Driving across the vast expanse of Texas on her way to South By Southwest, Seedy Seed Margaret Weiner is on her cell phone, explaining why - during her years as a graphic design student at SCAD - she bought an accordion.
"I'd been playing the guitar since I was 11, but I felt like I'd reached a plateau with all the tricks that I knew. So I hypothesized well, if I pick up an instrument that's totally foreign, maybe that'll push me off this plateau and I'll get somewhere new. By virtue of experimenting with something I don't know how to play."
Then: "My roommates wouldn't let me practice it because it sounded so bad," she laughs. "I didn't play out or anything. I just quietly wrote songs in my bedroom.
Weiner graduated in 2005 and moved to Cincinnati, where she and a friend started a business. She also taught design at a local college. And then she met a musician named Mike Ingram.
"In the course of our first conversation," she says, "we both realized that we happened to own traditional folk instruments that we never really bothered to learn to play. I had the accordion, and he had this banjo.
"When we got together for our first practice, we just kind of stared at each other across the room, and said ‘How are we going to make this work?'"
The answer was tempo. A rhythm machine. In true DIY fashion, Ingram put fresh batteries in a toy keyboard he'd recently purchased for $1 at a church rummage sale, pushed a demo beat button, and the Seedy Seeds were born. "We heard our really organic, traditional folk instruments mixing with this super-compressed, cheesy, really crappy-sounding ‘80s toy beat," says Weiner. "And we thought ‘This is really interesting.' We liked the aesthetic."
Three (well-reviewed) albums of quirky music into their big adventure, the Seedy Seeds are now a trio. Drummer Brian Penick, a veteran of numerous Cincinnati punk and rock bands, plays live onstage alongside the computer drums. "We just loved the idea of matching things that are innately human with things that are totally not human," Weiner explains. "And kind of having unspoken dialogue in our music between those two completely opposite sections.
"I think it creates something really rich and interesting." Listen & learn: www.theseedyseeds.com.
At 8 p.m. Thursday, March 25 at the Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave. With Peasant. $5.
It's interesting to note that great indie bands can, and do, come from everywhere. This three-headed rock monster (guitar, drums and keyboard/synths) first raised its might head in Moscow, Idaho, specifically at the University of Idaho, where Cameron Bouiss, Eric Gilbert and Lisa Simpson were all studying music (and yes, Lisa Simpson is her real name. D'oh!) Finn Riggins is a frisky, risky, experimental band that careens - energetically - between murky pop and hard-charging electro-rock, organic and otherwordly all at the same time. They've been compared to the primitive and blender-encouraging sounds of the Pixies, The Mars Volta and early Talking Heads - they go in for quirky time signatures and borrow flourishes of all sorts of different styles, and not surprisingly they tore the roof off the joint least week at South By Southwest in Austin. Like Built to Spill, the other Idaho band, Finn Riggins is proving - one gig at a time - that it's not just about potatoes up there. They rock. Listen & learn: www.finnriggins.com.
At 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 30 at B&B Ale House, 411 W. Congress St.
Guitarist Scott Suldo and drummer Dominic Maresco trade off lead vocals in this powerhouse ska/reggae outfit from the sunny climes of St. Cloud, Fla. (just a stone's throw from Orlando, Disney World and the cheesiest mile of tourist traps in the south). There's a nimble-fingered bass player, and a wailing saxophone player, and everybody plays as one - driving, pounding, skittering along on toast and ska beats, with speedpunk energy and a logic-defying sense of swing. They've toured with Pepper, Fishbone, Slightly Stoopid and Catch-22, among others. And never - as far as I know - at the House of the Mouse, just up the road. Listen & learn: www.myspace.com/therealsupervillains.
At 10 p.m. Thursday, March 25 at Live Wire Music Hall, 307 W. River St. $8 advance, $10 day of show.