85 Bands to Check Out at SXSW 2014

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There’s no better place to discover your next favorite band than Austin, Texas’ South By Southwest. This year, thousands of acts—from the road-worn veterans to fresh-faced newcomers—will perform across Austin’s venues, so odds are you’re not going to cross a street without hearing something you love (especially if you make it to one of our day parties).

To celebrate the festival’s music section, which officially kicks off tomorrow, we’ve compiled a list of 85 of our favorite acts heading out to Austin this week. Read about and listen to them all below, in alphabetical order.

Against Me!
I’m praising Grace like these performances are new for her, but direct, strong imagery hasn’t been a problem for the songwriter over her 15-year career, so you’ve got a decade-long catalog to explore if this review turns you on to the band. But the point is, Transgender Dysphoria Blues is a perfect storm of great songwriting paired with some timely, frank admissions from Grace. And the result is an album that I’ve really, really loved over the past few months in getting to know it. Here’s to seeing where Against Me! moves on from here.—Tyler Kane

With engaging choruses and energetic appeals, AgesandAges’ music quickly presents a joyful front. The essential element to the work, though, is an understanding that this sort of excited fervor comes from a knowledge of tribulation. “We recognize the inherent underlying doom in all this,” frontman Tim Perry says. “These songs are self-affirming. They’re like propaganda music. Anytime you have someone insisting over and over that things are great, you wonder if that’s the case.”—Justin Cober-Lake

Agnes Obel
Agnes Obel exists at the crux where beauty and sadness are indistinguishable, weaving sedative piano whispers around tales of aborted love. The Danish muse’s sophomore album, Aventine, debuted last September and prophetically ushered in one of the most extreme winters in recent memory, as Obel’s haunting compositions melded the primal, delicate and forsaken into one of the most gorgeous albums of last year. That said, there will be no better way to cease the endless, sweaty throngs of Austin then by basking in her icy melodies on Saturday night.—Sean Edgar

Andrew Belle
While his music has always nested a little on the Mat Kearney side, this time around, Andrew Belle chose a different route, drawing his influence from alternative acts like Beach House, Washed Out, Bon Iver and M83 while crafting Black Bear. Think you’ve heard Belle’s soft croons somewhere before? Chances are it was on popular TV shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Vampire Diaries and Castle.—Rachel Haas

Andrew Combs
This Americana-tinged singer-songwriter aims straight for the heart with his country fueled soul ballads. You’ll be upset that you hadn’t heard of him until now.—Caroline Taylor

The Apache Relay
Since they released their debut album, American Nomad, in 2011, The Apache Relay have been working hard to get their name out there. They’ve opened for Mumford & Sons and Trampled by Turtles and performed at other large music festivals along the East Coast. Michael Ford, Jr., the frontman of the indie-rock band, joined The Apache Relay back in 2009 in Nashville, and the band soon took off after that. Ford, Jr. writes the songs, and his bandmates create the catchy harmonies and beats with a unique assortment of instruments. The Apache Relay’s new self-titled album is due to come out on April 22, and we’re anxious to hear the magic that they’ve put together.—Kristen Hill

Raised in the countryside of Iceland, Asgeir is an electro-pop driven singer/songwriter. His debut album written in the Icelandic language, Dýrð í dauðaþögn, remains Iceland’s best-selling album to date. Born into a family full of musicians, Asgeir’s 72-year-old father is credited with writing many of the emotive lyrics. After the success of his 2012 release in Iceland, singer John Grant helped Asgeir translate the album for a wider audience. The English language version, In The Silence, came out in October and has gained widespread attention ever since. Asgeir’s tracks shine with electronic beats and soulful indie sounds. He has already won four Icelandic Music awards and been nominated for the coveted Nordic Music Prize—he’s truly taken Iceland by storm and has enough talent to do the same abroad.—Sarah Rowland

Avi Buffalo
Avi Buffalo has been on Paste’s radar since 2010, landing a spot on our Best Songs of the Year list with “Truth Sets In.” It’s time for fans to get excited about the Long Beach-based quartet: They’ve just confirmed that an album has been wrapped. Here’s to hearing some new tunes from the Sub Pop-signed act.—Tyler Kane

Bad Sports
The trio from Denton, Texas make it a little difficult to search for them on Google (their last album is called Bras, so searching “bad sports bras” may give you mixed results.) However that doesn’t stop them from making punky garage-infused tunes with a power-pop core.—Chelsea Conte

Bear’s Den
This English trio has set out on an extensive North American tour with an anticipated stopover at SXSW behind their second EP. The pastoral folk-rockers made their debut with 2013’s EP release, Agape, and have followed up with another folk-laden album, Within/Without. Vocals are a strength for this band as lead singer Andrew Davie continuously provides charming choruses with clarity, backed up with the woven harmonies of Joey Haynes (guitar and banjo) and Kevin Jones (percussion). Jones also serves as the co-founder of Communion, a music label he helped create with Mumford and Sons’ keyboardist Ben Lovett. From the modest beginnings of touring England in a van, to now opening sets for the Mumford boys, Of Monsters & Men and Matt Corby, this trio is now selling out headline shows across Europe and North America.—Sarah Rowland

Belle Adair
Influences of pop, folk, indie-rock and Americana mixed with jangly keys, upbeat drums, humming synthesizers, electric guitar and southern soul-filled vocals make up this Muscle Shoals, Ala. band’s aesthetic. It’s pretty obvious they’re on their way to being something big. Don’t miss it.—Caroline Taylor

If you know what’s good for you, one way or another, you’re gonna getcha getcha getcha-self to see these legends in action.—Bonnie Stiernberg

Brick + Mortar
Hailing from Asbury Park, N.J. the duo has an infectious sound consisting of bass, drums and electronic samples incorporating the audience into its live shows. Their gritty and chaotic vibe has caught the eye of many, having them land opening gigs for big-name acts. They will be all over the festival circuit this summer, so if you can’t catch them at SXSW, you should have plenty of time to catch a show.—Chelsea Conte

Burnt Ones
Burnt Ones can be categorized alongside San Francisco psychedelics like White Fence and Thee Oh Sees. They take the elements of the past but recycle them to give us something more trippy, freaky and scuzzy than before. Their second full-length, Gift, is out via Castle Face Records on March 25.—Chelsea Conte

Caroline Glaser
While Caroline Glaser is still relatively new to the larger music scene, she has done well for herself since she appeared on NBC’s talent show The Voice. She recently wrapped up a tour with Straight No Chaser and released her own album, titled Caroline Glaser Vol. 1. She’s a talented songwriter and guitarist who has whimsical but elegant lyrics, and we’re excited to see what her first full-length record will contain in the future.—Kristen Hill

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