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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.

 

SXSW 2014: a flying visit to a New Zealand festival and doing a re-make/re-model at the British Music Embassy – 15th March 2014

 
By on Thursday, 27th March 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

When we woke up on Saturday, we were greeted by rain. Not just rain. Very heavy rain. So heavy initially that I considered going back to bed. But it was our last day in Austin and I intended to make the most of it. While it was a wee dreary walking around with an umbrella after so many days of carefree strolls in the Texan sunshine, when life hands you lemons, you have to make lemonade, am I right?

Carrie went to find coffee (if you’re reading all our posts, are you sensing a theme here?) and was to meet me later, having a leisurely early afternoon, while I went off in search of the London act I didn’t think I’d be able to see all week but somehow the organisational gods smiled down on me and suddenly I found I could. St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival is an annual music event in Auckland, New Zealand, and at this year’s SXSW, they hosted an afternoon showcase covering both stages of Holy Mountain out on 7th Street.

I arrived too early for who I was there for, so I walked between the stages to see if my ears perked up to anything I heard. In the backyard stage when I arrived were Brisbane rockers The Creases, who have that Beach Boys-ey, Best Coast-esque sunny surf pop sound nailed down all right. Not my thing at all but certainly enjoyable enough under a tent that was keeping us dry from the elements. Far more impressive to me was the guitar singer Jarrod Mahon was playing, in a shape that defies description. Maybe ‘The Preposterous Pentagon’?

After the Creases finished, I almost got impaled by one of Bo Ningen‘s guitars (that would have been awful) and quickly went back to the indoor stage to find a very tattooed, not at all huggable one man band Kirin J. Callinan, who according to this FasterLouder article was one of the big Aussie success stories of SXSW 2014. There was nothing about his performance that screamed ‘trailblazer’ to me, but I suppose for you ladies (and certain men) who enjoy a shirtless man with tattoos performing on a guitar and screaming into a microphone, you should probably get on this bandwagon ASAP.

By this time, you’re probably wondering what the heck I was doing at Holy Mountain in the first place. I’m glad you asked! Tourist, aka London musician and producer Will Phillips, was due on shortly after 1 PM. I actually saw him skulking around outside the venue beforehand. It must be really hard to psych yourself for an afternoon of DJaying when you really want to be playing your music in a dark club late at night, but Phelps took it in stride, even taking a joyful stab at the weather:

I’m not sure how best to describe the Tourist set to you. It was way too short – it seemed like less than 20 minutes – and Phillips doesn’t sing, so when you’re watching him perform, it’s him attacking a wide array of synthesisers, sequencers and other electronic gizmos, while he’s bopping his body around, clearly caught up in the music. Dance without words is hard to explain to other people, because you have to *be* there experiencing to really ‘get’ it, to have the music pulsing through your veins.

“I tried but I could not find a way
Looking back all I did was look away
Next time is the best time we all know
But if there is no next time where to go”
-‘Re-make / Re-model’, Roxy Music

Carrie and I had decided the night before that we were going finish up at the afternoon session of the British Music Embassy, where I had made plans to meet Steve Lamacq and have a meeting of the minds there (about bands of course). The very funny thing about Latitude 30 is that no matter who you know or have met during the week and is/are British, inevitably you will run into him/her/them at the venue at some point, because it’s like Latitude 30 has a beacon only Brits can hear and they are drawn in, usually multiple times during the week, to the place.

For me, going back to the British Music Embassy would bookend a mental week of seeing bands old and new as well as seeing old friends while making new ones. I didn’t want to miss the chance of saying goodbye and best wishes to any of my friends before I left Austin. We arrived in time to order a round of drinks (it was our last day, after all) and get positioned for Meursault, a trio from Edinburgh.

I had heard of Meursault and maybe two songs of theirs, so going into their performance pretty much uneducated about them, I was surprised when I was faced by their fabulous aural assault on our ears, led by singer/songwriter Neil Pennycook. You haven’t lived until you’ve heard a Scotsman be witty with his banter between songs in which where he’s practically ripping your ears off with a scream of emotion. This kind of harder rock is more John’s domain, but Meursault’s two performances on Saturday came to be defining moments of my SXSW 2014: Carrie and I were so impressed with their set, we changed our plans entirely to have an early night and swung by the Hype Hotel that night to see them again for the second time in 7 hours. I still don’t understand how another blogger could have confused their sound and called it alt-folk. That one definitely needs his (her?) ears checked. Emotionally raw vocals, raucous guitar, accompanying bass to feed the raucous sound, and driving rhythm on drums? Meursault ticks off all the boxes.

Carrie had seen Glass Animals on Tuesday at the Haven for the Harvest Records showcase Tuesday night, but I hadn’t up to that point. On paper, Glass Animals’ formula of pop and r&b with synths seemed to be right up my alley, while entirely not Carrie’s bag at all. Sadly though, I wasn’t impressed with them live. As Carrie was busy getting pregnant to ‘Black Mambo’ and ‘Gooey’, I had to wonder if my countless hours of listening to exemplary electronic music had jaded me, because their set was very much to me a “I’ve already heard that before, nothing new to see here” kind of disappointment.

Thankfully, I had the next band to look forward to, and look forward I did, as singer George Waite tuned up his bass. The Crookes, whose shows either in the UK or here in America I’ve covered on TGTF, were about to restore my sanity. It’s quite funny being in Austin with other American Crookes fans, of which there weren’t that many for SXSW 2013. However, word had clearly spread about the Sheffield band, as Latitude 30 was rammed for their 3:50 PM set.

As they played, the front section of friends new and old turned into one of the most fun dance parties I’d had in a long time, as we kicked up our heels to the infinitely rough on the edges single ‘Play Dumb’ and the driving ‘Before the Night Falls’, both of which figure on the band’s third album ‘Soapbox’ out in April on Fierce Panda. (My review of the album can be read here; it’s fantastic.) This display of unfettered dancing did not go unnoticed by Steve Lamacq, who commented on one of his first 6music programmes after returning from Austin that he felt it quite heartwarming that there were so many of us who were singing along to the Crookes because we knew all the words to ‘Afterglow’. We don’t dance alone, indeed.

“The night is still young, but the story’s so old.” The first part was most definitely true at 5 in the afternoon, but as you will read soon, my SXSW story wasn’t over just yet…

 
 
 

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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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