I was afraid that this feature story on Brooklyn singer/songwriter Holly Miranda came off a bit bitchy. It wasn’t meant to sound that way, though I was a little annoyed that she chose not to answer any questions about her origins. That’s her prerogative, of course, and I can’t say that I blame her. I’m always amazed when musicians answer any questions that I pose to them. I’m just saying, it would have been nice to have a little more to work with for this article, but I made the best of what I had. Lemon. Lemonade. Etc. Take a look. She’s opening for Steel Train at The Waiting Room next Tuesday, March 23. And her new album on XL is pretty amazing. I suggest you buy it and your tickets.
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And so, I’m off to Austin for SXSW. I’ll be there sometime this afternoon and Twitter updates and twitpics will follow. The first field report will be online tomorrow. I’ll also be posting updates from colleague Chris Aponik, who’s doing SXSW without a badge. He’s been there for a couple days already. Here’s Chris’ first field report:
Good day shows at Beerland, Red 7, Emo’s and Mohawk created conflicting choice around midday, so I just decided to stick with what I know I’ll dig, instead of the mysterious unknown of buzz bands. For the first time ever, I don’t have a badge so SXSW really is just a vacation for me. I have no expectations and not much desire to run around Austin all day. In fact, SXSW is starting to sprawl out too much to really run venue to venue every hour, which is what I did the first two years here.
So what did Wednesday bring? Well the continuing evolution of Lafayette, Ind.’s TV Ghost for starters. The band has improved over everything on its first album, Cold Fish, and then seems to be descending deeper into their own world of slow-burn post-punk menace. Singer Timmy Eick abuses his guitar and sings as if he’s been cast in The Exorcist, while his band provides ice-cold synth and pummeling rhythms behind him. There also was good stuff from Woven Bones, who play a taut wave of rock ‘n roll that could be called “shoegaze”, but to my ears, really isn’t. These two shows cemented my choice to stay at Beerland, which soon after reached capacity. Rather than lose my spot to go catch a band or two I stayed throughout the day, which culminated with garage rock’s premiere house partiers, The Spits, and early ’90s alt.rock garage band The Muffs.
From Beerland, I ventured into the wild world beyond SXSW. The first stop was Charlie’s, a gay nightclub that decided to host a late-afternoon slate of shows highlighted by Harlem, and Hunx and His Punx, who wraps tales of straight-boy seduction in ’60s bubblegum rock. Before Harlem played, I hightailed it to Trailer Space, an east Austin record shop that’s mostly used vinyl. They also regularly host bands. Next to Trailer Space sits Eastside Pies, one of those by-the-slice pizza places that would kill in Benson. At Trailer Space, more people seemed to crowd the parking lot than were inside, which also filled up. Here I caught Alex White’s rocking duo, White Mystery. She’s put together an inverse White Stripes, as she’s shit-hot on guitar and her male drummer hits better than 1,000 Meg Whites. She rips out torrents of midwestern garage punk with a directness and economy that seems charmingly anachronistic in an era of slop-pop amateurism.
Here’s Wednesday final tally:
Great: TV Ghost, Woven Bones, White Mystery
Very Good: Wizzard Sleeve, Spits, Fresh & Onlys, Puffy Areolas
Good: Hunx and His Punx, Happy Birthday, Magic Kids, Uptown Bums
Okay: Muffs, Cruddy, YellowFever
— Chris Aponik
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I suspect that the untimely death of Alex Chilton will throw a pall over this year’s SXSW festivities. Big Star was one of those bands that pushed pain into my chest whenever I listened to their records, but maybe Third/Sister Lovers was the most devastating. RIP Alex Chilton; your star burns brighter than ever.
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Now, off to the show…
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