Austin, New Zealand bands scheduled for performances


New Zealand band The Naked and Famous will be playing at Stubb’s this Friday. (Photo courtesy of The Naked and Famous)

Daniel Munoz

Editor’s note: This is a weekly series showcasing the best live indie music of the coming week.

Local rock ‘n’ rollers The Sweet Nuthin have just finished recording their debut EP and playing SXSW, but they’re just getting started. The band has four shows planned before their self-titled EP’s May 26 release date. First up is an outdoors show at Sixth Street’s beloved Cheer Up Charlie’s, the only bar in Austin with almost 5,000 “check-ins” on Facebook.

Although the bibulous band is used to playing hole-in-the-wall venues, most notably the actual Hole In The Wall, lead singer and bandleader Evan Charles is confident that The Nuthin’s recent live experience has prepared them for whatever lies ahead.

“Rock and roll ain’t exactly rocket surgery, and everyone in our band is starting to verge on professional at what we do,” Charles said.

So what exactly do they do? For starters, the band has a reputation for switching between various classic styles, occasionally mid-song. “Sometimes our sound is close to the Highway 61 sound. Sometimes it’s a Stonesy shuffle,” explained Charles.

Guitarist Colin Peters wastes no words illustrating the band’s distinctive flavor of country-fried rock ‘n’ roll. “Fans who come to see us should expect music, played loud and well,” he said.

Make no mistake: you don’t need to have a buzz going to have a good time when The Sweet Nuthin are onstage — not that it’s a bad idea. All that matters is that you kick back and enjoy rock and roll as she was meant to be played: with plenty of swagger and just a dab of tenderness underneath.

New Zealand’s The Naked and Famous have won over the hearts of American fans and critics faster than you can say “Flight of the Conchords,” and they didn’t even need their own HBO show to do it. Bandleaders Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith have built their success on solid songwriting, memorable hooks and electronica-influenced production, not unlike MGMT did in 2009.

That’s not to say that The Naked and Famous are musically redundant. Their music is filled with risky combinations, and the payoff is immense. On their hit single “Young Blood,” Xayalith’s powerful lead and Powers’ subdued counterpoint melodies bring the song to its wistful denouement. On “Punching In A Dream,” the two trade off hooks over a buzzing synth bassline.

Like Austin’s own Octopus Project, The Naked and Famous blend acoustic and electronic elements, but what separates them from similar bands is their keen pop sensibility.

Last time they visited Austin, they rocked La Zona Rosa opening for British rockers Foals. This time around, they’re proper headliners.

Our advice: keep an eye out for drummer Jesse Wood, who whacks harder than any drum machine known to man while managing not to distract from the songs. And don’t forget to buy your tickets early; this one will be selling out fast.