Very many moons ago, I finished listening the SXSW 2013 track list (as graciously provided by The Unofficial SXSW torrent site. Later today (or week), I will trans-scribe the full selection of reasonable tracks according to my ears. As is traditional, here are the very best five tracks of 2013:
- “Sweet tooth” – Kids on a crime spree. Short and heavily inspired by the Spector-sound (vimeo).
- “Mosaic” – Fear of Men. Also short, but poppish UK sound (vimeo as well).
- “Switzerland” – The Last Bison. Folkish, US sound. Good, but I hesitate to recommend them now that they’ve gone commercial.
- “You were never there” – Diego Garcia. Easy listening folk-pop? (Youtube).
- “Dreamers” – The Blue Van. Danish band with original sound.
Runner ups: “Ausland” – Camera, “Water against the rocks” – Faye and “Nightmare #2″ – Bergara Quartet.
- SXSW 2011 best 5
– SXSW 2012 best 5
A week ago, I noticed that the Unofficial SXSW torrent site had started to distribute music for some of the major SXSW acts this year (site). Once again there are two torrents involved here: part 1 is the big 6 gig one, with over 900 files). Part 2 has a limited set of around the 200 music files.
Once again, I will be listening to (or attempt to) all the files in both sets: this year with slight interest tho, meaning with scarce commentary. Document 1 covers the first torrent file. Document 2 covers the last torrent file. To this date, I’ve listened to a total of 176 files or so. I’ve not yet heard amazing music yet: that is the wow factor is fairly low-key this year. We’ll report back in another couple of weeks.
One other thing that I keep forgetting is the part of how I export specific MP3 tags. Yes, I don’t type all the song names, artist names and duration of songs manually. Since most of the (legal) torrents are downloaded on my Linux laptops (previously), obviously I use Linux tools to take care of this. I use a tool called ‘exiftool’, which you may need to add to your package manager. For Ubuntu it would look something like: apt-get install exiftool. To extract specific tags I run the following command in a terminal session:
exiftool -csv *.mp3 -sourcefile -title -artist -duration > tags.txt
Note that you can export other MP3 tags as well: I’ll leave that to yourself to find out.
update 1: All related items are filed under the tag SXSW
So, the final list of tracks worth listening to: or rather the list of tracks that made it to my audio device. Over time (time permitting), I’ll add links to the artist’s websites but for now you’ll have to do with the (unedited) remarks.
Interesting additional notes:
- There are plenty of Canadian bands in the list. Unintentionally. Apparently, everybody loves Canadian bands.
- I had the impression that Chinese rock is slowly invading our Western world. For example, the quality of Duck Fight Goose’s music is really good.
- There’s a lot of HipHop/RAP/R&B acts. There were so many tracks that I frequently skipped tracks. There’s good hiphop, also and some of it made it to my list.
While I was a lot more hesitant listening to all 1200+ tracks, generally, I thought that the SXSW torrent files were once again a good source to find new upcoming and interesting artists.
Late, but it’s been done: I finally managed to listen to all the songs (all of em) of this year’s SXSW torrents (previously). More than last year’s effort (see here), I had the feeling this was very painful. While I’m sure that this set of music does not reflect the state of the music scene (well, lets hope so), I thought there were a lot more hiphop/soul/yaddayadda acts this year. I don’t mind good hiphop but, honestly, everything sounds the same these days. Worst yet, I had the same feeling of the ‘regular’ music. I still ended up selecting over hundred tracks, which is more than I imagined. The main list is here: unedited. Later this week, I will compile this stuff into edible portions. Before I head into the 5 best (or rather, surprising) acts and songs, I am surprised that last year’s best 5 songs still appear frequently in my favourite playlist. Highly recommended songs. But without further ado:
- Hooded Fang – ESP (youtube): Band from Toronto that surprised me with surf-rock-pop-lyrics. Refreshing and (I guess) already well-known in Canada for their prime minister Harper stunts.
- Maya Azucena – The Half (youtube): Powerful mix of soul and rock. Mind you, she’s been around for a while. Obviously I had never heard of her.
- Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds – Make it rain youtube) She’s apparently, white, but her vocals are like, you know, she could have been African American.
- Duck Fight Goose – Glass Walls (youtube) Electronic pop. Check. Guitar effects. Check. Chinese. Wait? Is this going to be the the year of the rise of Chinese Rock?
- Todd Reynolds – Transamerica – (link) With Transamerica, classically trained violist and composer Todd Reynolds blew my brains out. Member of the Steve Reich ensemble, he’s described as a “daredevil”, frequently crossing over to electronic music.
So this week, the first batch of music files in the traditional torrent file has appeared on the internets (here). There are currently 700+ files in there and I believe there’s another set coming up. Get your torrent app out and share.
This year I’ll be (once again) going through the whole collection: Last year I started late and it took me almost two weeks to get through it. The final result was fairly good: Thinking of it, the 5 songs that I selected are to this day still in my listening repertoire.
If you do want to follow my progress: I’ve shared my Google Doc with the outside world. Last year’s document is also online, but as far as I can tell, that sheet is the filtered music list (here). This year, I’ll stick to the adopted rule that ‘everything rated greater than 3 (not including 3) will be included on my listening device and will be properly rewarded on this blog. Ahem. Whatever.
I finally managed to add some notes to the 75 or so personally selected songs of SXSW 2011 (out of 1200 or so: earlier). I’ve not ranked anything in this list as ranking is so subjective: I think together all the songs form a solid and enjoyable list of songs. The songs that sprung out I marked as ‘recommended': ‘recommended’ as in ‘this band has a future’ or ‘the song is just plain simple subjectively good’. Personal side-notes were written up to be as brief as possible, more or less to provide a mental anchor to distinguish the artists and/or songs
I’m fairly happy with the fact that even some dance/hiphop songs made it to this list: artists like K.Flay and Ancient Astronauts obviously surprised me because of either a smart delivery of lyrics or a highly inventive use of samples.
What else? Most of the bands listed below are independent: to support them, please find their websites or buy their songs from their preferred digital music distribution system.
Over time I hope to be able to add proper linkage to the artist’s websites. In the mean time, enjoy:
This year I decided to listen to all the SXSW 2011 showcase tracks: all 1154 of them. The torrents are available from the Unofficial SXSW torrents website, a whopping total of 6.5 Gb. The point of this exercise? I consider myself someone who knows music, who is fairly objective and will mark anything as likable, as long it has a combination of good unpredictable music. Good intelligent lyrics is a plus. The end result of this two week endeavor (picking out songs I liked vs. songs I didn’t like) is fairly bad: only 6% or so actually made it to my iPod. There were days that the state of popular music (listen, indie music doesn’t really exist) made me depressing as every song turned to be about the typical themes of love, hate and desperation. There are bands (and artists) who seem to get it, go against the mainstream and produce truly unique songs: the list of 75 songs I marked as good, I will discuss some other day. Without hesitation, 5 songs that surprised me:
- ‘Once and for all’ – Clock Opera (youtube): The lead singer is not afraid to use his falsetto voice which is something I so much appreciate, as I’ve been in a similar situation (More about this later). From all the depressing love-hate-kill songs in the SXSW11 set, the lyrics are refreshing and allegedly, based on a popular US play.
- ‘Losing sleep’ – Edwyn Collins (Youtube): Sometimes simple is better. Sometimes it’s a cliche. Excellent simple and catchy song.
- ‘Lemonade’ – Braids (Youtube live). Montreal-based electro-guitar-pop band with a song that features a surprising outtro.
- ‘Havana’ – Lex Land a singer songwriter from LA. I don’t know what to say here but I like the voice and where she’s going, lyrics-wise.
- ‘Guttersnipe’ – Bhi Bhiman (mp3) Singer-songwriter, obviously soul, folk with a touch of Sri Lanka and that walking bass.
There are so many more songs, but the one that should have gotten the prize for ‘weirdest’ sound is ‘The Green word’ from The Lava Children. It’s so off-tune or wait, no, it’s modulation or something. I can’t explain what it is but I’m sure it would look interesting on sheet music (for the daring. I’ve warned ya).