Saturday, March 14, 2009

From across the pond: 6 UK acts to check out at SXSW

Anchorsong is the electro-acoustic solo project of London musician Masaaki Yoshida. Anchorsong started as a five-piece band in 2003, but attrition left Anchorsong with only one doubtful member. Yoshida adopted Anchorsong as his stage moniker and now creates live beats and sounds with a sampler (AKAI MPC2500) and a keyboard (KORG Triton), with occasional help from string quartets and other musicians. Here's a sample:

Dan Le Sac VS. Scroobius Pip
While rapping about suicide, failed relationships, and the moral ambiguity of western religion may not make for the most club-friendly hip-hop on its face, emcee Scroobius Pip and producer Dan Le Sac released one of the smartest and catchiest hip-hop records of 2008. Most music critics don't know what to make of the duo from the county of Essex. Le Sac's beats are more influenced by electro and video games than traditional boom-bap or UK grime. And mic-man Scroobius Pip comes from a spoken-word poetry background. Then you factor in the Matisyahu beard and the gimmicky hit single "Thou Shalt Always Kill", and Le Sac VS. Pip becomes an easy target for the otherwise unemployable English majors who overpopulate Pitchfork Media and the like. But don't sleep on these dudes. Listen the title track of their album Angles on MySpace; it's heartbreaking hip-hop storytelling. "Look For The Woman" (below) is pretty good too.

Fanfarlo is feel-good indie pop. I'm pretty sure there's at least a dozen bands just like this who call Austin home year-round, but that doesn't mean I won't still check these guys and gal out. They were one of the first bands on the Black Cab Sessions, a damn cool website in its own right.

If you're not a fan of double-kick drum petals you'll probably hate Fuckshovel. But I can predict now, dealing with all the tourists and people who don't have a clue during SXSW, I'll probably be thrown into a blinding rage or two and will have to let out the frustration at the loudest rock show I can find. Fuckshovel is mission accomplished, as far as that's concerned.

The She Creatures
Well, Austin's motto is "Keep Austin Weird" and The She Creatures are pretty dang weird. Honestly, I don't find the music itself all that special. But who doesn't like girls in go-go boots and blue wigs wielding guitars with as much bravado as a '70s arena-rock band?

Talk To Angels
Talk To Angels has "it band" written all over their gelled-haired and posh-scarfed promo photos. Their music borrows from enough classic and contemporary influences that it sounds radio-ready out of the box. And according to MySpace, they've been selling out moderate-sized venues in their hometown of Leeds, without an album or a record deal. Goes to show that with a strong online presence, a solid work ethic, and a few catchy tunes, you can really build a foundation for musical success.

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