Four piece outfit, The Barr Brothers, released their debut LP in 2011 and are quickly stretching their arms out and around the globe. Brad and Andrew Barr turned to music as a way to release pent-up angst when they were growing up and spent many years dabbling in this band or that, always in search of their own identity as musicians. When the boys met harpist Sarah Page and multi-instrumentalist Andres Vial, they were finally able to hone in on where their strengths lie as musicians and The Barr Brothers was born.
The quartet, whose emphasis rests in indie Americana, pulls creative influence from West African polyrhythms and bluesy guitar riffs. Their music is meant for great expanses and long car drives. Despite its sometimes serious lyrics, The Barr Brothers is a playful, youthful, and raw band whose determined niche is just what listeners needed to hear.
[The Barr Brothers perform from 4:45 to 5:45 PM on Monday, May 26 at the Yeti stage.]
Few artists are as thoughtful about their album sequence as Ben Cooper of Radical Face is. The bands sophomore album The Family Tree: The Roots kicked off what is planned to be a three-piece sequence, each album based around the theme of a Family tree. Cooper automatically sets his music apart from the rest of the industry by even giving thought to his later albums.
Generally soft-spoken, Cooper’s vocals are haunting and tantalizing, acting as the icing on top of runs of minor chords and deliberate plucking. Radical Face’s music touches pure human emotion, ranging from topics like suicide to strained family relationships. It’s a familiar set of subjects delivered in a way that’s reflective and relatable.
The second piece of The Family Tree series was announced with an October release on Cooper’s website/blog and Radical Face fans are sure to wait out the next few months with bated breath.
[Radical Face performs from 5:15 to 6:15 PM on Sunday, May 26 at the Yeti stage.]
You wouldn’t guess it after listening to his current project, but Wake Owl frontman, Colyn Cameron kicked-off his music career by rhyming and rapping around Southern California. Once he finally got around to picking up a guitar and writing songs, he never turned back.
Now nestled into Portland, Oregon, Cameron took a few years dabbling with a couple different bands before deciding to go solo. He released his first EP, Wild Country, in 2012, providing a gorgeous set of six tracks to add to the indie-Americana species. Wake Owl proves masterful in layering a deluge of instruments to create tracks that are as powerful as they are beautiful. With impressively modest and poetic lyrics that beckon to hope, this indie folk outfit is one to put on your radar.. followed by exclamation points and asteriks.
[Wake Owl performs from 1:00 to 1:45 PM on Sunday, May 26 at the Yeti stage.]
Born from the title of Jack London’s novel, Sea Wolf is an extension of the talents of Alex Brown Church, whose haunting vocals will more often than not send chills down your spine. Sincere lyricism and a full band backing are the main ingredients in Sea Wolf’s catchy and refreshing sound.
Its 2012 album release, Old World Romance, is eager, perhaps overly so, but comes together through solid drum beats and folksy guitar picking. The intent isn’t to be new or innovative — it profiles many of the popular techniques we see in the music industry today: orchestral support, electronic chords, etc. But what Old World Romance may lack in creativity, it makes up for in a transparency that’s difficult to not be attracted to.
[Sea Wolf performs from 4:00 to 4:45 PM on Friday May 24 at the Bigfoot stage.]
Performing under his stage name The Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson is one of the closest Bob Dylan reincarnates the industry has seen in this millennium. After leaving his band Montezumas, he began recording his own tracks, meshing Nick Drake inspired open tunings and creating a sound that’s both brand new yet comfortably familiar. His voice is heavy, gravely, even nasally at times, but combined with songs that take root in Americana folk, his music is a lust-worthy weaving of musical magic.
Matsson’s songs evoke a sense of adventure. They encourage you to go out and take a look at the world around you, even if you’re only starting in your back yard. He croons of love and loss as well, but self discovery and personal growth are his frontward pillars.
His stage presence is said to be enamoring and he’s somehow managed to remain humble despite receiving more than a decade’s worth of attention. Whatever secret Matsson’s discovered throughout his musical journey, it’s working for him.
[The Tallest Man on Earth performs from 4:20 to 5:20 PM on Sunday, May 26 at the Sasquatch stage.]
’90s UK band enthusiasts, Robert Levon Been and Peter Hayes met at school in 1995 and bonded over their shared appreciation for rock music. However, they didn’t start making music together until 1998. By 1999, they’d added drummer Nick Jago to the mix, dubbed themselves Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, recorded a 16-track demo and moved to Los Angeles. When KCRW gave them their first airplay, several labels, even ones based in the UK, requested that the boys sign with them. Virgin Records won out in 2000 and the boys were off.
After touring with the Dandy Warhols, BRMC released their self-titled debut in 2001. Since that initial album release, the group has experimented with a range of genres, from solid rock to electronica. They’ve also obtained a new drummer and a new record label. Their recently released album Specter At The Feast centers on alternative rock, with grating vocals evocative of Johnny Cash and heavy-handed chords enunciated with grunge reverberation.
With seven albums under their belt, BRMC has proven that a few bumps and scratches along the way won’t keep them from making music for too long.
[Black Rebel Motorcycle Club performs from 4:30 to 5:30 on Saturday, May 25th on the Sasquatch stage.]
Bringing their beachy, summer-spun tunes from West Palm Beach, Surfer Blood garnered initial attention in 2009 with the release of their single “Swim”. The quartet has continued to ride their wave of recognition and is set to release their sophomore album this June.
Channeling the likes of the Pixies and Weezer, Surfer Blood’s sound and thoughtfully abrasive melodies suggest that the boys are far beyond their early 20s. Their debut LP, Astro Coast, profiles a cycle of mesmerizing reverb and epic power chords that make it nearly impossible to fight the urge to move with the music. Despite their age, the boys are well-seasoned, having already toured with Japandroids and the Pixies and earned themselves a spotlight at SXSW and on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Although their ’90s-emo/grunge style may be on its way out of mainstream records, Surfer Blood has found their niche in the industry, proving that perfectly composed tracks and graceful harmonies aren’t the only ingredients to making good music.
[Surfer Blood performs from 9:00 to 10:00 pm on Saturday, May 25 on the Yeti stage.]