35 Bands to See at SXSW 2016

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35 Bands to See at SXSW 2016

Gearing up for another year of Austin’s fabled South By Southwest, we’ve made our packing lists and checked them twice. We’ve mentally (and physically) prepared for a week of surviving on beer and barbeque. And now, we’re ready to dive into the music.

Each year, Paste offers our recommendations on which bands to see at SXSW. So without including bands from previous years’ lists (Diarrhea Planet, Hinds, Lucius, Charles Bradley, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, La Luz, and Thee Oh Sees received votes this year, among others), here are 35 bands to see at SXSW in 2016.

1. A-Wa
Although they share a surname as the sisters in the American indie rock group Haim, Tair, Liron and Tagel Haim have a much different backstory and a very different sound. Growing up in the south of Israel, the sisters of A-Wa (pronounced “ay-wah,” and Arabic slang for and exclamatory “yeah!”) actually sing in an Arabic dialect direct from Yemen. As Yemenite Jews, the sisters’ genealogy is rare in Israel, but their modern, often electronic takes on traditional music helps keep their traditions and culture alive today. —Hilary Saunders

2. A Giant Dog
A Giant Dog’s frontwoman Sabrina Ellis is fearless. She leads the band’s riotous performances—so enthralling it’s hard to look away—and often does so in various arrangements of Spandex and neon. The Austin-based band might look at SXSW as a hometown showcase, but they recently signed with the North Carolina’s Merge Records to release their forthcoming third album Pile May 6. —Hilary Saunders

3. Algodón Egipcio
Venezuelan Cheky Bertho has couch-surfed in freak folk outfits and big pop bands for years, but with Algodón Egipcio (“Egyptian Cotton”) he seems most at home, taking a stereotypical “world music” aesthetic and running it through some of the gossamer-gauziest production this side of 2011. With new album La Confianza Ciega out just a few weeks ago, Bertho is pushing his chillwave-friendly alter ego into more markedly house and dance territory, but he’s no less bright or breezy despite his sharper beats and colors. And his live show shouldn’t be anything but a welcome wall of sound; think Animal Collective with way less giant neon jewels. —Dom Sinacola

4. All Dogs
Columbus, Ohio songstress Maryn Jones had a prolific 2015. She once more lent her Teflon harmonies and multi-instrumentation to an ornate Saintseneca album, as well as stripped herself down to an emotional and musical minimum on her haunting solo effort The Offer, released under Jones’ Yowler moniker. All Dogs exists somewhere in between. More direct than Saintseneca’s folk communalism and built on a scrappy four-member rock scaffolding, last August’s Kicking Every Day remains inimitably addictive. A cathartic jet stream of emotion engulfed in ‘90s DIY distortion, All Dogs carries the baton of early Liz Phair and Belly with less sheen and more spit. This show should be worth checking out alone to hear Jones’ voice ascend to oxygen-deprived heights on standout track “How Long.” —Sean Edgar

5. Anderson .Paak
A singer, rapper and producer who’s planted his goose-pimply kiss on tracks by seemingly every kind of legend lately, Anderson .Paak has covered a crazy spectrum of collaboration, from Madlib to Dr. Dre—prominently taking up real estate on the latter’s Compton resurgence—from Macklemore to The Game, from Busdriver to Domo Genesis to Jonwayne, and further down the endless rabbit hole of talent. Sounding like a younger, fresh-faced D’Angelo with a penchant for Flying Lotus-brand jazz affectation, .Paak released second album Malibu in January, so now is the time to see him live, to watch his nascent energy gain strength before the album does what it’s supposed to and makes him blows him up even further. —Dom Sinacola

6. Autolux
Although this Los Angeles band has been together since 2001, the trio only has two albums to its name. Mixing experimental pop and alt rock, Autolux can be at once progressively spacy and intentionally primitive . The band’s new abum Pussy’s Dead drops April 1. —Hilary Saunders

7. Beach Slang
Philly punk foursome Beach Slang first grabbed my attention when I caught them opening for Cursive’s Ugly Organ reissue tour early last year, and they blew me away with their killer energy, raucous sound and refreshingly amicable attitudes. Since then, they’ve dropped their first full-length, and I’m officially a follower. Their sound is my kind of punk—less showy and more intentional. Don’t miss them if you are a fan of music that punches you right in the gut. —Emily McBride

8. Car Seat Headrest
Car Seat Headrest’s Matador debut, Teens of Style, is remarkable in its ability to both sound fresh and youthful, tinged with the emotional rawness of someone barely in his 20s, and like a well-oiled machine, put together by someone who definitely can’t be just 22. Will Toledo’s got the songwriting chops of someone far beyond his years, and while his music may call to mind bands like Animal Collective or Guided By Voices, there’s a purer pop sensibility that sneaks in on tracks like “The Drum” and reveals that Toledo knows how to pen his share of catchy hooks. His lyrics sound like a scratchy stream of consciousness, perfect for that “not a kid anymore, not quite an adult” time in your life, and yet they—along with all of Teens of Style—reveal a great talent, one we can’t wait to follow into adulthood. —Bonnie Stiernberg

9. Crystal Castles
This is gonna be a weird one. The Toronto synthpop band worked through a mega personnel change—the departure of singer Alice Glass and the inclusion of Edith Frances—late last year. Frances’ first show with the group only took place in November, so it will be interested to see how the band adapts and how the crowds react. —Hilary Saunders

10. Death By Unga Bunga
This Norwegian quintet has already released three albums in Scandinavia, but this month’s Pineapple Pizza is the band’s first LP to be available Stateside. Raised by the punk and metal scene elders in the town of Moss, Death by Unga Bunga (yes, named after The Mummies) has taken those influences and melded them with additional garage rock and glam flair. This band will be a high-energy pick-me-up when you’re feeling a food coma approaching. —Hilary Saunders

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