I have long sung the praises of the month of March. The promise of the impending Spring and baseball seasons, the widely distributed Girl Scout cookies, and yes, the pull of those brackets all contribute to the month running a close second to Rocktober. It’s the musical climate, though, that has really made the month in recent years.
As the calendar flips to March, the floodgates open for new releases. Bands and labels of the indie variety set a course for the South By Southwest Festival. Even if you’re like me and can’t make the trip to Austin, podcasts, webcasts and social media bring you the build-up, the highlights, and the aftermath. You can practically hear the buzz and smell the barbecue all the way up here in Ohio. Here’s a six pack of artists that made a serious impact on me this month who also happened to play SXSW:
As a kid I would read “Strange But True Baseball Stories.” Now I listen to The Baseball Project. Their new album “Third” is out now on Yep Roc. They get better with every release. Happy Opening Day!
Ex Hex is the latest outfit from Mary Timony who’s best known for her work in the nineties band Helium. She most recently brought a cool 1970’s rock sensibility to the band Wild Flag, and that carries over here. (From my snowy environs in NE Ohio, I caught a webcast of an Ex Hex set at Waterloo Records in Austin, and they even covered Johnny Thunders.) They are signed to Merge Records, and their debut 7″ just hit the racks.
Why wouldn’t I like the post-punk band Protomartyr? Some have observed that their vocalist, Joe Casey, appears somewhat older than his Detroit bandmates and doesn’t resemble your average indie circuit musician. We have a fine tradition of unlikely frontmen here in Ohio as well (Robert Pollard, Ron House, Jim Shepard, David Thomas), and Casey’s vocal style and world outlook are welcome. Protomartyr’s next longplayer, Under Color of Official Right, is due out 4/8 on the Hardly Art label.
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness out now on the Jagjaguar label.
Natural Child – Dancin’ With Wolves out now on Burger Records
Withered Hand‘s “Black Tambourine” might be the perfect pop song: Jingle-jangle verses, tasteful backing vocals, a soaring chorus, a mini-bridge that soars even higher, a distorted guitar solo, lyrics about loneliness, a lingering organ outro and yes… tambourine. The astonishingly good LP “New Gods” is available now on Slumberland Records. .