My Top New Music Picks from SXSW 13

Ever year at SXSW I manage to find one or two bands that I really like. One year that was Street Sweeper Social Club, another year Asteroid Galaxy Tour. This year I was fortunate as well to run into at least two bands that I really liked: Monophonics from San Francisco and Ain't no Love from Montreal.

Ain't No Love (@thisaintnolove) plays electro hip hop that very infectiously danceable. Two rappers and a smooth vocalist back by heavy electro beats. A potent combination:

Monophonics (@monotonicsfunk) plays high energy big band psychedelic soul and hard funk, in the tradition of Sly Stone and George Clinton. Lots of copper, harmonies and swing. Here is a live clip of them:


Lismore Castle in HDR

I had the fortune to visit Lismore Castle in Ireland as part of the Funconf conference. The fall weather in Ireland created bright highlights and dark shadows and as such was ideal for some HDR experiments. Each of these images is created out of 5 bracketed images each half a stop apart. I shot it by hand which makes the overlaying far from perfect of course, but the M9 is relatively light. Postprocessing using Lightroom and Photomatix Pro.

Rough Guide to @werner

I can't believe you listen to this shit ....

When Nalden asked me to put together a top ten of my favorite music I must have looked rather shocked. How can I ever pick ten favorites; there is so much great music out there that picking only ten would be an insult. But as Nalden kept hounding me,  I decided to do a different kind of top ten. Given that I am a real omnivore when it comes to music; there is quite a bit extreme material in my collection. This top ten is made out of material where someone at one time has said to me “I can’t believe you listen to this shit”. That still left me with quite a bit material so I added the filter that I must have seen the artist, and they had to have been impressive in live concert. Here is the resulting playlist on Nalden's wonderful site (and the equivalent on Playlistify, Spotify and Grooveshark)

Welcome to the “Rough Guide to @werner”. I’ll ease into this absurd world by starting with Alabama 3, the group that pioneered the Acid Country genre.  Many of their songs are in my bag of favorites; Mansion on the Hill and Too Sick to Pray are some of the best of their early work. To get a good sense of their riveting live performances watch Woke up This Morning from the Live at the Astoria DVD.

Next up is Apocalyptica the cello-only group of crazy Fin’s. They made their name with covering Metallica songs on cello, but my pick is Path which is their own work. Their live performances are an amazing show, see for example One and Hall of the Mountain King.

Third and fourth on the list are two European electronica duo’s. Chase and Status have their roots in the Drum & Bass world but have transformed into an intense trance dance performance. This live performance of Eastern Jam is a good example. They are also known for their remixes; here is a live excerpt from their remix of Nneka’s Heartbeart.

The French mega duo Justice shows what is great about the Euro electronica scene. When I was at SXSW earlier this year people there where really enthusiastic about some of the LA electronica bands, but they are dwarfed by the European bands. You can find many live recordings of Justice and they all demonstrate how they can even get the biggest hall going. I picked this performance of Genesis in San Francisco.

No Rough Guide is complete without some hard-core rap and hiphop. These two songs are without videos. For me DMX is the pinnacle of the aggressive rap battles and there is no better putdown song that Bring Your Whole Crew. From the old skool hard core hiphop nothing beats the Wu Tang Clan. There is too much to choose from but for me Severe Punishment has the driving rhythm that was at the origin of the hip hop genre. 

I added two mash-up’s to the list. The first is NasHip Hop is Dead, which is sampled over the 60’s song In-a-gadda-davida from Iron Butterfly. It is a remarkably creative approach given the message he wanted to send: “Everybody sounds the same, commercialize the game / Reminiscin' when it wasn't all business / It forgot where it started / So we all gather here for the dearly departed. Also see his live performance in the AOL studio and on stage in NYC.

No “I can’t believe you listen to this shit” list is complete without Marilyn Manson. Many do not seem to be able to look past his appearance to see an excellent innovating artist. Not that I am really a big fan of his work, but he has some excellent song in his repertoire. This is the New Shit is typical for his critical view on his own work

Just to annoy Nalden I added some hard core white boy country hip hop and rock to the mix. Nobody does that better than Kid Rock. There are many anthems to pick from, but I think American Bad Ass will do just fine :-). Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Kid or not, if he comes to your town with a live show, you have to go see him. There is nothing like it.

The second of the mashup’s and the last song on the list is the collaboration between Linkin Park and Jay-Z. Collision Course is one of the better collaborative mashup’s out there and the combination between LP’s Nu Metal and Jay’z Rhyming is great fun. I put the live version of Points Of Authority/99 Problems/One Step Closer in this list because I consider Linkin Park to be one of the absolute best live bands touring the world at the moment. Jay-Z looks a bit out of place in the high-intensity performance, but it is a classic…

Here is the full top ten playlist from GrooveShark

Rock the Bells Featuring Street Sweeper Social Club

Street Sweeper Social Club remains my favorite new band of 2010 after I saw them perform a number of times at SXSW. If you have a change to attend the Mega “Rock The Bells” festival, don’t skip it and go see SSSC with Tom Morello and Boots Riley.

This is “Nobody Moves this we Say Go“, the song that ends each Street Sweeper Social CLub performance on a much higher energy than that it started...

There are four festival performances: LA (8/21), San Francisco (8/22), New York (8/28), DC (8/29)