Back 2 Life, Back 2 Reality

In the past three weeks, I’ve been to Cleveland (to surprise my mom for her birthday), New York City, Buttfuck, New Jersey, and Philadelphia (for Rockstar Taste Of Chaos)  and Austin, Texas (for the SXSW Music Conference). I can hardly remember my own name, let alone what time zone I’m in. I just got back on Sunday from nearly a week in Austin and I’m almost too pooped to pop.  I spent most of my time seeing great bands, eating guacamole, walking up and down 6th Street, sweating, seeing bad bands, shaking hands, kissing babies, stepping over horse poop and stuffing my face with tortilla chips. I wrote all about it on Buzznet, but in case you missed it, here are the highlights (aside from the sunburn and salt bloat):

An Horse (

This Australian duo might look familiar if you happened to see them on tour with Tegan And Sara in 2008. However, drummer Damon Cox and singer/guitarist Mary Trembles are breaking out from opener status with the release of their debut album Rearrange Beds , which came out March 17th. Their vocal harmonies are reminiscent of Mates Of State with a slightly more aggressive indie-rock vibe. In other words, I’m totally hooked and can’t wait to see them this spring when they make the tour rounds with Wintersleep and Appleseed Cast .

The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart (

I don’t think I went more than five minutes without hearing some music insider raving about this New York City-based indie pop band—and with good reason. Not one to be easily swayed by hype, I decided to check ’em out and walked away wanting the songs of their debut—like “This Love Is Fucking Right” and “The Tenure Itch—to be the soundtrack of my year. They were that amazing. Although I was smooshed in a crowded club with two hundred nerdy audiophiles, I was able to close my eyes, listen to the sunshine bright tunes and be magically transported into my very own John Hughes movie. Remember that scene in Sixteen Candles when Samantha and Jake Ryan are sitting on the glass table with the birthday cake between them? Well, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are kind of like the musical equivalent of the optimistic innocense captured in that very moment.

Two Hours Traffic (

It’s kind of ironic that a sweet lil’ quartet from Canada (Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, to be exact) can create some of the best and brightest brand of Americana music I’ve heard in years. I first heard about them when I was stalking—er , researching—one of the characters on The N’s Instant Star , who just so happened to be a musician, and I’ve been dying to see them for the past 12 months. Mission accomplished. If you’re a fan of Wilco and Limbeck, you are going to instantly fall in love with these floods-wearing gents. However, if you need to be convinced, take a listen to “Stuck For The Summer,” off the band’s latest album Little Jabs , and prepare to build a life.

You Me At Six (

Before I started working at Buzznet, I did some writing for Kerrang! Magazine . It’s such a rad publication and when I heard they were having a party in Austin, I knew I had to put it on my dance card. I showed up specifically to see these British pop punkers because they always seem to be pimped in the pages of Kerrang! and a lil’ birdie told me they were signing to Epitaph—just like their pals in Bring Me The Horizon , who also happened to be on the SXSW bill. In fact, BMTH frontman Oli Sykes was front row, in case you were wondering. I was totes impressed and can’t wait to sing along with songs like “Save It For The Bedroom” and “Jealous Minds Think Alike” when heads out on the Vans Warped Tour this summer. Now, this is the kind of British invasion I can totally get into.

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More about Leslie Simon

Leslie is the author of Geek Girls Unite: How Fangirls, Bookworms, Indie Chicks and Other Misfits Are Taking Over the World, out now through It Books. She is also the author of Wish You Were Here: An Essential Guide to Your Favorite Music Scenes and co-author of Everybody Hurts: An Essential Guide to Emo Culture. She currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.