The veteran Radio 6 Music DJ, The Evening Session legend, and one-time NME scribe gives us his choice picks of what bands you should be queuing up to see at this year’s South by Southwest festival.
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Who? Portland-based musician Katherine Paul explores what it’s like to be a queer, Native American woman in the US today.
Steve Lamacq says: “Female-led, interesting songs. On her debut album, ‘Mother Of My Children’, there’s a track called ‘Soft Stud’ – that’s really good. She’s got an amazing voice which is hard to describe but when you hear it you go: ‘Oh yeah, I get it’. It’s quite laid-back but it’s still very powerful, so they can create a lot of emotion without having to make really rowdy songs. I mean, there’s a couple of upbeat songs on the album but mostly it’s quite gentle but powerful, with really lovely sounding guitars. I like it.”
Who? Wisconsin teen duo, consisting of vocalist/guitarist Isaac deBroux-Slone and bassist Raina Bock.
Steve Lamacq says: “They sound like a New York band trying to do ‘Everything Flows’ by Teenage Fanclub. They put out a single called ‘Communication’ – that’s pretty interesting.”
Who? Canadian five-piece, led by principal songwriters Austin Boylan and Jacob Shepansky, along with Peter Baylis, Paul Jacobs, and Tom Gould.
Steve Lamacq says: “If you like post-Strokes slightly garage-y guitar pop, this is for you. They’ve got a song called ‘Hank Williams’ which is really good. It sounds like early-noughties, but with good choruses, don’t outstay their welcome, and they look like a band. They don’t come from Brooklyn, but they look like they should.”
Who? Hailing from the north of Sweden, ShitKid is 24 year old Åsa Söderqvist.
Steve Lamacq says: “Apart from trying to work out how we’re going to say this on air – SsshhhKid, I suppose – there’s an awful lot of electronica at South by Southwest this year, but rather than being overly mellow and ponderous electro, this is upbeat. Which is good. It’s electropop with a slightly dismissive vocal over the top.”
Who? Feminist art-punk band whose tag line is is ‘Destroy All Dude Rock’.
Steve Lamacq says: “I saw them there last year and they’re back. It’s X-Ray Spex meets post-punk with a really charismatic, slightly eccentric lead singer. There’s a great track called ‘Evolution’ on the last record. The lead singer looks like she should be a British actress playing second female lead in an old episode of Inspector Poirot, but she’s so hyperactive onstage. There’s a bloke with a sax, and it’s really rhythmical and good. It’s slightly eccentric, but not in an intentional ‘we’re going to be wacky’ way. It’s just naturally off-beam.”
Steve Lamacq’s Lost Alternatives, a 71-song journey through the alternative music scenes of the Nineties, is released on March 22. His book, Going Deaf For A Living, is published by Omnibus Press on 18 April.