Selected profiles of noteworthy acts that will perform during this year’s South by Southwest Music & Media Conference March 16-20 in Austin, Texas. The full roster of performing artists is available at SXSW.com.
DROPPING DAYLIGHT: While the songs of Dropping Daylight are all graced with the complex piano work of classically trained musician Sebastian Davin, don’t expect the kind of agreeable pop from this Minneapolis foursome along the lines of Octone Records labelmate Maroon5. Indeed, Dropping Daylight go after something harder, with weighty guitars delivering ’70s-influenced power chords behind nearly every piano flourish. As a vocalist, Davin comes off as a tougher Ben Folds, and his band performs radio-friendly arena rock that will be a hit with anyone who purchased a 3 Doors Down album. The group is currently in the studio working with producer David Bendeth (Killswitch Engage, Breaking Benjamin), for an album that will be released later this year.
THE GO! TEAM: This six-piece act from the United Kingdom tosses together a joyous rock’n’roll mix of soul and hip-hop on its debut album, “Thunder, Lightening, Strike.” The disc has become a bit of an underground sensation, the retro soundtrack to an indie-rock dance party where a playlist might include Motown hits, the theme from “Hawaii Five-O” and Grandmaster Flash. Pianos, samples, guitars, new wave basslines and a rapping lead singer who goes by the name of Ninja add to the zany festivities. Released on London-based Memphis Industries, the album is available as an import in the United States, but the band’s SXSW showcase will boost its chances for a U.S. deal.
GIANT DRAG: The voice of Giant Drag singer Annie Hardy is a powerful thing. At once soft and piercing, Hardy’s voice is the sound of mystery. She’ll hang behind a beat and then ride over a riff, and do it with the calm and coolness of the most cunning femme fatale. And we haven’t even touched on her guitar playing. With a sound that draws from the Pixies, My Bloody Valentine and the Smashing Pumpkins, Hardy kicks up a wall a noise to dress up her killer hooks. The Los Angeles-based duo of Hardy and keyboardist/drummer Micah Calabrese have released an EP, “Lemona,” on the United Kingdom’s Wichita label. A full-length debut is due from Interscope-affiliated Kickball Records this summer.
MICAH P. HINSON: The 2004 debut offering from 22-year-old Texan Micah P. Hinson was a startlingly haunting affair, a 13-song collection of Southern folk psychedelia. With backing band the Earlies, Hinson’s songs are graced with a mini-orchestra, but each instrument’s appearance is fleeting. Be it a carnival-like accordion or a redemptive keyboard, the musicianship serves only to echo the flurry of emotions. The album, “Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress,” was issued on Britain’s Sketchbook Records to rave reviews. It will surface in the United States through a licensing arrangement with Chicago’s Overcoat Recordings. Hinson’s SXSW showcase precedes U.S. tour dates with Damon & Naomi and Crooked Fingers.