From now through March 11, SPIN.com's Peter Gaston is chained to his desk, listening to almost 600 MP3s of SXSW 2008 performers on shuffle mode in iTunes, separating the wheat from the chaff. His findings will be posted daily.
First of all, special thanks are in order to Greg Hewgill, who took the time to create a special SXSW 2008 torrent file with as many MP3s as the SXSW website had to offer. Since the conference isn't making their own torrent this year, Greg's efforts are very much appreciated by all of us here at Spin and, undoubtedly, loads of SXSW attendees. You can check out Greg's site here.
Now this whole SXSW-on-shuffle thing has become an annual tradition of mine, as diligent an attempt as I can make to check out as many SXSW bands as possible before boarding that flight to Austin. Over the past three years, the South-by-Shuffle has helped me discover some phenomenal new bands -- and also led me to some of the worst sets I've ever seen. I'm always keeping my fingers crossed for all killer, no filler, but it's the crapshoot itself that makes the annual Texas excess so compelling.
And whether you're going or not, don't let our picks or the picks from any other music site predetermine the best of the fest. Get those MP3s and decide for yourself. I guarantee you'll discover something brand new and completely awesome.
Here are my first two gems from South-by-Shuffle 2008:
Iglu & Hartly, "In This City" SXSW INFO PAGE | DOWNLOAD MP3
This could only have been crafted by kids who grew up in the '90s. The opening vocal line -- "You came into my li-ay-fe" -- is delivered with all of the subtlety of A.J. from the Backstreet Boys, and then it unfolds into two verses of hip-hop (think Len's "Steal My Sunshine") and a sing-song chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on a Mates of State record. Not a far stretch from MGMT, but with happier pills.
SXSW showcase: Sat., March 15, 9 P.M. at Cedar Door
Lord T & Eloise, "Coup D'Etat" SXSW INFO PAGE | DOWNLOAD MP3
And they called it "aristocrunk." More than a bit of a joke act, this Memphis duo imagines Southern hip-hop performed by a colonial-era British noble and a gold-plated man with curly locks. But there's something immensely clever about a melange of chamber music, thick Dirty South beats, and a faux British accent. Someone's been watching "Lazy Sunday" -- a lot.
SXSW showcase: Sat., March 15, 11 P.M. at Ninety Proof Lounge
More from Lord T & Eloise (including an explanation of their origin):
Whether you're going to SXSW or hanging back, SPIN.com is your destination for all things Austin, from now until the conference begins on March 12. During SXSW, stay tuned for video interviews and live performances streaming straight from the Spin/MySpace tent right on 6th Street, Austin's main drag.