Tomorrow afternoon the 64-band Indie Ear Madness tournament will begin. Only one independent/indie-minded music act will be left standing following the fierce competition. Don’t forget to print out your brackets and follow the action daily. Competing this year, we have a handful of veteran acts as well as many up-and-coming new talents. Radiohead come into the tourney as this year’s favorites, but upstarts, Vampire Weekend, Gnarls Barkley, and Tapes ‘N Tapes are looking to bring home their first National Title. Here’s a look at some intriguing first round match-ups:
8 Cat Power vs. 9 Anti-Flag (left)
These two acts bring entirely different styles to the stage. Cat Power is known for her soft-spoken, country-tinged guitar and piano ballads, while Anti-Flag is known for their fierce politically charged punk rock music. Cat Power is sometimes reluctant to perform live, while Anti-Flag has never been afraid to get behind a microphone, whether that be at a concert or protest rally. Cat Power’s last proper studio album was titled, The Greatest. Is she? We will find out tomorrow.
7 Liam Finn vs. 10 Billy Bragg
The young, talented multi-instrumentalist takes on the folk/punk inspired Billy Bragg. No doubt, Bragg’s been in the game a lot longer, but keep in mind Finn is the son of Crowded House lead singer, Neil Finn. Liam got some much-needed big-game experience last year, when he performed with his father’s legendary band at Coachella.
8 Thurston Moore vs. 9 Liars (right)
The King of New York City experimental noise goes head-to-head against another NYC act that knows a thing or two about making experimental, noise music (some of which has been called un-listenable by several critics). During this tournament, Moore will be supporting his solo effort Trees Outside the Academy. Though he has Steve Shelley on drums, he will not be taking the stage with the rest of his Sonic Youth backcourt. This may be the break the Liars need, as they are riding the momentum of their latest groove- oriented self-titled release.
6 MSTRKRFT vs. 11 Tim Fite
This is a very intriguing first round match-up. Both acts are comprised of duos that boast a seasoned rockstar presence. Jesse from MSTRKRFT was in the buzz-worthy duo Death From Above 1979 (you may recognize their work from the Human Giant theme song), while Tim Fite–well–he’s Tim Fite. The multi-talented emcee/country blues crooner is known to put on a fierce live show, spitting politics behind his Sesame Street-like posturing. MSTRKRFT definitely has the edge when it comes to “maximal” beats, but Tim Fite with shooting guard Dr. Leisure have them beaten in wordplay. Too close to call.
5 Rilo Kiley vs. 12 Yeasayer (left)
With college radio pin-up, Jenny Lewis running the point, Rilo Kiley is a near-perfect indie-minded band, mixing pop, country and folk in a way that seems to please all of its fans and critics. Yeasayer, the experimental Brooklyn group, will have to bring out their best African and Middle Eastern rhythms to contend with this tournament favorite.
8 Bauhaus vs. 9 The Presidents of the U.S.A.
The Godfathers of Goth against the Post-Grunge Party Starters. What a contest this will be. Both groups are seasoned stage veterans, but obviously Bauhaus has been around a bit longer than the Presidents. Many people don’t realize that The Presidents have been consistently putting out albums for years. The same can’t be said about Bauhaus, but they have recently released what is claimed to be “their new and final album,” Go Away White. Maybe Peter Murphy and Bauhaus have one more good fight left in them?
3 Spoon vs.
14 Cool Kids
Spoon, one of the most beloved and respected acts in all of indie music take on the much blogged about Cool Kids–a throwback Chicago-based hip-hop act who like to wear bright colors and rhyme about their sneakers. Cool Kids wowed audiences at this year’s SXSW in Austin, TX, which also happens to be the hometown of Spoon, who also played the festival. Word on the street is that both groups had representatives scouting the competition. Many bracketologists are predicting a Cool Kids upset over the heavily favored Spoon.
7 The Black Keys vs. 10 Tegan & Sara
Two-man blues-rock powerhouse takes on two-girl alt-pop attack. On their latest efforts, both groups had a little help from some respected producers in the indie-minded world. Danger Mouse was behind the boards for The Black Keys’ latest effort, Attack and Release, while Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) produced Tegan & Sara’s last album, The Con. Both groups give witty sound bites during interviews, are beloved in their respective circles, and are expected to go far in this tournament, despite their low seeds. However, only one band can advance in this much talked about first round match-up.