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Sunday, March 27th, 2005

The Sky Is Falling

Odd as it may sound, one of my best SxSW musical discoveries didn’t come from seeing a band play. When doing some last-minute showcase browsing before heading to Austin last week, I came across The Oktober People, a four-piece from Albequerque, New Mexico. Liking the samples I heard from the SxSW guide, I added them to my “maybe” list but didn’t end up catching them as they were on the same time as Dirty On Purpose. However, when I went to catch Experimental Aircraft’s day show on Friday, the label sponsoring the show was giving out a whack of free CDs, The Oktober People’s self-titled album amongst them. Since the name seemed familiar, though I don’t remember what I liked about them, I grabbed a copy and went on my way.

Now let’s be honest – usually when someone hands you a free CD, the odds of it actually impressing are pretty slim. So when I finally popped it into my CD player at the airport on Sunday, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself very impressed with what I was hearing. Musically, their serpentine, echoed guitar lines and loping bass melodies recall Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky, and while the loud-quiet dynamic is present, it’s not the punchline. There’s also some Verve-like atmospherics enevloping everything and many of the songs have vocals that keep them fairly grounded in more conventional song structures rather than multi-movement compositions (though some do approach epic-length). The quality of those vocals – somewhat frail and spidery, like Deserters Songs-era Mercury Rev – work perfectly with the music. There’s nothing blazingly original in the ingredients that The Oktober People work with, but the end result is quite stunning nonetheless. If you couldn’t tell, I’m quite taken with their work.

I don’t regret my decision to go see Dirty On Purpose last Thursday night at all, but I do wish I’d somehow been able to have been in two places at once. Since The Oktober People seem to rarely tour outside their native Southwest, so the odds of them finding their way up here by any means other than getting horribly horribly lost are pretty slim… but at least I’ve got the record. You can sample some of their self-titled debut at the band’s MySpace page, or start off with this one (from their own website):

MP3: The Oktober People – “The Sky Is Falling”.

Go, discover.

Am I the only one who had no idea that The Decemberists had a Purevolume page that includes a handful of mp3 rarities for free download? So everyone who’s been writing to me to get their “Human Behaviour” cover, go there instead. And while you’re waiting for the files to transfer, check out these interviews with Colin Meloy at Seattle Weekly wherein they play jukebox (via TMFTML) and The New York Daily News (via LHB).

Seattle’s Crystal Skulls will be supporting The Wedding Present on the first leg of their North American tour, including their April 26 show at Lee’s Palace.

As I’m currently trying to come up with a band name, The Guardian offers some suggestions on band names – the best and the weirdest. I’m taking notes.

The Guardian also has this piece on SxSW and what it means for UK bands looking to make it on this side of the Atlantic.

np – Guided By Voices / Half Smiles Of The Decomposed

By : Frank Yang at 9:44 am
Category: Uncategorized
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  1. J.P. says:

    Fun and informative as always, Frank, but ya used the wrong address for the weird band names link (ya linked to the UK bands/SxSW piece instead). Here’s the correct url.

    http://…/

    Oh, and for a band name I once suggested "Data For Dexter" to a friend of mine, who liked it but thought it sounded to laptop/electro pop for a rock band.

    Regards,

    J.P.

  2. Paul says:

    Everytime someone says they’re looking for a bandname, I’m compelled to suggest "Oedipus & the Motherfuckers." So far, no one’s taken me up on it, though.

  3. Quinn says:

    "recall Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky"… sounds right up my alley.

    I think I read that that Pure Volume page was not actually put up by the Decemberists themselves

  4. Paul says:

    (Also, The Outfield were a 3 or 4-hit-wonder.)

  5. Frank says:

    Oh Paul, you and your "facts".

    thanks for the correction, JP. Too many nondescript Guardian links to juggle today.

  6. Paul says:

    I wish I could’ve gotten on Rock n’ Roll Jeopardy with my facts. Mark McGrath would’ve been toast!

  7. Randy says:

    Hey Frank

    Since I’ve postponed forming a band for a very long time, and am not likely to now, you can have my (aborted) band name: Mummerset. (a term used to describe the kind of generic, regionally-confused English accent that actors sometimes use). If you like it, use it. Just thank me profusely throughout your long recording career.

    Randy

    (guy you gave you that DVD zine last year)