SXSW is where bands can go to take themselves to that next level, whether it's getting a tour manager, doing a publishing deal, meeting labels in other territories or getting on an international promoter's radar.
For the bands and artists who already have that stuff sorted and have the tunes, Austin is the place that they will seal the deal on all of the above and push their music into North America on a larger scale thanks to the many people writing, tweeting and Instagramming from this music-centric town this week.
The bearded svengali Rick Rubin once set up a “word of mouth” department when he co-headed Columbia Records but there's no word of mouth as loud as SXSW, where buzz is amplified through the industry and beyond from what happens here. Here are 10 acts in Austin this week who are expected to benefit the most.
The three LA sisters kicked off their careers at last year's SXSW with shows where promoters both local and international clamoured to get to see. In the intervening year, their Stevie Nicks meet modern pop band sound topped the a BBC Sound of 2013 poll and their songs have just got better. The clamouring has already begin where a line around the block at the band's first gig on the last night of Interactive last night suggested Este, Danielle and Alana Haim are this year's buzziest draw.
The New York rapper blew up via the online world last summer with her track New York in which she claimed to run the most famous city in the world to a Gill Scott-Heron beat. Bold claims and rapid-fire dexterous rap flows are her thing but she also has a considerable life experience to draw from (she escaped a cult five years ago where music was banned outright) that bring out Eminem-style confessionals. Live, she brings that all together in one magnetising package.
With a Mercury Music Prize under the belt for their supreme debut album An Awesome Wave, the Leeds four-piece have already captivated UK and Irish audiences. The buzz is growing in the US now with the band picking up high-profile slots in Texas alongside Nick Cave and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their music was heard coming out of car windows in traffic twice yesterday. Surely, a good sign.
The brothers Lawrence are showing the US how real bass can be done (link to Una's piece) when it's combined with UK garage-style electronics. Their White Noise collaboration with AlunaGeorge is an exotic thrill compared to the ear-shattering EDM on offer in Austin. They augment their DJ-style setup with live guitar and percussion so they can do the business live too.
This Glasgow three-piece take their cues from the Scandavian industrial-electro sound purported by The Knife and the boom-bap electronics of American duo Purity Ring. The difference is Chvrches imbue their songs with serious pop swings and the sweet vocals of Lauren Mayberry.
Speaking of Scandanavia, Karen Marie Ørsted is the Danish candidate most likely to captivate audiences both industry and public alike this week. Her two tracks to date, Pilgrim and Glass are attitudinal R&B pop at its best and she has form at industry showcases. Last year's CMJ festival in New York no doubt helped secure bookings at festival like Longitude this summer.
For the last 10 years, Solange has been finding her own place in music while her most famous sister Beyoncé straddles the world. Ms. Knowles the younger's time has come, she has teamed up with Dev Hynes on some '80s soul-pop songs and honed her live show. For many, catching Solange is a high priority here as shows have been few and far between. Expect that to change.
After a few years on the pop peripherary and with some major label woes to boot, Ferreira is another artist who found a soulmate in Dev Hynes. Together, they teamed up with producer Ariel Rechtshaid on the whopping track Everything Is Embarassing. We've heard mixed reports about her live show but doesn't mean there won't be a line down the block every night this week.
There are cues galore taken from the entire history of classic rock music in the sound of this LA duo’s own songs. There are nods to psychedelia, orchestral rock, ’70s rock riffs, French synth music and The Rolling Stones which may suggest why the band are on many people's must-see list this week.
Yes, the purple one is here this week. A show that started as a rumour was confirmed yesterday to be taking place in La Zona Rosa with a 22-piece band. Unfortunately for many attending SXSW, it's an unofficial brand showcase so the allocation of 250 tickets only makes it the most hotly-contested, on the lips of everyone show of the week. Here's hoping he does another couple in some Austin dive bars. Now that would be special.
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