Eagulls writes such snarling, regional garage punk that the Leeds-based five-piece received a grant from the English government to play South By Southwest last year.
"Originally I didn’t want to go," says singer George Mitchell. "It’s a human zoo and they throw you on stage. In the end we enjoyed it. This time we’re capable of playing the shows we want to."
He’s not kidding. If SXSW is a competition between talent vying for important eyes and hearts, Eagulls has clinched a first-round bye — jettisoning onto prime-time bills like Pitchfork’s French Legation Museum day party. Good punk travels fast: Mitchell is chatting from a bus in London that is headed toward the NME Awards where the band will go on to win Best Music Video for its single "Nerve Endings." In January, Eagulls turned out Letterman on a "Late Show" that featured lead guest Bill Murray. Bassist Tom Kelly left New York with a tattoo that flatly reads, "Bill Murray."
Eagulls performed "Possessed," one of those instantly familiar, strum downward into oblivion, wet trenchcoat, working class English anthems. It’s from Eagulls’ imminent, eponymously titled album released this week. About damn time.
"We’ve been sitting on this album for so long that it’s really strange that it’s actually coming out," Mitchell says. "We’re delivering a 15-month-old baby."
But the music isn’t throwaway despair. It’s cerebral, outraged punk. Mitchell describes Leeds as a college town where the counter-culture is always at war with "the jocks." The kind of place you move into after high school because there’s supposed to be art, but you’re grateful for a full-time job. No wonder Eagulls fits right in. (8:40 p.m. Wednesday at Stubb’s; 1 a.m. Thursday at Buffalo Billiards; 10:30 p.m. March 14 at Bar 96.)
More punk at SXSW
Speedy Ortiz: These post-grunge punks should have no trouble breaking out. Everyone loved last year’s "Major Arcana" — of the ‘90s-nodding, hyper-literate navel-gazing courtesy of dynamic singer Sadie Dupuis — and the band will be more omnipresent at hip gatherings than hand-crafted vodka. (12:10 a.m. Thursday at the Parish; 9:35 p.m. March 14 at Hotel Vegas Patio.)
The Orwells: These Chicago ‘burbs punks are almost too perfect — surely a lab creation from a nostalgic Cheap Trick fan. The title track from the "Who Needs You?" EP howls at the moon with the pace of a "House of Cards" midnight jog. It’s highly fashionable with its leopard print socks, Derrick Rose Bulls jerseys, and denim jacket freshness for jukebox breakdowns. (9 p.m. Wednesday at Cheer Up Charlie’s; 11:30 p.m. March 15 at Hotel Vegas Patio.)
Plastic Visions: "Blacked out again and again — I see the devil," go the warped-to-a-slur words on the best part of Nashville bender punks Plastic Visions’ debut EP. It’s degenerative, self-defeating sludge that recalls the lust-driven cloudy nothingness of bands like Death From Above 1979. "Now I Know" twists with the pace of a supermarket sweep through the produce section. (1 a.m. Thursday at Lit Lounge Upstairs.)
Tweens: Cincinnati-bred Blondie punks were trashed in The Guardian for their flat homages, complete with "murk" production value and a lack of technical chops. That’s all true, but "Be Mean" is an immaculately written song. (11 p.m. Wednesday at Half Step.)
You Blew It: These sensitive punks are a competent totem for a rising tide of hoodie-donning, talking-it-out punk bands that have returned to the emo wheel for a spin. The Orlando outfit’s sophomore LP, "Keep Doing What You’re Doing" is basically an old Movielife record, and rules. (The band plays the Stereogum party Thursday at Mohawk, music starts at noon)
The Coathangers: These southern punks screech and pinch at strings like boiling crabs. The Atlanta-based three-piece arrives on the eve of new album, "Suck My Shirt" out March 18 on Suicide Squeeze Records. It’s winking punk for wandering eyes. (The band plays at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Sub Pop day party at the North Door; at 4:20 p.m. Thursday at Thread Pull Records unofficial showcase at the White Swan; and at 6:30 p.m. March 15 at Volstead Lounge.)
Tropical Trash: This Louisville outfit of unhinged art punks records one-minute songs called "Eggers’ Banquet" and slaps them onto deftly labeled (in terms of emotional state) EPs called "Think Back Kick A Beer." (The band plays at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday at an unofficial day party at Beerland.)
Warm Soda: Oakland-based glam punk (this means the garage decorum has synthesizer accent stripes) that chars coals to a dusty white and cooks. "Renegade Mode" pumps up like an 8-bit cartridge about fighter pilots. It’s breezy, cold punk for stretching. Warm Soda’s split "cassingle" is pretentiously available on Fuzz City Records, or you can just stream. (12:30 a.m. Wednesday at Hotel Vegas; 11:45 p.m. Saturday at Hotel Vegas.)
The Wytches: Even though the Wytches toured chunks of Europe with Austin pysch laborers the Black Angels, singer Kristian Bell is quick to reject that revivalist categorization. There’s more of a sloppy, unmistakably punk bass drop here coupled with one-way ticket, floor tom-directed rowing. He screams on songs like "Digsaw" to points of great pathos, but gets just as dark and impatient alone with an acoustic guitar on "Summer Again." The band’s Facebook page lists its host genre as "Surf8====3Doom." Bell and Wytches have been touring so much on the same batch of fumes that he feels like "we’re in a cover band." Bell says his music is "schizophrenic." That’s about right. (Midnight Wednesday at Latitude 30.)