The second Sofar Sounds showcase held during SXSW was just as impressive as the first. It’s pretty amazing having so much talent in one room, in a setting where you can truly appreciate it. The magic of a Sofar Sounds show never fades. Same goes for the impressive roster of artists that agree to participate. This time guests were treated to performances by Elle King, The Bones of J.R. Jones, Waylayers, Antonio Lulic and To Kill A King.
Brooklyn Babe Elle King has the soul of a Southerner met with east coast swag. Raised on everything from Otis Redding to the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs this songbird truly is a little bit country mixed with a little bit of rock n roll. Her raspy voice purrs with fervor as she strums on the banjo.
King sings of betrayal and bittersweet realities on songs like “Good To Be A Man”, “Ain’t Gonna Drown”, “Good For Nothing Woman” and “Kocaine Karolina”. The last three will appear on her debut album slated for release later this year.
King was a busy bee during SXSW, she had to run to another gig right after her Sofar Sounds set and later that week had the honor of playing Willie Nelson’s Heartbreaker Banquet. In other words, if Ms. King isn’t on your radar already, she should be now.
Following King was another Brooklynite, singer/songwriter, The Bones of J.R. Jones. Sir Jones has a warm, analog sound complete with a haunting voice. It’s a voice you wouldn’t expect from the seemingly quiet Jones – until he takes the mic. These bones have lived multiple lives and sing spiritual hymns of troubles and sins. Each word, each note has gravity. Experiencing the songs live is that much more powerful.
The Bones of J.R. Jones played all new songs from his upcoming release, Dark was the Yearling, including “St. James’ Bed”, “Dreams to Tell”, “Dry Dirt” and “Hearts Racing”. Look for it this spring.
Harry, Joe and Dave are three charming lads from London better known as Waylayers. With an electronic pop sensibility, the trio stripped down for the intimate Sofar Sounds setting. I personally love hearing the contrast when bands go acoustic, it can be quite revealing. So it was with the Waylayers’ slowed down renditions of “The Hook”, “SOS”, “Medicine” and “242”. The boys currently have an EP with a debut album in the works. I thought their performance was a highlight of my SXSW and I wasn’t alone. Fuse TV labeled Waylayers “one of the Top 5 moments of SXSW 2014” alongside Lady Gaga and The 1975, and said the Brits “dominated SXSW with incendiary performances.” I couldn’t agree more.
Antonio Lulic (pronounced lieu-litch) grew up in the North East of England, “son to a South American exile and a lass from the pit village of Trimdon”. This upbringing inspires much of Lulic’s music (it also means he has a great accent). The singer has a knack for storytelling and a passionate delivery. For the Sofar Sounds show, Lulic gave us a taste of what to expect from his upcoming album Boozehound, playing the title track along with “Twenty Twelve” and “The City of Austin, Texas”. The latter will surely prove to be a favorite in this fair city.
There was a theme to this Sofar Show as another British band, To Kill A King, took the stage (not that I’m complaining). The five piece hails from Leeds and play melodic folk-rock music led by Ralph Pelleymounter on vocals. With such lovely songs like “Cold Skin, “Family” and “Howling”, it won’t be long before you’re smitten. You don’t have to wait long either, To Kill A King’s debut album, Cannibals With Cutlery, is available to U.S. residents April 22nd.