(Originally written for relix.com1)
An Outside Lands Playlist
Not only does Outside Lands 2012 have one of the most eclectic lineups of any festival this year, but it also features a host of slightly lesser-known musicians worthy at the least of t-shirt money and more generously, your undying devotion. Realistically, you’ll fall somewhere in between come show time. Skeptical? Check out these ten Outside Lands-bound acts below, in no particular order.
Cory Chisel and the Wandering Sons – “I’ve Been Accused”
Listening to Cory Chisel’s new LP Old Believers, you almost expect to hear clinking mugs and screeching stools somewhere low in the mix. Chisel and the Wandering Sons play barroom rock that isn’t entirely forlorn, but certainly isn’t without its heart pangs. These are songs about times and spaces of love from someone who—by the sounds of it, at least—has been there and back a few times.
Father John Misty – “I’m Writing A Novel”
“I ran down the road / pants down to my knees / Screaming “Please, come help me! That Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me!”
So go the short-story worthy first lines of “I’m Writing A Novel,” just one of many tracks by psych-folk group Father John Misty that is as entertaining to sing along with as it is to boogie down to. You can do both right in front of their bearded faces when they take the stage at Outside Lands in August this year.
Tame Impala – “Solitude is Bliss”
This track off of Cali-based psych-rock group Tame Impala’s debut LP (and sole so far) is one of those instantly nostalgic tracks. After one listen, it’s like if you’ve known the song your whole life; as if you’ve unconsciously hummed along to it before in bowling alleys and turned it down on the radio one time while you argued with your significant other in the car.
Tanlines – “Brothers”
It’s a rare song that can make you want to simultaneously dance and soul-search, but Tanlines’ “Brothers” does just that. The opener off their just-out debut LP fittingly titled Mixed Emotions, this track a good bellwether for whether or not you’ll like the rest of the Brooklyn duo’s lean catalogue.
White Denim – “Street Joy”
While “Street Joy” doesn’t have the dirt-kicking rock sensibility that much of White Denim’s newest album D is soaked with, it’s the band’s ability to change styles that makes them so fresh and exciting to watch.
Antibalas – “Fillibuster XXX”
Clocking in at almost twelve minutes, it’s easy to imagine how Brooklyn’s renown Afrobeat group Antibalas hit upon the name “Filibuster XXX.” But unlike congressional filibusters, Antibalas’ tangential riffing is laden with an effervescent horn section that’ll make you forget you’re not on the floor—that’s the dance floor, not Congress—like any good filibuster should.
Michael Kiwanuka – “Home Again”
This guy is going to accrue a hefty load of fans this summer. Though he’s been a relative unknown until this point, a festival-heavy tour schedule should provide Michael Kiwanuka platform enough to get his genuine, simple sound into enough ears to make all that change. Until then…
Zola Jesus – “Vessel”
This track by the enigmatic Zola Jesus conjures both machine and ghost in its back beat and Ms. Jesus’ haunting vocals respectively. It’s a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Matrix soundtrack—probably Reloaded or Revolutions, though.
Trampled By Turtles – “New Orleans”
Trampled By Turtles are helping make banjos cool again. Utilizing both a rock sensibility and some down-home catgut, the band oscillates between boot-stomping thigh-slappers and heartsick ballads like “New Orleans.” Onstage especially, the result is arresting.
Dr. Dog – “Ain’t it Strange”
There are countless hackneyed ways to describe Dr. Dog—good ol’ boys, workingman rockers, McCartney-esque—but all that aside, fact is, if you haven’t heard these guys yet, do yourself a favor and secure a good spot for their show at Outside Lands. It might not be a revolution, but damn if it isn’t good.