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TBTS Eustachian Ruminations, 3/20/10 Edition

March 20, 2010

First off, I must give love to our own T. Stump for his thoroughly entertaining and informative guide to SXSW.  If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a direct link, get over there.

I don’t know if the Tallest Man on Earth is playing SXSW this year, but his Shallow Grave is a wonderful album.   If you ever see him live and in color, you’ll find out that he’s not really the tallest man on earth.  In fact, Swede Kristian Matsson is quite diminutive.  But he’s got a big honking voice that can just knock you over and he sings some beautiful folk songs.  Alt-folk band Megafaun have some pretty sweet songs too, particularly on their 2009 release Gather, Form and Fly.  But what is doubly-sweet is this YouTube video of Mattson, Megafaun, and Jaw Lesson singing Bon Iver’s “Creature Fear” earlier this month.  Although they kind of mess it up in the middle, this is a wonderful cover of a wonderful song by some wonderful musicians.  Wow, that’s wonderful.

A band that is playing SXSW is Australia’s own The Middle East.  I listened to their latest effort, The Music of the Middle East, this week and really enjoyed it.  This is an acoustic folk band in the same musical universe as Mumford & Sons and Balmorhea.  Although I’ve not heard them live, I somehow get the feeling they can get their freak on in an Akron/Family sort of way, but I could be wrong.  Nevertheless, The Music of the Middle East is my favorite of the new albums I checked out this week and I highly recommend it.  Read about their SXSW exploits here.

Wye Oak‘s The Knot is a cool album.  This Baltimore group isn’t trendy yet, but they easily could be and they’re at least worth a mention during your next cocktail party.  You can read NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson gush over Wye Oak’s SXSW set here.

Canadain songstress Basia Bulat played SXSW this year in support of her 2010 release Heart of My Own.  Since I seem to have found a folky vibe on this post, it should come as no surprise that Bulat is a folkster.  She has a beautiful, rich voice and her songs are just loaded with sweet, fat harmonies.  I fell in love with her music after 2007’s Oh, My Darling and her new release is even better than her debut.  Both albums were produced by the Arcade Fire’s Howard Bilerman and he successfully walks the line between allowing Bulat to maintain an acoustic intimacy while infusing her songs with an anthemic quality.  Check her out on the YouTube absolutely tearing up the dulcimer on her single “Gold Rush.”

Lastly, I give you the next big thing to come out of New Jersey:  Titus Andronicus.  I discovered this band when they gave away their 2008 debut, The Airing of Grievances, for free on thier website last year.  It turned out to be a smart marketing ploy because I doubt I would have listened to them otherwise.  But Grievances was a very good record and it appears that their latest The Monitor is getting a ton of love in the blogosphere.  The Monitor got 4 stars from Allmusic, and the “Best New Music” tag at the evil Pitchfork.  Oh, and they too played SXSW, giving some sage advice regarding curing hangovers during their set.  Way to perform a public service, gents.  I haven’t listened to The Monitor yet, that’s on the queue for my 7 hour drive tomorrow, but with all the good press these guys are getting I’ll be surprised if it’s not at least a decent album.

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