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Pitchforkin' it: a preview

Here's our list of acts to watch out for on the festival's second day, whether you're in Chicago or not.

By Ryan Berry | July 8, 2013

Tags: Festivals Music Reviews


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Day 2 of the Pitchfork Music Festival, occurring July 20, will feature the weekend’s most diverse, and possibly most promising, lineup.

Saturday will propagate a very relaxing vibe, as the day is spotted with many low-key bands that have been exploring new musical aesthetics. Among the 20 or so bands performing, there are many sure-fire hits, including these three must-see acts:

Phosphorescent – Muchacho
(Performs at 2:30 p.m. on the Green Stage.)

Warm and full-bodied, 2013’s Muchacho takes indie folk-rock to an interesting place — Mexico.

After a lengthy and secluded stay in a small Mexican town, singer-songwriter Matthew Houck emerged with a brilliant new sound for his project, Phosphorescent.

Comparisons to indie superstar Bon Iver are not far-fetched; the manner of Houck’s delivery and the way the songs are written hold particularly strong similarities to the indie folk legend. There are many key differences, however, that make Houck’s Muchacho sound unique. Foremost, no acoustic guitars or falsettos. Phosphorescent is all about bright, full-band backing (often featuring jangling piano, Southern-style strings and glassy electric guitar) and Houck’s trembly-yet-welcoming voice.

The defining aspect of Muchacho is its rich and positive sound that, from start to finish, pops with “ooh!”s and swells with a warm tone unlike anything else. Matthew Houck has established an exciting, sunny ambience with Muchacho, which hopefully is a sign of things to come for indie folk-rock and Phosphorescent alike.

4.5 out of 5 stars

Ryan Hemsworth – Still Awake EP
(Performs at 5:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage.)

Released as a free download just a few months ago, Still Awake EP has proven Ryan Hemsworth to be a formidable new presence on the DJ/producer scene.

With a sound that combines compositional aspects of ambient rock, the soothing tones of chillwave and a handful of beats reminiscent of hip-hop (except at half the speed), Hemsworth has conjured up an album that is as delicate as it is magnificent.

When viewed as a whole, Still Awake EP is an elegant blending of songs, with each track gently weaving dreamlike synthesizers and nonsensical voices seemingly from another realm. A compilation of seven beautiful tracks, Hemsworth’s impressive release will have you floating amongst the clouds as it transports you to a dreamland –- even if you are still awake.

4 out of 5 stars.

Low – The Invisible Way
(Performs at 6:45 p.m. on the Blue Stage)

Known for maintaining a very simple and quiet aesthetic over its 20 years together, the three-piece Low is at it again with its 2013 release, The Invisible Way.

Married couple Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals) head the band, which is constantly finding new ways to portray its trademark “low” mood.

The sound of The Invisible Way is so refined that each pluck of a string or tap of a drumstick stands out as its own haunting entity. The finesse of each member makes for a ghostly culmination of deep bass kicks, wispy harmonies from Sparhawk and Parker and simple but strong acoustic guitar that hints at the presence of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, who helped produce the album.

With a moniker that so appropriately describes their sound, it seems that the release of The Invisible Way further defines Low as a group with complete control over its chosen style.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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