20 SXSW Bands You Might Not Know (But Should)

Music Lists SXSW
Share Tweet Submit Pin

11. Lord Huron
(Thurs., 11 pm, The Bat Bar)
Ben Schneider, a.k.a. Lord Huron, grew up in Michigan plagued by wanderlust. Once he graduated from art school at the University of Michigan, that desire to see the world not only took him to places like New York, Southern France and Bali, Indonesia—where he was fascinated by gamalan orchestras—it also shows up all over his own poly-rhythmic Laurel Canyon-by-way-of-both-Bali-and-Mali music.—Josh Jackson

mp3: Lord Huron – Mighty

12. The Hours
(Thurs., 1:05 am, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop)
If you’ve seen the Nike Livestrong commercials with athletes repeatedly slamming on the ground only to rise back up, you know The Hours. The song behind the visuals, “Ali In The Jungle,” is a highly motivational rock anthem, not only because of the lyrics (“Everybody gets knocked down. How quick are you gonna get up?”) but because of the rhythmic pounding on pianos, drums and guitars wonderfully support lead singer Atony Genn’s forceful but pretty vocals. But The Hours have been around much longer than that commercial. Their 2007 debut album, Narcissus Road, which not only contains “Ali in the Jungle” but other shining tracks like “Icarus,” was followed by 2009’s more electronic See The Light that compels similar foot-stomping and fist-pumping.—Nathan Spicer

mp3: The Hours – Ali In The Jungle (Radio Edit)

13. The Sheepdogs
(Fri., 7:15 pm, Paradise)
The Sheepdogs are a good ole-fashioned rock band from Canada. Their influences—bands like The Allman Brothers Band, Humble Pie and Free—may be obvious, but The Sheepdogs don’t mind. They’re happy to bring you along on their old-school-rock-and-roll revival, and you’ll be happy to join them. So far, the band has self-released three full-length albums of three-part vocal harmonies, southern boogie, ripping riffs, grooving psychedelia and powerful dual guitar leads, and they show no signs of slowing any time soon.—Wyndham Wyeth

mp3: The Sheepdogs – I Don’t Know

14. Empress Hotel
(Fri., 8 pm, Mi Casa Cantina)
New Orleans music traditions run deep, but jazz and zydeco need to make a little room for the infectious pop of this six-piece who might find more in common with Vampire Weekend than the Rebirth Brass Band. The band stopped by the Paste offices last week, so look for a video performance on the site soon.—Josh Jackson

mp3: Empress Hotel – Bells Ring

15. Rah Rah
(Fri., 8 pm, Paradise)
iTunes labeled the seven-member group Rah Rah “Best New Canadian Band” and “Best New Alternative Band” in 2009, and for good reason. Rah Rah uses both male and female vocals as well as a wide variety of instruments like violins, pianos and even ukuleles (between which players alternate when performing) to create vigorous pop hooks. Their unceasing tour schedule obviously hasn’t broken their spirits, as they continue unreservedly whipping crowds into hysterics. No need for caffeine when listening; their sound will spark your bloodstream (especially when singing about trolls).—Nathan Spicer

mp3 link: Rah Rah – Arrows

16. Generationals
High melodic vocals, organs, horns and sticky guitar lines come together in this New Orleans band to make a sound that will keep bouncing around in your head for days. Their music also has a vintage texture to it, like your favorite cassette tape you’ve played almost to destruction—which you’re sure to do with this album.—Sean Doyle

mp3 link – Generationals – Greenleaf

17. Bombay Bicycle Club
(Fri., 1 am, Latitude 30)
This band already has a great following, but if you haven’t heard them yet they are a must-hear. Their sound feels like a warm summer day, slowly driving down a beach road with the top down. Imagine if Say Hi (To Your Mom) spent some serious time in the Caribbean. They provide the perfect soundtrack to a lazy day spent cutting loose in the sand.—Sean Doyle

Stream: Bombay Bicycle Club – Always Like This

18. Typhoon
(Sat., 9:30, Central Presbyterian Church)
Music critics throw around adjectives like “orchestral” and “expansive” all the time these days. Now here’s a band that actually deserves such labels. Portland’s Typhoon is an indie rock geek’s dream: a dynamic 12-piece with a seemingly unending reservoir of energy, emotive vocals, arpeggiated guitars, horns, multiple drum kits, strings—there are so many sonic details crammed into the five tracks on A New Kind of House, the band’s second official release, that you might need two pairs of headphones to properly connect the dots.—Ryan Reed

Stream: Typhoon – The Honest Truth (Radio Edit)

19. Takka Takka
(Sat., 10 pm, 512)
The combination of folk and otherworldly, warm indie-rock lends Takka Takka its shiny appeal. They transfer from laid-back melodic tales (e.g. “Lion In The Waves”) to more energetic tracks like “Everybody Say” with ease. On the album Migration, they also take time to showcase their atmospheric side with whomping drums, ethereal vocals and snappy cosmic guitars. Some songs have a romantic edge, but even in those, you notice their haunted, dissatisfied, but still pleasing, side seeping through.—Nathan Spicer

mp3 link: Takka Takka – Everybody Say

20. Army/Navy
(Sat., 1 am, Swan Dive)
Yes, Army/Navy is a college-sports rivalry. But it’s also a band with terrific blends of powerpop and and indie-rock melodies. As part of the Seattle group Pinwheel, Army Navy frontman/vocalist Justin Kennedy once played alongside Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. But unlike some of Death Cab’s catalog, Army/Navy doesn’t take everything quite so seriously. Even when lyrics wallow in the negative, the music retains an energetic force that’s difficult to ignore.—Nathan Spicer

Stream – Army/Navy – Ode to Janice Melt

Recently in Music
More from SXSW