It may seem like every band in your Twitter/Facebook feed is at SXSW this week, but that’s far from the case. There are plenty of up-and-coming and established bands working for your attention here in SF, too. Carve out your own SXSF with these upcoming shows:
Resourceful Danish band Efterklang made its last album, Piramida, literally while on top of the world, in an abandoned mining town deep in the Arctic Circle. The setting inspired an ambitiously expansive album that sounds as surreal as a place with more polar bears than people (see video below for an idea of how it all went down). On a surface level, lead singer Casper Clausen’s vocals remind of The National’s Matt Berninger: Authoratitive, avuncular, spiritually famished. And the rest of the band shares much in common with fellow Scandinavian brigade Sigur Ros, with a heavy appetite for eclectic instrumentation.
Martha Wainwright, Swedish American Hall, Friday
The never-ending story of the Wainwright family is never short on fodder for media folks like us. Martha, daughter of Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle (and sister of Rufus Wainwright), is the instigator of the bunch. “I like to shock people” in her songs, she told a Candian music writer recently. But her latest release, Come Home to Mama, offers plenty more than shock value—it’s a triumph of nuanced rock 'n' roll songwriting. But, yes, the shock value...about that:
Can’t wait for My Bloody Valentine to make another return to SF? Check out Black Ryder instead, a dead ringer for MBV’s shoegazey noise rock. It sounds like they spent a former life as a MBV cover band, but these Aussies operate according to their own prerogative, leveraging distortion, looping and other savvy alt-rock tricks to breathe fresh air back into an unfortunately under-represented genre.
The backstory behind Imagine Dragons’ rise to stardom is a lesson in modern music biz sausage-making: Music producer searches for talent to make musical, finds a below-the-radar act. Music producer doesn’t want that band, per se, just their ideas; producer has a bigger name set to perform (in this case, U2). Under-the-radar band outperforms expectations, gets its own record deal. Band makes waves on radio and other mainstream channels.
Someday, band has U2 write songs for them (ok... maybe not). Until then, Imagine Dragons will ride the wave.
There are legends, and then there is Wynton Marsalis. No longer just a mere mortal soul, the name Wynton Marsalis is now attached to the hip of jazz’s finest modern institution, the Lincoln Center. Just the name Wynton Marsalis conjures the image of a genre champion. Of course, he’s also one of the finest jazz trumpeters to ever walk the earth. The man is as decorated as musicians come, with more than 30 albums, nine Grammy Awards, and a Pulitzer Prize on his resumé. Witness it for yourself.
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