Ahead of South By Southwest, Stereogum is highlighting a handful of our Band To Watch alumni who have busy schedules at this year’s festival. If you’re in Austin this week, now’s your chance to actually watch some Bands To Watch.
This quality is not unique to Charly Bliss, but rarely has a band evoked it so intensely: that emotional whiplash upon realizing the irresistibly sweet pop music that has cast its spell on you is deeply, substantively sad. The band name suggests a certain positive vibe, and from a strictly musical perspective forthcoming debut album Guppy more than lives up to it. The power chords, the background harmonies, and even every cymbal crash explodes with a contagious euphoric quality, amplified exponentially by lead vocal melodies so intuitive yet unpredictable that it doesn’t seem like a stretch to call Eva Hendricks a genius.
And that’s before you realize what she’s singing about, at which point you understand this band is so much more than a tribute to obscure ’90s pop-rock bands. Consider the hook from lead single “Glitter,” a sugar-coated tidal wave about the impossibility of finding real connection in a demographically aligned dating pool: “Am I the best/ Or just the first person to say yes?” Opening track “Percolator,” which sounds like Letters To Cleo performing while whitewater rafting without missing a beat, is even more brutal: “I’m not scared to lick the floor/ Cause I have sucked on something worse”(!) gives way to “I’m gonna die in a getaway car/ I would try, but it sounds too hard.”
Guppy is the product of a half-decade of Charly Bliss sharpening their talents, years spent continually revising and improving and starting over until their music felt perfect (in pointed contrast to the stories in their songs). As we touched on in our interview last year, they scrapped their first attempt at a debut album because it didn’t live up to their standards, a disciplined restraint for which the listening public should be eternally grateful now that we’re getting Guppy instead. But even on early recordings like 2014’s Soft Serve EP, they sounded like superstars. This week in Austin, don’t miss the chance to see them play the part.
Here is Charly Bliss’ full SXSW itinerary:
03/14 The Blackheart (CLIF Bar Bash) – 12PM
03/15 Lambert’s (C3 Party) – 3PM
03/16 Scoot Inn (SprATX & Covert Curiosity Party) – 10PM
03/17 Hole In The Wall (Austin Oasis) – TBD
03/17 Lambert’s (SXSW Official Showcase) – 12AM