March here is Texas means two things. Spring Break and SXSW. These two things happen concurrently and those lucky enough to be immersed in the festival in Austin get overloaded with new and current artists. I spent my wonderful spring break in Houston seeing the SXSW overflow and it was a blast. Always nice to live so close to Austin and be able to experience this. Indie month means lots of releases. As always, subscribe to the playlist here.

Pond – Beard, Wives, Denim (03/06/12)

Listening to this band and watching this band perform live are two completely different animals. Where as this album has the makings of being loose and wild, the live performance is all over the place. This side project of two members of Tame Impala have some of the same jam qualities while bringing it back to a feel of a project. The opening track “Fantastic Explosion of Time” is a great choice to kick off the album. It has that indie ‘let’s get things started’ feel. The you take it down a notch until you reach the single “Elegant Design” which grooves you like a MGMT track.  Track after track you continue to get wilder and lackadaisical as the sound comes through and it’s good. [6/10]

White Rabbits – Milk Famous (03/06/12)

This band has all the elements of bands that stay on my rotation. Spoon, Yeasayer, Cold War Kids, Self. First track “Heavy Metal” has a great sound and a infectious back beat that rocks it from start to finish. Keep rolling through and you will pick out songs that you sear you have heard before. The elements they mix in to create their sound are sometimes hard to pin point where they are going with it. Throughout the album it works in their favor. “Are you Free” has a heavy chorus that deserves repeat play. [6/10]

Magnetic Fields – Love at the Bottom of the Sea (03/06/12)

What I enjoy the most about Magnetic Fields is how all over the place they are. It’s not like they are going for a streamed consistency. It’s fun and serious and ironic and over the top. “God wants us to wait” has a fake Placebo sound that makes me laugh. It’s beat is manufactured silly. The single above is so blandly commercial it’s no wonder college stations play it constantly. You can almost hear the distain dripping from it. I am a fan of their previous sound and you can hear some it come through on this album, almost. Recommended listen? “Your girlfriend’s face“. Try it. [6.5/10]

Andrew Bird – Break It Yourself (03/06/12)

Slow and low. That is the tempo. Andrew Bird’s album is quite beautiful. If you are looking for something to mellow you out this is the album for you. The arrangement is complex and blends beautifully with the lyrics. It’s hard to break down all the parts that make this album so great. The strings alone on tracks such as “Hole in the Ocean Floor” and “Desperation Breeds” bring a whole new level to each song. [7/10]

Say Anything – Anarchy, My Dear (03/13/12)

From the beginning of this album, it’s clear where the importance lies. Pressure on vocals over music. This is why they have been a big calling to some. Unfortunately, it just came across as annoying. Every single piece just kept pushing it toward the more pop than punk genre of 5 years ago. In listening to their older albums, I am not hearing anything new. I can see how this band may have been overlooked. It’s lost in a sea of wants that it’s not living up to. [4/10]

Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s – Rot Gut, Domestic (03/20/12)

Yes. Thank you M&TNSS. You have put that effort back into  your sound and produced an album worthy of a follow up to “The Dust of Retreat”. Their subsequent releases like “Animal”, “not Animal”, were terrible and failed to bring the sound they built themselves on. It’s understandable due to the loss of band members and you could see some hope in “Buzzard” but it made me fear they were lost forever. This release brings them back down to the ground. It’s heavy and substantial and gives you that sound you can hold onto. “Coonskin Cap” is eternally sweet and poppy and makes a good happy song. I am happy to see them in a place where they can be accessible again. [7/10]

Tanlines – Mixed Emotions (03/20/12)

As much music as Tanlines have been putting out lately it’s surprising that this is their first official full length release. The electronic pop is not lost in this album. The genre has had a lot of overplay but with Tanlines you can hear the quality of sound and lyrical content. Constant driving beats and guitars propel the songs and not once are you left behind. “Green Grass” is a prime example of what they are capable of. Over and over the beat brings you in and then the vocals top it off nicely. The pop quality shines through and makes it slightly infectious. It’s not wonder they are being bounced around and talked about so much. [6.5/10]

The Shins – Port of Morrow (03/20/12)

If I hadn’t been mind blasted (thanks to XMU) by this album, my opinions would probably be like everyone else. Amazing. Fantastic. Shins are shinning again. Unfortunately the months leading up to this release, James Mercer saturated the airwaves. I have heard “Simple Song”, 15 different ways. The video is awesome. The song was supremely cute and not such a shocker that it’s about his past. The Shins have never been about subtlety. I do enjoy the second single “The Rifle’s Spiral” and it does a great job of summing up what Mercer does well. The Shins albums have never been complete to me. There are clear winners and then some filler. That formula continues. It’s got the feel and captures the The Shins is a shiny new era. The title track says something for where The Shins may end up. Whether it is Mercer on his own or hints to where they may be going. It’s the only track that strays off the path and sounds slighty Un-Shins like. only slighty. [7/10]

Oberhofer – Time Capsules II (03/26/12)

I surprised myself by actually liking this band. They are lyrically boring. It’s way too accessible in it’s lyrics. Start with the opening track and opening lines from “HEART”.  ‘I don’t know what you think while you’re sleeping, I hope soon I’ll dream with you!’ It’s cute but where is he going with this? Nothing underlying with it. What I do love is the simplicity of the xylophones. I think they may use it too much but at least it keeps me interested. This is what brings me back to them. I saw him live and it’s amazing the difference. It seemed obvious that Oberhofer (and Pond who opened up for them) packed limited equipment from the trek of SXSW to Houston. It was base yet still entertaining. So if the lyrics are not there, luckily the melodic sounds bring you close to it. The singles will keep your toes tapping but it seems to be lacking a lot of substance.  [5.5/10]

The Mars Volta – Noctourniquet (03/27/12)

This is not really The Mars Volta you have known before. It is but it isn’t. The changes in sound might be attributed to the originating band at the Drive-In being reassembled. Or perhaps the change in some of the lineup and contributors being different. Either way, there are still tracks that stand out. The Malkin Jewel is wonderfully arranged and helps contribute to what you come to like with them. Fans have been waiting. They may have their appetite satiated with this release but it’s not nearly as finished as it could be. [6/10]

Miike Snow – Happy To You (03/27/12)

I really wanted to like this album more. Coming through at the end of the month it’s hard to give it a complete review when I have had less than a week to listen to it. Nevertheless, I will continue to spin it. The issue I have had with the band, Miike Snow in the past is their ability to pour all their effort into a few tracks and the others are sad to say left as afterthoughts. Perhaps it’s this consistency that keeps them going. They seem to be unable to rival the intensity and immediate likeability to te single “Animal” that has been remixed and mashed to the fullest. I see more mixes and samples of their singles in their future. [5.5/10]