Bird performing at SXSW 2009.
6. “Skin” by Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird has written an obscene amount of music, including seven full-length solo albums and a handful of EPs, and his style changes (often subtly) from work to work. “Skin” is a jazz-flavored track that harkens to smoke-filled lounges, infused with just enough weirdness to give it Bird’s signiature spin.
7. “Cha Cha Cha” by Las Guitarras De Espana
SXSW is filled with the indie and the avante garde, so it’s nice to see Las Guitarras De Espana make an appearance. The group sticks to time-tested sounds, dropping Spanish guitar (who would’ve guessed?) like no one’s business. “Cha Cha Cha” is slow and melodic, the perfect track for an afternoon drink by the pool or a late-night pint at a crowded Austin pub.
“Cha Cha Cha” is the perfect track for an afternoon drink by the pool or a late-night pint at a crowded Austin pub.
8. “Vincent O’Brien” by M. Ward
M. Ward is the chief purveyor of alternative folk rock, having thoroughly re-spun the genre to suit modern indie sensibilities. “Vincent O’Brien” comes off Ward’s third studio album and showcases his flair for decidedly cool, echoing guitar licks and unique vocal melodies.
9. “Furr” by Blitzen Trapper
Speaking of folk, Blitzen Trapper’s “Furr” is a clear homage to the back-country American folk artists of the 1930s. The song is basically just a kick drum, guitar and harmonica carrying the same rhythm for four minutes, but you better believe there’s a deep appeal in that simplicity.
10. “Estevez” by Javelin
Javelin falls somewhere between hip-hop and electronic, but the Brooklyn-based duo consistently defies all genres. Their latest release, Canyon Candy, is a short concept album set in the Wild West, complete with scratchy dialogue samples pulled from long-forgotten spaghetti Westerns. “Estevez” evokes images of a slow trek across a dusty desert, eventually leading the listener to a retro-futuristic boom town populated by solitary anti-heroes and guitar-playing robots. It’s the kind of album you need to hear from start to finish, so don’t stop at “Estevez.”