I’ve been trying to get my South by Southwest coverage started for a little while, and have kept hitting a brick wall to a certain extent trying to talk about it. I attributed it my recent cold (a common final acquisition for those who attend the fest) clouding my mind, but that has past, and I’m still stuck. And I realize that’s because this SXSW, for all the fun I and other’s had, was a complete drain both physically and emotionally.
And let’s not mince words; it was because on Wednesday night/Thursday morning a drunk driver plowed their car through a group of people waiting to get into The Mohawk, resulting in 22 people injured and 2 people dying, with a third person dying in the past few days. A group of people, mostly young kids who were waiting patiently late in the night for the most simple of reasons; they were hoping to see a band they liked live during this big, chaotic festival. It’s hard to express what went through my mind when my friend Sam told me the news (after I called him after noticing him frantically trying to contact me) while I was driving home that night. The worry in his voice, the fear that quickly washed over me. The moment I got home, I frantically hopped on Twitter, scrolling through the barrage of news updates being retweeted at a frantic clip, as well as the various updates from people just letting everyone else know they were ok. I stayed up late that night, staring at my computer screen for information and updates, with my phone next to me, waiting patiently for the most important text messages in the world to filter in.
The day party’s at Cheer Up Charlie’s & The Mohawk were thankfully cancelled, though both venues opened later that night. I don’t think anyone honestly knew how to respond to what happened, which I think itself is an honest response. The rest of SXSW proceeded as it normally would have, everyone just trying to enjoy what is suppose to be a fun few days. Charities popped quickly, with the likes of SXSW Cares raising thousands of dollars for the victims in less than 24 hours, which makes me happy in some small way. I am told that Damien Abraham of Fucked Up, a man and band I greatly respect, gave a speech on the shortness and importance of life that Thursday as well. For that I am grateful. The crash hung heavy on everyone’s mind, even if few people talked about it. It felt selfish, at least for me, to be enjoying that day, all of SXSW really, after what happened. And I think that informed the experience of everyone for the rest of the festival.
Why am I saying all this? I think largely because I don’t want people to forget about it. This was an absolute tragedy in every way and I never want anything like this to happen again in any capacity. I honestly don’t know how preventable this incident was. It was an accumulation of several of the worst possible situations happening at once. At the very least, the degree of alcohol consumption that SXSW encourages every year can surely be encouraged to be looked at and tampered down, though that’s a whole other essay. I want this event, these people to be what is remembered about SXSW this year, more so than anything as stupid or unimportant as a pop star getting puked on as part of their performance. They were Steven Craenmehr, Jamie West, and now Sandy Le. It is a true tragedy they are gone.
The SXSW Cares charity is still taking donations to support those injured and recovering from the crash. You can donate here to the charity.
I’ve really only gotten to know David Glickman over the past six months or so. In that time though I’ve come to find out what a great person he is (plus the fact that he listens to some pretty excellent music). He’s also the sort of person who is an eternal optimist in the best sense. Frequently seen on Twitter only saying nice things about people, complimenting others, or lifting those up who are having a rough day, he’s the kind of guy who is always nice to have around. I don’t say any of this to come off as trite or corny, but rather to say that David is just a really cool dude. When he’s not on Twitter you can find him plugging away at his under-appreciated blog called The Creative Intersection or contributing to C86’d Tapes.
For this guest spot David lists his 10 favorite 7”s of 2013.
Split singles are the bane of my existence and I’m sure others’ as well. You either don’t get enough of one artist, or worse, have a whole side of wax you don’t want to listen to. However, Alex G. and R. L. Kelly managed to make there’s work perfectly. It helps both work in very similar styles, crafting intimate pop songs with very minimal instrumentation. Alex G’s songs have a bruise and weary feel attached to them, like a teenager just at this very moment reflection on the mistakes he made as a kid, while R. L. Kelly’s are more mental, tinged with something lying underneath, both good and bad. It’s all sort of sad, but lovely at the same time.
Lumpy and the Dumpers are demented. The result of too many glue sniffs, industrial fumes, and living in the middle of nowhere Midwest. They make some vile, screwy, mutant strand of weirdo punk rock that also happens to be absolutely excellent. Buried underneath that distortion and warped sensibilities are actual catchy riffs and something that makes you want to yell along to these fucked up and demented lyrics, as much as they try to coat everything in goo so that it can appear rancid.
Think whatever you want about Butter the Children’s name, they make some truly outstanding indie rock, a blend of melted shoegaze riffs over dark, post-punk energy, and Inna Mkrtycheva’s sour yet soaring vocals. The likes of “Spit It Out” feel both like an angry anthem while at the same time emitting a sense of claustrophobia. As indebted as they are to lots of old indie rock bands, the end result is something a bit warped and twisted, which just makes it all the better.
Technicolor Teeth is a side project from pop-punk titans Tenement, though I doubt anyone would be able to guess that from this single. Technicolor Teeth produce this wonderful meld of dream-pop and shoegaze that feels like it could drift on forever (especially on the near six minute drone of “Blood Pool”). However, something about Technicolor Teeth’s stops these tracks from completely going to the clouds; they have a bite to them, especially in the bleak and dark lyrics. It’s a summer single, but for those who spend their summers in room with the blinds closed and the lights off, waiting for it all to pass by.
Normally I don’t go 7”s with songs that were already on the album. Something about them feels invalid. However, I will glad make an exception here with Joanna Gruesome. On one side is buzzy, My Bloody Valentine warping, noise pop of “Sugarcrush”, and the other is one of the most perfect cover’s I have ever heard, a rendition of Galaxie 500’s “Tugboat” as pure catharsis, complete with a anguish filled scream and pure bliss/noise breakdown.
Lost for some reason in all the praise as to how wonderful Julia Brown’s tape to be close to you was (and is), was the fact they put out an equally lovely 7”. A rerecording of “Library”, which in any form is a true indie-pop classic, matched with the longing of “I wanna be a witch” and pure melancholy of “The way you want”. Here, in their new “hi-fi” sound you can really hear the effort the band puts into its arrangements, cramming as much melody into every nook and cranny they can find, as tinted by sadness as these songs can be. It’s indie pop at its finest.
4. Comet Gain - “Avenue Girls” b/w “Envelopes” (Wiaiwya)
Unfortunately, like practically everything else Comet Gain have ever released, it’s understandable if this release went under your radar. Which is an utter shame because it’s one of the best pieces of indie pop wax released this year. “Avenue Girls” is a sour-to-sweet tune of buzzy organs and a ‘60s throw back swing, with Rachel Evans taking over vocal duties to great effect. Really though, it’s “Envelopes” that’s the real masterpiece, almost exclusively David Christian’s guitar and voice as they spin a tale of loneliness and melancholy.
Condominium have been putting out a steady amount of sludgy, noisy as all fuck tracks deeply indebted to Flipper. While the title track is still brutal slog, the A-side’s “Show Them” & “Eating the Universe” shows them more a more brutal pigfuck style of pulverized drums and thick, rubber like bass lines. It doesn’t matter slow or fast, as all three songs are equally brutal, dark unflinching reflections on normality and suburban life. The songs crush the body has the lyrics explain how the world is crushing your soul.
Above all else, Destruction Unit are a live band, a force of nature that must be seen to be believed in the way they twist psych and noise rock into an evil bastardization of its former self. However, their record output cannot be understated, especially with what they presented with Two Strong Hits. There’s the otherworldliness of “Sonic Pearl”, a strangely melodic piece of truly chaotic, sunbaked noise punk filled with a sense of loss, & “Nightfall”, which has the feel of a nightmarish LSD monster singing a song to you has your brain begins to melt. Wonderful demented stuff.
For some reason, Cold Cave decided to fully embrace the 7”s format this year, releasing everything they made in every form the 7” can take, from single sided to digital. However, nothing truly compares quite to these two songs. “Oceans With No End” maybe the most optimistic Cold Cave have ever crafted, and easily one of their best as well; chirping electronics as cascading synths meld next to the perfectly placed guitar strums and steady clang of the drum machine. It’s a song of pure emotion and a powerful one at that. One in fact that is instantly contrasted by “People are Poison” a dark, slithering track of compressed malice and sleek synth work mixed with industrial production. Duality in motion, it’s one of the best pieces of darkwave made by a true master.
A slight cheat, as No Wind was originally released on cassette back in 2012, but it’s far to excellent not deserve a mention. It’s just an incredible, lo-fi burst of d-beat perfection. And burst is apt, as although there are four songs, it ends in less than four minutes. It’s brutal and crushing and everything you could ever want. Worth it for the packaging alone; it’s a thing of cruel beauty.
For some reason, Cactus Mouth was kind enough to let me share my thoughts on what I thought the best 7”s of the year were. From personal indie pop to sludgy hardcore, let me know what you think and what I missed.
Caténine is a tape by Caténine, a solo project by a one Dylan Connor. At times, listening to this, it’s hard to believe it is not the demo tape Wild Nothings sent to Capture Tracks. It’s this wonderful batch of hazy, dreamy indie pop that would have been right at home circa 2010. Right from…
I talked about Caténine’s debut tape, a lovely collection of five songs, that have the same hazy, jangely feel that indie rock/indie pop bangs were making near the beginning of the decade.