Utne Reader at South by Southwest

By Staff
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Utne Reader and SXSW: Music to Our Ears

The stage is set for Utne Reader to rock this year’s South by Southwest music festival March 12-16 in Austin, Texas, teaming up with Anti- Records to host a great lineup of bands including Billy Bragg, DeVotchKa, and many others. For more information on the Utne Reader/Anti- Records showcase on Thursday, March 13, and the Utne Reader party on Saturday, March 15, click here.

The March-April issue of Utne Reader has a special treat for music fans, a 10-page section called “For the Love of Music” that focuses on people and places where pure passion for music is the driving force:

Also, read editor in chief David Schimke’s note on Billy Bragg, South by Southwest, and the enduring influence of truly great music.

And keep tabs on the latest in music, movies, and more on the Utne arts blog at www.utne.com/arts.


Look for These Events at South by Southwest:


Utne Reader / Anti- Records Showcase

8 p.m., Thursday, March 13

Cedar Street Courtyard, 208 W. Fourth St., Austin

Featuring:


DeVotchKa  – Perhaps best known for their Grammy nominated soundtrack to the hit indie film Little Miss Sunshine, DeVotchKa capture the dramatic grandeur of the American southwest and impart it onto their gallant version of Eastern European folk and indie rock. Their Anti- Records debut, A Mad and Faithful Telling, is cinematic in its richness, crossing borders and continents as the instruments unspool and singer Nick Urata’s voice soars. 


Billy Bragg – Considered “a national treasure” in his native England, the esteemed populist Billy Bragg has long been a cult hero in the US. In his two and a half decades of carrying the torch, Bragg has melded the folksy populism of Woody Guthrie with the anger and indignation of the Clash, and both are perfectly encapsulated on his Anti- debut Mr. Love and Justice



The Weakerthans – Reunion Tour is a superb tome from indie rock’s most singular narrators. The 2007 release was recorded after-hours above a closed factory in the cold Canadian spring, weaving the frontier loneliness of the environment into rich lyrical yarns four years in the making. Songs such as “Sun in an Empty Room” and “Civil Twilight” tell of individual journeys with a melancholic empathy that Paste magazine has described as “songs of brutal beauty, little rock n roll vignettes that perfectly capture the malaise of the peculiar, disorienting times in which we live.” 


Man Man – Part swampy juke joint brawlers, part smooth Philly warehouse doo-wop crooners, Man Man bring their incomparable vision of “pop music” to bear with Rabbit Habits, their Anti- Records debut.  Having honed their legendarily exuberant live show to hypothalamus-tickling perfection opening for such indie stalwarts as Modest Mouse, Arcade Fire and Cat Power, the band has captured the fiery spirit and essence of a Man Man show and etched it into 45 minutes of the most raucous, weirdly moving, spiritually uplifting music this side of Oppenheimer’s great beyond. 


Tim Fite – Straight out of Brooklyn comes the quirky, dense genre bender, likened to both “a novelty rapper and a postmodern, Beck-like acoustic bluesman” by Jim DeRogatis at the Chicago Sun Times. 2007 saw the release of Fite’s scathing examination of consumerism, greed and the farcical nature of hip hop stardom on Over the Counter Culture, a free, web-only record which, despite its seeming obscurity, topped many critics’ top 10 lists for the year. On May 6, Fite will release his defining work, Fair ‘Aint Fair, which combines his anti-consumerist message with rich compelling music and strong degrees of humor and humanity.


Islands – The indie rock innovators from Montreal have just signed with Anti-, and Arm’s Way, their follow-up to 2005’s inaugural and magnificent Return To The Sea, will be released on May 20. Sprawling and symphonic, the new album finds singer/writer Nick Thorburn truly coming into his own as a composer, and the band at the height of their considerable powers as performers.

Additional Anti- artists are expected to be added to this impressive SXSW showcase.


Utne Reader Party

Saturday, March 15

1 p.m. – 5 p.m.

The Thirsty Nickel, 325 E. Sixth St., Austin

Featuring:


Billy Bragg – Considered “a national treasure” in his native England, the esteemed populist Billy Bragg has long been a cult hero in the US. In his two and a half decades of carrying the torch, Bragg has melded the folksy populism of Woody Guthrie with the anger and indignation of the Clash, and both are perfectly encapsulated on his Anti- debut Mr. Love and Justice


Rogue Wave – Last year was a rollercoaster ride for Rogue Wave. Drummer Pat Spurgeon had a kidney transplant, keyboardist Gram LeBron lost his father, singer Zach Rogue had a daughter and the band recruited a new bass player (Patrick Abernethy, formerly of Beulah). But instead of falling apart, they converted all their heartbreak, love, hurt, pain, elation and insight into a most affecting and beguiling record, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate. The album, their Brushfire Records debut, is about hopes and fears, triumphs and tragedies, sadness and joy. Filled with darkness and light swirled together, Asleep at Heaven’s Gate is a stirring sonic reminder of the dualities that make life such an unforgettable and incomparable ride.



South
 – South’s methodology is a continued sonic exploration of melody refracted through an eclectic palate of disparate genres and atmospherics that blow by any and all artificial distinctions. Their sound is inspired, and their shimmering live show is unlike anything you’ve experienced. The band’s upcoming release, You Are Here, is set to hit on April 15 via bluhammock music, and true to their mission of exploring all genres, the band has outdone themselves by creating a record that lilts through swirling psychedelic pop, electrifying dance beats and unhinged space rock.



Carrie Rodriguez
 – After releasing her well-received solo debut Seven Angels on a Bicycle, Carrie Rodriguez spent much of 2007 on a whirlwind tour schedule that included opening for friend/fan Lucinda Williams. The New York Times said, “If you love Lucinda Williams, as I do, and want more of her songs than presently exist, you would do well to get Carrie Rodriguez’ Seven Angels on a Bicycle,” while the Associated Press raved that “her voice has a character few achieve . . . she uses her first solo album to mark her ground as a singular talent.” For her upcoming sophomore release, the Austin-born and Berklee-trained violinist-turned-fiddler turned to producer Malcolm Burn (Emmylou Harris, Kaki King) and wrote with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks as well as Mary Gauthier and Jim Boquist. Carrie’s new CD will be in stores on August 5.

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