Friday, March 3rd, 2006
So I’ve been cruising the SxSW bit torrents and am over 1/3 of the way through the first one (around 770 artists/songs) and it’s been an interesting experience. It’s a wildly eclectic mix of stuff, and while I do my best to give everything a fair shake, my hand does stray to the skip button on occasion. But in the process, I’ve listened to more hip-hop, metal and experimental noise in the past couple days than I have in, like, ever. Which isn’t to say that I’ve liked it, but I’ve listened to it and it’s been interesting. I can’t say that I’ll make it through all 1000 or so songs in the two torrents, but it’s an educational exercise and is a reasonable sampler and substitute for not hitting every showcase going down in Austin later this month.
But every once in a while, something jumps out at you that really makes you sit up and take notice – I’ve had a few of those moments so far, and one came yesterday courtesy of Australia’s Decoder Ring. Their SxSW profile denotes them as “electronic”, but I don’t think that’s wholly accurate. There’s definitely programmed beats and sequencing at work here, particularly in some of the songs posted on their MySpace page, but there’s plenty of organic instrumentation to be found here including singer Lenka’s gorgeous voice. Some of the material is strictly instrumental fare and some of it is classic pop songsmithery, but all of it is pretty damned impressive.
Their latest album, released late last year, is Fractions and it’s the title track from it that utterly beguiled me from the first note. Starting with a shy, breathy opening and building to a joyous crescendo, it pushes all the right buttons. Reminds me of Bjork’s “Hyper-Ballad”, in that sense – not a bad thing at all. The video is a little hokey, but the song feels like Spring and it makes me happy. Check them both out:
The band will be at SxSW this year, playing both the Aussie Showcase & BBQ at Brush Square Park on March 17 and a proper showcase at 8PM at Red 7 on Saturday, March 18.
And fellow Aussies (and Bella Union affiliates) Howling Bells are offering “The Wild”, the b-side to their Wishing Stone single, as a free download to anyone signed up to the Bella Union mailing list.
Belle & Sebastian are the subject of a feature article in the new Harp, Chris Geddes gives good interview to The Swarthmore Phoenix, Steve Jackson to Dailyrecord.com and this interview by Incendiary with Bobby Kildea has been up for a while, but I only just found it now. And finally, an audio interview with Boston NPR. The next single from The Life Pursuit will be for “The Blues Are Still Blue”, all proceeds from which will go directly to Marc Bolan’s estate. Like the “Funny Little Frog” single before it, it will come out in CD/7″/DVD on April 3 and you can pre-order all three from Recordstore.co.uk for 5 quid. The “Funny Little Frog” set cost me around $17 CDN all said in done, if you were wondering.
And since I can’t seem to post any B&S stuff without an Isobel Campbell footnote, here’s today’s – pieces from The Chicago Sun-Times and Chart, and courtesy of V2, I’ve got an autographed Isobel Campbell poster and two copies of Ballad Of The Broken Seas, out Tuesday, to give away. To enter, just send me an email with “Isobel Campbell contest” in the subject. This is a quick contest – it’ll close tomorrow night at midnight.
And locals, don’t forget she’s doing an instore at Soundscapes tomorrow at 3PM and playing a full show at Revival tomorrow night. Update: Shit, meant to edit this before posting – I’ve been informed the instore for tomorrow is cancelled. Sorry. Update 2: Just got word from the label that the evening show is cancelled as well. Verify this with the venue, CMW, etc, but that’s what I’ve been told. If Isobel isn’t going to be in town at all, this will obviously affect my ability to give away an autographed poster. I mean, *I* could autograph it, but that wouldn’t look nearly as nice on your wall. Anyway, we will figure something out in regards to the contest.
Exclaim! looks at the annoying yet understandable reasoning behind staggering international release dates for albums.
np – Sigur Ros / Takk