South By Southwest Preview, Part 4

SXSW 2008 Preview

To prep for the 2008 South By Southwest music festival in, I’m arming myself with an alphabetical list of the groups performing and an active Internet connection with the goal of listening to top tracks from as many bands as possible and offering my impressions here.

The reactions will be quick and dirty, reflecting my own musical taste and ignorance, but if they save me or anyone else from accidentally sitting through a performance of Hey, How’s Your News, then they will be worth it.

Pierre Aderne

They are: an acoustic singer-songwriter from Brazil

Sounds like: a Portuguese Jack Johnson

The Tracks (MySpace)

A multi-layered acoustic track featuring light rhythm guitar and quick leads. Aderne sings in understated Portuguese, softly paying tribute to the titular woman.

A Chave
A quick, acoustic bossa nova—the backbeat dances steadily, and the guitar jumps up and down around it.

The verdict: He could happily headline a coffee shop…I would listen to a full show if there were biscotti involved.


They are: a jazz band from Copenhagen. As their web site explains, “Afenginn means intoxication and strength. With high tempo, great joy and border seeking musical ideas Afenginn has build up a reputation of virtuosity and excellent live shows the past years.” Well, all right.

Sounds like: the world music band that fills the breaks on NPR, only better.

The Tracks (

Akrobad (part 2): A dancing clarinet melody trades time with a violin over a Caribbean-esque beat. The effect sounds like something you’d hear in a Gyspy circus. They play with the tempo of the piece, driving it up and down to conjure the effect of acrobats spinning over the crowd.

Rally in D-minor
The violin and clarinet trade riffs up and down the scale, occasionally bursting into a sprint punctuated by shouts from the band.

The verdict: The considerable talent at hand remains fun and accessible. It sounds like it would be a great live show, with plenty of dancing.


They are: an electronic band from Los Angeles. They’re “loved by the streets, hated by the ninjas”

Sounds like: Quincy Jones meets a more melodic N.E.R.D.

The Tracks (MySpace)

Dolce Riot
The thick bass and electronic explosions that kick off the track make it sound like a lost track from Bad. The singer croons cheesily about his girl (“I like your outfit, girl/it could rock my world”), but a regrettable rap interlude mars the middle.

Miami Rated R
A murky bass line runs into funky guitar riffs and a digitally altered spoken/sung lead vocal.

The verdict: The tracks are interesting constructions, but I’m not sure how they’ll come off live. The rapping seems like it would get a little tiresome, and I’m not sure how much variety they have in the tank.