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SXSW 2017: Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery II and the British Music Embassy Saturday afternoon – 18th March 2017

By on Tuesday, 4th April 2017 at 5:00 pm

By the time you reach Saturday at SXSW 2017, you’re not longer the eager, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed person who arrived in Austin just days before. You can’t remember where you put your shoes last night, you’re dragging your feet and your sunglasses are no longer a fashion staple, they’re a necessary evil to hide the exhaustion that your eyes will betray.

Saturday for me at SXSW is all about taking it easy, picking up the final few bands you haven’t seen, seeing again anyone who really wowed you and hopefully getting in brunch and a Bloody Mary (me) or mimosa (Carrie) somewhere. We shalt not speak further of the fact that by the time I made it to the British Music Embassy on this day, they had completely run out of Bloody Mary mix (?!?!?), so let’s focus on the acts, shall we?

As the opening bookend to SXSW on Tuesday in part I of it that preceded it, Sound Gallery II at B.D. Riley’s on Saturday afternoon is a civilised, chill way to ease yourself into Saturday. I arrived in the middle of a set by The Coconut Kids. The one thing that Austin lacks is a tropical atmosphere, something the Adelaide ‘world folk’ group was all too happy to provide through their music. Lest you think they’re one-dimensional, one of their lead singers Julian Ferguson brought forward a tender, slower song about the Brussels terror attacks. Rather than be a buzz kill, it was nice to see there was more to this folk band than their sunny exterior.

All Our Exes Live in Texas, Sound Gallery II, B.D. Riley's, Saturday 18 March 2017

Country and folk girl group All Our Exes Live in Texas came highly recommended by many friends from Oz and beyond. Not since the Staves at my first SXSW in 2012 have I experienced such tight, female, multi-part harmonies in Austin. They also have two new, very young fans: in the audience at B.D. Riley’s were a couple with two young children, both sporting hip-looking ear defenders that you normally don’t see anywhere except outdoor music festivals. Good on them. Speaking of ear defenders, stay tuned for Carrie’s report on the free hearing tests the both of us did in Austin. (Small spoiler: my hearing is better than Carrie’s, no doubt with my longer use of proper earplugs. Smirk.)

Hamish Anderson, Sound Gallery II, B.D. Riley's, Saturday 18 March 2017

Hamish Anderson is no stranger to SXSW, having come out here for the first time in 2015. After pop and folk acts, this Melbourne singer/songwriter’s approach to blues rock provided a welcome contrast to the acts that came before him. Masterful is probably the best word to describe Anderson’s guitar playing ability, something I’m sure will stand him in good stead for years to come. It is sometimes easy to forget that we wouldn’t have rock ‘n’ roll if blues had not come out of the Mississippi Delta before it. He and I talked about the debt we have to the originators in this interview I had with him on 6th Street after his blazing Sound Gallery II set.

More so than any other afternoon, Saturday at the British Music Embassy sees more people who have not frequented the venue for the rest of the week. The weekend warriors have descended on Austin and naturally, the natives are curious to hear what our friends across the water have to show us. This afternoon was devoted to pop from Britain. In salmon-coloured crushed velvet trousers, Welsh popster Casi was ready for her second performance at Latitude 30 after an early evening appearance the night before at the BBC Introducing showcase. I previously saw the Bangor native wow the crowd at Patterns 2 years at the Gorwelion Horizons Welsh showcase at The Great Escape 2015.

Casi, British Music Embassy, Latitude 30, Saturday 18 March 2017

It’s a cliché, I know, but the girl is all grown up. Even more so than is usual for entertainers from her region of the UK, Casi is very proud of her Welsh heritage. I’m glad she’s done nothing to change her unique accent, and with the electro and r&b beats backing her, she provides a refreshing combination of new and familiar. The punters of Latitude 30 rewarded her with well-deserved cheers. Check out her performance of ‘The Beast’ at the BBC Introducing show below.

Youngr, British Music Embassy, Saturday 18 March 2017

Youngr, aka Dario Darnell and son of Kid Creole, would be the last act of the afternoon showcases at the British Music Embassy for the week. Either everyone was well sauced or his reputation must have preceded him, as the crowd went absolutely mental for him. I had to get out of there to get some air! Like a lion (have you seen his amazingly mad hair?) surveying his pride, he held court with his highly accessible blend of soul and electronics. Whether he was singing or going spare on his drum kit, he had a whale of a time at Latitude 30, and so did his audience.


SXSW 2017 Interview: Hamish Anderson

By on Tuesday, 28th March 2017 at 1:00 pm

Melbourne blues rocker Hamish Anderson has been on my radar for a few years following my previewing of SXSW 2015. That year, Carrie pinch-hit for me, seeing him at Sound Gallery presented by Sounds Australia on the Saturday at B.D. Riley’s. This year, I got two chances to see Anderson: a special VIP invitation to catch him at the National Geographic closing party Monday night as part of the Interactive stream of the SXSW Conference / Festival, followed by his triumphant return to Sound Gallery on Saturday.

After his performance Saturday at B.D. Riley’s, Anderson was chilled out, having done his final work of the week, finally able to fully relax and take in the city. As I had guessed, there aren’t that many blues artists in Australia, so Anderson feels right at home when he’s in our country. I feel honoured that he introduced me to one of his guitars, Blondie, and he talks about how it felt so much more comfortable and felt more prepared the second time around showcasing at SXSW. We also talk about his debut album ‘Trouble’, which was released last year. Listen to the interview below. For more on TGTF on Hamish Anderson, including my coverage that posted yesterday of his performance at the National Geographic closing party, follow this link.

Hamish Anderson, Sound Gallery, Sounds Australia, Saturday 18 March 2017


SXSW 2017: introduction to our coverage, and Monday night with unlikely Americana and at the National Geographic party at Vulcan Gas Company – 13th March 2017

By on Monday, 27th March 2017 at 2:00 pm

We spend a lot of time in the months and weeks previewing SXSW. But I can say with certainty that every year when we’re actually out in Austin for the week, it seems to go by in a flash. This year, I saw more artists than ever: 70. So strap yourself in for quite a few posts about my experiences at SXSW 2017, along with Carrie’s.

The weather as a bit chilly the first few nights this year, requiring me to bring a coat along. But unlike the last 2 years, we weren’t hit by a monsoon of a sideways thunderstorm or saw performances halted by dangerous lightning during the week. Blue skies smiled on us all at SXSW 2017. I was grateful, as so many new and old friends had come out here for some good weather and plenty of sun, so I was glad this year we were able to provide both in large amounts. I think, too, this year more Brits followed our recommendations with the suncream, though from what I hear from Carrie, the Irish made the mistake – again – not to slather up the SPF for the Generator NI boat ride on Tuesday. But I’ll let Carrie fill you in on that show.

Tuomo & Markus, Swan Dive, Monday 13 March 2017

After a quick dinner and cocktails at Second Bar and Kitchen, Carrie and I went on to our first show of the evening at Swan Dive. If you think it’s unlikely to hear good Americana coming out of Finland, Tuomo & Markus are here to prove you wrong. Unless you heard them talking between songs, you’d have no real way of someone playing piano (Tuomo) or well-picked guitar (Markus) and their lovely harmonies from someone from our own country. Considering how we have been ‘marked’ for years for the way our politics have shaped the rest of the world and in a negative way, it’s nice to witness firsthand that our musical influences that are exported out to the rest of the world have a positive effect that leads to beautiful art.


This Monday was different than it had been for me in previous years, as I had been put on a guestlist to a very exclusive event (yes, ooh). The legendary scientific and natural sciences-promoting publication National Geographic had made their home at the Vulcan Gas Company for several days during SXSW 2017 as part of the Interactive third of things, and Monday night was when they’d be hosting a special party to celebrate all they’d accomplished. I wondered immediately upon arriving why I had eaten dinner before, as I was overwhelmed by a dizzying array of food, open bar and complimentary dessert from the famous Voodoo Doughnut’s outpost further west on 6th Street.

Hamish Anderson National Geographic, Vulcan Gas Company, Monday 13 March 2017

But as you might imagine, though, I was there for a very special musician who has had a ‘Hold on Me’ and I was excited to see live. On his second trip out to SXSW, Australian blues rocker Hamish Anderson was the entertainment for the evening. He said to me during an interview on Saturday afternoon outside B.D. Riley’s that corporate gigs are “always a bit weird” because you know you’re not the focus of the attention at the event. Despite this, he was the consummate professional, transporting us to a down and dirty club where his kind of rough around the edges rock normally resides. Sounds Australia sent out so many electronic artists this year that they needed to have a separate day of the Aussie BBQ to accommodate them, but when you’re stood in front of Hamish Anderson wailing away on his guitar, you soon forget – and maybe even for a moment, loathe – anyone who has to lean on electronics and Macbook for crutches during live performances. The Melbournian has a debut album out now, ‘Trouble’, that I highly recommend. As much as I wanted to partake on the free donuts, tacos and macaroni and cheese (I have a wheat allergy, sob!), the British Music Embassy showcase for that night beckoned.



TGTF Guide to SXSW 2017: best bets of Australian artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW

By on Monday, 27th February 2017 at 11:00 am

Australia and her neighbour New Zealand will be sending over 30 acts to SXSW 2017. The list includes artists we covered at previous SXSWs, including Demi Louise, Hamish Anderson and Mansionair. In this post, I introduce you to the Australian acts I think are the cream of the crop from down under, representing the various genres of pop, rock, electronic and folk. Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2017 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and artists and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite artist is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the artist’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Alex Lahey – pop / rock / Melbourne
Alex Lahey would be my pick for the next big Australian global superstar. The world is ready for another strong young woman to follow in the footsteps of Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson and Gaga, and with this kick in the arse, upbeat pop/rock sound, Lahey owns it. On this side of the Pacific with her own American tour to follow SXSW, plus even earlier this month, when Lahey supported Tegan and Sara on their UK winter tour, the interest in this young Aussie singer/songwriter is clear. There’s nowhere to go but up, up, up for her.


All Our Exes Live in Texas – Sydney / folk
The band with the name most appropriate for coming to Austin to perform, All Our Exes Live in Texas (pictured at top) take their cues from the greats of country and folk. The incredible melding of the talents of four individually brilliant musicians is the true success of this folk group, who take full advantage of the beautiful four-part harmonies they can achieve and their charismatic live shows, which have already left Sydneysiders breathless. They might still be some ways off from the Grand Ole Opry when they showcase at SXSW 2017, but something tells me they’ll get an invite soon.


Cameron Avery – rock / Perth
Are we allowed to call a 28-year old a Renaissance man? Sod it, we are when it comes to Cameron “Cam” Avery. From the capital of Western Australia, Perth, the singer/songwriter is probably best known outside of Oz for being a member of indie favourites Pond and Tame Impala, the latter of which he plays bass for. But this time in Austin, Avery will be playing for and promoting himself and his debut album ‘Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams’, which will be out on the 10th of March on Anti- Records and Spinning Top. As a solo artist, Cameron Avery’s music is as far as you can get from the psychedelia of Tame Impala: his is straightforward songwriting with a rich voice evocative of his Anti- labelmate Cass McCombs.


Castlecomer – pop/rock / Sydney
Remember when Two Door Cinema Club’s music felt like a guilty pleasure, in the ‘Tourist History’ era well before their meltdowns? That’s what Castlecomer’s new single ‘If I Could Be Like You’: high energy, infectious guitar pop with a driving rhythm that can get tail feathers shaking at a music festival. While it’s a formula overused in the last few years because of the success of bands just like Two Door, Castlecomer’s success in the form of 2 million streams on Spotify for their 2016 EP ‘All of the Noise’ bodes well for their future. Hey Glassnote Records, are you looking for an Australian Two Door?


Food Court – garage punk / Sydney
I’ll never understand why bands choose a name that will always produce unhelpful Google results. But it hasn’t prevented Food Court, from the neighbourhood of Glebe in Sydney, from already becoming a bit of an internet sensation. It’s kind a no-brainer: their scuzzy, fuzzy, garage punk style follows in the style of the Ramones and the Clash and has plenty of admirers. We hear their debut album will be out in March, which seems more than simply fortuitous serendipity, given their SXSW 2017 shout.


The Heart Collectors – folk / Murwillumbah
The kind of band the Cambridge Folk Festival would give their right arm to book? The Heart Collectors, originally from the rural village of Tyalgum in New South Wales. I’m going to venture that this is like bluegrass country in America or the remote regions of Western Ireland, where a healthy reliance on harmonies conveying emotional themes, guitars and simple percussion is de rigueur. And sometimes simple is best.


Middle Kids – alt-rock / Sydney
Fronted by Hannah Joy, alt-rock group Middle Kids fill the place that was never really adequately filled after Melissa Etheridge: guitar pop with a slight country twang still palatable to the masses, yet able to show female vulnerability through the lyrics. Already introduced 2 weeks ago to the American public by getting the chance to perform on Conan O’Brien’s late night show – on Valentine’s Day no less – and with a brand new, eponymous EP to show off, Austin is for Middle Kids’ taking.


Oscar Key Sung – r&b / electronic / Melbourne
Some people are surprised to see the marriage of r&b and electronic music, but ultimately both are rooted in the beat being the driving force of a song. Oscar Key Sung embraces both r&b and hip-hop in the electronic music he creates, intended for clubs and with a focus on fluidity and movement. The Australian’s approach is likely more brainier than the average dance producer (there’s a longer exposition here on his methodology and what makes him tick) but one does wonder if Oscar Key Sung could get SOHN out of his hoodie and on the dance floor. I’d say yes.


Throttle – DJ / Melbourne
Already a big deal in the dance world, Australian DJ Throttle is a self-described ‘dirty disco music’ maker. He’s remixed AlunaGeorge and taken on Michael Buble’s vocals (I’m assuming without his permission). He’s a badass. Don’t fight it.

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Woodes – pop / electronic / Melbourne
Elle Graham aka Woodes is a triple threat: she’s a young singer, songwriter and producer. The young Australian talent previously collaborated with fellow Aussies Atticus Beats, Golden Vessel and Ellkle. from her early solo singles ‘The Thaw’ and ‘Knives and Daggers’, she’s ready for her close-up. With an expansive vocal laying on top of a dancey, yet minimalist electronic beat reminiscent of the xx, her sound is reminiscent of a more pop Lykke Li. She wowed me at CMW 2016 last May in Toronto, and I’m sure she’ll slay in Austin.

To read more of our coverage on Woodes here on TGTF, go here.


SXSW 2015: Saturday’s slew of final activities and a last stop at the British Music Embassy – 21st March 2015

By on Friday, 10th April 2015 at 2:00 pm

My final day at SXSW 2015 was truly a mixed bag of shows as I tried to squeeze in every last opportunity before my long drive back home the next day. In the course of the day, I stumbled upon a few exciting new artists before rounding off the festival back at the British Music Embassy.

I started with a planned visit to the free showcase at Waterloo Records, which featured English electro-dance group Clean Bandit. In spite of the uncooperative weather, punters donned ponchos and popped up umbrellas in the courtyard to catch the danceable grooves of recent single ‘Stronger’ before lining up inside for the band’s CD signing session. Fellow English vocalist Jess Glynne made her anticipated cameo appearance near the end of the set for Clean Bandit’s previous single ‘Real Love’ and breakout hit ‘Rather Be’.

Clean Bandit at Waterloo Records 21 March 2015

After a stop inside the record store for some souvenir shopping, I headed downtown to meet up with Mary, who was in the middle of a busy Saturday schedule of her own. She suggested that I stop in at B.D. Riley’s to catch Aussie blues singer/songwriter Hamish Anderson.

Hamish Anderson at BD Riley's 21 March 2015

I was warmly greeted by the staff at the door of B.D. Riley’s, where I had spent most of the previous day at the full Irish breakfast. On Saturday I was surrounded by Australian accents rather than lilting Irish ones, as the Sound Gallery showcase hosted by Sounds Australia took over the venue. Anderson clearly had more than a few fans in attendance, and I had to squeeze around fellow punters to get a good view of his guitar chops on the small stage at B.D. Riley’s. Anderson’s opened with a cover of Them Two’s ‘Am I a Good Man’ before he turned the focus to his new ‘Restless’ EP, starting with the aptly titled ‘Burn’ and ending with another scorcher, ‘Howl’. Anderson’s heavily blues influenced guitar style was matched only by his heavily blues influenced keyboard player.

Hamish Anderson's keyboard player

Finding myself at a bit of a loose end after Anderson’s set, I checked my Twitter feed to find an online acquaintance urging me to catch local Austin band O Conqueror’s final SXSW 2015 set, at a venue called The Tiniest Bar in Texas. It was a bit of a walk, especially given the continuing rain, but I decided to take a chance. As it turned out, the bar itself might actually be the tiniest one in the state, and I almost walked past it before I realized that the showcase was just outside in the awning-covered courtyard area.

I arrived early enough to grab a bite to eat from one of the food trucks in the courtyard, and while I was noshing, I used Twitter to arrange a quick meet up with O Conqueror’s keyboard player Alex Hartley before the start of their set. Alex and I shared a laugh when he mentioned that O Conqueror had been confused several times with Northern Irish band More Than Conquerors, whom I had covered earlier in the week. O Conqueror’s set included edgy recent single ‘Lost Your Mind’ whose video was filmed, appropriately enough, in downtown Austin. Their engaging stage presence, led by frontman Dustin Doering, and melodious guitar-driven rock have clearly already won the hearts of Austin locals, and they gained at least one new fan at SXSW 2015 as well.

O Conqueror 21 March 2015

Feeling quite satisfied with my new musical discovery, I headed back to Latitude 30 to hear the final evening showcase of the year at the British Music Embassy. The first featured band was Scottish duo Honeyblood, who have had a change in lineup since I saw them last at SXSW 2014. New drummer Cat Myers appeared not only at ease with the situation, but well and truly in control of it, showing off her chops at the drum kit on more than one occasion. Singer Stina Tweeddale appeared equally confident, singing with greater intensity and conviction on last year’s hit ‘Bud’, which features on Honeyblood’s self-titled debut album from last summer.

Honeyblood at Latitude 30 21 March 2015

As the side project of Mazes’ Jack Cooper and Veronica Falls’ James Hoare, London guitar duo Ultimate Painting are another in a long string of artists playing the rock ‘n’ roll version of musical chairs. Their hazy psych rock left a vague impression on me, but the impression was deliberately indistinct and broadly atmospheric rather than sharply focused on specific guitar melodies or vocal lines. Their songs might not have been not my cup of tea, but they surely a represent a notable stylistic expansion for both band members.

Ultimate Painting at Latitude 30 21 March 2015

Spanish sensations Hinds, formerly known as Deers, were next on the lineup, but they were plagued by sound issues and ultimately had to cut their set short, much to the disappointment of the fans who had crowded in to see them. (Our own editor Mary was unfortunately among those stuck in the lengthy queue outside Latitude 30, but she had managed to see this band Wednesday at the daytime Sounds From Spain showcase.) Despite the difficulties, Hinds were engaging and energetic on stage, smiling bravely as they played through a handful of songs. Their uneven rhythms and stark tempo changes would likely have worked better had it not been for the sound problems, but in context it was difficult to tell when their stops and starts were deliberate. Nevertheless, there was a group of determined Hinds fans at the front of the stage who danced, cheered and sang along as best they could.

Hinds at Latitude 30 21 March 2015

Among Hinds’ fans in the audience was Carl Barat, who had appeared in Austin with his new band the Jackals. From my vantage point at the front of the stage, I turned around to see if Mary had gotten inside and instead found Barat standing just over my right shoulder. In the intermission after Hinds’ set, I introduced myself to the former Libertine, saying that I’d gotten some photos of him earlier in the week. He pulled a genuinely shocked expression and asked, “on stage, though, right?” I laughed and assured him that they were stage photos from Wednesday’s FLOODfest and not paparazzi-style snaps. Hearing this news, he gave me a hug and a kiss and thanked me for being there to promote the band. I slipped a TGTF card and badge into his black leather jacket pocket and set my sights back on the stage.

Another psych-rock band, Happyness, was up after Hinds, and they appeared to have a much easier time of it on stage at Latitude 30. Admittedly, their music is so aloof and deliberately low-key that it might be difficult to know if they were having a problem. But their extended guitar jams built in intensity throughout the set, leading to a massive coda at the end which found guitarist Benji Compston flat on the floor by the time it finished.

Happyness at Latitude 30 21 March 2015

The final act on the schedule for the night was Irish punk quartet Girl Band, who I had caught briefly the day before at the full Irish breakfast. After having to fight her way through the queue and the crowd, Mary and I decided to call it a night. Frankly, I was feeling a bit “flat on the floor” myself after the long and exciting SXSW week. I left town the next morning with a myriad of new sounds and new faces permanently etched into my memory, and naturally I made them each a part of my eclectic road trip playlist on the drive home.


TGTF Guide to SXSW 2015: Australian artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW (H – T)

By on Thursday, 5th March 2015 at 11:00 am

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2015 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

Sounds Australia brings a veritable cornucopia by genre of acts to many major music festivals around the world during the year, including TGTF May UK festival favourites The Great Escape and Liverpool Sound City. Their Australian contingent always has a massive presence at SXSW, and this year is no exception. In addition to the annual, all-day Aussie BBQ advertised as the biggest Australian band showcase outside of Oz, it’s sure to be a good time with 25 of the hottest Australian acts performing at Brush Square Park on the Friday of this year’s festival. With much assistance from our Aussie friend NickiGirlStar, today we’ll be introducing the second half of our list of many of the bands coming from down under. (The first half can be found through here.) Whether you’re lucky enough to head out to Austin in 2 weeks or not, we hope you’re find a new act (or three) to fall in love with.

Hamish Anderson (Melbourne)
There are loads of singer/songwriters showcasing at SXSW, so how do you choose who to see? With his bluesy sensibility, Hamish Anderson appeals to your primal senses, the kind of person who prefers JD McPherson, the less pop side of the Black Keys, and back to basics Jack White. (Mary Chang)

Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders (Blue Mountains)
In Australia there is a famous band called You Am I with an equally famous lead singer of the name Tim Rogers, so it is no wonder that the lead singer for Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders (who shares the name of Tim Rogers) goes by Jack Ladder professionally. The other unusual coincidence for Jack Ladder is that his smooth sublime baritone vocals can at times sound as if you are listening to Nick Cave, which is not a bad thing in my books (take a listen to the Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders award-winning album ‘Hurtsville’).
The good news for American enthusiasts of Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders is that their second album ‘Playmates’ (also featuring Sharon Van Etten on ‘Come On Back This Way’) is available in America this month. It came out in Australia in late 2014 and received good reviews. Jack Ladder’s distinctive vocals have been laid over the trademark synthesised disco beats of Dreamlander Donny Benet, a slight departure from the music that featured on “Hurtsville”.

Each of The Dreamlanders – Kirin J. Callinan (who released his own album ‘Embracism’ in 2013 on Terrible / XL), Laurence Pike (also of PVT) and Donny Benet – has his own career. You will get to see Kirin at SXSW doing his solo thing. As a whole, Jack Ladder and The Dreamlanders make some wonderful music and are well worth experiencing. I am sure you will be pulled in by the dreamy vocals and be swaying along to ‘Come on Back This Way’ and ‘Her Hands.

Kirin J. Callinan (Sydney)
Kirin is one of those mesmerising or alienating artists. I have always thought his music would suit a David Lynch film and funnily enough, he will be one of the performers at a David Lynch film music retrospective at the Sydney Opera House in March 2015. He is championed by Brooklyn record label Terrible Records, formed in 2009 by Chris Taylor (Grizzly Bear) and Ethan Silverman. He supported Grizzly Bear when they out in Australia 2012 and he teamed up with the label to present “Terrible Love” at Sugar Mountain Festival in January 2015.

I always delight in Kirin’s raw avant-garde style of electronic rock performance. He has a lovely deep smooth rich voice and a cheeky smile and gleam in his eye for all. He loves to shock and be unpredictable. Go see Kirin for a little excitement and an out of the ordinary set as he is always a showman. He will be a busy boy at this year’s SXSW as he is a Dreamlander and will also be performing with Jack Ladder and the other Dreamlander boys.

Lenka (Sydney)
The great thing about SXSW is the sheer fame spectrum of acts who will appear in Austin, from up-and-comers to established megastars. Lenka’s music has shown up on countless international advertising campaigns and in major motion pictures, but the proof is in the pudding: several of her songs like ‘The Show’ and ‘Everything at Once’ have seen the Aussie singer reach the top of the charts all over the world. Her fourth album ‘The Bright Side’ is expected this summer, and have a listen to poppy and incredibly sunny ‘Blue Skies’ (perfect for Austin!) from the new effort below. (Mary Chang)

The Love Junkies (Perth)
Lo-fi is a way of life in America and the UK these days, but I’m not entirely sure the genre is so insidious across Oz. Yet. The Love Junkies are yet another band who refuse to take themselves too seriously, and their slacker sound and ‘tude could easily fit in with the Californian sand and surf. (Mary Chang)

Mansionair (Sydney)
I can’t help but notice that the list of Aussie acts taking to the stage at SXSW is mostly made up of conventional rock bands. Jack Froggatt, Lachlan Bostock, and Alex Nicholls are all multi-instrumentalists, which should clue you in on their band’s eclectic sound instrumentally. They’re a little ambient, a little indie and a little synthpop, while nowhere near anything from conventional electronic, and imagine Hayden Thorpe and his Kendal falsetto laid on top of that. Does that take your fancy?

They’re a remarkably new band: from my Googling, it appears they just started as a trio in January 2014, and they only have two official singles and an EP to their name, having signed last autumn to CHVRCHES’ own Goodbye Records. The numbers don’t lie: they already have over 10,000 followers on Facebook, so they must be doing something right. Maybe when they covered SXSW 2014 success story Future Islands during a triple j radio session in January, they were channeling them in the hope they could do as well in Austin. Personally, I prefer their single ‘Hold Me Down’, which you can watch them perform live below. (Mary Chang)

Oxford and Co. (Sydney)
Back in the day, Justin Timberlake was called a triple threat – he knew how to act, sing and dance. Samuel Stephenson and Cameron Potts could have taken the easy route and gone for the bog standard folky singer/songwriter sound. But that would have been way too simple. Have a listen to ‘Sinner Baby’ from their self-titled EP released last summer, with its soulful vocal deliveries with an absolutely wonky rhythm. It shouldn’t work, yet it does. But just in case you’re more of a singer/songwriter purist, the rest of ‘Oxford and Co.’ is haunting in its beauty and true to the guitar-toting songwriters of history. (Mary Chang)

Remi (Melbourne)
Hip hop artist Remi Kolawole may only be 23 years old, but he’s already won Best Independent Release for his critically acclaimed album ‘RAW X INFINITY’ at the Rolling Stone Australia Awards. The LP sees its American release in April, so SXSW gives him and collaborators Sensible J and Dutch the perfect timing for his American live debut in Austin.

Having sold out Australian headline tours and a support slot with Damon Albarn in Oz last year, even duetting onstage on the Gorillaz track ‘Clint Eastwood’ with Albarn. With America being the land of hip hop, Remi’s success stateside is a no brainer. (Mary Chang)

SAFIA (Canberra)
Electronic producer trio SAFIA are probably more famous in the States at the moment for starting a beef with Ariana Grande’s people over similar looking music videos. Which is an utter shame because they’ve got their own chill sound and have already garnered accolades from Aussie radio station triple j, becoming their city’s winner and representive at annual music festival Grooving the Moo.

San Cisco (Fremantle, Perth); read past TGTF coverage on San Cisco here
San Cisco are a band who pretty much don’t need an introduction on either a UK or a US music Web site. Chances are you’ve heard of them, having already played an array of UK music festivals, notably Reading 2013, where our John caught and was impressed by their early day set on the third day of festivities. Sunny indie pop your thing? Here you go. (Mary Chang)

Steve Smyth (Newtown, Sydney)
Steve is one of those acts that everyone will be talking about. He has a trademark bushy beard, a heart of gold, is the freest of free spirits, and has an extreme amount of energy and enthusiasm. Steve can brighten any stage with his powerful haunting heartfelt vocals accompanied by his dynamic guitaring. I liken Steve’s charisma and presence on stage to that of Australia’s rock god Nick Cave. Although he is half the age of Mr Cave, Steve has experienced life to the full garnering praise from his performances on stages all over the world. In Australia, he has supported The Killers, Snow Patrol, Lanie Lane, and Angus and Julia Stone, as well as touring all over this land in his own right.

Steve is generous to his audience and mixes up his performances sometimes singing old bluegrass covers like ‘Sylvie’ to raucous foot-stomping ballads like “’Barbituate Cowboy and His Dark Horses’ and moving onto sweet heart-wrenching ballads such as ‘Written or Spoken’ from his second album ‘Exits’ released in September 2014.

You will be amazed and left in awe by Steve Smyth, as he is a consummate performer that gives all he has to each show whether it to be a whole stadium or just a small gathering. I believe you will be swept up in the magic of Steve Smyth just as much as I am.

Twerps (Melbourne)
First time I heard the jangly pop rock of Twerps, I fell in love with them. I think it was at a Laneway festival in Melbourne and from there I sought out their 2011 debut self-titled album that featured the classics ‘Dreamin’, ‘Through the Day’ and ‘Who Are You’. I was pretty late in coming to the Twerps party, as they are located in Melbourne and don’t play in Sydney that often. They formed in 2008 and have been really busy ever since in Australia and America (touring, SXSW, CMJ) and along the way have built up much respect from the punters and critics alike. They found a champion in BBC 6musics’s Marc Riley, who spread their 2012 single ‘Work It Out’ by playing it on his evening programme.

Their music touches my soul, it builds on the Australian sound and music psyche that was carved out in years gone by bands such as The Sunnyboys and The Go Betweens. At times, the beauty of the debut album brings tears to my eyes. In November 2014, I heard some of the new tracks from the 2015 album ‘Range Anxiety’ released in January, and am confident it’ll be another ripper LP. Check them out to discover what the revered Australian pop rock sound is like.

Massive thanks to NickiGirlStar for her local insight and assisting with this two-part feature.


About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF was edited by Mary Chang, based in Washington, DC.

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