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).