Caught in the Net: How Jane's rocked Austin

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The Independent Culture

While the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas is supposed to be mainly about new bands, bigger names can muscle in on the action, as Jane's Addiction did this year.

Their show marked the first time in 17 years that the band's original line-up has played together. Guitarist Dave Navarro found time to Twitter mid-set: "We just played 3 days!!!! Yeah!" (twitter.com/dave navarro6767). They're touring with Nine Inch Nails and Street Sweeper this summer, and the three bands have collectively released a free download EP which is available at ninja2009.com.

At SXSW, the hotly tipped R&B singer Janelle Monae created the biggest buzz (myspace.com/janellemonae). Look out also for the sleek electro noises of two-woman band Nite Jewel (myspace.com/nitejewel).

Garage rocker Ty Segall (myspace.com/tysegall) is worth watching, too. Look at this video of him rocking out on guitar and drums at the same time (tinyurl.com/ ctxuhu), a lo-fi psych-rock showboater.

Hot to Voxtrot

After some acclaimed EPs, Voxtrot's 2007 debut album didn't quite deliver, and the Austin indie rockers went to ground. A recent message on their website, voxtrot.net, read: "Regarding our absence, sometimes one needs to disappear in order to regroup. Situations change and human beings are swept here and there by the marvellous ebb and flow of culture. And so, there can be only this: a return to a love of music." They re-entered the fray (minus some original members), playing two gigs at SXSW and releasing a new song as a free download from their website; "Trepanation Party" has an over-egged synth in the mix, but the song is a grower.

Clip and paste

The Israeli musician/producer/composer/animator Kutiman has been attracting attention for his Thru You project. Coming on like the DJ Shadow of YouTube, Kutiman cuts and pastes snippets of existing homemade videos posted on YouTube of people performing music and turns them into a something new. It's now an impressive seven-track/video cycle all of which can be seen at thru-you.com. In an eighth clip, Kutiman explains how he did it.

Not quite Cat, but Birch has power

Offering up soaring southern soul, Diane Birch calls to mind Cat Power circa 'The Greatest' (she even looks a bit like her), though Birch has less of that 40 fags and a bottle of whiskey at 4am huskiness in her voice, nor the sense of darkness; hers is a far more mainstream sound, not in the same league as Cat Power. But her song "Fire Escape", from a debut album due in May, is worth a listen; it's a free download at the RCRD LBL site at tinyurl.com/crucvm.

Lingua Brazilia

No member of the eclectic electro-pop band Brazilian Girls is actually from Brazil, and only one is female, but such is the way for a group whose lyrics flit through a multitude of languages at the drop of a (high-) hat. Lead vocalist Sabina Sciubba was born in Italy but grew up elsewhere and speaks six languages, all of which make their way into the songs. "Losing Myself", from their third album "New York City", released last year, was a driving upbeat electro stomp, with choruses in English and verses in French. This week, the band released a new version of the song with David Byrne sharing vocals with Sciubba – though on the new take the whole thing is sung in English. Hear it at tinyurl.com/d3g3md.

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