100 Great Bands to See at SXSW 2013
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To celebrate the festival’s music section, which kicks off tomorrow, we’ve compiled a list of our 100 favorite acts heading out to Austin this week. Read about and listen to them all below.
In 2006, The View was signed to a label after their second gig in Dundee, Scotland, and it’s been a steady rise for the quartet since. The band has made a name for itself blending pop and punk across four albums and countless countries.
Forming in 2006, The Virginmarys were signed to Wind Up Records in 2012 and released their debut album, King of Conflict this February. Their website describes their music as blending “the dynamics of platinum class ‘grunge’ with the spikiness of punk and the attention to detail and honesty of prime British rock of the early 1970’s.” The six years the band spent unsigned, self-releasing EPs and performing the music festival circuit has made the members ambitious but not self-absorbed. The Virginmarys say they hope their music will inspire other artists to make great music, bringing high standards and expectations back to the music world. —Krystle Drew
Blending southern and alternative rock, The Weeks were formed in Jackson, Miss. when the collective members were all under the age of 18. After releasing two EPs and three full-length albums over four years through Olympic Records, Esperanza Plantation and self-release, The Weeks signed with Kings of Leon owned Serpents and Snakes Records and released Gutter Gaunt Gangster in 2012. The Weeks also previously toured with the North Mississippi All-Stars and The Meat Puppets. Paying homage to the legendary Auburn football star, the indie-rock band’s next album titled Dear Bo Jackson will be released on April 30. To get a taste of the upcoming album, stop by one of their SXSW performances to check out The Weeks’ hybrid sound. —Stephanie Sharp
For any serious music fan, The Zombies need no introduction. In their short time together, this English import—spearheaded by the incendiary keyboard of Rod Argent and the breathy tenor of Colin Blunstone— scored several chart-topping pop hits in addition to composing Odessey and Oracle, one of most beautiful and beloved rock and roll albums of all time. After their disbanding in late 1967, Argent and Blunstone have reunited on several occasions throughout the 90s and 2000s. Their most recent album of new material, Breathe Out, Breathe In was released in 2011.
Whether you thought they were a quirky-obnoxious novelty act or a gang of infinitely charming, boots-are-made-for-rockin’ Americana party girls, forget your initial impression of Those Darlins. Because, over the last few years, the band has become the spirit of rock ’n’ roll incarnate — a slightly older, wiser, modern-day Southern-garage version of The Runaways. “Why should the boys have all the fun?” their mere presence seems to shout. “We will out-drink, out-party and out-rock all of you!” And anyone who’s witnessed the runaway-train-wreck amphetamine cattle prod of their live performances knows they take this fearless, let-it-ride approach with them on stage every night.
But, unlike The Runaways, Those Darlins weren’t assembled by some hotshot producer looking to cash in. No, this band was their brainchild — and a wild one, too. And, to their credit, they get better every time they come around, having made enormous strides as both players and songwriters since their self-titled 2009 debut.
So it’s no surprise that Screws Get Loose is a major creative breakthrough for the Murfreesboro, Tenn.-based Darlins. It seems their time on the road with bands like Deer Tick, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears and (especially) Gentleman Jesse has expanded their musical horizons, shedding any last hint of novelty-act baggage and drawing out the accomplished artists that had always been lurking within.—Steve LaBate
Unknown Mortal Orchestra
The shroud of mystery surrounding Unknown Mortal Orchestra after the appearance of the “Ffunny Ffriends” single on Bandcamp in 2010 inadvertently revved up the ol’ hype machine. That eventually dissipated when the identities of the band members—which include former Mint Chick/New Zealand transplant Ruban Nielson—became known, and UMO released their self-titled debut the following year. But the music spoke for itself: A modern, beat-heavy take on ’60s psych, with plenty of hooks and fuzz to get you hooked and feeling fuzzy.
This time UMO releases album No. 2—simply titled II—without any of the Internet chatter. It’s just the listener and the sounds inside Nielson’s head. Unlike the Frankenstein approach Nielson employed on the debut—which sounded like a depository for all of the music and pop culture he absorbed as a kid—there’s more consistent musical plasma coursing through the veins of II.—Mark Lore
In a world where it’s hard to keep teens away from electronics, here’s a group of outliers keeping it unplugged: Atlanta’s von Grey, a group of sisters between the ages 12 and 17. The classical-schooled band of sisters wield cellos, mandolin, banjo and violin to craft intricate, poetic tracks you’d be amazed came from one group of siblings.
There’s a long list of reasons to hate Wavves beginning with Williams’ well-documented petulance, which may have contributed to Wavves’ revolving door of bandmates—which definitely contributed to a period of inconsistency and false-starts between 2009’s Wavvves and 2010’s King of the Beach. And that’s to say nothing of that famous meltdown at Barcelona’s Primavera Sound Festival in 2009, when then-drummer Ryan Ulsh (now of Virginia’s excellent Super Vacations) dumped a well-deserved beer on Williams’ head and stormed off stage.
The Life Sux EP, the first Wavves release to bear the imprint of Williams’ own Ghost Ramp label, couldn’t be further removed from the Wavves of past infamy.mIt’s what might’ve been a confident sophomore effort from a band that only really found its footing on third outing King of the Beach.—Bryan C. Reed
With Wavves about to unleash a brand new album Afraid of Heights on March 26, take a preview below.
These siblings have been working on their own music (and sporadically together) for almost their entire lives. So, it’s not like this is the Chicago-bred duo’s turn up to bat at the blog-buzz plate. This is no lucky strike; they’ve been swinging a while, actually.
Few among us get to sit down and play Gershwin tunes on the piano with our painter/author mothers, as Elliot has, while later slipping our kid-sister treasured vinyl records from the college-town’s quintessential indie-music shop, healthily blowing her mind with world-fusion/avant-garde-jazz jams by experimental post-bop wizards like Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders.
But the chemistry palpable on their debut, Isles (as well as on the stages welcoming their current tour) brews not just from the siblings lifelong music-bond, but also from the musicians currently backing them up, accomplished multi-instrumentalists from NOMO who’ve constantly been working with Elliot this past decade.
Youth Lagoon’s Trevor Powers snuck onto the scene a year and a half ago, a quiet but brilliantly talented composer. He impressed us all with his first release, The Year of Hibernation. But on his sophomore record, Wondrous Bughouse, the whispery, barely-there 22-year-old that we came to know on his last record has been replaced by someone slightly more confident, albeit a bit more confused.
It’s not the timid work of a younger man. It’s full-frontal pop music with abrupt transitions and dramatic breakdowns. Powers sings less, but his music says volumes. Instrumental tracks such as somber opener “Through Mind and Back” say more than words could. Powers worked with producer Ben Allen, known for his work with artists such as Animal Collective, Givers and M.I.A. The record was recorded in a studio in Atlanta, much unlike Year of Hibernation, which Powers recorded at his home in Boise, Idaho. The difference is audible: Youth Lagoon seems to have a lot more sound effects to play with, and he uses all of them. Five-minute “Sleep Paralysis” starts out as slow-moving, creepy-as-all-hell threnody where Powers tries to determine whether or not he is seeing someone returning from the dead. It quickly moves into a much more, upbeat, high-tempo and almost gleeful track before slowing down again for the finish.—Andrea Kszystyniak