Some bands make music that simply sounds better while you’re listening to it outside, with a breeze in the air and a beer in your hand. California natives Best Coast definitely fall into this category, with their fuzzy, stoner-friendly riffs and the mellow, sweetly expressive voice of lead singer Bethany Cosentino. The band broke through with their 2010 Crazy For You LP, which scored an 8.4 and a coveted “Best New Music” notation from the tastemaker site Pitchfork, and just played a handful of gigs at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival in support of their new LP, The Only Place (the release date of which is still TBD).
“The record was written in a place of being homesick,” the 25 year-old Cosentino explained to us over the weekend. “‘The Only Place’ is supposed to mean my bedroom, my home, Los Angeles, California. It’s the place where I feel the most comfortable and confident. I wanted to make a record that reflected that this place is my safe place, and all these songs that are written about more darker, kind of lonely feelings, those all go away as I get back to this only place.”
Well, it’s pretty clear that while Cosentino feels most comfortable in California, she’s been widely accepted the world over. Her 2011 video for “Our Deal”, which was directed by Drew Barrymore and stars Chloe Moretz, picked up a 2012 Woodie Award for Best Video while down in Austin, an award she accepted from the luminous DJ Pauly D. If you’re not yet familiar with the group (or even if you are!), we’ve got some video of Best Coast performing “Our Deal” live from last week’s SPIN party at Stubb’s for you below.
You would’ve been hard-pressed to find a person who had performed more times at the SXSW Music Festival over the years than Gary Clark Jr. The 28 year-old artist is, without a doubt, one of the best musicians to ever emerge from the fertile Austin scene, and his 2011 Bright Lights EP was so well-received that he was invited to play for President Barack Obama at the White House just last month. So, we thought, who better of an authority to convince us that there’s a bright future for rock music, a genre which seems to be falling a bit out of favor with the youth of today.
“I don’t really think rock music has gone anywhere,” he told us over the weekend at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival. “It’s just that people are interested in other things. Musically, you can do so much more, there’s new technologies and ways to express yourself, but it’s not going anywhere.”
Well, there you have it, straight from Gary Clark Jr.’s mouth! He’s currently in the studio working on a full length follow-up to his most recent EP, due out this summer. “There’s no real theme to the album,” he told us. “I’m trying to do what I did with the Bright Lights EP, which is kind of give a little taste of my influences and what I love musically, which is blues, soul and rock n’ roll music.”
The 2012 SXSW Music Festival is in the books, y’all. Your friendly neighborhood VH1 Tuner team was down in Austin for five days, but it felt more like a month (in a good way!). By that, we mean that Austin is a very inviting place, the kind of city that is big enough that you don’t get bored by it, but small enough that you get familiar with the layout quickly. In short, by the time we left the city on Sunday afternoon, it sort of felt like home.
If you’ve never been down to Austin —this was actually the first time down there for both myself and our ace photographer, Jen Marigliano— we wanted to give you a vibe of what the city is like during the festival. So, in this special SXSW edition of our long-running Music Seen feature, you’ll get a sense of what we experienced during our short trip to the Lone Star state. You’ll see some of the artists that we spent time with (like B.o.B, T.I., Neon Hitch, Train, Kimbra and more!), the crowds of people who fly in from all over the world to see live music at intimate venues, and how music truly takes over this awesome college town for six days each and every March. Enjoy!
VH1′s current You Oughta Know artist, Graffiti6, is pretty new to American audiences. Their debut full length album, Colours, came out in January and the band has been touring the States with bands like Augustana in order to get the word out. “It’s been an experience, man, it’s been amazing,” Graffiti6 frontman Jamie Scott told us about the touring experience when we caught up with him at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas over the weekend. “I was never really ready for the reaction we’ve gotten in America with this record, purely because I’ve never [toured] here before. It’s a daunting place, when you think about it, but we’ve had the most amazing reaction. So far, man, it’s felt pretty incredible.”
Jamie and his bandmates in Graffiti6 played a grand total of 10 shows (!!!) during their trip to Austin this year, which marks their third trip down to Texas for the annual confab. With each passing year, their stature here in the US of A has grown, and based on the reaction they got from crowds this year, it sure seems as if they’ll continue on this upward trajectory over the course of this month and beyond.
The brand new album from The Shins, Port Of Morrow, is their first since 2006′s Wincing The Night Away. Frontman James Mercer kept busy in the interim, teaming up with super-producer extraordinaire Danger Mouse on the Broken Bells project. So, the first thing we asked James when we caught up with him over the weekend at the 2012 SXSW Music Festival was what made him feel that the time was right to revisit The Shins?
“During the Broken Bells project, everything that I did creatively, I did on the spot with Brian [Burton, aka Danger Mouse],” he explained. “Since I made that conscious decision that I wouldn’t be bringing ideas I made up at home into the studio, all of the stuff that I came up with on my own went to The Shins. I just had a build-up of ideas for songs, and parts, and choruses and verses.”
Well, judging by the reaction to the new material —the band just graced the stage of Saturday Night Live a few Saturdays ago—he picked a perfect time to rededicate himself to this particular creative outlet of his. Port Of Morrow, which comes out tomorrow, is not only the name of the album and a song on the record, but also a real-life industrial port in Oregon. “[Port Of Morrow] is so poetic sounding, it sounds like something out of Shakespeare to me,” Mercer revealed. “I thought about it like this departure point that you would leave, but I also thought about the river Styx. So, it came to symbolize death, I guess? [Laughs] Maybe I shouldn’t have called the record ‘Death.’”
Fun.‘s sophomore LP, Some Nights, just came out to strong reviews and even stronger sales, buoyed by the phenomenal success of the album’s first single, “We Are Young” (which recently hit #1 on the Billboard charts). The song’s subject matter is a bit mysterious in nature, so when we caught up with the three gents who make up the band in Austin during the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival, the very first thing we asked them was to clear up the debate surrounding the meaning of the song’s line, “I know I gave it to you months ago.”
“[It's about] The Clap,” Fun. lead singer Nate Ruess deadpanned when we asked him. Admittedly, our jaws instantly hit the floor, but then the guys started laughing. “It’s not literal, having written it,” Nate confessed. “The whole song, also isn’t necessarily about something specific. I think it’s taking insecurities and nights out and combining them into one night. It’s not literal.” PHEW.
There was great music, great food, and great times to be had at the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival. However, it’s important to note that as hard as people partied while they were taking in the sights and sounds in Austin, there was one particular activity over the weekend that raised tons of money for a cause near and dear to our hearts. On Saturday night, Perez Hilton teamed up with the VH1 Save The Music Foundation for his annual One Night In Austin party (which featured performances by B.o.B., Ed Sheeran, Timbaland and more!). For the first time ever, Perez sold tickets to his SXSW mainstay and graciously donated all of the proceeds —over $46,000!— to VH1 Save The Music. That’s more than enough to restore an instrumental music program at a middle school or high school!
Even if you weren’t able to make it down to Austin this year, you can still help this very good cause. Simply follow VH1 on Foursquare, check into a music venue ANYWHERE across the country, and you’ll receive your own personal Save The Music badge. Then, on your behalf, VH1 will donate $1 to the VH1 Save The Music Foundation. It’s that easy! Read more…
You’re forgiven if you haven’t yet heard of Alabama Shakes. After all, they don’t have a song on the radio, they haven’t made any music videos, and they don’t even have an album in stores for you to buy (yet). However, what they do have is a TON of internet buzz, as their soulful, southern roots rock sound has propelled them from the club circuit in the deep South into a place where they’re on the verge of entering the national consciousness. “Did you see Alabama Shakes yet?,” is a question that’s on everyone’s lips in Austin this week for the 2012 SXSW Music Festival, and we were lucky enough to be able to snag some time to sit down with Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard and drummer Steve Johnson the other afternoon.
When people reminisce about the 2012 South By Southwest Music Festival, there will be two things that stand out above the rest: Bruce Springsteen‘s epic keynote speech/concert, and last night’s Shady 2.0 Showcase, headlined by 50 Cent. Sadly, we weren’t able to attend the former, but we did manage to score a highly coveted ticket to the latter. Fiddy and the whole Shady Records family were celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the release of Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ last night, even though the record won’t officially turn 10 until February of next year. Whatever the Shady squad lacks in calendar savvy, they MORE than make up for with their ability to throw a massive party.
Austin had been buzzing all day with rumors that the head honcho of Shady Records, Eminem, would show up to support his protégé 50 Cent as he performed his landmark, six-times platinum debut LP front-to-back. The rumors proved to be true, as Eminem made an unannounced appearance at the Austin Music Hall during “Patiently Waiting,” the second song on Get Rich and the second song to be played last night. The audience had already gone bonkers when Fitty emerged from the shadows —wearing a camouflage bullet proof vest, natch— just a few minutes earlier, but when Em hit the stage ensconced in a grey hoodie, we honestly thought the roof might come off the place. As the two traded verses while the classic Eminem-produced beat pulsated through the speakers, the energy level in the building was truly something to behold.
Rock stars are not exactly known for their punctuality. So imagine our surprise when Tom Chaplin and Jesse Quin of Keane showed up at the Moonshine Cafe in Austin yesterday a full 20 minutes ahead of their scheduled arrival time yesterday morning. They were both bright-eyed and bushytailed and anxious to discuss their upcoming LP, Strangeland, which will be out in May.
Keane made a huge splash in both their native England and the United States back in 2004 with their debut LP, Hopes And Fears, which went platinum here Stateside and moved almost 3 million units across the pond. The band has continued to have success in the intervening years, but with Strangeland, they’re looking to recapture the success they had with American audiences in the middle portion of the last decade. “It’s a record that should do really well in America,” Tom theorized with us. We asked him to elaborate, and he obliged.
“It’s kind of widescreen, that’s the way we thought about when we playing it back to ourselves. The first single, ‘Silenced By The Night,’ has kind of got flavors of Bruce Springsteen and a sort of big, epic American sound.”
“It’s direct, as well,” Jesse chipped in. “Americans like directness, they don’t like bullsh*t, do they?”
Speaking for us, as a nation, we think not! Before we let the guys leave, we gave them a gentle ribbing about the fact that their band’s name is on every single hotel key here at the Hilton this weekend. “Do you think this will get me into Bruce Springsteen’s hotel room?”, Tom jested. To find out what Tom would do (and what Jesse thinks he should be wearing) if they did, in fact, gain access to the luxury suite of The Boss, watch our video below!