SXSW 2015: 22 Artists You Must See
SPIN cherry-picks the most exciting performers at South By Southwest this year, with Alex G., Girl Band, Priory, and more
At this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, a number of noteworthy lone stars will be making their way to Texas to perform for fans, journalists, and plenty of other artists too. Per usual, the SXSW lineup features hundreds of acts, many of which are heading to the sprawling, week-long event for the first time. To help make sense of the massive roster, SPIN picked out 22 artists you absolutely must see.
As meat-and-potatoes a rapper as we’ve come to discover in the 2010s, this former chef constructs elaborately funny fantasies about women and delicious dishes in self-explanatory tracks like “Actin’ Crazy” as he finally unveils his long-awaited full-length Mr. Wonderful later this month. — DAN WEISS
One of the most promising young names in slacker-rock, Alex G.’s full-band live show actually has a ferocity to it that belies the lackadaisical vibe of debut album DSU. Come for the sweetly stoned melodies, stay for the Dinosaur Jr. shredding and unexpected bouts of Jesse Lacey-worthy yowling. — ANDREW UNTERBERGER
R&B mainstay and former Moesha star Brandy will thankfully make the trip down to Austin, which hopefully means she’s made some progress on her much-delayed album, the follow-up to her widely overlookd 2012 release, Two Eleven. She’s acknowledged and discussed the new project for nearly two years, so maybe SXSW will be the perfect venue to debut some new songs. — CONNOR O’BRIEN
The Oklahoma-based trio made for an unexpected choice of opener on the recent North American tour of new wave-era rock god Billy Idol, but rock tunes haven’t sounded this simultaneously smoky and bouncy since the mid-’80s heyday of the Cult and the Jesus and Mary Chain, anyway. And if you’ve never heard “Class Historian” before, enjoy these last few seconds of clear-headedness before it gets stuck in there for all time. — A.U.
The San Fran dream-pop duo have been kicking around for a minute — give 2014’s self-titled EP a listen — but this year seems like the one they’re primed for stardom. Songs like “OOO AAA” and “Unbound” demonstrate the pair’s viscerally intuitive understanding of melodies and instrumentation, but there’s also a keen eye for hook-anchored, capital P Pop. — BRENNAN CARLEY
Elle King encompasses blends bluegrass, soul, and sass. She just released her debut album, Love Stuff, this past February and has toured with a variety of acts, including the Dropkick Murphys and Ed Sheeran — impressive company for an up-and-comer. — MARGARET FARRELL
Emmy the Great
Singer-songwriter Emmy The Great has released two albums (First Love and Virtue), and just last month dropped her S EP. Sounding like a mix of the Decemberists and Norah Jones, the London-based singer pumps out memorable, low-key tunes under via her own label, Close Harbour Records. — M.F.
Hailing from Dublin, Girl Band are quite confounding. Influenced by Nick Drake and the Birthday Party, they’ll definitely play some of the most enthrallingly grimy stuff of the week. Their debut EP on Rough Trade, The Early Years, drops on April 21. — C.O.
The South African group GoldFish filters their electronica through jazzy and native African music filters for a unique and irresistibly smooth sound. Their live performances, which often employ live musicians and instruments, are refreshing, and chances are you’ll remember them for a lot longer than seven seconds. — JAMES GREBEY
There’s a youthful, frenetic energy behind Holychild’s pop that you can’t help but get stuck in your head, where the zippy hooks will happily bounce around like kid who ate too much candy at a birthday party (but without the ensuing tummy ache). Check out standout tracks like “Running Behind” or “Happy With Me” to hear how the Los Angeles duo pumps their songs full of as much upbeat noise as possible. — J.G.
The most contemplative rapper of the current NYC class, Angel Del Villar II spends his songs trying to write the perfect personal ad (“Sane man seeking woman”) and worries how much he should be liking independent movies (“I guess I got problems”). Of which he may have 99, but a flow ain’t one. — D.W.
A self-taught musician from South Carolina, Keath Mead recently released his debut full-length from Company Records. Sunday Dinner is a warm bunch of honey-baked songs with a ’60s singer-songwriter kick. — M.F.
Siblings Katie and Ben Marshall seem to have taken a little Wilson Philips, a little Wang Chung, and a healthy heaping of Whitney Houston to fine-tune their signature dream-pop, as heard on last year’s stellar EP, Magic. — C.O.
Public Service Broadcasting’s artsy electronica has a neat gimmick — it’s educational. On The Race For Space, the London duo samples audio from charmingly retro public information films about topics like Mt. Everest or the space race, and weaves the old narration into swirling soundscapes that might just teach you a thing or two while you listen. See, kids? Learning can be fun! — J.G.Sam Hunt
Not a lot of burgeoning country stars would try to make hay at the indiefest that is South By Southwest, but one of the main appeals of Sam Hunt’s music is his acknowledgment of a music world outside Nashville. Hunt’s best songs are bitingly detailed relationship rhapsodies as influenced by Drake and Ryan Adams as they are by Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Keith Urban — the latter of whom even swiped one of Hunt’s best story songs for his own single “Cop Car.” — A.U.
Last October, Priory dropped the Weekend EP, a Mike Posner stepchild with folksier guitars and vocals several octaves lower. “Boys will be boys / Who like boys / Who dress like girls,” the psych-pop goofballs — a.k.a. Brandon Rush and Kyle Searson — sing on the shame-shaming “Put ‘Em Up.” Macklemore and Ryan who? — B.C.
Sure, she’s “the actually good Australian rapper” whom people insist on thrusting into the Iggy Azalea conversation. But this quick-tongued 19-year-old is priming to be so much more, already amassing singles as magnetic and disparate as the chainsawing dubstep “Handle My Ego” and the open-armed arena candy “U-Huh.” — D.W.
Tunji’s The Love Project was one of 2014’s most impressive mixtapes — albeit one released so deep into end-of-year retrospective time, it didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved — a slithery collection of shape-shifting jams held together by Ige’s effortless cool and knack for hashtaggable hooks. Get on the bandwagon before he’s showing up onstage with Kanye and getting Nicki verses on his remixes. — A.U.