The Moonlandingz are a weird and delightful psych rock band. Much have been made about the band’s “supergroup” feel – they feature members of Fat White Group, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger and Eccentronic Research Council. Led by Lias Saoudi on vocals, the groups live show is a rowdy party that always seems to be teetering on the edge of destruction. Saoudi is a mesmerizing front man, and his squinty Sam Rockwell delivery while carrying a cigarette and drink in one hand is unique. Much like the band, you wonder if he’s really like that or if it’s just an act. Whatever it is, it works well with the music, which incorporates psych rock-punk elements with almost 8bit electronic sounds at times. A fascinating show, catch them during sxsw.
I have a bit of an affinity for the Nordic people, having done a bit of travelling around Scandanavia, so when I noticed that a Nordic music showcase was being hosted at the Austin Rowing Club (temporarily rebranded for the day as the Nordic Lighthouse), I decided to make that my first stop on the first official day of SXSW music. The day’s program was filled with a number of bands from Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Iceland. Dolce impressed with their set of somewhat mournful country-ish ballads, much of it sung in Norwegian and The Great Discord definitely stood out as the most unique performance of the afternoon, sounding somewhat like an alt-metal band fronted by Alanis if she were also a goth mime. I have to give them serious props for not only committing to all black, all long sleeves outfits, but also to the singer for going with full make-up in the heat.
The band whose set I enjoyed the most was Steve ‘n’ Seagulls, a Finnish group that plays bluegrass versions of classic hard rock and heavy metal songs. Their brief set included banjo and accordion filled covers of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” and “Aces High” along with ACDC’s “Thunderstruck” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” The latter even featured a whistling passage. While the band definitely ham it up a bit with the animal pelts and overalls, they overcame any novelty factor and absolutely impressed with their arrangements and musical skills.
St. Lucia is the best yacht rock band from the millenial generation. This was my realization as I watched Jean Phillip Grobler dance his face off as a giant fan blows wind into his face. Why don’t bands have fans blow wind into their faces more during shows? It’s way more epic. Have we not learned anything from the 80’s? Clearly St. Lucia has. Their synth-pop stylings brought them much success a few years ago and now they are back.
I haven’t heard their new album, but if the super energetic and pulse pounding show on Tuesday indicates anything, it’s that they pumped up the volume and brought a much more upbeat sound to their new record. It’s kinda odd for me, as my favorite St. Lucia track is the slow burning “All Eyes on You” which to my surprise, still has not been used for a movie montage yet.
St. Lucia will be playing SXSW at the Spotify House this week, check them out.
Bayonne is the name of the street where Roger Sellers, composer of eclectic electronica based in Austin TX, grew up. While his LP, Primitives, has been out since September 2014, it’s not until recently that the release has garnered attention. Perhaps the unusual stage name change was the catalyst for a much easier advertising campaign. Or it could simply be an improved timing. Regardless, I’d recommend listening to “Spectrolite” and “Appeals”, both from the 2014 album.
Sellers takes quite an interesting approach to electronic music. I read that he has made a case to not be a “DJ”, and professes to be a follower of Philip Glass. Those two lines of search being the only points that I could gather from google search, I began to wonder if they are mutually inclusive, and having spent time tracing I arrive at no particular junction with a full understanding of how but never why. That serpentine logic is how I describe this music. Different short melodies at varying beats/tempo intersects, succeeding or fusing with one another to form a backdrop. As your ears are tuned to the repetition, vocals are introduced as the focal element. And then this is projected onto the mould of a typical song, with passages and chorus. To think that anything of that description should sound pleasant is weird; to confirm that against expectation it really does work is frankly astonishing. Will you like it? I’ve no guarantee – but then again that’s never been the point of a preview.
Bayonne plays the Barracuda on March 17, and Victoria Room at The Driskill on March 18.