Thursday, April 07, 2011

Ten Favorite SXSW Discoveries: Part Three

Two full weeks after the end of South by South West, and the afterglow is finally beginning to fade. Kanye West’s smell has drifted from East Austin and we are sadly reminded that beer is far from free. Of course with the help of Covert Curiosity and Do512, the party never truly has to end. Austin music alone is certainly enough to satiate the musical appetites of all. And so I give to you, with sights toward SXSW 2012, the third and final segment of my “Ten Favorite SXSW Discoveries”.

The Lines

Photo via Erin Park

It is safe to say the Lines are best when seen live. This is not to say that their recorded work is not phenomenal, but the live show is mind-blowing in the purest sense of the term. And Robert Plant agrees, “There aren’t really many good bands coming out of Wolverhampton, just one great band called the Lines”. With each member serving as a part-time percussionist, the concentrated rock and roll rhythmic pulse propels the ensemble forward. Alone the ride the audience is treated to moments of theremin, melodica, and incredibly sexy UK accents. Utilizing stylistic elements of Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, The Lines do not sell themselves short when it comes to influences. While reviving the energy of the 70’s The Lines allow for a contemporary take on the classic. I caught up with drummer Dave O’Connor after their Do512 Lounge Session, and learned that the band played a whopping 11 shows during SXSW, and quite rightly. I am sure all of Austin was as blown away as I was, and the charming Beatles haircuts certainly did not hurt. You can download their second single, El Matador, here, and I highly recommend checking out as many live video recording as Youtube will allow.

Rocky Business

Photo via the Village Voice

The song is called “Kim Kardashian” and the hook repeats “People don’t dance no more, they just stand there like this. They cross their arms and stare you down, they drink and moan and piss”. In a single number there are countless things to love. Furthermore, any band with a rapper and guitarist scores automatic gold stars in my grade book. I am a sucker for the out of the ordinary. It would be unfair to compare them to Gym Class Heroes. Rocky Business errs more toward the underground and grassroots and subsequently produces more interesting product, their indie status allows for this. That said, the same general thing is going on with Rocky Business as with Gym Class Heroes and the latter certainly opened the doors for such genre bending. Every Rocky Business’ song is an exercise in boundary pushing. The rhymes of Strictly Business feature tales from the hood similar to Tupac and Talib Kweli, while Johnny on the Rocks provides top-notch Brooklyn indie rock. How the two blend together with so few seams is I do not know, but I do know that I dig it and am looking forward to catching them next time they come through.

The Mighty Stef

Photo via Do512

In 2003 we all mourned the loss of Johnny Cash, and regrettably many of my generation were never able to see him perform. Enter The Mighty Stef. Front-man, songwriter and guitarist Stefan Murphy honors Cash’s legacy with a buttery baritone croon, and honest sorrowful lyrics. The rhythm section captures the heavy old west ambiance, and with no pretension, produces an airtight sound that is both technically and emotionally impressive. That is most striking about the outfit, is their organic hybridizing of classic rock and roll with Irish and American folk. This is music to cry to, to drink to, to party to. These are the type of guys you can talk to after the show with no worry of being shot down, Stef might even buy you a beer. Their video to “Death Threats” is simply beautiful, and would provide and thorough and attractive taste. Do your inner bleeding heart a favor and spend some time with The Mighty Stef.

Thomas Jeffason

Photo via Thomas Jeffason

Along with music, fashion is one of my many passions. For this reason I was delighted to see the two combined at the trial launch of “Style By”. For a first run, the effort was impressive, but instead of discovering an outstanding new designer, I found the final artist for my series. Dennis Thomas and Jefferson Smith were planted near the exit of the event handing out their freshman record, “Live From Kingsville”. Frankly, I was not optimistic when I slid the disk into my laptop, but after the opening prayer, I was quickly converted to fandom with the bass heavy beat and melodic hook. This is standard R&B hip-hop, fully loaded with expert production, clever rhymes, and crooning vocals, but without the major label processing that often pollutes great music. Their album is not for sale, but if you e-mail them at, they will send you the file for download. I will end this series with the best line in all of SXSW, courtesy of Thomas Jeffason: “She only want the carrots in her life, like a vegan do.”