The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas kicks off on Wednesday with 1,800 musical acts over four frenetic days (sxsw.com). At gigs in 80 venues, new and established bands will use it as a launch pad for their latest endeavours, providing a decent indication of what's in store musically for the rest of 2009.
We Have Band are among many UK acts taking part, with four gigs planned. Thus far, the fast-rising trio have released only one single – watch the video for it at vimeo.com/user880474/videos; while London's Black Cab Sessions website is commandeering a Texan black cab for a week of intimate performances – www.blackcabsessions.com.
The prominent Los Angeles radio station KCRW (www.kcrw.com/) is sending a large contingent to broadcast from SXSW and is hosting a showcase with the likes of Ida Maria and Port O'Brien performing. KCRW will be sending regular dispatches to 'The Independent' on the sights and sounds of this year's SXSW at independent.co.uk/kcrw.
Beware the hair
Bonnie "Prince" Billy has a new album out on Monday following last summer's 'The Letting Go'. The new effort, 'Beware', is released on Domino records, and the label is offering customers the chance to win a Bonnie Prince Billy screenprint on ordering the album along with another record in his back catalogue from their site, domino recordco.com. Meanwhile, a video for the song "I Am Goodbye" preceeds the album, and it sees him in fine, jaunty alt-country form – tinyurl.com/bxsdvf. It's not clear whether it is indicative of the whole album. What is clear is that Bonnie Prince Billy is now sporting arguably his fluffiest facial hair yet.
Making indie boys swoon is Annie Clark, the one-woman band best known as St Vincent. The Texan native is playing at SXSW to promote her album 'Actor'. A song from it called "The Strangers" is available with the site Gorilla Vs Bear offering it as a download at tinyurl.com/bags. It combines swirling orchestrals with crunching electric guitar. Cool.
Type out a drum and beat solo
Ron Winter is an animator and director who has worked on videos for bands including LCD Soundsystem, The Rapture and Babyshambles. His impressive website, www.ronwinter.tv, displays many such efforts. Also there's a nifty page that renders all the letter buttons on a computer keyboard as sounds in a virtual drum machine – ron winter.tv/drums.html. In moments it will sound like Daft Punk is playing at your house.
Open with care...
It's with trepidation that I approach My Chemical Romance; given some of their more dedicated fans penchant for picketing the offices of national newspapers, but more pertinently because of their recent, unspeakably bad cover of Bob Dylan's "Desolation Row", distilling the song into a three-minute-long screamo-punk travesty. It runs over the closing credits of the recent 'Watchmen' film. If you are of a strong disposition, watch it at tinyurl.com /c5vrsb The most succinct appraisal comes in the comments section of the YouTube posting of the video (which may no longer be accessible in the UK), with a person going by the name "SomeDude9323" declaring: "Oh god was that atrocious." Damn right dude.