Rick McNulty hosts Left of the Dial on Fridays 7-11pm and Uptown Saturday Night on Saturdays, 7-10 pm. Follow him on Twitter @Rick_Daddy
The circus is back in town and it’s bringing over 1,700 musical acts begging for your attention. With so much extraneous noise up in your grill, I’m here to help by endorsing five artists who are mostly under the radar but worthy of your attention. The nighttime showcases can be a crapshoot and difficult to get into; I recommend tracking down the bands you want to see and catch them in the daytime. There’s something magical about reaping the benefits of SXSW for free and in the daylight. In any case, you can’t go wrong by catching any of the following at SXSW 2019:
Not only does she extensively know her way around a recording studio, Sarah Tudzin knows her way around a tune. She writes intelligent and infectious songs in a style someone coined as “tenderpunk.” Her music blazes along at punk rock tempos while supporting some serious melodies and hooks, topped off with some hilarious and confessional lyrics. [Best bet to see Illuminati Hotties: Waterloo Records 3/13 @ 4pm and The Container Bar 3/15 @ 2pm]
The Rad Trads
This is a truly all-American band that combines elements of Little Feat, The Band, Dr. Dog, and Randy Newman. Their live performances can turn into a Saturday night church meeting, fueled by the fact that all five of them can sing. They got their start as a New Orleans cover band, which has clearly worked in their favor. You’re gonna love these guys. [Best bet to see the Rad Trads: Radio Coffee & Beer 3/15 @ 7pm and The Jackalope 3/15 @ 3:15pm]
If Wire had a one-night stand with Parquet Courts, their noisy baby would be Squid. They’re Britain’s latest incarnation of droogs, but instead of the depressing dystopia of A Clockwork Orange, Squid is closer to the spastic action of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. They’re so brand-new they’ve released only seven songs and all of them will melt your face off. [Best bet to see Squid: Scratchouse 3/13 @ 8pm and Latitude 30 3/14 @ 10pm]
There’s something desperate and debauched coming out of Stockholm these days, and Viagra Boys appear to be the ambassadors of this serious gonzo dance-punk. Led by lead singer Sebastian Murphy and his glib but pointed vocals, this music embodies all of the best traits of the sneering and fearless punks of yesteryear (think Joe Strummer, Iggy Pop, Mark E. Smith, & Richard Butler). And you gotta love a band that throbs along mercilessly. [Best bet to see Viagra Boys: Waterloo Records 3/15 @ 5pm and Hotel Vegas 3/16 @ 3:30pm]
Yolanda Quartey is a British singer who’s just delivered an amazing debut album. Imagine if Gladys Knight recorded Dusty In Memphis and you’re halfway there. It’s a soul album with classic Nashville touches: pedal steel, fiddle, and honky tonk piano. It’s lovingly produced by Dan Auerbach; I’ll be surprised if the record doesn’t catch fire this year. [Best bet to see Yola: The Barracuda 3/15 @ 4:30pm and KUTX Live at the Four Seasons 3/16 @ 10am]
Finally, some serious honorable mentions: I Am Waiting For You Last Summer, The Nude Party,
Warmduscher, Dylan Cartlidge, The Fur, Cherry Glazerr, Republican Hair, and Japanese Breakfast.
Rick McNulty hosts Left of the Dial every Friday night, 7-11 pm. Thee Oh Sees will be performing at Hotel Vegas on 9/22 & 9/23.
Guitars! Riffs! Chaos! Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s Thee Oh Sees!
The new album, Mutilator Defeated at Last (Castle Face Records), is a skull-crusher, which is to say you’ll feel pummeled by a wall of fuzz guitars and jet engine blasts of chaos. Somehow these riffs and shards gel into bite-sized songs that are – wait for it – radio friendly (or at least for this radio station).
I haven’t heard guitars this wicked and psychotic in a long time. It’s no wonder they need two drummers to keep up with the breakneck speed of unruly guitarist John Dwyer, the de facto captain of the runaway train of Thee Oh Sees. Dwyer chews through band members – eleven in less than twenty years – as quickly as he plows through songs, many of his best clocking in at an average of two and a half minutes.
Not all of Mutilator’s thirty three minutes are spazzed out rock. There are a couple slow jams, heavy on the psychedelia and reverb. Not exactly makeout music (or maybe it is depending on your diet), but adding enough shade and color to allow for a much needed respite. And you’ll need some rest to temper this beastly little album.
My favorites are “Turned Out Light”…
…and the oddly titled “Lupine Ossuary.”
Thee Oh Sees will be performing at Hotel Vegas, 1500 E. 6th St., on September 22 & 23. They are an amazing live band. You have been warned.
Rick McNulty hosts Left of the Dial every Friday night, 7-11 pm.
There is something about the new second album from De Lux that sounds like buried treasure from 1982. The ambience and songwriting is a throwback to low-budget new wave, as if David Byrne and Brian Eno recorded demos in a cheap 4-track basement studio; you can hear the tape hiss, compromised fidelity and paranoia. Byrne & Eno were the kings of urban anxiety, creating a cottage industry of disaffected white male ennui — and Sean Guerin and Isaac Franco of De Lux follow devotedly in their footsteps.
The two Los Angelenos are clearly disciples of the golden era of nerdy college radio in the early ’80s. Most of the songs stretch past five minutes while remaining danceable and glazed with nervous jitters. If the music wasn’t so lo-fi, you could call it disco — or disco with a conscience. Their dystopian vision would be more suitable for shoegaze goth-rock, but De Lux seems much happier keeping things at a faster clip. I’d go so far as to call it downright jaunty.
Check out my favorite: “Oh Man The Future”
Other highlights are “L.A. Threshold” and “Simba Simba Simba.”