Previewing Next Big Nashville

Tonight kicks off the festivities for Next Big Nashville, so for the next five days there is no excuse for saying you have nothing to do. But if you're overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices, here are a few personal picks of bands I'm familiar with. Of course, one of the joys of festivals like this is discovering bands you aren't familiar with, so let this list be a starting point for you, and then go out and disover some great new music.

Lylas - Wednesday, September 5, 9 pm at The Belcourt

They'll probably be onstage by the time I get this posted, but I'll mention them anyway because they're one of my favorite local bands (and not just because they've released two Christmas themed records, although that helps). They're the perfect blend of sour and sweet, mixing lyrics that are often borderline creepy into classic pop song formats augmented by ukelele, banjo and slide guitar.

Lylas - "Tiny Echoes" (mp3) from Lessons For Lovers

Oblio - Thursday, September 6, 8:45 pm at 3rd & Lindsley

Oblio was one of the last shows I saw at Radio Cafe before it closed down, and I guess that's kind of appropriate. Their sound reminds me of the kind of radio I cut my musical teeth on. It's pop music with a bit of a late 70s vibe. Which is about the lamest descpription I've ever given of a band, but its appropriate. They're just good.

Oblio - "She-Devil" (mp3) from Create The Night, Pt. 1

Cortney Tidwell - Thursday, September 6, 9:30 pm at The Basement

Cortney was absolutely captivating the first time I saw her, when it was just her trading off between playing guitar and drums and omnichord. As memorable as that show was, she's even more amazing with a full band to create lush soundscapes behind her breathtaking voice. Her album is still the frontrunner to top my best of 2007 list, and if you're one of my friends reading this and you don't have it yet, shame on you.

Cortney Tidwell - "Eyes Are At The Billions" (mp3) from Don't Let The Stars Keep Us Tangled Up

Matthew Ryan vs The Silver State, Thursday, September 6, 11:45 pm at The Basement

I kinda feel guilty that after plugging NBN as a great opportunity to check out new bands, I'm going to spend Thursday night seeing two artists I've already seen before, but I can't pass up an opportunity to see two of my favorite locals in one fell swoop. Matthew Ryan has the kind of raspy voice that is meant to sing big, thoughtful rock music. I've never heard one of his songs that I didn't like. And on his last album, he covered one of my all time favorite songs, Jack Frost's "Providence." This will be the first show by his newest project, Matthew Ryan Vs The Silver State.

Matthew Ryan "And Never Look Back" (mp3) from From A Late Night Highrise

Sleeptalker - Friday, September 7, 9:30 pm at The Rutledge

Rock bands with piano as the main instrument seem to be all the rage lately, and in Nashville no one does it better than Sleeptalker. I guess if you absolutely had to you could compare them to that band that starts with a C, except Sleeptalker's lyrics wont make you cringe.

Sleeptalker - "Many Bells Down" (mp3) from Simplify, Simplify

The Features - Saturday, September 8, 10:15 pm at The Cannery Ballroom

Here's an embarassing admission... The Features are probably the best rock band, and I've never seen them. That may or may not change this weekend. Saturday night at the Cannery features three of the most popular local acts right now... The Features, De Novo Dahl, and How I Became The Bomb. The Ballroom is almost sure to be packed to the gills, so if you want to see this show, I'd strongly suggest you get there early.

The Features - "D-Con (Radio One)" (mp3) from the Soaking In The Center Of The Universe Vol. 2 sampler

I'm barely scratching the surface with these recomendations. There are 130 different artists playing the festival this weekend, and if you really want help in deciding your schedule over the next few days, I again suggest that you visit Out The Other. Janet has posted mp3s from over 70 of the artist playing Next Big Nashville, so if you're looking to expand your local music horizons, that definitely needs to be your pre-departure interweb stop.

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