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Mo' Music: Busby Berkeley SXSW

Happy New Year and Magnetic Fields

By Rob Cohen, 8:07AM, Mon. Mar. 19, 2012

Mo' Music: Busby Berkeley SXSW
photo by Laura Walters

I just slept about 17 hours. I have no idea what I'm doing next. I do know it's time for some SXSW spiel.

Wednesday, at my usual haunt the Chain Drive, with good friends and minor expectations, lo and behold Happy New Year are a groovy, droney blend of Mazzy Star and witch house, complete with triangles on their album artwork. I'll be watching what they do next. Click play to listen to a cool Iggy Pop cover of "The Endless Sea."

It's no surprise we love the Magnetic Fields. I sang at a party for his movie and Andy was lucky enough to interview Stephin Merritt. It was surprisingly easy to get in to see him at the fabulous Moody Theater. We were treated to a couple of tracks from dreamy Americana band The War on Drugs. They were like a more shoegaze-y My Morning Jacket, and they had a charming grace and power.

Merritt and his loyal band took the stage with little fanfare and got right down to business. Their set up was the usual, everyone sitting in a row with their instruments and minimal light show. It was like they were this dainty, living music box you couldn't touch or it would break. Then of course, Merritt will say something snarky to remind you this old dog still bites. Toward the end and after being scolded for being loud, the audience and the band settled into a quiet, intimate mood for some of their most delicate songs, like "The Book of Love", and my highlight of the night, "Busby Berkeley Dreams", which I never fully appreciated until now.

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