Surprise surprise: SXSW 2009 ruled. It was our first experience in Austin and it was one to remember for sure. Four nights of sleeping on floors and four days of around-the-clock drinking later, our livers are in disrepair and our necks/backs/everything are in need of some serious chiropractic love. We'd planned a big South By rundown but between school starting back again and Marina Diamond's visit to NYC we just haven't had the time. There wasn't much in the way of breakout acts at SXSW this year you hadn't already heard of anyway (save for Local Natives, who we didn't actually get a chance to see at the festival), so we'll save us all some time and just focus on our favorite act of South By '09, the inimitable Mumford & Sons.
Hands down the most pleasant surprise of the week for us, Mumford & Sons' delighted with an incredible string of performances, all of which left us breathless and all hot and bothered at the prospect of a debut LP from the London quartet. We spent quite a bit of time with them in New York and Austin, first tasting their brilliance at two NYC shows leading up to South By and then further indulging at the festival itself. We've long been fans of their Fleet Foxes meets Jeff Buckley take on British folk, but it's their live show that's just un-fucking-believable. EP favorites like "Roll Away Your Stone", "White Blank Page" and "Little Lion Man" didn't disappoint, but it's unreleased set closer "Dust Bowl Dance" that's sounding like the best track we've heard all year. No mp3 available as of yet, but this HD YouTube clip from their March 4th ICA show gives you a good idea of just how unreal this song is. Below is "White Blank Page" to whet your appetite until Mumford & Bros' feel like unleashing "Dust Bowl" on the unsuspecting masses later this year.
MP3: "White Blank Page" - Mumford & Sons
In other news, Passion Pit have gone ahead and lifted the veil on "The Reeling", which will serve as the lead single on Manners, the Neon Gold alums' upcoming debut full length. No mp3 clearance as of yet, but head to the myspace to give it a spin and start getting pumped for Manners' May 19th release date. "The Reeling" is a great track, but it doesn't hold a candle to some of the other jams on the record (holler "Little Secrets" and "Folds In Your Hands"), so trust us when we say it's only the tip of the iceberg. What do we think?
// Steve Hopson //