10 Must-See SXSW Artists (Even If You’re Not Going)

03.17.10 8 years ago 2 Comments

More than 1,500 artists are playing in Austin over the next five days, courtesy of the South by Southwest music fest plus the added efforts the Fader Fort and Red Gorilla Fest.

We already gave you an inside look at the major acts playing the fest, from Hole to Nas, Stone Temple Pilots to She & Him, Motorhead to the handful of rumored, big-name artists.

Below is a brief outline of smaller acts I’m particularly excited about, with links to some tunes — for those headed to Austin, Texas, and for those who care to live vicariously.

Some acts were selected because they rarely visit the states; others have been added because their efforts past or to come are looking pretty strong; others because of the threat of a face-blazing show.

Solid Gold
Blissed-out, smooth synths; the vocals like that of a lover saying your name; and BPMs to get the heart-rate up at least from resting. Members of Minneapolis’ Solid Gold have been garnering attention, too, in separate project Gayngs, recently signed by Jagjaguwar.
Music and schedule

Nathaniel Rateliff
Frontman of Denver’s Born in the Flood and of his quieter, acoustic composition project The Wheel, Nathaniel Rateliff is now signed, on his own, to Rounder and is prepping the release of cheerfully titled “In Memory of Loss,” due April 27. After having followed him for a couple years now, I thought Rateliff’s songwriting abilities would lose luster after the sheer number of songs he’s written. But I would be wrong. Get ready to get tender.
Music and schedule

Kings Go Forth
With soulful, funky acts like Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears paving the way in the past couple years, it’s become easier for bands like Kings Go Forth to find scenes and stages to host their old-school grooves. This is sure to be one of the livelier showcases at the fest.
Music and schedule

Shilpa Ray and Her Hookers
There’s something not entirely there-there about Shilpa Ray, and it’s unsettling and enchanting. Her garage-inspired rock is feral yet tips its hat at classic rock performers from the ’60s and ’70s. “Beating St. Louis” is tough to beat.
Music and schedule

For heavy music lovers who don’t go as far as grindcore, hardcore, death metal or any other -cores, there’s Torche, who refuses to leave melody behind but still more-than-adequately brings the noise. Speaking of bringing things, don’t forget your earplugs.
Music and schedule

Local Natives
Frenchkiss happens to be one of my favorite labels right now, with acts like The Dodos, Les Savy Fav and The Antlers on their roster. Local Natives are among these. Their song “Airplanes” is an incurable earworm and, in fact, the whole organic pop-rock album “Gorilla Manor” is white-hot catchy.
Music and schedule

Anita Tijoux
This Chilean, Spanish-language artist brings rhythm and incredible rhymes that positively trickle from her mouth. Her brand of hip-hop mixes bass-heavy break and house beats with Latin, R&B, electronica and even Eastern European influences for a very sexy, smart result. Her album “1977” is out in the ‘States in April.
Music and schedule

Frightened Rabbit
Anybody who heard this Scottish indie-rock-folk group’s 2008 debut “The Midnight Organ Fight” probably found their way to a club show in the last two years to loudly cry in some beers, loudly sing some harmonies or simply justify broken-hearted behavior in a public forum. Loudly. Their brand new “The Winter of Mixed Drinks” is equally dramatic and gratifyingly cathartic. As I felt after their last show in New York: another, please.
Music and schedule

The Low Anthem
SXSW, at least to me, seems a little shy on the Americana/country/alt-country tip this year, but the Low Anthem treads that path, mixes it with folk, blues and ghost stories. They have spent the better part of two years touring hard, so their craft as a live act is bewitching to watch. Cross your fingers for a rousing version of “Cigarettes & Whiskey.”
Music and schedule

Miike Snow
An admission: I kept ignoring the hype, press releases and press on Miike Snow because I am endlessly annoyed by the name. I’m sorry. OK. But damn if “Animal” isn’t a slow-burning pop masterpiece. The vocals are so genuine, but never over-the-top; each song makes you surer and surer, though, that should the man Miike Snow actually exist, he’d bring the party.
Music and schedule

BONUS: Surfer Blood is not only a fantastic, new noise-pop outfit, but it disturbingly has one of my new favorite band names ever. Music and schedule

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