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SXSW 2017: Saturday night’s fond farewell to SXSW at the British Music Embassy – 18th March 2017

 
By on Monday, 24th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

In contrast to the rest of the hectic week, the Saturday night of SXSW 2017 was a fairly relaxed one, at least for my weary feet. According to my smartwatch, I had logged over 87,000 steps and almost 45 miles of walking distance over the course of the week, and I was happy to be staying in one place for the evening. Even happier because that place happened to be the British Music Embassy at Latitude 30, which hosted the BBC Music / UK Department of International Trade showcase. Mary’s additional thoughts on this showcase are back here.

Anna Meredith internal

The first performer of Saturday night was Scottish art-pop composer Anna Meredith. She and her rather unusual band (comprising cello, electric guitar, tuba and drums along with Meredith herself on synthesiser, clarinet, xylophone and vocals) made a truly joyful noise on stage, starting the showcase on an incredible high. Meredith has carved herself a unique niche on the classicial-popular music continuum in Britain, and the presence of NPR’s Bob Boilen at Latitude 30 on the night may well indicate that Meredith’s star is on the rise here in America as well. NPR recently featured ‘Dowager’, from Meredith’s 2016 debut LP ‘Varmints’, on All Songs TV.

Alice Jemima internal

Singer/songwriter Alice Jemima created a very different mood in her set, one with significantly fewer bells and whistles. Jemima’s stage presence was reserved, but in a flirty kind of way, and the same could be said of her songs. They catch your attention in a subtle way, with clever lyrics, trippy electro-dance rhythms and Jemima’s softly soothing voice. ‘Cocoa Liquor’, from her recent self-titled debut album, was one of the standout tracks on her set; you can find out more about the song in my post-performance interview with Jemima.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Xp0Dnsgocf0[/youtube]

Aquilo internal

While I was outside chatting with Ms. Jemima, Lancashire pop duo Aquilo were taking the stage inside Latitude 30. By the time our short interview was complete, the venue had filled to capacity, and we had some difficulty getting back inside. We arrived back to find that Aquilo’s soulful pop sound, defined by Tom Higham’s falsetto vocals and Ben Fletcher’s deft keyboard playing, had quickly set the entire room swooning and swaying.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/Rh__vTd7CoY[/youtube]

SuperGlu

I’m not a big fan of so-called slacker rock, but Manningtree four-piece SuperGlu brought an unexpected and infectious energy to the genre in their live set Saturday evening at the British Music Embassy. Bold, colorful, and never too serious, this band is just flat out fun to watch. Take a listen to their anything-but-sleepy latest track ‘Dreams’ just below.

Sundara Karma Oscar internal

The midnight slot on the Saturday night showcase was occupied by Reading alt-rockers Sundara Karma. Frontman Oscar “Lulu” Pollock gave us a bit more banter between songs on this night than he had at Stubb’s the night before, and the injection of character was quite welcome. He’s a curious persona, is Lulu, elusive in some ways but nevertheless engaging. His three bandmates didn’t do much speaking, but it quickly became clear that they didn’t need to. Their slick, seemingly effortless playing style is almost unintentionally flashy, yet visually and sonically mesmerizing. [Check out Carrie’s interview with Pollock and drummer Haydn Evans in Austin through here. – Ed.]

[youtube]https://youtu.be/zaevPi1nEFA[/youtube]

LIFE internal

BBC 6 Music presenter Steve Lamacq did his final duty for the evening, introducing the last band on the bill, Hull punk rockers LIFE. He was clearly excited to see them play, even rubbing his hands together in delight at one point after he stepped offstage and before he joined in the moshing. Once the band started, it was easy to understand Lamacq’s eagerness. This band is unapologetic, unalloyed punk, with none of the qualifiers (folk punk, post-punk) we so often see in this genre-bending era. Lead vocalist Mez Green really played up that rebel quality for the gathering of cameras at the front of the stage, but it felt authentic to their in-your-face, devil-may-care sound. The photo above was taken just before Green descended from the stage and mounted the bar, prowling its length like a predatory cat and sending his audience into a fit of wild, ecstatic dancing to close out the final night at the British Music Embassy.

Though Mary and I left Latitude 30 on a euphoric high, chatting and laughing about the great bands we’d heard, I couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of sadness at leaving it all behind for another year. The British Music Embassy has played host to some of the best up-and-coming artists and certainly some the most exciting showcases in my SXSW experience; this year was no exception. So, rather than goodbye, I said a silent “au revoir” to the venue, to the people inside, to the artists who graced the stage, and to SXSW for another year.

 

SXSW 2017: A relaxing Saturday afternoon at El Sapo with Music for Listeners – 18th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 4:00 pm
 

The Saturday afternoon of SXSW 2017 was brimming with sunshine and cool breeze, a perfect cocktail for outdoor activity. I took the opportunity to break away from the buzz of downtown Austin and head to local favourite burger joint El Sapo for the final day of the Music for Listeners showcases, hosted by our friends Michael Thomas and Orlando Torres. As usual, they had a great list of artists scheduled to play, including bands from the UK and around the world.

"SWIM

The first act on Saturday’s lineup was also the first ever Greek band to play on the Music for Listeners showcase, electronic trio Someone Who Isn’t Me. This all-female trio caught my attention instantly with their sleek combination of vocals, synths, and guitar sounds, melded into a fascinating art-pop aesthetic. I caught the three band members, Marilena Orfanou, Maria Hatzakou and Gina Dimakopoulou, after their set for a quick interview, where I learned more about the band’s unique origins and their post-SXSW plans. Take a listen to their dramatic instrumental track ‘Never Find It’ just below.

"JOB

Northern Irish alt-rocker Jealous of the Birds played a spirited full band set at El Sapo on the Saturday, including popular songs from her debut album ‘Palma Violets’ as well as a nifty cover of Foster the People’s 2011 megahit ‘Pumped Up Kicks’. TGTF covered Jealous of the Birds briefly at SXSW 2016 and more extensively at SXSW 2017; you can read all our past writing on her right back here.

"Be

I didn’t know what to expect from Scottish alt-pop trio Be Charlotte, and I was pleasantly surprised by what I heard on Saturday afternoon. Their teenaged frontwoman Charlotte Brimner might look cutesy on first glance, but her soft vocals are cut with hard-edged synth arrangements and precise dance rhythms. Amazingly, despite her relative youth, this wasn’t Brimner’s first time at SXSW; she took part in an Interactive panel session called ‘Making Music Physical Again’ back in 2015. Be Charlotte’s intensely groovy human analogy ’Machines that Breathe’ was a highlight of the afternoon.

"COF

Welsh band Chain of Flowers took a bit of a moody turn as we moved into late afternoon, but perhaps that’s to be expected from a band who shares its name with a song by The Cure. The similarity doesn’t end with the moniker, though Chain of Flowers have a murkier, thicker-textured darkness to their sonic quality, and frontman Josh Smith’s vocals convey more raw torture than sullen detachment. The band played a mix of new songs and tracks from their 2015 self-titled debut album, and it seems apropros, given their massive and heavy sound, that one of their newer tracks is titled ‘The Wall’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SJL4sORTW9E[/youtube]

Mary had seen Chain of Flowers Thursday afternoon at the British Music Embassy as part of a rock showcase there, but they were new to me, so I stopped their guitarist, Ross Jones, for a quick chat after the set. He told me that the band are currently promoting the re-pressed version of their debut album, after a less-than-satisfactory record label experience with its original release. However, he emphasised that they do have new material ready and waiting, with a potential single release this spring and a full LP to follow. In the meantime, Chain of Flowers are scheduled to play a run of live dates in England starting next week. (You can find the details here.)

"Catholic

While I was talking with Jones, the growing crowd at El Sapo congregated in front of the stage area for Scottish rock band Catholic Action. Formed as a spin-off of sorts from SXSW 2014 showcasing band Casual Sex, Catholic Action have quickly come into their own with singles ‘L.U.V.’ and ‘Rita Ora’. Their pop-tinged brand of rock was much more immediately accessible than Chain of Flowers’ wall of sound, and they quickly had punters’ feet tapping and heads bopping along to songs like their latest single ‘Doing Well’. Mary caught the group twice Friday night, first at the Glasgow Buckaroo at the Mohawk, then at the British Music Embassy at the BBC Introducing showcase.

 

"Juanita

The afternoon was slowly fading into evening by this point, and I decided to stay at El Sapo to see one final artist, Australian singer/songwriter Juanita Stein. Stein is already well known as the lead singer for London-based indie rock band Howling Bells, and she did play one song from that part of her repertoire, along with covers from Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison that give some indication of her solo style. Indeed, her recent single ‘Shimmering’ has more than a hint of Orbison’s dark bluesy-rock vibe, though she didn’t play enough of her solo tracks for me to get a good idea. Stein’s solo album ‘America’ is due out later this year, so if you’re curious, be on the lookout. Juanita Stein also performed as part of Sounds Australia’s Sound Gallery I Tuesday afternoon at B.D. Riley’s; read Mary’s review of her performance through here.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/iEYzyyjhMlw[/youtube]

The stellar lineup of acts at the Music for Listeners day parties are always a treat, especially for those of us who love UK artists, and this year was no exception. Special thanks to Michael, Orlando and everyone at El Sapo. We hope to see you again next year!

 

SXSW 2017: A Friday night mix of British, American and Canadian acts – 17th March 2017

 
By on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

It felt somewhat strange that I spent St. Patrick’s Day at SXSW 2017 on mostly non-Irish acts. Friday afternoon at SXSW has typically been reserved for the Full Irish Breakfast, but that had happened on Thursday this year. The only hint of Ireland I heard on this St. Patrick’s day was early on Friday, when I stopped briefly at Latitude 30 for the Output Belfast day show. My Friday evening was instead full to the brim with British and American acts, save one Canadian artist who made a strong impression near the end.

“DSC08894"

I started the evening with an early show at Stubb’s BBQ. Reading quartet Sundara Karma were first on Friday night’s bill, (as we had discussed in my interview with them on Tuesday) and they played before just as the sun was beginning to set over Austin. The crowd at Stubb’s trickled in slowly, with punters lingering over dinner and beer. But once the band started playing, all attention was on the stage.

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Sundara Karma frontman Oscar Pollock didn’t spend a lot of time on pleasantries, instead allowing the band’s sharp lyrics and edgy guitar melodies to do most of the talking. But make no mistake, this band cultivates an almost psychedelic visual impression onstage as well, with long hair and flashy gestures to match their dynamic alt-rock sound. They certainly weren’t daunted by the large outdoor stage at Stubb’s, and their impact was successfully established. I overheard several punters enthusiastically sharing the name Sundara Karma as I made my way to the exit after their set. Stay tuned for more on Sundara Karma in my recap of Saturday night at SXSW, posting soon.

DSC08892

My next stop was west of Congress, at another venue I’d never visited before, the Tap Room at the Market. The Market is a bustling, trendy Austin night spot, with the smaller Tap Room nestled below. On this night, the Tap Room was hosting the Grammy Museum Homegrown showcase, which featured a curation of artists from the Los Angeles area. I arrived on the scene just in time to hear one of the singers I’d featured in my preview of L.A. artists at SXSW.

BeLL

Alt-pop singer BeLL was already onstage, and I was immediately taken aback by the power in her vocal sound. I was excited to hear her quirky but catchy single ‘Bang Bang (Remember My Name)’, which had caught my attention in writing the aforementioned preview. It debuted back in November and has already been featured in a television trailer on ABC Family here in the States; you can catch a listen below before it blows up on radio waves everywhere.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/ljNVT3b5Y0A[/youtube]

Warbly Jets

Up next was a band who pride themselves on not fitting into the L.A. music scene, alt-rock quartet Warbly Jets. Their sound is certainly more in the supersonic jet-propelled vein than the sunny pop and laid-back folk you might typically expect to hear from Southern California. Onstage, they were both smoothly self-assured and and a tiny bit cocky, convincing their audience that they’re a force to be reckoned with. Their debut single ‘Alive’ was a highlight of the evening.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/hDVHvirhpKk[/youtube]

OPS

I was already peripherally aware of next band on the docket, Ocean Park Standoff, because my kids know their current single ‘Good News’. It’s an infectiously upbeat track, perfect for radio play or maybe even for a summer 2017 Spotify playlist. As it turns out, the song is also pretty representative of what Ocean Park Standoff does in live performance. The band were smiling and relaxed throughout their set, and their good vibes were expansive enough for a much larger room. Keep an eye out for this trio to make their mark during their upcoming American tour dates with Third Eye Blind.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/TX9ODx2_Vqk[/youtube]

Following my stop at the Grammy Museum showcase, I had intended to try to catch Ryan Adams at Austin City Limits, even nabbing a SXXPress pass for that show earlier in the day. But while I was at Stubb’s, I got the news that Adams had cancelled his performance due to illness. I was mildly disappointed, but I did have a backup plan to catch another American singer/songwriter, David Ramirez at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop.

"David

People in Austin were out in full force to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and 6th Street was jam-packed. Adding to the crush and confusion was the fact that many of the music venues had multiple queues outside to deal with the different priority entries: Platinum and Music Badges, Interactive and Film Badges, Music Wristbands, and paying customers. Obviously this was only an issue for the high-demand shows, but it’s something SXSW organisers will need to focus on for next year, as many of the venues simply didn’t have the space or staff available to cope with up to 4 different queues for each show. Maggie Mae’s was one of the most difficult venues to get into, not only because is it located in the heart of 6th Street, but because it has two stages and only one entrance.

David Ramirez band

Austin native Ramirez had a full band in attendance for his show at Maggie Mae’s Rooftop. In my previous experience, this has been a nice addition to his sound. He’s a starkly effective performer alone, but the depth and vibrance of his country-rock sound really come out with the addition of backing vocals, keyboards and drums. Unfortunately for Ramirez, his Friday night set was plagued by technical problems. After a lengthy and apparently unsuccessful soundcheck, Ramirez and his band played a truncated set, leaving out several favourite songs that appeared on his written setlist. He did, however, play a couple of newer songs that got the local crowd’s attention, including the London-referencing track ‘Too Far Away’.

I finished the evening (and started the next morning) at St. David’s Episcopal Church, where the Communion Music showcase was being held. I’d been to the church’s Bethell Hall already on this trip to Austin, but I hadn’t yet visited the Sanctuary, and by midnight on Friday night, it was already becoming full in advance of a performance by Rag’n’Bone Man scheduled for 1 AM.

This was the one occasion during the SXSW week when the availability of SXXPress passes worked to my advantage. Earlier in the week, I had either failed to get passes in time, or I simply hadn’t needed the ones I did get. But I’d managed to get one for St. David’s on this night, and the staff at the church were remarkably adept at handling their queues, probably because the venue has been open to non-credential holders in past years. I intentionally arrived early to the Communion showcase, knowing by their reputation that the earlier performers on the bill would be worth seeing, even if I wasn’t already familiar.

"Charlotte

I wasn’t disappointed in that regard with French-Canadian pop singer Charlotte Cardin. Her silky, delicate vocals and soulful pop song arrangements were easy on the ears without being too saccharine, perhaps thanks to their ever-so-subtle jazz inflections. Her debut EP ‘Big Boy’ was released last July on Cult Nation Records and features songs in both English and French, including standout track ‘Like It Doesn’t Hurt’. She also won over a few fans with this cool, almost aloof-sounding version of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/OOzetKrKrrA[/youtube]

Very few punters left after Cardin’s performance, and despite the dreaded 1 AM time slot, there was a bit of hustle-and-bustle in St. David’s Sanctuary surrounding the arrival of Rag’n’Bone Man. Mary had reported to me the very long queue outside the British Music Embassy for his performance there earlier in the evening, and the audience here were fairly buzzing with anticipation.

"RBM

In a bit of a surprise, Rag’n’Bone Man (aka Rory Graham) started his setlist with the song most of us already knew, ‘Human’. This was an acoustic version, less immediately bombastic than the one we’ve heard on American radio, but it was singularly and tastefully appropriate for performance on the St. David’s stage. Graham was equally gentle and mild-tempered in his onstage banter, though he did pick up the dynamic in his songs as the set went on. We were treated to current American radio single ‘Skin’ as well as a stunningly beautiful song I hadn’t heard before called ‘Grace’, which you can take a listen to just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/SCnsEy0tpbw[/youtube]

The authenticity of Rag’n’Bone Man’s performance, along with the high-quality of his songwriting and musicianship, exemplifies what I’ve come to expect from the Communion showcase over my years at SXSW. Though I wasn’t able to see the whole show on this Friday night, I was glad to at least catch the end of it, discovering a promising new artist and witnessing a rapidly-rising up-and-comer in the process.

 

SXSW 2017: Friday afternoon’s focus on hearing health, with a bit of live music from Ciaran Lavery and The Sandinistas – 17th March 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 18th April 2017 at 2:00 pm
 

During one of our many treks through the Austin Convention Center earlier in the week, Mary and I had noticed that free hearing screenings were being offered to musicians and music professionals attending SXSW 2017. In Real Life, I’m currently back at university studying for my own clinical doctorate in Audiology, so I was naturally intrigued. After spending Friday morning at the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch), I had a brief interval of down time, so I walked over to the Convention Center to take advantage of the service.

I arrived at Mezzanine Room 2 just as audiologists from Nashville-based charity Songs for Sound and Austin-based Estes Audiology were finishing their set up for the day, and the staff were kind enough to chat with me as they worked. They explained that Songs for Sound’s travelling Hear the Music Project had stopped in Austin for SXSW to provide music professionals attending the festival with free hearing exams and audiology consultations, while Estes Audiology had teamed with MusiCares, another non-profit music charity, to provide musicians with free custom-made ear protection. But their services weren’t only intended for showcasing artists. I’m not a practicing musician myself, but I qualified for an exam and ear moulds as a 5-year music journalist.

To begin the process, I had to fill out a quick form regarding my hearing health and occupational history, to confirm that I was eligible. Once that was finished, I had ear moulds made, which would be used to create my custom-fit earplugs. A thick, blue foam was squirted into each of my ears and allowed to harden. The mould was removed, and I was asked how much hearing protection I needed. I chose the moderate-level 17 dB attenuation, which is recommended for loud music concerts or club environments. My custom ear protectors are due to arrive by mail in just a couple of weeks, and as it turns out, I have extra motivation to use them.

After the ear mould fitting, I was administered a pure tone audiometry screening, using a touch pad and over-the-ear headphones. I was dismayed to learn that my hearing test result suggested a possible mild low frequency hearing loss. Songs for Sound audiologist Paul Shanley told me that this would be consistent with frequent exposure to loud music without hearing protection, and he encouraged me to wear earplugs when attending gigs. If you’ve read TGTF’s coverage of SXSW in the past, you might know that I’ve received this advice before. I’m typically loath to wear earplugs when listening to music, because I feel that they dampen the vibrant tone colors and subtle nuances in the sound, but this was a sobering reminder to protect both my hearing and my ability to enjoy live music.

DSC08815

After my hearing exam was complete, I met Mary at Latitude 30 for a brief stop at the Output Belfast day show, where she had gone to see electronic musician Ryan Vail. The Northern Irish showcase has become a bit of a tradition for us at TGTF, so I was a little sad that we didn’t have time to stay for the whole thing. But I couldn’t help pausing for a quick listen to the next artist on the bill, Ciaran Lavery, who once again commanded the room with only the raw, powerful sound of his singing voice.

“DSC08826"

I made sure to have my earplugs at the ready for our next stopover at Valhalla, where we caught Welsh punk rockers The Sandinistas. Mary had seen them the day before here at SXSW, but she was impressed enough that she thought I should hear them too. And indeed, their punk rock sound was massive inside the small, red-tinged Valhalla, despite their basic guitar, bass and drums set up. Even watching their set for Music Tastes Good felt like a high-impact aerobic workout: just the thing I needed to get re-energised for the remainder of the afternoon. We featured their debut single ‘Ready to Blow’ in our SXSW 2017 preview coverage of the Welsh acts showcasing this year in Austin, and you can check out a live session performance of its b-side ‘Down on the Street Today’ just below, courtesy of Studio Toy.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/eVH8rpPMIPI[/youtube]

Mary and I spent the last part of Friday afternoon back at the Convention Center, where Mary took the time to have her own hearing screened and to get fitted for custom hearing protection. Her hearing exam results were squeaky clean, undoubtedly because she’s fastidious about wearing earplugs to gigs, but she still chose to take advantage of the customised ear moulds to help ensure that her hearing remains intact for many more years of music listening. Fellow live music lovers, take note!

DSC08848

On the subject of long music careers, our final appointment for Friday afternoon was at a panel session celebrating the 20th anniversary of a leading independent music label. You can read my summary of that panel session, ‘Bella Union at 20’, right back here. Stay tuned to TGTF for my coverage of Friday night at SXSW 2017 events, which will post later this week.

 

WIN / Tickets to see Twin Atlantic at London Electric Brixton, 23 May 2017

 
By on Tuesday, 18th April 2017 at 11:00 am
 

Scottish rockers Twin Atlantic will be bringing their swagger across the UK in the second half of May. They’re sure to be playing tracks from their 2016 album ‘GLA’, which Carrie reviewed here, as well as bringing old favourites. Hard to believe, but they released their debut album ‘Free’ back in 2011.

Following your various overdoses on ham, roasts and other things over the Easter bank holiday, we thought you might like to win something. So we’ve blagged a pair of tickets to see the band at London Electric Brixton on the 23rd of May, and we’d like to give them to a lucky TGTF reader. You can enter the context by completing the form below as follows:

1. Provide your full name and your email address. We’ll use these to contact you if you win.
2. Answer this correctly: What is the name of Twin Atlantic’s current album, released last year?
3. Enter your Twitter handle. You need to follow us at @tgtf to be eligible for this contest. If you’re not already following us, it’ll keep you up to date on all the great content here on TGTF and alert you to future contests as well. Good deal, eh?

From all the correct entries received, we’ll choose a lucky winner from random. We’ll be closing the contest this Friday, the 21st of April, at noontime BST, so be sure to get your entry in before then. Any duplicate or incomplete entries will be discarded. Good luck to all! In case you want to buy tickets to tickets to the tour, I’ve listed the tour dates right above the form. To read more of TGTF’s coverage on Twin Atlantic (yes, the archive goes way back!), go here.

Thursday 18th May 2017 – Aberdeen Beach Ballroom
Friday 19th May 2017 – Inverness Ironworks
Saturday 20th May 2017 – Coventry Copper Rooms
Monday 22nd May 2017 – Bristol Academy
Tuesday 23rd May 2017 – London Electric Brixton
Wednesday 24th May 2017 – Cambridge Junction
Friday 26th May 2017 – Exeter Lemon Grove
Tuesday 30th May 2017 – Wrexham William Aston Hall
Wednesday 31st May 2017 – Swansea Sin City

This contest is now closed. The winner will be contacted by email soon.

 

SXSW 2017: Friday morning at the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch – 17th March 2017

 
By on Thursday, 13th April 2017 at 3:00 pm
 

Mary and I started our Friday morning at the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch on the spacious lawn of the Four Seasons Hotel. The weather was overcast and a bit windy, but still nice enough to enjoy a lovely outdoor breakfast, and turnout was high for the showcase. I suppose, technically speaking, the brunch show wasn’t fully acoustic, as it required an electronic keyboard. But the morning’s bill did feature six up-and-coming singer/songwriters who could easily adapt to that style of stripped-back performance when the moment required it.

Vera Blue

Once the guests had gotten a chance to take advantage of the sprawling brunch buffet, the stage was set for the first artist on the bill, Australia’s Vera Blue. Vera Blue is the new project of Sydney folk artist Celia Pavey, who started her career as typical girl-with-guitar folk singer. Pavey has now expanded her sound to include a heavier mix of instrumentation, including bass grooves and electronica. Her Acoustic Brunch set was necessarily scaled back, but her sultry vocals and folk-tinged melodies were more than enough to captivate the audience’s attention. Check out the fully realised version of ‘Private’ just below. [Vera Blue is a recent signee to Capitol Records. – Ed.]

[youtube]https://youtu.be/leQ7baz6rWY[/youtube]

Devin Dawson

Nashville singer Devin Dawson has a definite twang in his vocals, but also enough raw edge and smooth charm to appeal to those who might normally shy away from mainstream country. His recent singles ‘All On Me’ and ‘I Don’t Care Who Sees’ were among the slow-burning highlights of his solo acoustic set.

Caitlyn Smith

Fellow country singer singer Caitlyn Smith is already a well-known name in American songwriting circles, having composed songs with the likes of Garth Brooks and Meghan Trainor. In a nod to that aspect of her talents, Smith performed an acoustic version of ‘Like I’m Gonna Lose You’, made famous by Trainor and John Legend, on her brunch set here. But her rich vocals were best highlighted in the muscular ballad ‘Before You Called Me Baby’, from her own recently released ‘Starfire’ EP.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/J9KZ9ma2NoQ[/youtube]

Michael Blume internal

If anyone in the brunch crowd was still sleepy at that point, soulful r&b singer Michael Blume most definitely woke them up. His defiantly powerful songs force you to sit up and take notice, with silky vocals and bold rhythms defining their sound and brash commentary on political and social issues permeating their lyrics. In live performance, Blume’s charisma and massive stage presence were undeniable. His EP ‘When I Get It Right’ was released last July; have a listen to breakout track ‘Colors’ just below.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/T5Z8g0ztrUY[/youtube]

Brayton Bowman

Pop/r&b singer Brayton Bowman was equally brash and equally charming, and perhaps even more viscerally effective. His flashy vocal stylings and intensely personal lyrics were captivating, and his easy banter between songs only drew his listeners further in. His recently dropped autobiographical mixtape ’22 Minutes Later’ features standout track ‘The Second I’m Rich’, which you can sample right here.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/8iw320DkOQI[/youtube]

Morgxn

The final performer on the Acoustic Brunch show was electropop songwriter Morgxn, whose brilliant blue hairdo was only upstaged by his rendition of smouldering single ‘Love You With the Lights On’. Keep an eye out for his latest track ‘XX’, due out tomorrow, the 14th of April. I didn’t get the chance to chat with Morgxn myself on the day, but you can hear his insightful interview with Austin Underground right here.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/1GkdKtGGP5Y[/youtube]

Special thanks to Jodie for her assistance with this review. Stay tuned to TGTF for post-SXSW 2017 question-and-answer sessions with Michael Blume, Brayton Bowman and Morgxn in the coming days. For an up-close perspective on the BMI / AT&T Fiber Acoustic Brunch, featuring interview clips with the artists, take a look at the video below, courtesy of BMI.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/suI8my_LBeU[/youtube]

 
 
 

About Us

There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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