For all their monolithic beats and emotionally complex lyrics, KINS have a wicked sense of humor. The band got its start in Australia and released its debut EP in 2011, which was given the amazing title Dancing Back And Forth Covered In Whipped Cream. After moving to Brighton, England, the quartet soaked up the coastal air and crafted their self-titled debut, releasing it to building acclaim last summer. Comparisons have been drawn to Radiohead and Alt-J, but neither of them have released an album cover as bizarrely hilarious as this.
It’s this kind of dichotomy that makes KINS an interesting band, and one to keep your eye on going forward. Their not-so-secret weapon is their rhythm section: drummer Alex Knight is a force to behold, and Rob Walters adds thick swaths of bass to the sound. Frontman Thomas Savage has a sweet, ethereal quality to both his guitar playing and his voice, while Queline Smith underpins it all with a bed of synthesizers. It all adds up to a potent combination. Album standout “Aimless” is anything but aimless, shifting effortlessly from wall-of-sound explosions into atmospheric explorations. Lots of bands–past and present–try this style; KINS is one of the few that succeeds.
Catch KINS at SXSW 2014:
Wednesday, Mar 12: Red 7, 3:10pm
Wednesday, Mar 12: Haven, 9:00-9:40pm (official showcase)
Thursday, Mar 13: KUTX Live at the Four Seasons, 7:00am
Friday, Mar 14: Palm Park, 2:30-3:15pm
Saturday, Mar 15: Latitude 30
In the music world, you don’t hear of much emigration from Brooklyn. For the past decade, it’s been a hotbed for musicians, but count Keegan DeWitt out. The Oregon native found himself in Brooklyn trying to balance both his job and music against the high cost of living. “I found myself putting 50% effort into both that job and my music,” he told American Songwriter, so he packed up and headed for another music Mecca: Nashville.
There, he was able to make music his full-time job. DeWitt started out by scoring films, earning buzz from the SXSW Film Festival and the New York Times, and composing allowed him expand his musical scope. But the songwriting bug soon bit after meeting several multi-instrumentalists in Nashville. After performing around the country under his own name for a few years, DeWitt decided to form Wild Cub in 2012 with his Nashville friends. Last year, the quintet self-released their debut, titled Youth. Indie label Mom + Pop decided to give the record a wider push after lead single “Thunder Clatter” started charting in Britain.
Wild Cub recently stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A for a live session, and they did not dial anything back. First-hand experience: “Thunder Clatter” sounds fantastic in the live setting, and luckily, the band returns to Austin for SXSW 2014.
Catch Wild Cub at SXSW 2014:
Monday, Mar 10: The Mohawk, 7pm
Wednesday, Mar 12: The Swan Dive
Friday, Mar 14: Stubb’s, 8:00-8:40pm (official showcase)
Austin’s Walker Lukens is a big fan of folk music, but with the recent success of bands like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers, he felt like the sound had become over-saturated. So he decided to experiment with the form: Lukens bought a looping pedal and started created his songs from the ground up, sampling his voice and guitar in interesting ways while keeping the inherent melody intact. He also hired a band (the Side Arms) to flesh out these experimentations in the live setting. These two directions–folk and electronic, acoustic and rock-and-roll–came together on Lukens’s 2013 breakout, Devoted. There’s a reason why he’s capturing attention not just in Austin but nationwide, from NPR to American Songwriter and Billboard.
Lukens is definitely one to watch for SXSW 2014, and he recently stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A for a live session. He left the Side Arms at home and instead bared down on his looping pedal, showing how he can transform a simple song like “Lover” into a towering ballad.
Catch Walker Lukens at SXSW 2014:
Tuesday, Mar 11: Empire Control Room, 3pm
Tuesday, Mar 11: Empire Control Room, 9:00-9:40pm (official showcase)
Christian Peslak and Steve Marion are perfectly complementary. The two New Jersey natives have been making music together since high school, and nowadays they find themselves fronting the buzzed-about Saint Rich and touring with Dr. Dog. In the live setting, Peslak takes on the Mick Jagger role, strutting around the stage and bending his body to hit the high notes, while Marion serenely conjures up lead guitar licks that are both melodic and swaggering. Offstage, Marion turns into the showman while Peslak takes it all in; you’d think the two are brothers with the way they complete each other’s thoughts.
While still in their mid-twenties, the pair are practically music veterans. In 2011, Peslak and Marion released an album under the name Delicate Steve via David Byrne’s own record label. The record–all instrumental, with hints of tropicalia and African rhythms–received glowing praise from the New York Times and fellow bands like Dirty Projectors and tUnE-yArDs. A few years later, the two jammed on some new, more classic-rock inclined songs when other Delicate Steve members couldn’t make it to practice. Saint Rich was born, and last fall, they released their debut album, Beyond The Drone, via Merge Records.
Peslak and Marion make the musical switch seem easy. Saint Rich’s songs are just as intricate as Delicate Steve’s freeform jams, but there’s also a simple, power pop-influenced immediacy. The band recently stopped by KUTX’s Studio 1A to show off the new sound, and “Officer” was one of the highlights. Peslak directly taps back into his teenage years, wondering why the local police officer keeps hassling him for the (mostly) innocuous adventures he and his friends get into. It’s a big, wide grin of a song, funny and charming and hook-filled.
Catch Saint Rich at SXSW 2014:
Thursday, Mar 13: Parish, 8:45-9:25pm (official showcase)
Friday, Mar 14: Hotel Vegas, 7:50-8:20pm (official showcase)
Saturday, Mar 15: Homeslice Pizza, 3:30pm
Saturday, Mar 15: Spiderhouse Ballroom
Photo by Sabrina Rush
All this week, KUTX is highlighting the “Ones To Watch”–seven must-see artists at SXSW 2014.
The music of Angel Olsen is big and bold, and the power largely comes from her phenomenal voice. The St. Louis native is enjoying a rapid rise–her second album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, is already being hailed as one of the year’s best. Olsen brings her dynamic sound to Austin for SXSW 2014, and you can catch her at the following shows:
Wednesday, Mar 12: The Mohawk, 4:00pm
Friday, Mar 14: Central Presbyterian Church, 8:10-8:40pm (official showcase)
Friday, Mar 14: Red Eyed Fly, 12:00-12:40am (official showcase)