ALESSIA CARA MAKES HER LOS ANGELES DEBUT @ THE TROUBADOUR

Canadian Alessia Cara made her highly anticipated Los Angeles debut at The Troubadour. Signed to Def Jam records based on her Soundcloud page that included covers of Lorde, The Neighbourhood, Sam Smith and Justin Bieber, this show marked Alessia's first headlining gig.

PINS ANNOUNCE U.S. SUMMER TOUR

Ahead of their June 9th release of their upcoming album Wild Nights, UK's PINS have released their new single "Young Girls." Also, they just announced their U.S. summer toiur which kicks off June 13rh in New York.

ZELLA DAY @ THE TROUBADOUR

Zella Day has released her debut album Kicker and she celebrated with a sold out show at LA's famed Troubadour last week.

MAKE MUSIC PASADENA SHINES IN ITS 8TH YEAR

Last Saturday, over 150 bands made their journey to downtown Pasadena to take part in Make Music Pasadena (MMP), billed as the largest free, all-day music festival on the West Coast.

WINTER @ THE ECHO

Winter's new album Supreme Blue Dream is the ideal soundtrack to your summer..

Sunday, March 23, 2014

SXSW RECAP - GIRLS HIGHLIGHT DAY 4 OF SXSW

CHLOE HOWL
Chloe Howl's first U.S. performance was at SXSW's Cedar St. Courtyard sponsored by Filter Magazine.
photos by picksysticks
Friday started off with Filter Magazine's showcases featuring Swedish and British acts held at the Cedar Street Courtyard. More than eight showcases marks FILTER Creative Group’s continued dominance into Austin, TX, bringing some of the festival’s most highly-touted brands and exceptional musical performances to the SXSW Music Festival this year. 


Kristal and Jonny Boy
Kristal and Jonny Boy.
photo by picksysticks
Kristal and Jonny Boy, an experimental art duo sounded just as they looked.   Painted in white make-up and donning angel wings, lead singer Kristina Hanses striked powerful poses - a complete contrast to their songs fragile and delicate tunes that made it seem like we were watching a child's music box come to life.  Their style of dream-pop made you believe that dreams can come true. I would've loved to see their show under colorful stage lights to go with their colorful performance.  But under this overcast day, Kristal and Jonny Boy were the only thing shining brightly at this moment. 

Chloe Howl

Next up was the Swedish trio Like Swimming who I had been following since they were in a much larger band called You Say France and I Whistle!  They've since gone to a three piece band and their sound has also gone simpler but what they kept was their knack for writing simple, catchy and infectious songs.  Take a listen to "Go Buffalo," their first single off their new record. 

British singer Chloe Howl's SXSW didn't start off the way she had planned.  Having found success in the UK with her debut EP Rumour which spawned her hit singles "Rumour," "No Strings" and "Paper Heart" she was making her trek across the pond for her first ever U.S. performances.  Unfortunately, due to her band having visa troubles, they couldn't make the trip with her in time for her first four shows at SXSW which were cancelled.  

On Friday, Filter Magazine's Cedar St. Show  sponsored by Onitsuka Tiger officially marked Chloe Howl's first show on U.S. soil and those waiting finally got a chance to see why Howl, the recent BRIT Award nominee, was named by BBC's Sound as having one of the most highly anticipated albums coming out this year.  


Zella Day
Zella Day performs at The Driskill Hotel.
photos by picksysticks
Keeping in the spirit of SXSW, I decided to, on a whim, walk into a venue and just listen to who was playing.  Enter Zella Day, the LA-transplant with her whimsical folk/pop melodies that conjures images of  fruitful rains on barren landscapes that, in one minute can be cracked dry, and the next, sprouting with bright, lush poppies.  Her songs are simple yet complex but it's her voice that, like someone taking you by the hand and leading the way, draws you into her world.  Listen to her singles "Sweet Ophelia" and "1965" to be transported into her world. 

Vic and Gab
Sisters Vic and Gab at The Soho House.
photo by picksysticks
For Tegan and Sara fans, Milwaukee's own sister duo Vic and Gab should be added to your playlists.  And just like the Canadian twin sisters, these sisters also trade off and share vocal duties. Infectious playful songs that are beat and bass driven are their forte along with their sweet harmonies that barely rise above a sultry whisper that.  You won't be disappointed.  Just ask the crowd at The Soho House who spontaneously broke into dance in the middle of their set.  Yep, their songs are that catchy. I even noticed my hips swaying side to side.   Seriously, check out "When You Walk Into a Room" now!!!

London Grammar
London Grammar's haunting melodies filled Stubb's during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
And then there's London Grammar, the London trio consisting of Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dot Major.  Under the lush and saturated Stubb's lights, London Grammar performed to a venue filled to capacity - about 2000 people under the Austin stars.  Heavenly would be the word when describing their music.  Hannah's vocals are hauntingly beautiful; trance-like and moody enough that you'll get lost in their hypnotic world.  Their album If You Wait, released last year debuted at #2 on Billboard's UK chart and spawned off their hit singles "Strong" and "Wasting My Young Years." 

And finally, Deap Vally, the hard-hitting, rock outfit from Los Angeles killed it at Old School.  It's still a wonder who this duo of Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards and manage such a huge sound complete with killer riffs and earth-shattering drumming from Edwards.  Their recently released debut album Sistrionix is rock at its finest with no apologies with ferocious vocals that can only come out of Troy.  


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Friday, March 21, 2014

SXSW Recap - GIRLS ROCK DAY 3 (Dum Dum Girls, Alvvays, Meg Myers, Russian Red, Little Daylight and Tove Lo)

Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls performs at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop.
photo by picksysticks
Being a rider, I was excited to see a show finally at Mellow Johnny's Bike shop and to make things even more exciting I was there to watch Dum Dum Girls perform.  The day before, I just missed them at the Spotify House, stuck outside in line for an hour.  But this early morning, I wasn't taking any chances. I got there early, enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and did a light shopping, trying on t-shirts and cool new bicycle helmets.  


Dum Dum Girls
There's no doubt that The Dum Dum Girls, at this year's SXSW, was the hardest working band at this year's festival, playing at times 4 to 5 shows a day - that's almost 20 shows in less than a week.  I happened to catch them twice during the festival and each time they've more than exceeded my expectations.  

At the Palm Door on 6th St., I enjoyed local brewery’s Austin Beerwork's Peacemaker Extra Pale Ale, a golden, lightly bitterness to the taste while waiting for the next act of the day.  The Palm Door, with an expansive inside staging area, has a nice patio bar where another stage was set up.  It was perfect to catch some afternoon sun and drink cool beers.  

SXSW is known for featuring acts on the verge of breaking out. This year was no exception with Swedish beauty Tove Lo making her first foray at SXSW.  Today, she was performing on the inside stage at Palm Door.   

Earlier this month she released her debut EP Truth Serum and has since been riding high on her syth-pop, dance, hit single "Habits" and "Not On Drugs."   Give it to the Swiss to write the soundtrack to our weekend.  Tove Lo is yet another, in a string of recent Scandinavian acts, to bless this world with super catchy, anthem-esque choruses to dance and sing our hearts out to.  
TOVE LO
Tove Lo performs at The Palm Door at SXSW.
photos by picksysticks

The houses on Rainey St. are always a blast to go to. Feeling more like house parties stretched along a suburban street, with backyards turned into makeshift outdoor stages.  Freebie drinks and a relaxed scene make for a Greek Row atmosphere as a good stream of people walk the streets trying to figure out which house has the better party and music. 
MEG MYERS
Meg Myers performs at The Cusp on Rainey St.
photos by picksysticks
Watching Meg Myers’ day performance felt out of place at The Cusp on Rainey St, a small house with a converted backyard turned staging/bar venue.  Her passionate turned to raging songs are too furious for this mid-afternoon crowd sipping mimosas and fruity drinks.  Meg’s performance is best watched under stage lights that set the mood for her songs of lust, heartbreak and love.  But still, after her performance, I heard a lot of people actually voicing their high praise for Meg. 

Afterwards, I had a long walk back into downtown to The Swan Dive where I would find Nina Nesbitt performing inside.  Already a success in Scotland, Nina is set to release her new EP on April 1st and has her sights on making a name for herself in America.   As I mentioned, she’s already found success across the pond after the release of her hit single “Stay Out.”    And based off that success and numerous critically acclaimed EP’s, Nina has amassed over 144,000 Twitter followers, 213,000 Facebook likes and nearly four million views on her YouTube channel.  Now imagine how big those numbers will get once American audience discover her music.  That’s just a drop in the ocean compared to what she’ll get once American audiences discover her music.  
LITTLE DAYLIGHT

Now, luckily I didn’t have to travel far to watch my next band Little Daylight since they were playing in the patio just towards the back of The Swan Dive.  From, Brooklyn, Little Daylight basks in sunny synth-pop melodies.  

To get a feel of what their music sounds and feels like all you have to read is the titles of their songs – “Glitter and Gold” and “Name In Lights” as well as their actual band name Little Daylight.   Their songs shine and sparkles like lights bouncing off sequins jumpsuits that are layered with the free-floating and windswept vocals from lead singer Nikki Taylor. 

Canadian alt-rockers Alvvays had one of my favorite songs named “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me.”    It’s the reverb-flooding melodies that make you feel like you’re sunbathing in their warmth of alt-punk guitars and slacker-esque harmonies.  And there’s something about lead singer’s Molly Rankin’s bouncy vocals that hypnotized the crowd at The Main on 6th St.  into swaying back and forth to their music. 


ALVVAYS
The Main hosted Canadian rockers Alvvays during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
Tennis played to a packed crowd at Buffalo Billiards.  The trio consisting of Alaina Moore, Patrick Riley and James Barone and are from Denver and it was their song “Marathon” that made me want to catch this band.  It echoes early 50s, girl-group, doo-wop with bee-hive hairstyles while “It All Feels the Same” an “Origins” paints scenes of cruising down California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway with the top down and the cool wind blowing through your hair.  


TENNIS' Alaina Moore
TENNIS packed the crowd into Buffalo Billiards during their SXSW performance.
photo by picksysticks
At this point it was 1 am and to close out day three I had the pleasure of watching Spain’s Russian Red at The Palm Door patio.  She recently released her third studio album Agent Cooper.   Russian Red (aka: Lourdes Hernandez) has been streaming on my Spotify playlist weeds before and continues to stream weeks after SXSW.  Unfortunately, this night, her set began with equipment problems that made her start about 20 minutes later which forced her to finish her show a tad bit early.  And who knows what other gems she didn’t get to sing.  


Russian Red's Lourdes Hernandez
Russian Red performs at The Palm Door during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
 Although from Spain, Hernandez sings a majority of her songs in English because, as she says, she grew up listening to English music yet, at first listen, her songs sound exotic like a storybook fairytale are tragic and sad.  While her soothing and warm vocals bleed heartbreak, her songs are multi-layered glimmering synths and percussions that barely rise above a whisper which only highlights Hernandez’ moving vocals.





Thursday, March 20, 2014

SXSW RECAP - GIRLS ROCK DAY 2

Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice play an early show at Holy Mountain during SXSW.
photos by picksysticks
Summarizing my day two experience at SXSW would better be described as my all-star day which consisted of acts I've already seen in the past and wouldn't mind seeing again since I love them oh so much.
Wolf Alice
The previous night I saw Wolf Alice for their first ever U.S. show at Latitude 30's British Music Showcase.  The following morning I decided to catch them again (yes, they were that good!).  Holy Mountain was the location and their set time was noon-ish.  I arrived early, saw Wolf Alice catching some sun out in the patio and chatted with the group  before their set. They were nice enough to take a picture with me and later I enjoyed an early morning PBR while enjoying their performance for the second day in a row.  Led by front woman, Ellie Rowsell and consisting of Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis, Wolf Alice was recently announced as one of the many cool acts that will be performing at the Reading and Leeds Festival. 

Right after, in Holy Mountain's backyard patio, the crowd mosey'd on over to catch Canadian DJ Lowell. Lowell is like a soft, cuddly wolf that can turn on you at a moments notice. Bathed in the cool, pink and green under the afternoon-shaded sun, Lowell's sun-drenched, synth-pop songs  sneak up on you until ready to pounce.  Tread lightly and try not to fly too close to the sun - the sun. She's feisty under that soft outer shell. Just listen to her songs  "The Bells" and "Cloud 69," which was enough to turn me into one of her biggest fans.  
Dum Dum Girls

The Spotify House was located on east side of the freeway. The Dum Dum Girls and Betty Who were next on my schedule. Unfortunately, the line was super long with about 4 people being let in every 10-15 minutes so I got to listen to The Dum Dum Girls from outside. And they sounded magnificent.  Once inside, I did manage to see Dee Dee posing with fans afterwards.  

This year's Spotify House boasted 30+ must-see acts, free food via food truck provided by CW Network and a music-themed mosaic photo booth created by The Brigade and tons of  freebies including drink and chips peppered the Spotify grounds.  

Betty Who played inside as opposed to the outside patio where I had been waiting,  in what I thought was a prime position.  It wasn't until I started to hear Betty Who start playing was when I rushed inside and found myself towards the back behind a bunch of very tall people.  Anyways, Betty Who, back into the corner, performed to a lively crowd.  


Betty Who
Betty Who performs at Spotify House during SXSW.
photos by picksysticks
With time to kill before my next show I decided to check out The Fader Fort stage presented by Converse, a very popular hangout and very elusive wristband to get your hands on.  Those lucky enough to score a wristband were rewarded with a great lineup of acts in a  really one-of-a-kind venue.  


Fader Fort presented by Converse
It's been known that a lot SXSW attendees spend the whole week at The Fader Fort and never leave, deciding to spend their entire SXSW week there.  And after finally seeing inside, I can see why people decide to stay.  It's not overly too crowded. The acts are top shelf and the atmosphere is so chill and relaxing.  Yep. The Fader Fort.  Definitely the place to be if you can get a wristband. 

Later that night I was off to Stubb's to catch Perfect Pussy, Kelis and St. Vincent.  It was actually a cold night and  when I got there, the line stretched around the block. I didn't realize how big Stubb's was, thinking it was only an indoor venue (later in the week when I finally got to see a show in Stubb's did I realize how big the 'backyard' patio was) and thinking I had no chance to get in and since I didn't have the patience to wait, I decided to check out Pandora's Discovery Den at The Gatsby just around the block where they were hosting Betty Who and Charli XCX. 


Pandora Discovery Den at The Gatsby
Earlier in the day, I saw Betty Who at the Spotify House and one of my goals coming to SXSW was to try and watch Betty Who as much as I could.  

Her EP The Movement was one of the best albums of last year and last year in Los Angeles, she sang new songs off her new album which I loved and had hoped to hear at this year's SXSW - especially her single "Giving Me Away." Unfortunately, she didn't sing that song at Spotify and, as I've come to later find out, she didn't sing it this night as well.  Bummer. But, as usual, she put on a dynamic and energetic show under the stars and lights at The Gatsby.  


Betty Who
Betty Who rocks the Pandora Discovery Den at The Gatsby.
photos by picksysticks
Last year, Charli XCX came to SXSW after writing one of the catchiest songs of the year - Icona Pop's "I Love It"  and to promote her new album True Romance that spawned hits "You (Ha Ha Ha)" and "What I Like"  and a number of other hits.  
Charli XCX

This year, Charli XCX returns to SXSW as she is readying to release her follow up  album, set for release later this year and is, as of yet, untitled. She teased us by singing new songs off that new record like "SuperLove" and the Weezer-esque "Breaking Up" as well as singing her hit singles off her critically acclaimed debut album True Romance.  

Right after the show, as I was walking on 6th St, in what should've been an awesome close to the night, news broke minutes later that an alleged drunk driver drove pass street barriers, four blocks away,  while trying to elude police and hit a group of people, killing four,  near The Mohawk and Stubb's.  Eventually he was arrested and charged but that heartbreaking  incident had put a dark cloud over the festival for the rest of the week.

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KIM DEAL RELEASES FOURTH INSTALLMENT OF SOLO SERIES

Back in June of last year, the Pixies announced that, after 25 years, Kim Deal had decided to leave the group.  Since then, Deal has been working on her solo series project - today releasing her fourth installment called "The Root."  Check it out below.


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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

SXSW Recap - Girls Rock Day 1 (Wolf Alice, Gossling, BANKS and Preatures)

6th St. SXSW
6th St. during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
SXSW is a music lover's dream - like a kid let loose in a candy store. And although SXSW has been going on a week earlier, the music portion of SXSW began Tuesday (March 11th) and with over 2,000 acts representing over 50 countries at over 100 venues as far as the eye can see.  It's a wasteland for music lovers, and for a week, Austin becomes the music center capital of the universe. 

I arrived at my hotel, overlooking downtown Austin, right before noon and went straight to the Austin convention center, basically the brain of SXSW, where I picked up my wristband and credentials. Excitement was in the air; that nervous energy of not knowing what to expect but still exciting of what the week holds in music. 


Gossling
Gossling performs acoustic at the Liberty Tavern in the Hilton.
photos by picksysticks
Our first show was actually held at my hotel,  the Liberty Tavern at The Hilton, where Australian crooner Gossling played an acoustic set in front of a packed audience.  Gossling (aka: Helen Croome) proves that music doesn't have to be all flashy with tons of instruments and that all you need is a great voice to go along with greatly written simple melodies.  

Gossling's voice is the first thing that draw you to her; weathered and shiny to the point of showing rust - just like an aged wind chime gently blowing in the wind. It's peaceful and  relaxing but also pierces soothingly through the air.  This best describes Gossling's music and even though she told the audience that she'd be performing later in the week with a full band, I couldn't imagine her songs any other way. 


Wolf Alice
The British Music showcase featured Wolf Alice at Latitude 30.
photos by picksysticks
My next show on my schedule was at The Hype Hotel featuring The Colourist. Last year, The Hype Hotel was the place to be - showcases curated by influential music blogs who usually have a pulse on what bands will be big in the coming year.  This year was no different.  The line was long - even for badge and wristband holders. Unfortunately, the doors opened at 8pm and The Colourist went on stage at 8pm.  By the time the line started moving, their set was nearly finished so I decided to skip the show and it was off to Latitude 30 which was hosting a showcase of  British Music brought to us by BBC radio's Huw Stephens. 


Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice performs their first U.S. show at Latitude 30 during SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
Wolf Alice was a band I kept reading about early on, even before SXSW began and just recently, it was announced that the group were confirmed to play this year's Reading and Leeds Festival.  Led by front woman, Ellie Rowsell and consisting of Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis, Wolf Alice reminds me of early 90s alternative, echoing the sugary sounds of Letters to Cleo, Belly with the moody, grungy melodies of Temple of the Dog.  Their live set packed a punch. The venue, by this time, was filled to capacity and the large, opened windows allowed those who couldn't get in to watch and listen from the street.  


The Preatures
The Preatures makes classic rock sound brand new.
photo by picksysticks
The Haven is a great venue for shows. Unfortunately, this night's sound problems marred what should've been a great ending to a first night at SXSW.  Featuring The Preatures and BANKS, a stream of boos filled the room each time the speakers went silent. 

Classic rock and roll is something you usually don't expect from Australia yet that's what The Preatures delivered to the packed crowd who crammed up to the front of the stage.  Laced with a lot of attitude and armed with an arsenal of groovy and nostalgic tunes, The Preatures somehow makes classic rock sound brand new.  Towards the end of their set,  Isabella Manfredi, front woman of The Preatures, poured what was left in her water bottle on her head in hopes of cooling off from the stuffy and heated Haven floor just before launching into their hit single "Is This How You Feel?" 


BANKS
BANKS performs her very first music festival at SXSW.
photo by picksysticks
BANKS, the Los Angeles singer/songwriter, has been featured in as much fashion magazines than music magazines and it's not hard to see why.  This beauty is more than a pretty face.  Her style mirrors her musical stylings - dark and sleek.  BANKS, in a recent interview with Elle, characterizes her music as hypnotic fusion.  Her songs, do indeed, emote a sense of  tranquility.  But with a touch of soul and a soothing beat, BANKS music draws you in the night draws in the stars on a clear night.  

Even though BANKS' set had more sound problems as the night progressed, towards the end, the audience filled the silence by singing along with BANKS to close out the night.  


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SXSW RECAP: PEREZ HILTON'S 'ONE NIGHT IN AUSTIN'

Debbie Harry of Blondie
Debbie Harry of Blondie headlines Perez Hilton's One Night In Austin
photos by picksysticks
Threat of rain couldn't stop SXSW festival goers from attending Perez Hilton's One Night in Austin event last Saturday.  After all, The Queen of Punk herself, Debbie Harry was headlining and neither rain nor high tide couldn't ruin this special night. 
Perez Hilton One Night In Austin

Held at the Austin Music Hall, the 7th annual musical showcase raised nearly $40,000 for VH1's Save the Music Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring America's instrumental music education programs and raising awareness to the importance of music as part of children's complete education. 

Known for introducing the world to up-and-coming acts before they make it big, Perez has a knack for predicting the next big thing in music.  Previous years, he's featured Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Lady Gaga, Ed Sheeran and Florence + the Machine right at the cusp of their breakthrough careers.   This year, One Night In Austin introduced the packed Austin Music Hall to new acts sure to breakout this year such as Australia's Betty Who, New York's Misterwives and LA's own Kesington Cross and LIZ. 

Also on hand were some of the hottest DJ's around including Aaron LaCrate, Clinton Sparks and Jeffrey Tonnesen spinning between sets.  


Debbie Harry of Blondie
Debbie Harry of Blondie.
photo by picksysticks
But the night belonged to Debbie Harry of Blondie, known for their iconic hits that propelled them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she sang all of them, kicking off with "One Way or Another" that got the packed music hall dancing.  Perez even walked from backstage into the photo pitt to watch his idol perform.  One of the highlights of the night was "Mile High," one of their newer songs that captures Blondie's heavenly trademark melodies that layers a touch of punk and disco.  You could tell Debbie was having a blast, strutting and urging the crowd to sing along which was what everyone did when she closed her set with "Call Me." 


Juliette Ashby
Juliette Ashby kicking of SXSW "One Night In Austin" showcase
photos by picksysticks
Kicking off the night was British singer/songwriter Juliette Ashby and she showcased why the late Amy Winehouse personally handpicked her to be on her record label.  With touches of soul, R&B and dance beats, Juliette's onstage commanding presence was only overshadowed by her powerful vocals. 

Misterwives are the spunky group from New York consisting of Mandy Lee (vocals), William Hehir (bass), Etienne Bowler (drums), Marc Campbell (guitar) and Dr. Blum (keys/brass) . Their music? A mystery in that I can't put them in any particular category and that's what makes Misterwives unique - and I like that.  


Misterwives' Mandy Lee and William Hehir
Misterwives' Mandy Lee and William Hehir
photo by picksysticks

With shades of soul, a touch of Americana, it also wouldn't be surprising to catch Misterwives performing under a disco ball.  Just listen to their single "Reflections" off their debut EP of the same name and tell me you don't feel nostalgic for sequins, bell bottoms and roller skates.  But it's Mandy's operatic vocals that is the highlight of Misterwives.  It's packaged nicely around playful and, often times, delicate melodies that brings out the fragility AND confidence of her voice. 


Kesington Kross
Kesington Kross has been compared to Bowie, Prince and Depeche Mode.
photo by picksysticks
Discovered by Babyface, Compton's own Kesington Kross was signed by LA Reid and Babyface and, soon after, released Audio Justice, his first EP, last year.  Kross (aka: KES) has been compared to David Bowie,  Depeche Mode and Prince with his talents of fusing rock, electro and r&b.  And to top that off, if you're in awe of his music, then his fashion sense will also leave you envious. 


LIZ
LIZ

Another LA product, LIZ, is a one-woman SWV and Destiny's Child, bringing the soul-pop, girl group sounds that dominated the 90s.  And with a voice like Xtina's, then what you have here is the whole package.  Her recently released EP Just Like You is all kinds of sugary, smooth treats - dance, electro and sultriness that is the perfect soundtrack to romance.  

And who knew playing the violin could be such a rock and roll extravaganza!  Lindsey Stirling, the sparkplug of a performer, proved that violins aren't just for the orchestra.  A one-time "America's Got Talent" reject, she's become more successful than any of the winners coming out of that show. Can you name me one winner? No? Exactly.  Her performance alone, I'm sure, has gotten more people looking into picking up the instrument and play.
Lindsey Stirling
If it wasn't for Christina Aguilera propping up this next act's song, "Say Something" I'm sure A Great Big World would've still become this huge hit they are now.  Christina just got them to this point a lot faster.  Of course, although Glee put them on the map singing their single "This Is The New Year," which opened doors for them to tour with Ingrid Michaelsen and Five For Fighting, it was "Say Something" that got people noticing this duo from New York. Uplifting with soaring melodies,  their songs are super catchy and makes you believe you can take on the whole world.  

Closing out Perez's SXSW One Night In Austin was my personal favorite, Betty Who.  I've seen her a handful of times already during SXSW and I just keep loving her more and more.  She just seems to be having more fun onstage than the rest of us watching her.  She's set to release her new album sometime this year.  But it's her recent EP The Movement that's gotten people talking and music insiders naming her one of the "Artists to Watch in 2014."   Bursts of pop-melodies that want to break free, like being caged up but 

Think of her music as if someone was trying to hold close Pandora's Box, but instead of all the evil's of the world inside, what bursts open are sweet electro-pop melodies that bounce off the walls, filling the world with everything that's good.  What's wrong with that?  In the hands of Betty Who, I wouldn't have it any other way.  

To check out more photos from this night, go to our Flickr page right HERE.
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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

CHLOE HOWL CANCELS SXSW APPEARANCES

Chloe Howl at SXSW showing off her Fred Perry camouflage backpack.
photo via Twitter/FredPerry
Chloe Howl had to cancel a couple shows today (The British Embassy Showcase at Latitude 30 and the Secret Sounds Showcase at Holy Mountain) at SXSW due to her band having trouble with their visas she revealed today via tweet. Thus she had to make the trip across the pond alone.  Howl was THE only reason I wanted to do SXSW again this year. Bummer.  . No word yet whether she'll perform her next schedule shows at The Stereogum Showcase at Mohawk, Paradigm Showcase at Swan Dive or The Hype Hotel on Saturday night.  She's since been enjoying the local eats and checking out a few shows like Pusha T and Kelela. 

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

SXSW 2014 - BANDS TO WATCH

charli XCX

SXSW is a music lover's dream - like a kid let loose in a candy store. And although SXSW has been going on since last week, the music portion of SXSW begins Tuesday and with over 700 bands calling Austin their home for a week  it could be overwhelming for a music lover to decide who is worth watching.  Picksysticks breaks down a short list of the bands you have to watch during SXSW 2014.


CHARLI XCX
Charli XCX

Her talent of fusing melodies and beats was front and center, echoing the playful dance sounds of Spice Girls to the vocal pop deliveries of Madonna. 

Charli XCX's debut album True Romance might as well be called her greatest hits album.  It's filled with wall-to-wall hits, and almost every song has been remixed, mashed up and played in every club around the world making her  one of the most sought after artists around.  

Although her major label debut album True Romance last year, the mainstream's first introduction to her was through Icona Pop's breakthrough hit song "I Love It" which Charli XCX penned. 

Recently, Charli revealed that she's already working on writing songs for her sophomore album which she plans on recording in France.  She has already released Superlove the first song off that album which has fans salivating for more. Expect her to try out some new songs at this year's SXSW.


"SuperLove" by Charli XCX


CHLOE HOWL
Chloe Howl

As far as I can tell, SXSW will be Chloe Howl's first and only U.S. appearance.  So far, every single song Chloe Howl has released it's become an instant fan favorite. Her songs make me want to dance like no one's watching.  Three songs she previously released, "Rumors," "No Strings" and "Paper Heart," became instant hits, making Howl's upcoming album one of the most anticipated releases of 2014.

On top of that, the recently BRIT Award nominee and 18 year-old is currently on tour supporting  Ellie Goulding on her European Tour.  


"Paper Heart" by Chloe Howl

BETTY WHO
Betty Who

Jessica Anne Newham, better known as Betty Who, has been the talk of the music scene since she released her debut EP The Movement last year.  And because of that EP, she's made a lot of  those 'artists to watch in 2014' lists. Her name just kept popping up everywhere - blogs (Idolator) , websites (MTV), magazines (Elle, New York Magazine) a couple getting engaged on YouTube, etc... In fact, one of those lists actually came from Time magazine who listed Betty Who as one of the "Acts to Watch in 2014."   For this years' SXSW, she was just recently added to Perez Hilton's "One Night In Austin" SXSW party.  

Trust me, watching her live at a sold out Echo in Los Angeles, you couldn't take your eyes off her; her melodies echoing the pop-explosion sounds of the 80s with sparklets of R&B. Her songs, like herself was like watching a fireworks display and ooh-ing and ahhh-ing with each bursts of colorful melodies, watching the sparks shoot out every which way, marveling at trail of light fading softly away.  

After SXSW, Betty Who will head out on  a string of North American tour dates beginning March 22nd in Philadelphia and then making her way through Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and finishing off in New York.  


"Heartbreak Dream" by Betty Who


RUSSIAN RED
Russian Red

Spain's indie darling is setting up for her American takeover with US tour dates with stops in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago.  Russian Red, has three shows at SXSW which I plan on going to all of them.  


During the last few years Russian Red (aka: Lourdes Hernandez)  has become one of the most renowned artists in the Spanish music scene with beautifully constructed songs carried by her fragile yet powerful vocals.   Lourdes Hernández, has an exceptional voice and an innate ability to communicate and captivate a variety of audiences.


"Casper" by Russian Red

LONDON GRAMMAR
London Grammar

In their first ever US tour, London Grammar played to a sold-out crowds.  Their album If You Wait, released on September 17th debuted at #2 on Billboard's UK chart is riding high off their hit singles "Strong" and "Wasting My Young Years."  

The London trio, consisting of Hannah Reid, Dan Rothman and Dot Major, weave moody, trance-like melodies that comes off hauntingly beautiful.   Add to that their deep and dark synth beats and Hannah's airy yet delicate vocals and you'll find yourself getting high yourself in their hypnotic and intoxicating world.  


"Strong" by London Grammar

IVY LEVAN
Ivy Levan

Watching Ivy Levan is like being transported back into a 50s blues nightclub during the big band era.  With flashes of attitude overflowing with sexiness, Ivy Levan has people comparing her to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Gwen Stefani.  


Recently releasing her critically acclaimed EP Introducing the Dame, via Cherrytree Records, her music, dubbed as 'Swamp-Hop' is a mixuture of blues, pop and swing with a touch of soul and pop.  Supported by a masked backing band, Levan's exciting and electrifying sets are enough to guarantee a non-dancer to kick up their heels and dance to songs like "Hang Forever" and "Money," both of which you can find on her new debut EP Introducing the Dame. 

"Hand Forever" by Ivy Levan

WOLF ALICE
Wolf Alice

Of all the bands at this year's SXSW, London's Wolf Alice is the one I'm most curious about - AND most excited about.  Led by frontwoman, Ellie Rowsell and consisting of Joel Amey, Joff Oddie and Theo Ellis, Wolf Alice reminds me of early 90s alternative, echoing the sugary sounds of Letters to Cleo, Belly with the moody, gungy melodies of Temple of the Dog.  Hmmm...should I pack my flannel? 

"Bros" by Wolf Alice


DUM DUM GIRLS
dum dum girls

Known for their hip, fuzzy, Mazzy Star meets Shangri-Las West Coast beach vibe, Dum Dum Girls are currently on tour promoting their most recent album Too True.  It's their third studo album from the group, offering a more mature sound with deeply personal songwriting from front-woman Dee Dee. 


"Too True to be Good" by Dum Dum Girls

LIZZO
lizzo

"Batches & Cookies" was a breakout hit from Minneapolis artist Lizzo, the rapper/singer behind influential bands GRRL PRTY and The Chalice.  Now, Lizzo is giving it a go with her unique sound and  style as a solo artist with her  debut solo album LIZZOBANGERS. 

Topped with bad-girl attitude and catchy as hell lyrics,  Lizzo looks to lead a new wave of indie hip-hop artists with, what's sure to be her breakthrough album, LIZZOBANGERS.  


"Batches & Cookies" by Lizzo


WARPAINT
warpaint

Another set of LA cool cats to influence not only your record collection, but your wardrobe, too. Currently working on their second album, and follow up to 2010’s The Fool, these NME favorites do haunting indie rock better than most. - Marie Claire


CHERRY GLAZERR
cherry glazerr

Here are a group of talented teens, calling themselves collectively as Cherry Glazerr (Los Angeles). They look like an after school detention teen clique consisting of three girls and a guy. Cherry Glazerr has an unusual sound and feeling of pent-up teen energy stuck on a morphine drip.  There is a delightful frustration in the lead vocals of Clementine Creevy, sounding like children on a sugar high that just took a few of mommy's Vicodin pills to chill. The lyrics are simple yet endearing like a children's storybook, talking about cats, grilled cheese, trick or treat, a pizza monster, and an alien princess. Great ideas for late night doobie cartoon music videos, those cartoons with sketchy lines and seemingly bad artistic skills, but somehow hilarious. Hannah Uribe on drums is the quiet one with the loudest toy. Clementine can recently be seen on the new Amazon pilot "Transparent" starring Jeffrey Tambor where she plays (what else) an up-and-coming musician.


"White's Not My Color This Evening" by Cherry Glazerr


WARDELL
wardell

Wardell, made up of the brother/sister team of Sasha and Theo Spielberg, spool vintage, '60s tunes as though polyester and root beer floats was back in style.  With classic beach harmonies that float up to the heavens, Wardell feels like a blast from the past.  

They are the soundtrack to listen to while swinging high on a swing with toes drifting just above the sand. There is an uplifting feeling to Sasha Spielberg's vocals like green grass and sunflowers on the horizon as the girl on the swing in the floral summer dress floats high, to and fro, enjoying the simple exhilarant body rush, then letting free, and landing bare feet back in the sand box. 


"Opossum" by Wardell


DEAP VALLY
Deap Vally

The only band I'd want to be listening to as I attack that lonely desert straightaway to Vegas is Deap Vally.  Dirty guitars and scowling vocals that act as an adrenaline rush as you pass Barstow towards Sin City.  

Deap Vally are Lindsey Troy and Julie Edwards, the LA duo gaining critical acclaim for their non-apologetic and attitude-laced rock.  Oh, and they also have a debut album Sistrionix that makes you believe in rock and roll again.


"Walk of Shame" by Deap Vally

LUCIUS
lucius

They look like a '60's girl group. They sound like a melding of classic Americana and a church choir that's backed by a high school marching band. But once you hear this quintet, everything starts to make sense.   Their name is Lucius, hailing from Brooklyn but has roots in Los Angeles.   Their saturated textures of free-floating vocals backed by booming, soulful percussions evoke a simple era of country-folk that's infused with fresh, pop balladry that every generation will find appealing.  

Currently  promoting their  debut album "Wildewoman,"  Lucius has been generating a lot of buzz  since they released their EP getting shout-outs from music taste-makers like Time Magazine, New York Times, NPR and Rolling Stone while already playing at some of the most noteworthy music festivals like Bonnaroo, CMJ Music Fest and SXSW.


"Turn it Around" by Lucius

NONONO
nonono

NONONO continues Sweden's knack of breeding bands that write infectious, mid-tempo songs that brings out your inner child and makes you remember what it was like when life was carefree and everything around you looked shiny and brand new.

NONONO are that shiny brand new toy that everyone in the music biz seems to want for Christmas. From CMJ to Perez Hilton, this Swedish trio is the talk of the town.  Blame it on their breakthrough single "Pumpin Blood," which spread like wild fire across music blogs along with getting heavy airplay on mainstream and college radio.  


"Hungry Eyes" by NONONO


ECHOSMITH
echosmith

Echosmith has been all the buzz since their summer sampler debuted last July, promising something not normally associated with a young, teeny band such as themselves -  a mature-pop-sound  one wouldn't expect from a band with an age range of 14-20.  Also surprising are their musical influences ranging from The Smiths, U2, Fleetwood Mac to Joy Division so imagine their sound when fused with '80s pop and the alternative attitude of the '90s. You get songs like the shoe-gazy, mysterious "Cool Kids" and the Breakfast Club inspired "Come Together."  

Echosmith are a natural performing on stage.  Their confident stage presence just highlights their electric show fueled by youthful songs that are smart and fresh - a complete 180 degrees from the Britney Spears' and Miley Cyrus' of the world.  This a band parents would love their kids to emulate.


"Cool Kids" by Echosmith
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