It’s that time again boys and girls. It’s SxSW 2014. Which means I’m here to sate your hunger for backwoods burial, taboo rendezvous, and all things that are strangely sickening yet cling beautifully on your psyche like a cobweb-ful of morning dew. Not that you actually asked for it. “The Body Electric” from Hurray for the Riff Raff fills me with exactly that sense of tragedy even before I read about the reason for its writing (a dedication to the 2012 rape victim in Delhi). Channeling the southern charms of O Brother Where Art Thou, it cleverly veils an angst that likens to Johnny Cash’s the Man Comes Around. I am reminded of Audra Mae, but Alynda Lee Segarra’s smokier, heavier voice carries her punches well and strikes a resounding cord in a mere 2:50 min. Have a listen to an excerpt from their KEXP performance.
If I were asked to fit “The Curse” by Agnes Obel into a suitable setting like putting libretto to melody, I would probably not have chosen the stark and classical hall of the Heimathafen Neukölln theater, but on the outside atop of the Gherkin or the Shard or the Burj Khalifa in some cubist visual construct. Of course, I’d also use it as the background music to the commercial of some black, sleek, ultra-modern apogee of German engineering. I’m not trying to cheapen the music in any way – that the tempo and structure produced by a violin, cello, and an opened piano can be toned down to match 3 separate voices is quite amazing. Well, pardon my shallow touch with reality, but just seeing someone able to play violin AND sing simultaneously was a rarity to me. The melody is evenhanded and decorated with smooth singing. Lest you think this is some elvish chanting, it is resoundingly modern. I can just imagine them accelerating to Beethoven speed, but that’s for another day.
Not quite sure what this English group was doing when they named their band Thumpers. Did they watch Bambi? Don’t they know Thumper will always be associated with the rabbit? I guess if they are like 20, then maybe they have never seen Bambi, because they grew up with Lion King and maybe Toy Story. That’s actually kind of weird. Kids these days will have grown up strictly on CGI/Pixar movies instead of classic animation. Getting old yo.
Anyways, Thumpers is a band from England featuring Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr, one of them was in the group Pull Tiger Tails while the others has seen stints as background instrumentalist on bands such as Friendly Fires and Noah and the Whale. They recently released their band Galore off Sub Pop (kind of odd for a Brit band). Their music is a shiny type of guitar pop that almost aims to soar but I think rather then go full on anthemic, the band tends to stay in this pleasant semi-soaring pace. It’s interesting. They’ll be at SXSW, check it out.
On the heels of the recent Refused reunion, frontman Dennis Lyxzén has returned to his main gig in recent years with INVSN, formerly known as Invasionen and before that as The Lost Patrol Band (or, going back even further, as just The Lost Patrol). Was the switch in name made to be more in line with all of the vowel-less bands out there nowadays? Perhaps. Regardless of what they’re calling themselves, the band’s post-punk inspired sound, while far removed from Lyxzén’s hardcore days, is pretty satisfying stuff. Have a listen to “Down In The Shadows,” off of their self-titled album from last year, and as a bonus, check out “Ner i mörkret,” the Swedish language version of the same tune.