Handsome Furs, Obits, Vetiver, and Red Red Meat

Thursday

SXSW Records

SUB POP

Seattle's Sub Pop Records has always boasted an eclectic roster of artists. This year's showcase could be described as downright schizophrenic. Wolf Parade guitarist Dan Boeckner and wife Alexei Perry's side project, Handsome Furs, goes through the indie looking glass darkly with Face Control, the follow-up to 2007 debut Plague Park. The Montreal couple's highlights here include "Talking Hotel Arbat Blues," which smacks of 1950s rebel rockabilly, and the Springsteen-esque "All We Want, Baby, Is Everything." Think dark, New Wave dance clubs, electronic hand claps, and edgy, black-leather emotions. I Blame You, Obits' debut LP, delivers nothing new in punk-infused alt-rock. Fronted by Rick Froberg, formerly of Hot Snakes, Drive Like Jehu, and Pitchfork, the Brooklyn-based quartet is all lukewarm beer and moshing in a cramped garage, "Pine On" and "Milk Cow Blues" far too long on the clock. The instrumental title track possesses a fresh energy the rest of the album lacks. Vetiver's fourth LP and Sub Pop debut, Tight Knit, provides a sleepy counterpoint to Obits' grinding noise. Singer Andy Cabic, a longtime Devendra Banhart colleague, uses a light touch with his dreamy storytelling just as drummer Otto Hauser lightly brushes the snares and cymbals on "Rolling Sea." Bop to the 1960s aesthetic of "Everyday," shimmy to the 1970s FM funk-folk of "Another Reason to Go," or glimmer among the misty trees "At Forest Edge." That Vetiver takes its name from a fragrant, medicinal grass is fitting since the music remains grounded while acquainting itself beautifully with the breeze. Doing to Chicago blues what syrup did for Houston hip-hop, Red Red Meat – Tim Rutili, Tim Hurley, Brian Deck, and Ben Massarella – reunites its seminal indie burn at South by Southwest thanks in part to the reissue of 1995 high-water mark Bunny Gets Paid. A 35-minute bonus disc includes demos ("Chain Chain Chain") and a Low-down cover of "Words" to accompany one of the 1990s' most addictive opiates. (Thu., Radio Room Patio, 8pm.)

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Handsome Furs, Obits, Vetiver, Red Red Meat

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