the secret lives of prothros.

October 5, 2010

ACL Roundup: Bands that Start with the Letter S

Filed under: ACLfestival — prothro @ 8:15 am

Here it is, the final stretch, and with one week to go, here are the S Bands. Ranked in order to find the perfect ACL schedule.

SPEAK-This young quartet carved out a best new musical award for themselves at this year’s Austin Music Awards. It was even presented by the Talking Heads. Legit. They’re a synthopop band, along the lines of Passion Pit. Apparently the lead singer has a pretty extensive musical background, playing drums from the age of 2 and guitar from the age of 7 and somehow in the end he turned to synth. Their brand of music has a bit more of an acoustic feel to it than most groups like it. It is very worth mentioning that they’re known to do 80’s covers during their concerts. In Dallas they did Billy Jean and Don’t You Forget About Me. I love a good cover.
My Vote: 3

Sahara Smith- This girl has a beautiful voice, such confident falsetto and smooth high notes. She’s got such well-penned lyrics and alluring songs, it’s not surprising that T-Bone Burnett, the famed performer and producer of more hit songs that I can count on 12 hands, called her “the best new artist I’ve heard in years. The world needs more great artists.” I love that some of the songs on her recent album were written when she was thirteen. They have a such a maturity to them even then, it’s quite impressive and so is she.
My Vote: 4

Sarah Harmer- This singer-songwriter hails all the way from Canada. Her voice has this really beautiful, bittersweet bareness to it. It can be absolutely entrancing. The bummer is that a lot of her songs seem to have too much to them, a horn humming in the background or an overly-poppy beat. Her voice should really be the showcase of her music and there are so many songs where the tracks are distracting from that voice. It kind of bums me out. I want her voice and a mandolin, that’s all.
My Vote: 3

Shearwater- How many lead singers do you know with master’s degrees in Ornithology? Well, now you know one: Jonathan Meiburg. Shearwater’s music is about subject matter very close to the heart of Meiburg, the protection and preservation of our planet and its inhabitants. The tempo, mood and quavering sobriety of his vocals are definitely complimentary to the seriousness of his feelings about the subject. This definitely strikes me of a band full of intention, designing each song to compliment the previous and transition to the next.
My Vote: 4

Silversun Pickups- I’ve been hearing this group from L.A. on the radio quite a bit lately.   They’re a bit of a grungier mix of indie rock. His voice is a little like Billy Corgan but with a bit more nasal-ness. They keep their overall sound uncluttered but still manage to come out loud and strong. The female bass player adds in some vocals that make some of the songs just a bit sweet. I’ve read some mixed reviews on how they perform in live shows, so I am a bit hesitant, though I know they’ll probably be drawing a big crowd.
My Vote: 3

Slightly Stoopid- This band from Orange County has been doing Sublime-style Reggae Rock for over ten years now. In fact, it was actually the frontman for Sublime that initially discovered the group. They’re quite the jam band with groove to match but that isn’t what really impressed me about them. I can’t get over how great some of their musical decisions are, banjo on a reggae track!? Awesome. I never could have imagined it working so well. Maybe I’ll change my mind come Friday, but I don’t really want to see reggae.
My Vote: 2

Sonic Youth- This band is definitely quintessential experimental rock and they’ve been doing it for years, just about 30 in fact. From mixing it up with alternative tunings to the point that they tour with dozens of guitars. They’ve definitely paved the way for music to evolve. It’s impressive to see a band still so on the forefront of innovation after all those years. Their concerts are supposed to me pretty awesome though geared to their most loyal fans (appropriately so). I am not in that category.
My Vote: 3

Spoon- This is a big yes for me. Ever since I first heard them on The O.C. I’ve been a big fan of Spoon and I think they’ve only been getting better lately. I think it’s funny that I used to get music from The O.C. Their songs have great build up and release and maintain great tempo throughout. I just really enjoy the music they put out. Not to mention, they were founded in Austin so I think the show will be a fun kind of homecoming, as I understand they’ve since moved to Oregon.
My Vote: 4

Switchfoot- Sometimes I struggle just a bit with taking Switchfoot seriously, which is no fault of theirs. They have more than proven their music talent and prowess, song after song, with pensive lyrics, strong vocals and guitars that rock three deep. My hangup with them is absolutely silly. I know this. It’s that I used to hear them at church summer camp when I was in junior high. Most of those bands were a joke and I have trouble not associating Switchfoot with the mix. Really, they’re great and put on awesome live shows. I certainly want to see them.
My Vote: 5 (it was a 4 and I went back and changed it to 5, and I can’t figure out why)

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