50 Must-See Acts at SXSW 2014
It's baaaa-aaack. This week, Austin, Texas will (reluctantly) open its arms once again to music nerds, music makers, corporate behemoths, and intrepid bloggers of all stripes. And, for the next few days — when we're not posted up at Stubb's and the House of Vans, slamming bottled water and slathering our faces with BBQ sauce — we'll likely be throwing elbows for a chance to see the following list of rappers, punkers, beat-makers and singer-songwriters. See you there. DAVID BEVAN
1.50 Must-See Acts at SXSW 2014
Reason to Run, Not Walk: With Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace has crafted a poignant and furious full-length drama. Fearlessly addressing the complications of being transgendered (and, of course, issues of transphobia), Against Me!'s sixth album feels as fresh and urgent as the early LPs that were barked acoustically to ogre-esque punks in Gainesville laundry rooms. This SXSW set will surely be raucous, so feel free to pump your fist with impunity. DAVID ZISSER
Reason to Run, Not Walk: What are we calling this stuff now? Trapgaze? Waverave? Twinklestep? Skweee&B? Who knows, but any of the aforementioned would suffice as emergency shorthand for the music of Norway's Cashmere Cat (Magnus August Høiberg), a former DMC finalist-turned-purveyor of some of the featheriest, jiggiest, most bucolically bumptious beats this side of a Timbaland-Four Tet team-up, or a TNGHT record made entirely with music boxes. His recent Wedding Bells EP, for LuckyMe, is as dewily optimistic as the title promises, rendering bass-music maximalism and gutter-scraping crunk in gold thread and daisies, while his blissed-out production for Ludacris's "Party Girls" confirmed his bona fides when it comes to cloud rap at its most vaporous. PHILIP SHERBURNE
Reason to Run, Not Walk: There are few bands slyer with a hook than this impossibly melodic set of Glaswegian post-punks. Last year, they were rightfully included in SPIN's 5 Best New Artists for April; this year they'll likely be dropping more than just singles. See them immediately. CYNTHIA ORGEL
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Drawing inspiration from a contentious slew of West Coast hardcore luminaries (specifically Black Flag and early Suicidal Tendencies), the Julian Casablancas-approved quintet garnered buzz last year following a string of dates with FLAG. Be sure to bring your head-walking shoes. D.Z.
6.Chance the Rapper
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Not only was Chance SPIN's 2013 Rapper of the Year, but the Chicago native's self-released Acid Rap mixtape came a close second to Kanye's Yeezus for our best album of the year as well. In retrospect, it's fitting that, while the MC's hometown is currently riding out a wave of young experimentalists breaking out of their local scene, Chance's most endearing quality is his want for old-school storytelling. The 21-year-old sketches out scenes of high-school romance and the trials of addiction over beats compiled by a rag-tag group of producers that range from electronic instrumentalist Nosaj Thing to Nate Fox, a friend he actually first met at SXSW 2012. His music follows in turn, playing like a grab-bag routine that juggles his lyrics against blues, juke, soul, and house without ever missing a swagged-out beat. While the hip-hop charts may be ruled by self-proclaimed "Gods" and "Kings," Chance the Rapper is the kid-next-door who wants to do it all — and actually can. PUJA PATEL
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Cloud Nothings debuted their upcoming album, Here and Nowhere Else, during a live show at Brooklyn venue Baby's All Right. Audio of the onstage unveiling quickly surfaced online and, of course, was promptly scrubbed from the Internet. But followers of Dylan Baldi and his Cleveland-formed noise-pop project can rest easy: The January gig proved that Baldi's talent for penning knotty guitar hooks and throat-shredding choruses remains unmatched, and that the follow-up to 2012's outstanding Attack on Memory will be more upbeat and refined than its predecessor. KYLE MCGOVERN
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Long before John Dwyer became Damaged Bug, the DIY demigod used to squawk into a telephone as the jittery ringmaster of San Francisco trash-noise outfit Coachwhips. Now that his primary engagement, garage-punk road-warriors Thee Oh Sees, are on indefinite hiatus, Dwyer has reunited his old bucket of snakes to play their Oblivians-conjuring speed-garage riffs to this year's SXSW. Do not miss. CAMILLE DODERO
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Straight out of Charlotte, North Carolina (a locale still looking for a rap scene and style of its own), Deniro Farrar is a cult-ish outsider who doesn't have to answer to anybody. Mixing the hardened street confessionals of '90s gangsta heroes like Scarface and 2Pac with a floating, druggy Internet rap approach, he can explode in a fit of rage on stage with rock show energy, or curl up and quietly spit diary-like confessionals, creating something truly intimate. BRANDON SODERBERG
10.DJ Spinn & DJ Rashad
Reason to Run, Not Walk: If you really want to burn off some excess Texas pit BBQ, there's probably no better strategy than getting loose to the frenetic, hyperkinetic sounds of Chicago's DJ Spinn and DJ Rashad, mainstays of the city's footwork scene. We're not suggesting you try imitating any moves you may have seen in YouTube clips of actual footwork battles, but even quivering in place to the DJs' triple-time hi-hats and syncopated bass throb ought to bestow some kind of aerobic benefits, and their hypnotically looped (and occasionally loopy) vocal samples make for the perfect antidote to a week's worth of guitar-toting indie earnestness. Don't be surprised to hear chants of "I don't give a fuck!" resonating up and down E. 7th Street after their sets at the Empire Control Room. P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: The man responsible for Vybz Kartel's Kingston Story and the Major Lazer-handled Snoop Lion debut Reincarnated is not your average dancehall producer. He is for real, though. Best known for his pop-infected production work on Kartel's club favorite "Yuh Love," Dre Skull is also the founder and label boss of Brooklyn-based Mixpak Records. With artists that range from Jamaican icons like Vybz, Beenie Man, and Sizzla to forward-thinking producers from everywhere else, the label has steadily worked their dancehall and global-bass love into the world of the electronic underground. Crossover discovery and pop sensibilities are inherent to Mixpak's collective of diverse musicians — and who better to represent those tastes than their leader? P.P.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: This Leeds outfit maintains a singular strain of moody, post-punk angst, an odd counter to their seemingly innate gift for attracting and embracing the limelight. Only a handful of rock bands will limp away from Austin with as many stories to tell as these guys — we recommend you witness them in action at least once. JEN JAMIN
Reason to Run, Not Walk: After a three-year absence, this skronk-loving South Dakotan is back with The Future's Void, a smoldering slab of bleak folk, black pop, orchestral swirl, and electronic wilding. Also, a few quiet moments rise above the fuzz, giving her often dire poetry space to resonate. We've personally witnessed EMA shred her guitar until her fingers bleed — bring Band-Aids and make a friend. CHRIS MARTINS
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Sylvan Esso have yet to release their self-titled full-length debut, but the Durham, North Carolina-based duo have been busy touring the States and proving how much they thrive in a live setting, as they did during their cozy performance at the Moog Sound Lab Studio last fall. Singer Amanda Meath (also of Mountain Man) and producer Nick Sanborn (bassist for Megafaun) are sure to woo lovers of folk and electronic music alike through calming, compelling vocals and spellbinding loops and beats. C.O.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Because of "Move That Dope," the massive street single for his upcoming album Honest, featuring an on-fire Pharrell (rapping so hard here to almost render his smoothed-out return to the top of the charts moot) and a gurgling beat that pairs Drive soundtrack vibes with Salt-N-Pepa's "Push It" pulse. Because the handsome Auto-Tune crooner who likes to call himself "Future Vandross" might just follow an unrelenting banger like "Move That Dope" up with open-hearted love songs like "Neva End" or "Turn On The Lights" — and make it so you're jockeying for space with tears in your eyes. B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: It's been a long time coming — more than 800 shows — but this is finally the Year of Future Islands. Led by magnetic weirdo Samuel T. Herring, these deserving Baltimore art-punks masterfully combine synth-pop whoosh, sea-shanty balladry, and DIY dance moves that even your grandpa would love. Bonus: David Letterman approves. C.D.
17.Hurray for the Riff Raff
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Running away from home was the best decision Alynda Lee Segarra ever made. Nearly a decade ago, the singer-songwriter left her base in the Bronx, eventually wandering all the way down to New Orleans and picking up the washboard to play alongside a troupe of street musicians. Now the folksy crooner prefers a banjo or guitar and leads her own gang of revelers — who bear an accordion, harmonica, fiddles, and a single snare -— on a stroll through a slew of bluegrass, country, blues, and contemporary Americana. (Though, her new Small Town Heroes release also points out she's just as content to sing about her dinner alone.) It's not so strange, really, but Segarra actually shines strongest when singing about home; whether it be in ode to the Ninth Ward neighborhood she lives in now or a letter-via-song to her mother explaining why she left to begin with. Whatever the outlet may be, her honest, soulful lyricism landed her an invite to perform Willie Nelson's Heartbreakers Banquet at this year's SXSW (as well as at other, public venues during the festival). How's that for a cosign? P.P.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: The Haitian-born, Montreal-based DJ and producer Kaytranada owes as much to hip-hop and R&B as he does dance music, and you can hear that versatility in his productions: His late-2013 single "At All" is a side-winding, boogie-fueled house cut that sounds like the second coming of Recloose, while the accompanying "Hilarity Duff" sounds more like a particularly groggy tribute to Hudson Mohawke. Kaytranada's range has served him well in his remixes, both official commissions (Disclosure's "January," Robert Glasper Experiment's "Move Love") and bootlegs (Janet Jackson's "If," Teedra Moses' "Be Your Girl," Common's "I Want You"). Ahead of his appearance at last fall's Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, he dropped a mix that ran through cuts from De La Soul, Lone, the Internet, and Banks, treating contemporary dance music less as a set of dichotomies than a kind of shape-shifting polyhedron to be twisted up at will. P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: For most singers, navigating the beats that come out of the Night Slugs and Fade to Mind camps is a little bit like trying to walk barefoot across a field of broken glass and live electric wires. The Los Angeles-based, D.C.-bred singer Kelela, on the other hand, nimbly used that jagged platform as a springboard straight to our hearts on her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me. Since then, she's turned up on Solange's Saint Heron comp and teased us with new tracks with Bok Bok and Gifted & Blessed that find her hushed powerhouse of a voice continuing to gather force. She's the quiet and the storm all in one. P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Backed by TV on the Radio producer Dave Sitek, the former "Milkshake"-slinger is back with an indie deal (hi Ninja Tune) and a fresh lease on her career. New album Food feels free from the burden of producing hit singles — instead we get a lovingly tended-to batch of tracks that incorporate soul, funk, Afrobeat, pop, and gospel. The sound is simultaneously intimate and huge. C.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: She's a straight-talking, booze-swilling, good-loving, heart-bearing badass with a cowpunk sneer and fast hand where her weapon is concerned (that'd be the guitar, of course). A pastor's daughter who's not afraid to demand oral satisfaction in the chorus of a song ("Head"), this Ohio-reared artist is as real as they come. Cross her, and she might send you running the other way. C.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: This young Chicago MC and friend to Chance the Rapper is in healthy competition with the Acid Rap phenomenon (he may have even beat him with his gruff guest verse double-time delivery on "Cocoa Butter Kisses") and has something to prove. Mensa, formerly of the rap-rock group Kids These Days (more like the Knux than say, Limp Bizkit, by the way), has a live performer spirit when he's on stage that's more explosive punk rock than too-cool-for-school rapper. B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Tony Molina is a hardcore vet with a knack for power-pop heroics. The Bay Area hook-slinger has been making noise in different bands for more than a decade (his CV includes time spent with Dystrophy, Ovens, and Caged Animal), but last year, he went solo with Dissed and Dismissed, a stunning set that's all thrills, no frills. Covering 12 tracks in just 12 minutes, Molina's first album under his own name favors fuzz, brevity, and teenage kicks. Dissed and Dismissed, which sold out of its initial pressing, will receive a wide release in cassette, digital, and vinyl formats on March 25, thanks to Slumberland Records. K.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: It should be enough that the Missouri-born singer, songwriter, and ax-swinger opens her album with a song called "Unfucktheworld." But if it isn't, other arguments include: that tears-in-her-beers country coo; the thing she does that reminds us of Nick Drake's sweet sadness; the way her guitar shimmers over a sour samba rhythm; and that she towers over the intimate and coasts across the epic. Yeah, any of those will do. C.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: For a while, the Orwells were Illinois' best-kept secret. Then, the barely legal garage-rock crew blew through the Late Show With David Letterman, exposing their jangly strain of Strokes-informed sleaze-pop to the entire nation. Watch the doe-eyed troublemakers dole out hooks that are wise beyond their years, but don't be surprised if frontman Mario Cuomo drops trou. D.Z.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: We can unequivocally say that Perfect Pussy will be one of the best live acts to debut at this year’s SXSW — a hardcore squall of barely managed noise-punk chaos. "It's like a flea circus," is how frontwoman Meredith Graves recently described her band’s show to us. "There's five different things going on at once, then we're done in 12 minutes, goodbye." But first, say hello. C.D.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Detroit's Protomartyr don't do a great job of selling their hometown as a tourist destination, but that's not their intention. The foursome's upcoming sophomore album, Under Color of Official Right, depicts the Motor City as a bleak wasteland where the scum rises and the denizens live defeated. And while singer Joe Casey's caustic snarl and black poetry don't make for hot travel brochure copy, Protomartyr's talent lies in assembling sly post-punk that's rich in tight hooks and brutal, cathartic couplets like "Don't feel nothing for anyone / Don't feel no love for anything." See them at SXSW, before Hardly Art drops their new LP on April 8 and Detroit's finest become a national concern. K.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: These three Philly darkwave punks whose latest album, COME, is a rickety revelation, are L-O-U-D, piling chilling power chords atop scowling surf-rock bass lines, and guttural, gothic vocals that wouldn't be out of place on a Legendary Pink Dots record. Heavy on the atmospherics and aggressive with their unabashedly direct riffs, Psychic Teens grab hold of a room and turn it into a whirl of noise show energy one moment and a creepy hypnotic cult initiation, the next. B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: The grimy G.O.O.D Music-molded beats that make up this former Clipse member's solo album from last year, My Name Is My Name, deserve to be heard as loudly as possible. Pusha's guilt-ridden coke-slanging rhymes were pushed up to a baroque level on blooping banger "Numbers On the Boards" and damn near industrial "No Regrets," and you'll be privy to a Sergio Leone-like musical epic playing out on SPIN's SXSW party at the House of Vans. B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Quilt's frayed psychedelic folk knows no boundaries. On the Boston-bred trio's sophomore album, Held in Splendor, Eastern rhythms mesh with spaced-out guitar strums, jittery prog-pop gives way to acoustic interludes, and the hard-and-fast rules of metaphysics suddenly become pliable. "Form becoming weightless like doves," singer-guitarist Anna Fox Rochinski envisions at one point. "Everything will regenerate as love." Wrap yourself in Quilt, and let your consciousness expand. K.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Arctic Monkey-man Ross Orton may have taken some of the edge off Radkey's sound on their latest single, the lush, Damned-aping "Feed My Brain," but director William Rees' late-2013 video of the band in action makes it abundantly clear that they're still dagger-sharp on stage. Missouri brothers Dee (20, vocals and guitar), Isaiah (18, bass), and Solomon Radke (16, drums) sound like old hands at classic, hey-hey-ho-ho punk-rock rave-ups — uncannily so, given their young ages. But the latter give them a leg up on any number of veterans-turned-reunion-acts meting out similar stuff, for whom acrobatic stage antics like Dee's would surely require copious ice-packs and/or trips to the ICU. They're a simultaneously sobering and inspiring reminder that hardcore will never die (but you will). P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: A new member of the burgeoning Black Hippy crew, Isaiah Rashad hails from Chattanooga, Tennessee, affording his rhymes and insight a more slow-rolling intensity than the buggy MC'ing of SoCal crewmates like Kendrick Lamar and Ab-Soul. "Heavenly Father," off his stunning Cilvia Demo, reaches pentecostal levels of energy as it moves from laments about too much drinking and drugging, to rage at an absentee father, to devastating memories of a childhood caught up in self-injury and suicidal thoughts. Prepare yourself. B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: The most aggressive and party-friendly member of Black Hippy, ScHoolboy Q takes the pain-and-pleasure drug raps of Danny Brown's Old to even darker places on his new album, Oxymoron. Be prepared for a performance full of very high highs and incredibly dark lows: Witness Q rap his pain away on emotional epics like "Prescription - Oxymoron" and then pull yourself out of a pit of despair with the anthemic "Man of the Year" and the EDM tease of "Hell of a Night." B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: This London-born, Vienna-based enigma is a one-stop shop for gorgeously minimal melancholy. He's responsible for all of his own production, but his voice is his best instrument, offering desperate croons that float above warm surges of synths and quietly gurgling backing drums. Top that off with lyrics about pining after a lost love (who doesn't love him back), existing as a ghost of himself, and struggling to stay away from an emotionally draining ex, and you've got a solid set of depressing, obsessive love ballads and lullabyes. SOHN's M.O. is definitely to keep it simple; it's an aesthetic that has helped him work on remixes commissioned by Haim, Angel Haze, BANKS, and Rhye this past year. And with his pensive hooks doing most of the emotional heavy lifting, he really doesn't need much else. P.P.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Solids drop ultra-dense fuzzbombs onto a landscape of riffy dissonance. This Montreal dream-punk duo nods to late-'90s emo in a manner that'll inspire bouts of PTSD over long-lost crushes. The Best New Artist alums' debut album, Blame Confusion, seamlessly straddles the line between abrasive and infectious. D.Z.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Details are scarce regarding the U.K. producer known simply as Sophie; she (or he?) appeared out of nowhere in 2012 with "Nothing More to Say," a '90s-leaning house cut, but it was last year's deliriously bleepy "Bipp" that really signaled the artist's arrival, winning over fans as diverse as Oneohtrix Point Never, Diplo, Richard X, and the Japanese designer Kenzo. (With good reason, "Bipp" was No. 10 in SPIN's 50 Best Dance Tracks of 2013.) It's been eight months since "Bipp" came out on Glasgow's Numbers label, but a booking-agency bio promises that new music is on the way in 2014, so keep an ear open for freshly deranged beats and boings at the artist's Hype Hotel set. P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Some newcomers to the dance-music game try to make a splash via viral hijinks and hashtag-friendly titles. James Herman Stack, on the other hand, announced his arrival with "My Name Is Jim-E Stack," a minute-long biography that name-checks Derek Walcott and tells us Stack's height (6'4") but is conspicuously music-free. Over on his SoundCloud page, his music speaks for itself: Both his solo tracks and his remixes for the likes of Sky Ferreira and Hyetal balance tough, percussive house and breakbeat grooves with melancholic synthesizers and a wide-open sense of space. P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: With a take on rave sonics that owes to both house and the juke music of their Chicago hometown — plus, an arsenal of up-and-coming nü-R&B singers at their disposal — these guys are pretty much the American answer to Disclosure. They experiment to be sure, but with each new outing the sound they craft bends more toward pop. Or is it the other way around? Posivibes will abound. C.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: They've opened for the Rolling Stones. Johnny Marr apparently loves them. Noel Gallagher has lauded this Kettering-formed foursome as "the best new band in Britain," which might be because Temples sound almost exactly like the best old band from Britain, one that also had four lads and perfected mid-'60s psych rock. Why fix what's not broken? C.D.
40.A Tribe Called Red
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Ottawa isn't far from dance music's historical centers, but instead of looking to Chicago or Detroit for inspiration, A Tribe Called Red call upon the traditions of Canada's First Nations peoples. The trio calls its style "Electric Pow Wow," a named shared by their debut album and regular events in their hometown that double as showcases for native talent and celebrations of aboriginal culture. Fusing snapping club and moombahton rhythms with call-and-response chants and traditional drumming, their second album, Nation II Nation, was nominated for a Polaris Music Prize and five Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, of which they won four, including Best Group or Duo and Best Pop CD. Last spring, they hooked up with Das Racist on the musical summit meeting "Indians from All Directions," and in December they contributed their beats and their name to Angel Haze's "A Tribe Called Red," a pulse-raising collision of rap, dubstep, and native drums and vocals. P.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: This Cincinnati trio compensate for their misleading moniker by making joyously hooky millennial garage-punk that falls somewhere between the Ronettes and the Ramones. Kim Deal booked them to open for the Breeders on the recommendation of a trusted record-shop owner in the 'Nati; Ohio’s rock doyenne liked them so much, she took the band out on the road. Now Frenchkiss are putting out their self-titled debut in April. C.D.
42.Ty Dolla $ign
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Because the Los Angeleno rapper-singer-born-lothario's Beach House EP is arguably the finest R&B record of the year, a collection blessed with enough swagger, sexual voodoo, and melodic riches to garner a thousand comparisons to the Weeknd and Terius "The-Dream" Nash. Because, even though Monsieur Dolla $ign sometimes wraps his raps and croons in jackets of timely electro static, his voice is a welcome throwback, a gift that keeps on giving. D.B.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Like so many bands before them, Los Angeles "ghost-pop" quartet Warpaint chose Joshua Tree as the base camp for a spiritual journey of sorts. "It was an experimental period for us," says drummer Stella Mozgawa. "We had been on tour with each other for so long playing the same songs. We were so eager to make something new and figure out what kind of band we were in this environment." From the sound of the resulting album, Warpaint — their first since 2010's The Fool, and the first written collectively by the entire lineup — they clearly found their metaphorical oasis, and maybe a literal one too: The whole record is swimming in liquid energy, beginning with the milky voices of co-leaders Emily Kokal and Theresa Wayman, their sturdy guitar/bass/drums interplay lubricated by oodles of reverb. With the band recently returned to road again, now's the perfect time to check the progress of their fluid sound as it crystallizes, like a desert rose. P.S.
44.Wheelchair Sports Camp
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Apologies for the able-bodied construct, but Kalyn Heffernan is the sort of person who signs off her Gchats with "Gotta 'run,'" so at least we're all consistent. Diagnosed with the bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta at six months, the 3'6", 55-pound frontwoman for this life-affirming rap band does, in fact, roll instead of walk, and she did go to sports camp, and we have been trying to get you on board with her totally dope outfit since 2011. She's since opened for Salt N Pepa, been interviewed for High Times, and just released a frankly incredible video for her new single, "Dance Off." So run instead of walk — because you can. C.D.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: On the strength of their sophomore release, Clean, a tremendously unsparing six-song stoner-dirge that SPIN named one of 2013's Best Metal Records, this thunderous Atlanta trio ranks among sludge-metal's finest acts. And if this herky-jerky YouTube footage from 2011 is any indication, this band's pulverizing pig-fuck devastation extends so far beyond the studio, spectators can't even hold a camera steady watching this band live. Miss Killdozer? Fill that hole with Whores. C.D.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Disciples of David Simon's sprawling drug trade opus The Wire already know Tristan Paul "Mack" Wilds — the Staten Island native played embattled teen Michael Lee in the HBO drama's final two seasons. These days, the 24-year-old traffics in cinematic R&B rooted in '90s New York hip-hop. Mack's debut album, 2013's remarkably self-assured New York: A Love Story, boasts guest appearances by Method Man, Raekwon, and Doug E. Fresh, and features an arsenal of orchestrated samples by Salaam Remi, a producer known for crafting beats on behalf of Nas. The real star of Mack's Love Story, though, is his voice, a soulful croon that softens the boom-bap edge by being, to quote the man himself, "smoother than a shot of Hennessy." Look out, Austin: Mack comin'. K.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Wye Oak reinvented themselves for their upcoming fourth album, Shriek, due April 29 via Merge Records. ("There's not a lick of guitar on this whole record," singer Jenn Wasner told SPIN last year, inside Brooklyn's Rare Book Room Studio.) To follow 2011's much-loved Civilian, Wasner and bandmate Andy Stack flipped their script: She's hung up her guitar (for now, at least) to play bass, and Stack is using his keyboards to aim for "the more upper register stuff that guitar would normally handle," according to Wasner. As heard on lead Shriek single "The Tower," the results emphasize electronics, but remain every bit as atmospheric and vivid as Wye Oak's previous work. "We've been really excited," Stack said to SPIN, "that this record can finally be a time when people put to rest the moniker 'indie folk.'" K.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Potions don't come much more potent than this: Black Sabbath sludge, Jack White weirdness, and Dick Dale surf thrills boiled down to a thick, bilious goo. Add to your morning hair regimen or smear on a favorite guitar for instant results — just don't blame us if you're transformed into three young Brighton punks with a knack for loner lyricism and an eye on the gallows. C.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: When this Afro-Scottish trio emerged early last year, they sounded like a woozy, R&B-addled mashup of PM Dawn and TV on the Radio and they've only gotten more intriguing since. Their debut album, Dead, carries forth the noise-rap torch, even amidst so much melodicism and lush production. In a post-Yeezus world, Young Fathers are poised to inherit this awesomely scorched earth. C.M.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: Go see the dude they affectionately call "Thugga" because he will perform "Danny Glover," the haunting, honking trap boom street hit that got Kanye West turnt-up, holding his face like, "Sheesh" on Vine, and forced a singular MC like Nicki Minaj to ape the yelping Atlanta rapper's sputtering delivery. Surely, Thug will temper the through-the-roof energy with his quirky mumbler, "Stoner." This is the eccentric, theatrical, Lil Wayne-informed future of hip-hop for the club. B.S.
Reason to Run, Not Walk: If the Yvette is a small body of water located in a quaint section of southern France, then YVETTE is a sonic tsunami threatening the sanity of all who come into contact with it. (Just a thought.) After the Brooklyn noise-rock duo released their debut album, Process, in October, one thing became very certain: This is a band that must be experienced live. C.O.