoustic and electric guitar, trumpet, violin and mandolin! His albums are some of my favorites to play in the car, but the multi-instrumentalist is best served live.
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