Ben Kaye is a Boston-based ESL teacher by day, but the rest of the time, he’s the Assistant News Editor for Consequence of Sound, an online music publication. We turned to him for some SXSW music festival recommendations. So if you’re heading to Austin, and even if you’re not — Ben’s got the answers to your music questions.
Tell us about yourself:
I grew up outside of Boston, where I live now, and went to school in New York. At college, I met a group of people who showed me what music was outside of FM radio stations. I became addicted to absorbing sounds, attending music festivals, and just surrounding myself with as much music as possible.
What musicians are you most excited to see live? Why?
My Morning Jacket is one of my favorite bands and their live show is second to none, so I’m really excited to see Jim James play behind his new solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God. That album is so different and fits James’ being so well, I just can’t wait to see how he brings it to the stage.
There’s also this British act, The 1975, who just perked up on my radar that I’m really intrigued about. I loved the Divine Fits and Purity Ring albums (I know the latter isn’t at SXSW, but just saying), so those are two I’d love to see. Also, rumors say Dave Grohl is going to be bringing his Sound City Players down to Austin, and if that’s true that’s a can’t miss. If that thing is anywhere near me, I’m fighting to seeing it.
What’s “in your bag” for music show survival?
Gold Bond. I know, it’s not pleasant to think about, so I’ll just say this: It’s a life saver that you just can’t underestimate. Same goes for a travel pack of toilet paper. A reusable water bottle is always key, and I’ve really been digging these collapsable plastic ones that I hook onto my belt loop with a carabiner; cheap, easy to refill, and when it’s empty, there’s negligible extra weight and you can simply fold it up and stuff it away. With heat, plus walking, having water on you at all times is so key – last longer, see more.
What are your recommendations for listening to music from home and on-the-go for those of us who can’t make the festival this year?
A solid pair of headphones can also completely change the way music sounds – as obvious as that is, I don’t think people pay attention to it, like the loss of sound between MP3 and vinyl. I personally use a pair of Sennheisers for home listening, MEElectronics buds for on-the-go, and Skullcandy collapsable over-ears for travel. They’re not all top-notch, but they’re better than any of the stock earbuds you see.
As for who, I’m gonna re-mention Jim James’ new solo album because I adore it so much. Another debut I’ve been eating up lately has been this female singer/songwriter Lady Lamb the Beekeeper from Brooklyn-via-Maine. Gorgeous stuff, one of the most re-listenable albums I’ve heard in awhile. Specifically about SXSW people, I only recently got introduced to Frightened Rabbit and I really wish someone had told me about them sooner, so I’ll point to them. Autre Ne Veut is another up-and-comer, sorta future R&B, that I really dig. Dawes and The Dear Hunter are definitely bands I recommend a lot. SKATERS is a must see, Foxygen is great, HAIM, J Roddy Walston and the Business, King Tuff. . . there’s a lot of good stuff down there, damn!
Who do you look to for music and gadget recommendations?
I really dig Greg Sczebel’s SXSW survival kit. I don’t HAVE a battery case yet, but I understand how key it can be and I’m definitely considering the Morphie case he has on there. (Side note: EVERYTHING on there is a total must for festies!).
Thanks for upping our music cool factor ten fold, Ben! Now we’ve got a whole lot of listening to do.