I’m here in Austin now for SXSW, but before I get too immersed in all the madness, I’m catching up on a couple of concerts I saw over the weekend. Both of these bands would be on my list of groups to see at SXSW if I hadn’t seen them in Chicago already. Human Highway, a Canadian duo featuring Nick Thorburn of Islands and Jim Guthrie), played Saturday night at the Empty Bottle, putting a real ’60s flair into their harmony-heavy pop songs. The group’s debut CD, Moody Motorcycle, has been getting a lot of spins this year on my stereo. Check out Human Highway’s song “The Sound” here.
I was back at the Bottle Sunday night to see another Canadian duo, the Handsome Furs, who released one of my favorite 2007 albums, Plague Park. Don Boeckner (who’s also in Wolf Parade) cranks out tuneful songs on his electric guitar and sings with gusto while his wife, Alexi Perry, rocks her drum machine and tiny electronic keyboard. And she does rock it. The tension between the rock guitar and the electronic beats really drives this duo’s music. And you don’t have to be a fan of most electronic music to appreciate what Boeckner and Perry are up to. I’ve been delinquent in getting the new CD by the Handsome Furs, Face Control, but I heard a lot of performed live Sunday night, and the songs just vibrant. Boeckner and Perry pour everything into their live performances, and they seemed genuinely and pleasantly surprised by the very enthusiastic response they received from an audience of adoring Chicago fans.