I went on work-cation in San Diego a couple of weeks ago, and, naturally, caught some shows when I wasn’t in button-down mode. One of the bands I saw was a Saharan musical collective called Tinariwen. They formed in a Libyan refugee camp in the late seventies and have spent most of their career representing the historically oppressed Tuareg people. The band performs in traditional Tuareg dress and reading the translated lyrics will clue you in to the hardships that the “People of the Veil” have endured, whether under French colonialists, Gaddafi, or thousands of years of survival in the world’s harshest environment. Their music is a mixture of West African blues, American psychedelia, and the tribal percussion of nomads. It is wholly unique and incredibly moving to witness live. Check out the video above, and join the Tuareg rebellion the next time they are anywhere within driving distance.
For some time I’ve been following the work of photographer Liz Devine, as we have a similar love of The Avett Brothers. She works at a music venue in Portland, and shoots portrait photography along with concert photography. One of her shoots in particular had me intrigued, as defying gravity tends to do. Devine’s shots of Bombadil led me to investigate, and I found a new fav.
Definitely in the folk-pop category, Bombadil is light and easy on the ears – generally writing about living the best life you can before it ends, or creating stories with characters within a song. The name matches their style perfectly. For you non-LOTR-geeks out there, Tom Bombadil is an eccentric recluse in Lord of the Rings, though he didn’t make the movie. Tolkien depicts him as an merry fellow who speaks almost lyrically.
Formed in 2005 while in Bolivia for school, Bombadil toured for a while before opening for fellow North Carolina natives The Avett Brothers, which led to their first record release - A Buzz, A Buzz. They continued, playing at festivals like Bonnaroo, going through several member change-ups, before declaring a hiatus at the beginning of 09. Bombadil had already recorded the next record (Tarpits and Canyonlands), which came out later that summer, but the bassist had a severe case of tendonitis and the entire band decided to wait til he healed. Two years pass and they FINALLY play a show (with the Avetts) this past Christmas.
Hopefully this means a tour is imminent. Keep your fingers crossed. Above is an old video of “Three Saddest Words” off their first album, and I added one of my favs off the new album, “Honeymoon,” to our BOT Playlist on the right.
My brain hurts a lot, readers. I’ve been poring over lists of SXSW free shows, hoping to put together the ultimate schedule. There are simply too many factors to consider: free alcohol, free food, geographic proximity, likelihood of a long line, where my friends are going to be, and of course, the talent (bands, not sexy ladies). But even as the stress of excessive choice turns my mind to mush, I’ve been checking out some great new bands. So here, in no particular order, are my five favorite pre-SXSW discoveries (at least they’re new to me):
Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Interesting name, that one… Hip hop quartet? No. Funk rock fusion? Nope. Noisy indie psych? YES! Woohoo! These guys are gonna blow up. That groove is unstoppable.
Damn you Bacon for getting me into another band right before SXSW. If I needed more complications in my scheduling next week, I would’ve tried to find a new band my-damn-self. Dude seriously, not cool. Here I sit, at very late at night/early in the morning, with a slight Whiskey Wednesday buzz on, thinking about how I’m going to see Yellow Ostrich as many times as possible during the course of Austin’s musical orgy next week. Actually, screw it. I’m going to protest this band over the course of SXSW, just because you got me into them right now. I’m going to have to wait until they make it back around before I see them, and I blame that on you. It could be a couple years, who knows?! Damnit! Shit! Why, dude?!
Recently Texas got a good dose of The Head And The Heart, and we’re the better for it. The Seattle natives played in both Houston and Dallas last week, and were scrumptiously delicious enough to make our Freshly Squeezed Artists. Reminding me slightly of Denton alumns Seryn, THATH favor vocal harmonies and slow builds heavy on hand percussion and piano beats. They stand out with superb lyrics that speak as if they’ve seen our past/future and have a optimistic conviction of a better world. They note on their Facebook page that THATH “write and play songs that speak to the newness of a fresh start, of the ghosts left behind, of moving forward, all brimming with a soulfulness and hope for a better life than the one we’ve all been sold.”
If you missed them last week you can catch them a couple times at SXSW before they head to Europe for a month. They’ll also be at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in mid-June. They just signed a deal with Sub-Pop, who has a number of great acts, so hopefully the best is yet to come with THATH. They also have a free download on their site if you sign up for the newsletter. Read on for a few videos to satisfy your music-hunger.
My musical ventures generally drift towards the outer Houston area, but now and again I fall in love with a project born and bred in my own backyard. I’ve certainly touted Houston/La Porte alt-country(?) group Buxton quite a bit here on BOT, so when any side project of the group I love so dear and near pops up, I’m immediately attracted. Recently, I was at the mink hamming it up with Sergio Trevino and Haley Barnes from Buxton, and they were on and on about their newest collaboration dawned the Ancient Cat Society. They couldn’t stopped joking about what could be from the duo, including new wave and punk rock, but decided they’d be best off sticking with the folk theme.
They’ve now sprouted into a legit act, augmented by the multi-talented Austin Sepulvado, and have a quality video (multi-angled at that!) to prove it. I can’t get enough of this trio, and hope to eventually catch them live as soon as possible. It’s a new, simpler take on Sergio’s lyricism, with Haley shining as vocalist – this project allowing her vocals to stand out rather than support as her role in Buxton showcases. Check out the video of the trio performing their tune “Mary Frances” at Rudyard’s last week…
Our primary goals are to spread the word about artists that we love and to encourage more people to experience the joys of live music events. We also want to promote musical exploration - don't just listen to what the blogosphere tells you to listen to, get out there and discover new artists yourself! There's a wealth of talent out there waiting for you to lend them an ear.