SXSW has over 600 MP3s available for free download. Some of them were already available on the band's websites. Others were available only on streaming audio and in some cases, some are newly offered.
I went to just the Wednesday, March 16th page and ended up downloading 168 files (about 600 Mb). Out of those files, two were not properly tagged, so I threw them away. After an initial listening, I pared the list down to 78 files and from there I whittled it down to 32 standouts songs, in reverse alphabetical order.
Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt - We Are Scientists - recalls late '80s English rock (Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, Love and Rockets). Drums and Bass are tightly connected at the hip bone with the guitar providing the swing.
The Ghost of the Girl in the Well - Willard Grant Conspiracy - Cavian/Cashian Western song with Stephen King lyrics/story about a ghost haunting her killer through the wasteland.
They Got Cameras in their Pocket - Whitey Houston - Cymbal slammin' bar band rock - makes you want to gulp down a pitcher of beer, wave your first in the air and forget that your jeans have ridden down below your crack and your t-shirt is riding up. It's okay cuz no one really notices.
Lie In The Sound - Trespassers William - Lucinda Williams woke up and found she was 20 years old again, had only a pea-sized hangover and had only smoked one cigarette in her sleep. She's still alone, though.
Night is Over - The Urgencies - Holy shit, the Divine Horsemen have reunited? Maybe no but they've sure got the Chris D. - Julie C. vocals down.
Move that Strut - The Real Heroes - I counted four hooks. Vocalist is a dead ringer (in sound) to Lou Reed. "Flash Flash Flash"
Teenage Oddball - The Sweethearts - Not punk in the current MTV sense but in that Little Steven sense. Not the first band that has discovered that "teenager" and "stranger" kinda rhyme and probably not the last.
The Rockstar Guide to Falling Apart - The Pretty Please - If Katrina and the Waves were harder edged and had sleazier lyrics. Great song title.
You've Got to Want to Be A Star - The Besnard Lakes -Longish track that shifts and melts from something to something else entirely, bringing in vocals, does this and then does that. If it were wallpaper, it would be wallpaper with an LCD HDTV large screen attached playing clips from some TV teen drama where the kids listen to stuff that 30-something writers and producer adults thing they should be listening to instead of Avril.
Backdoor Carni - Tarantula - Soundtrack to a documentary about artists working in an autocratic Balkan or Caucasus country with an unpronounceable name. This is the montage where the brave young artists are shown creating vaguely revolutionary modern art intercut with scenes from an wedding, troops facing off against protesting students and old wizened farmers confronting their guerilla art in public places. The final scene has the artist collective gathering for a meal of food we have never heard of. They hoist their dirty glasses of clear liquor and the sun sets.
Massive Cure - Smoosh - The best of the lo-fi recordings here.
Television - Robyn Hitchcock - I don't normally like him but this is a nice almost Norah Jones w/o the piano-ish love song to the boob tube. I did get a kick out of seeing him in that Denzel Washington film - maybe he can be the next Bond villain.
I Am The Queens of Comparisons - Rescue - The best of the neo pop punk songs here and one of my favorite cuts here. More!
Impossible - Pleasant Grove - Not the most challenging song in the bunch but one of the better indie pop songs here. Has an effortless hook, pristine production and an interesting soundscape.
I Am A Gun - Parker and Lily - And now, live from your basement its Willie Nelson backed by Galaxie 500.
Keep Happy - Papa Mali - Reminds me of that New Sounds from the Delta CD that came out on Fat Possum.
Halycon (Beautiful Days) - Mono - I love all these quiet bands. Nice build from acoustic guitar duet to shimmering mandolins and what sounds like a full string orchestra backup and then back to a quiet cello and then it explodes into a feedback-loaded send-off - sort of the theme to Twin Peaks rethought and stripped of its melody.
Ciudadano - Maneja Beto - Laid back, alt-Latin space age jet car music... How long before David Byrne fronts them?
Old New York - Luke Temple - Wonder if Paul Simon knows how many hipsters out there dig him and his older urban folk solo career.
Bring Me Down - Jupiter and Teardrop - If Aimee Mann had a sex change and wrote slightly dumber lyrics, would she be this guy? Perhaps. Or maybe she's just in town to serve him.
I Do Dream You - Jennifer Gentle - Here I thought I had heard just about every take one could make on garage rock and then I heard this. It's like a band purposely trying to sound like a 33 RPM record being played at 45 RPM by Herman's Hermit's offspring.
Mr. Atom - Hurts to Purr - Now if she sings this in a long cocktail dress and walks around the audience sitting on people's laps and messing up their hair AND pulls it off to boot, I'd be really impressed. As such, its the first lounge lizard sci-fi song I've heard in good while. We shall rule the galaxy, indeed.
Out of Sight - Hilary York - Sad, sad girl with sad guitar sings sad, sad song about sad girl and her sad boy as observed by a sad girl...
Stone Age Bug - Fantasy's Core - This celebrity rocker thing is out of hand. First Juliette Lewis and now Bob Goldthwait is fronting the Panther Burns?? What's the world coming to??? Oh, its just another crazy-azz Japanese band.
18 and Drastic - Carter Tanton - If lo-fi was all that was played on the Top 40 radio stations and people listened to it like they listen to, say, hip-hop these days, this song would ride the charts for a few weeks and years later people would remember the song fondly and write about it in their weblogs.
In Spain - Buttercup - Paul Westerberg but without the inflections and sense of shame. Ends with a funny, Beatles-ish marchout.
It's Christmas Time Again - By the End of Tonight - Prog-rock instrumental with a sense of humor and an ability to steer clear of all the cliches. It take a while to warm up to - especially the recording choice they made with the drums. File into background music playlist.
Eve's Rib - Bikini Atoll - At first I'm thinking pretentious twaddle but its got a nice propelling structure and that jaw rattling bass in the beginning. Not the best song here but a keeper.
Dance On - Asleep in the Sea - The funniest cut - like Modest Mouse but on ludes. Shambles around and then all of a sudden their crooning in perfect Lennon-McCartney harmonies. Weird.
Ep[i]phany - Appogee - There's lots of indie-pop synth shoogazer stuff at SXSW. These even has the whispered lyrics and despite the pretentious title, it's pretty good.
Ladies and Gentlemen - American Music Club - Is it possible to make a hybrid of Elvis Costello and Nick Cave with a jazz-noise outfit? I leave it as an exercise for the listener to determine the answer.
2/3 - Album - ... um...no, wha?...thhhhh...mmmm....so...if...ah...hmpf.