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SXSW Preview Hoedown

Earl Greyhound
Those who fall for this bone-crushing atomic-power trio tend to fall pretty hard. The New Yorker called Ricc Sheridan "the most exciting drummer in New York." And no less an authority than The Village Voice recently raved: "Not only is (bassist-vocalist Kamara) Thomas beautiful, but she howls exquisitely," en route to declaring EG "the Afrofuture of Rock." Everyone fortunate enough to stumble across the band's recent Soft Targets emerges with the same immediate comparison: Led Zep. Can't get much more positive than that, but it's deserved—the drums and snarling guitars stomp in glorious, pummeling unison throughout, and singer-guitarist Matt Whyte howls equally exquisitely o'er the top. If the steadily mounting praise sounds like empty hyperbole to you, just dial up "Monkey," an eight-minute Homeric epic of brazen rock action that jams but never wavers.


Aa
Pretty sure that's pronounced "Big A Little A," if someone inquires during a show, and you're feeling up to shouting over the paralyzing cacophony of this mesmerizing noise-rock outfit. Aa shows are pulverizing and, frankly, kinda hilarious—to the untrained eye (hell, even to the trained eye), it looks like a buncha dudes onstage thwacking drums with reckless and formless abandon, with a bit of screaming and wanton maraca-shaking thrown in for atmosphere. But let it overtake you, and it all gradually coalesces into one solid, exhilarating wall of . . . soundseems to fall a bit short. It's like being hit by a bus, only much, much better. Aa orbit in the Brooklyn DIY show universe exemplified by promoter Todd P; let loose in the wilds of Austin, they're sure to unexpectedly shock, stupefy, and elate somebody, somewhere, sometime.


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Matt & Kim
photo: Nick Chatfield-Taylor

Matt and Kim
Matt and Kim will seriously test your capacity to enjoy yourself. They are young and giddy and in love, and if it all strikes you the wrong way, they can make you want to punch someone in the face. He plays keyboards, she plays drums, and together, facing each other, they bash out relentlessly upbeat dance-noise-punk anthems, little Pee-wee's Playhouse episodes in miniature, Matt yelping in a voice just about that high. Their MySpace quote right now is "An onstage pizza party!" Yep. On record, all this peppy nerd-love shit can get unpleasantly overwhelming: Remember Atom and His Package? Wish you didn't? But it takes a hard, dark, shriveled heart indeed to deny their immense appeal live. People dance. People crowd-surf or play "pass the dude" or whatever you wanna call it. A little saccharine, sure, but we've been complaining about indie-rock shows being dull, lifeless communions between a bored band and a bored, arms-crossed audience for years, so the euphoria these crazy kids inspire is admirable even if you don't find it infectious. Turn that frown upside-down, asshole.


Masta Killa
Last year was a Ghostface Killa lovefest for perhaps very good reasons, but when you finally get tired of Fishscale, spend some quality time with Made in Brooklyn, the latest from Masta Killa, the last dude to join the Wu-Tang Clan and the last to merit his own solo album. The follow-up to 2004's No Said Date, Brooklyn is immensely appealing in that classic martial arts vs. cracked soul vs. random threats of violence vs. earnest spiritual advice Wu-Tang way, aided and abetted by all the guest stars you'd expect (Raekwon, Ghost, Method, RZA, etc.) and producers like Pete Rock and the wonderfully named Bronze Nazareth. Compared to his brethren, Masta Killa's own flow is calmer and more laid-back, but his love for Brooklyn comes through in his ability to evocatively describe it. Bonus: He's a vegan PETA spokesman, urging young gods to "go veg for life." Quite admirable, that he advises us to protect our necks while he works to protect the necks of others.


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Oakley Hall
photo: Emily Wilson

Oakley Hall
Let it be known that Rachel Cox, one of several delicate-but-dominant crooners for psych-country collective Oakley Hall, will one day be married to a Village Voice freelancer who shall remain nameless and whom Rachel has not yet had the pleasure of, uh, meeting. (We'd be happy to introduce you.) The rest of you people need to see this band live. Sired by singer-guitarist Patrick Sullivan (late of the equally excellent and still resurgent Brooklyn art-rock band Oneida), OH initially signifies alt.country— the fiddle, the lap steel, the lyrics about confidence men and carpenters and El Dorado—but melts quickly into trippy, jammy psych-rock alt.universes. Pick up Gypsum Strings for your next road trip with Fear and Loathing overtones. Guaranteed to open for some "established," yawningly traditional Americana outfit at SXSW and just make them look ridiculous.

 
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