Just moments before sitting down to write about the best and worst of the South By Southwest music festival of last week, I found out about the death of Jason Molina, the troubled genius behind folk-blues outfits like Songs/Ohia and Magnolia Electric Company. This news would have been unsettling and heartbreaking regardless of what I was about to embark on, but sitting here trying to write about my 10th year at the music festival, I can’t help but think back to my first year in attendance and how I got to see Magnolia Electric Company perform at The Parish.
A lot has changed since that night a decade ago when Molina first enchanted me with his fragile, somber voice. Over the years I’ve seen SXSW grow along with my understanding of the festival and all its nuances. I think back to those performances from the first few years and wonder where the festival’s one time luster has gone. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a great week, seeing dozens of bands each day, but along with the growth of social media, SXSW has become more about the hype and less about discovering unpolished gems like my friends and I did 10 years ago with Jason Molina and his band. Yes, Dave Grohl, Stevie Nicks, and John Fogerty played a surprise set together, as well as Prince and Green Day (badge only shows), but due to the influx of speculation and misinformation within the Twitter world, I was unable to see several shows I would have in years past due to the miles of sheep lined up in hopes of seeing MTV TRL darlings like of Usher and Justin Timberlake.
Yet as much as these moments of frustration tainted my week, I still relished my chance to see up-and-coming artists pour their hearts out on the stage. Within the past ten years I’ve seen unknown artists perform at SXSW that went on to big time success (Bon Iver, The Fleet Foxes, and TV On the Radio), and I expect that many of the artists seen this week will go on to do just the same. Who knows? Maybe in ten years folks will be lining up for miles to see some of my favorites from this past week while I roam 6th street, 10 years older and wiser, in search of that next great unearthed treasure.
In memory of Jason Molina, I present to you my list of the best and worst of SXSW 2013.
In this episode we take a look at some of the best music to be released so far this year. Here are some of the tracks you’ll hear:
Traditional Fools “Please”
FIDLAR “Cheap Beer”
California X “Pond Rot”
Frightened Rabbit “Holy”
Torres “Jealousy and I”
Cocaine 80s “The Sun and the Moon”
Nightlands “So Far So Long”
Bob Dylan “One More Weekend”
Listen below, or subscribe on iTunes (keyword- BDWPS):
As discussed on my Podcast, over the past year I’ve found myself obsessively watching all of the episodes of “Classic Albums” on Netflix, the documentary series that originally aired on VH1 and BBC chronicling the creation of some of rock’s most influential albums. After viewing around a dozen of these one hour episodes, I came up with the “great” notion to make a list of the episodes, ranking them and discussing each one in a short paragraph. Well, this was easier said that done and remains an unfinished project (maybe this post will get me re-motivated to finish it).
My Bloody Valentine
[Self Released; 2013]
Shortly after 9 p.m. on February 4th, the indie rock universe imploded with one simple message on My Bloody Valentine’s Facebook page: “We are preparing to go live with the new album/website this evening. We will make an announcement as soon as it’s up.” As if preparing for an eminent bomb, fans raced to their Twitter accounts, all a-tizzy about what had to be a preeminent April Fool’s joke. Since the band’s last release in 1991 “Loveless,” front man Kevin Shields has been hinting at the release of a new album for over two decades, making the next MBV album the indie music equivalent of “Chinese Democracy.” But there it was, on the front page of Facebook, a promise that a new MBV album would be running through millions of ear buds and speakers within only hours.
And when the band actually went through on their word and released the album independently on their own website? Well, the fallout from the impact was instant. With so many rabid fans bombarding their website, many spent the majority of the night facing one 404 message after another, relaying the message that the website had crashed instantaneously.
Here at BDWPS we focus on the world of music, but on this special weekend, I ask you to turn your attention to the NBA All-Star Game festivities. I have a lot of friends that speak of the NBA with disdain, often labeling the players as “thugs” or “money hungry,” yet these same people will watch an entire weekend of NFL football without blinking an eye at the cheap shots, late hits, and overall self-glorification seen after each tackle and first down. If you are one of those who turned your back on the NBA after the likes of Jordan and Bird retired, let me assure you, there are still athletes within the league who play with the same passion and humility (Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Love, to name a few).
What started as simply a stroll down 70s lane turns into an obsessive look at the year 1970 and the albums that defined it. You’ll hear classics from artists like Black Sabbath, The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Rodriguez, John Lennon, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and of course, another classic from Bob Dylan. Check it out here or subscribe to it on iTunes by searching “BDWPS.”
I told myself all year that I wouldn’t create a “Top Songs” list for 2012. In years past, I’ve invested massive amounts of time to create what had over the years turned into a list of the Top 100 (!) songs, a list that pretty much no one every read or cared about (here’s last year’s list!). I decided this year that my time was better spent focusing solely on my albums list. Then again, as the month of January has crept forward, I kept getting the itchy typing finger to still throw a list of songs together. I’m not quite sure why I ever made a song list considering I’ve always been an “album” kind of guy. Then again, there are always those tracks that stand out and get revisited when I’m not listening to an album in its entirety. Most commonly my favorite songs from the year are found on mediocre albums that I’m not interested in revisiting in their entirety, but you will also find familiar tracks that can be found on my definitive “Top 40 Albums of 2012” list. What you read below is far from definitive. Simply put – it’s a collection of songs that you may enjoy as sweet little morsels of dessert to follow my 40-course meal of albums.