Every year, in addition to the hundreds of tech companies and indie filmmakers looking for buzz, thousands of rising bands from the states and abroad descend upon Austin, TX for five jam-packed, beer-soaked, taco-filled days. Ahead of the music portion of the 29th annual SXSW festival, which begins today, we picked five must-see musical acts.
Psych music with pop accessibility has had its moment lately (see: Tame Impala, Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and it’s looking like this English group may add to the conversation. On tracks like “Bathed In Light” and “She’s A Witch,” falsetto vocals from frontman Felix Bushe mesh with swirling synths, and guitarist John Victor’s (allegedly exceptional) skills. The band makes tracks best for the beach, which should complement Austin’s muggy weather nicely.
Jess GlynneThe English pop singer best known for her vocals on the Grammy-winning track “Clean Bandit” has electro and funk to thank for her success, sure, but don’t get the wrong idea: She’s got the vibrant, deep voice of a pop star — and the looks to match. She’s now songwriting for rapper Iggy Azalea and a has new single on the way to cementing the beginnings of a diva. Catch her while you can.
Leon BridgesThis soul singer sure sounds older than his 25-year old face betrays. Smooth vocals, a natural predilection to ’50s and ’60s soul, and simple songs steeped in a vintage vibe characterize the Texan, who recently signed to Columbia Records. He’ll be one of the few acts you’ll see at the festival that actually makes you wonder what decade you’re in.
Sheer MagMiss good old rock’n’roll? This Philly five-piece loves ’70s classic rock and their hook-centric, guitar tunes are made for dancing. Don’t worry, though, you won’t be the only one on the floor — in addition to plenty of guitar shredding and a devil-may-care attitude, they’re also known for loud, sweaty performances.
HoneybloodSometimes all you need is some introspective-yet-bouncy indie pop. This Glasgow duo released their self-titled debut last year, but we’re hoping this is the year they break stateside. Shona McVicar and Stina Tweeddale take plenty from girl-fronted melodic rock groups of the past (think: the Breeders, Hole) and they sure are wistful.