One of the best things about live music is being able to hear bands that are so fresh, they don't even have a record out yet. Check out the following bands, support live music and be the edgiest kid on the damn block! The Carrots, Explode Into Colors, Grass Widow and Talk Normal are among the many bands playing Night of Rage II at SXSW (March 18 at Baby Blue Studios), so if you're in town be sure to attend.
• If you, like me, enjoy the sounds of 60s girl groups but but dislike the gross/oppressively patriarchal messages they often deliver, The Carrots are the answer to your musical prayers! The sugary girl group-influenced sextet plays mainly in their hometown of Austin, but they have a few EPs available too.
• Big tour coming up for Portland's own Explode Into Colors, who you might remember opened for The Raincoats in Portland back in October. The kickass experimental DIY-heavy drum-centric jam sensation is heading all over the country throughout February and March and you must dance to their crazy alien beats. What's that you say? You can't dance? Yes you can. You can dance to this.
• Grass Widow's self-titled LP is gaining momentum, so listen now and jump on the bandwagon - I did! They're playing some shows in and around the SF Bay Area in the next few weeks, including one with Bitch office favorites Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. The LP is now sold out and copies of their EP are only available at shows, so you'll have to see them live to fully experience their soothing/unsettling mess of distorted surf rock and sweet rhythms.
• I'm not really sure how to aptly describe Talk Normal except as a more electric, eccentric version of Yeah Yeah Yeahs. They're taking their doomy art-rock around the Midwest (and then to Europe) in March and April, including a lot of dates with....
• tUnE-yArDs and Xiu-Xiu. tUnE-yArDs's debut album BiRd-BrAiNs was the most interesting DIY success story of 2009 - a complex, funky folk album that incorporated ukelele and audio verite, all the more interesting because it was recorded, mixed and released entirely by the one-woman phenomenon that is Merrill Garbus. For more about her recording process, check out her interview with Venus Zine from last year. tUnE-yArDs is touring Europe right now and will be back in the States in mid-March.
• They may be just another Brooklyn fuzzpop band, but I was in love with The Girls At Dawn 30 seconds into their first song. The jangly, ethereal trio has a couple of records (vinyl only, obvz) and are touring the southern US in early March before heading, like every other indie band on earth, to SXSW. If you need a live fuzzpop fix outside of the US, Dum Dum Girls are playing some dates in London at the end of February.