Each year, hundreds of artists descend on Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, transforming the city into a sprawling metropolis dedicated solely to music as bands leak out from every packed bar, street corner, and venue they can find. But with a proposed 2,000 performers gracing over 100 stages from all edges of the globe attending SXSW 2014, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the selection of offer. But don’t fret, rather than drown in the sea of choices, why not smoothly navigate the ocean of music on offer with our selection of handpicked artists? From 60s garage sounds from The Netherlands to Costa Rican shoegazers and a healthy chunk of the record-breaking contingent of Aussie acts flying the flag at the annual music industry conference – there’s something for every music taste.
Each year, hundreds of artists descend on Austin, Texas for South By Southwest, transforming the city into a sprawling metropolis dedicated solely to music as bands leak out from every packed bar, street corner, and venue they can find. But with a proposed 2,000 performers gracing over 100 stages from all edges of the globe attending SXSW 2014, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the selection of offer. But don't fret, rather than drown in the sea of choices, why not smoothly navigate the ocean of music on offer with our selection of handpicked artists?
From 60s garage sounds from The Netherlands to Costa Rican shoegazers and a healthy chunk of the record-breaking contingent of Aussie acts flying the flag at the annual music industry conference - there's something for every music taste.
Answer the following question with cross-hearted honesty, when you think of Russian music, what sounds start ringing in your ears? Do your feet start a-tapping and your hips start-a shaking to the latest Russian funk-inspired groove the radio just spat out? Didn’t think so. But hey don’t sweat it, if disco/funk/new wave is your cup of vodka, Pompeya will not only be your new favourite Russian band, they’ll effortlessly rocket their way out of Russia and into your top of list of records to spin. The quartet will take their sunny Moscow sound to the streets of Austin for the first and most definitely not their last for 2014’s SXSW conference. Pompeya possess the indescribable unique warmth imperative to the heart and soul that is funk.
The Growl (Perth, Australia)
Further extending Western Australia’s unstoppable creative sphere to their first SXSW stage roars The Growl. It’s almost unfathomable to think of a present Fremantle band that absolutely wails that doesn’t include a member of Tame Impala or Pond – so naturally, The Growl’s line-up includes the multifaceted Cam Avery of both aforementioned bands. However, this killer collective is not another dream infused psychedelic explosion of space rock (not that there’s any complaints). The Growl instead have hitched their wagon on the rocky gravel blues road, resonations tied closed to the likes of Tom Waits than their Aussie counterparts. It is with upmost pride that the Avery lead Growlin’ West Coasters represent our girt by sea at the ultimate conference in 2014.
Capsula (Bilbao, Spain)
Hailing originally from Argentina and now settled in Bilbao Spain arrive the three-piece Capsula, translating to Capsule, a name inspired solely from David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’. The trio’s sound is soaked with the raw edged darkness of The Stooges, The Cramps and The Velvet Underground but with clear modern refinements not too distant from the garage of The White Stripes or brooding psychedlica found in The Black Angels. Having worked with the likes of the revered Ivan Julian and Tony Visconti and heavily heralded by David Fricke as “the best surprise live act” of a previous SXSW, Capsula are the real fucking deal, dig their performance on KEXP for proof.
What makes better for a guns blazing, gritty, grungy output than two pissed off brothers from a country town in central UK? The pounding two-piece unveiled their eponymous self-titled debut record in August this year to wave of deserved glory. The Loveless lads are bound for their first tour of the States with eyes only for smashing apart the SXSW scene with belting hits ‘Bloodsports’ and ‘Backwaters’.
London Grammar (London, England)
‘Strong’ couldn’t be a more fitting sentiment for Britsol’s most recent contribution to the world of trip-hop. Stunning critics and fans alike with their seamless debut LP release If You Wait, the trio powered by the rich brooding baritone of Hannah Reid are set to captivate the hearts of Austin in their first SXSW performance. Leaving in their wake a stream of sold-out sets across the globe, it’s taken the band a mere year to leap from stealing the hearts of hundreds, to thousands upon thousands. Picture fellow Brit-trio The XX in early days – London Grammar are cruising the same path of golden glory.
Casual Sex (Glasgow, Scotland)
Hailing from the northern skies of Scotland emerges one of, if not the finest examples of postpunk in quite some time – Casual Sex. Making their debut at SXSW, the Glasgow locals have been heralded by UK critics as “the best Scottish band since Franz Ferdinand”. Cheeky yet infectious tracks such as ‘What’s Your Daughter For’ and ‘The Sound of Casual Sex’ will undoubtedly fill and spill from Austin bandrooms in 2014. Casual Sex are a bravado charged quartet whose sound swings from Bolan-Bowie glam to more than obvious new wave jives circa Blondie-Talking Heads. Casual Sex channels a refurbished link to the past and are not to be missed.
Money For Rope (Melbourne, Australia)
Representing the ‘four seasons in a day’ Victorian capital is Money For Rope. The sextet has ridden a consistent rouse of rise in 2013 having just closed out a successful tour of Europe promoting their stellar self-titled November 2012 release. Money For Rope are your classic rock’n’roll outfit that frequently dip their feet into surfy wavers as well as a nod of the head toward fuzzy garage jams. Their live set is renown for moving even the most solitary of cynical soldiers (trust us, not the easiest task in Melbourne!). The collective are no stranger to the streets of Austin, having spurred the SXSW punter’s feet into an unforgettable Aussie rock flurry.
Jessica Lea Mayfield (USA)
She’s only 24, but Ohio’s Jessica Lea Mayfield’s articulation of heartache resembles a woman who has witnessed a thousand torn romances. Mayfield’s sound spans from a dreamy lone-star gaze, a clenched fist fiercer than adored Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, to more accessible pop-induced neo-country hooks. This isn’t Mayfield’s first SXSW performance nor will it be her last. The multifaceted songstress is an artist that effortlessly charms the hearts of any solitary crowd member, having even lent her vocals to a record of fellow Ohio brothers, The Black Keys.
Teengirl Fantasy (New York, USA)
SXSW showcases all forms of sound, and US born now Amsterdam native Teengirl Fantasy are tipped to steal the dance floor scene for 2014’s conference. The dynamic duo has been working at a steadfast pace headlining tours as well as apart of European festivals, not to mention the release of their latest EP Nun. Championed by the shimmering space-trip Cheaters of 2010, Teengirl Fantasy bestow an arsenal of electrified tracks, a killer accompanying visual to match the audio – not to mention the energetic nature the pair bounce between synthesisers, decks and percussion station.
The Great Wilderness (San Jose, Costa Rica)
Do you have a favourite Costa Rican band? Enter: The Great Wilderness. You do now. The Central American quartet encompasses a raw alternative rock prowess with a supplementing shoegaze sentiment that oozes an eerie atmospheric vapour. Vocally led by the enigmatic and enchanting Paola Rogue, the band’s husky feminie driven sound resonates closest with LA based quartet, Warpaint. Naturally, The Great Wilderness provides a darker rough around the edges provision. Taking to SXSW for the second time in their career with an arsenal of fresh material, these four Central Americans are bound to put Costa Rica on the musical map.
King Parrot (Melbourne, Australia
Let’s get a little heavy now. Australia’s contribution to the world of thrash/grind/metal explodes in the dangerous form of Melbourne’s King Parrot. Feared and revered, King Parrot’s metallic wings have deservedly spread from Australian shores to USA and the UK. One of, if not the hardest working band comprised within this list, King Parrot self-funded a 2013 of Indonesia that included the free-for-all ‘Obscene Extreme Festival’ in Jakarta. Lead festival organiser Miloslav Urbanec proclaimed the King Parrot set was one of the “most enjoyable performances he had seen in his 20 years of running the festival”. With such confessions, our theatrically murderous five-piece are set for complete annihilation of their first SXSW stage.
The Men (Brooklyn, New York City USA)
Abrasive, corrosive, explosive – throw whatever punk rock buzz descriptive you can at The Men ‘coz it sticks. The five-piece seek refuge in Brooklyn of NYC – an area that typically seems synonymous with synthesizers, shoegaze revivals, dream pop obsession, the term “hipster” and indie culture. How fucking fresh is it to have a crash ‘em bash ‘em punk outfit that actually wails to rep the borough? With a bag full of now four LPs, The Men are no stranger to the SXSW stage having showcased in 2012. The quintet’s live performance doesn’t stand far from the delivery of punk-purists MC5 and UK’s Buzzcocks, a reputation that deems the band more than worthy of inspection.
Only Real (London, England)
Finger firmly pressed down on the ‘on trend’ button reveals Niall Galvin, better recognised under the moniker Only Real. Galvin is a fresh faced 21 year-old from West London who raps his nasal; dragged-through-gravel drawl to a soothing low-fi meets dream-pop sound. Galvin has recently signed to Virgin after consistently selling-out gigs in his native UK. This witty youngster is apart of the new breed of solo artists likened to Mac DeMarco or King Krule that have arrived with an infectious unique sound without the slightest sniff of pretention.
The Swiss (Sydney, Australia)
There isn’t one dance floor left in Australia that hasn’t drowned in The Swiss’ career defining “Bubble Bath”. The Swiss wield that 70s disco power that is overwhelmingly feet moving and just about every production forcibly stretches a joyous smile to any listener. They’re a dance force to be reckoned with, especially when placed against the comparable French scene. With a crate of fresh pressed wax including hits ‘Elouisa’, ‘Connect’ and ‘Peach Pit’, The Swiss will proudly represent Australia once again for the 2014 conference in Austin.
Vance Joy (Melbourne, Australia)
Vance Joy. Riptide. Rinse and Repeat. It’s been the therapeutic ritual performed by hundreds of thousands in Australia and abroad. No stranger to the SXSW platform, the Melbourne grown Vance Joy have the bags packed with fresh material that will undoubtedly be their official cross-over selling point in the U.S.A. Having consistently sold-out shows in a mental succession, Vance Joy’s triumphs in 2013 have been one of, if the grandest for a fresh Australian artist.
Dråpe (Oslo, Norway)
In typical Scandinavian fashion arrives a whimsical northern lights dreamy gaze of synthesised pop. The formation high in the sky are commonly known as Dråpe, a beautifully melodic five-piece that crown Oslo as home. The band aptly describes themselves as ‘indieshoegazepostrocknoise’, which is emphatically accurate. The recorded output from the quintet displays a kaleidoscope of warm dream pop and immersive shoegaze. Dråpe shy from the typical dark moody textures of the genre instead opting for an enriched brighter, enlightening sound.
Dråpe will be gracing SXSW for their first time in 2014 – a showcase special that will undoubtedly reveal the band’s exquisite potential.
Mozes and the Firstborn (Netherlands)
Mozes and the Firstborn are one of the most exciting acts to bubble from the lowlands of The Netherlands. The Dutch four-piece sound like the little brothers that were locked in a sixties garage with Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, with nothing to do but smoke weed and create psychedelic infused garage magic. Having supported New Zealand’s revered Unknown Mortal Orchestra throughout their European tour, Mozes and the Firstborn’s fanbase has grown exponentially. The quintet’s bourgeoning success is imminent.
Royal Canoe (Winnipeg, Canada)
If you’ve not heard of Royal Canoe – your time is limited. This Canadian crew of six produce excruciatingly infectious mind-bending rock that is virtually impossible to avoid tapping your feet to. The sextet’s sound does not pertain to any one explicit genre, bouncing from funk to dance driven bass-lines, hooky keys, string samples, heavily distorted vocals and bizarre time signatures. The unique polarisation of such elements allows for constantly changing live performances. Opening for breakout superstars alt-J earlier in 2013, Royal Canoe have collected and an expansive following. SXSW are in for an eclectic one in a lifetime performance from the eccentric Winnipeg natives.
People Of Letters (Melbourne, Australia)
A concept conceived by two hearts of Melbourne, Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire created ‘Women of Letters’. ‘Women of Letters’ invites some of Australia’s “finest dames of stage, screen and page” to hand write letters of any nature, to later be read aloud at the similarly named event and finally submitted into the ‘Women of Letters’ book. Standout entry includes Megan Washington whom famously wrote a love letter to the city of Melbourne itself. People of Letters took its debut stage at SXSW in 2013, with artists from around the world submitting their own letters and reading at the conference. Amanda Palmer is one of many to whom she wrote to her step-brother, apparently whilst drunk! This years artists are yet to be revealed, but People of Letters is a very unique insight into showcasing artists of SXSW. We’re super proud to call it Australian.
Wild Moccasins (Houston, Texas USA)
Meet Wild Moccasins, a Houston party of five believably plucked from the indie-pop eighties and vocally led by the tiny in stature yet criminally talented Zahira Gutierrez. ‘Gag Reflections’ is the quintet’s wit-induced pop hit that channels vocal gymnastics of Guiterrez as the band swirl through a blend of post-punk and indie pop. No stranger to the Austin scene, Wild Moccasins have a more than sizeable fan base ready to paint the town red in 2014. This will be their first SXSW showcase to which is set to be a rousing roar of success.
Folly & The Hunter (Montreal, Canada)
Folly & The Hunter represent the contingent of a sweetly harmonised indie folk group that is just too damn easy to listen to. Rolled together from Vancouver to Sussex, the quartet’s sound has emerged from a year of self-professed heartache that inspired a family-like kinship. As a collective healing process, the band crafted their debut release Tragic Care. Having performed on the 2013 SXSW platform, Folly & The Hunter are no stranger to charming the southern hearts. This time round they’ve got a whole new bag of tricks to enchant their Austin audiences with.
Dune Rats (Melbourne, Australia)
Seeking that carefree summer inspired fun as fuck show, moving your ass to some of catchiest jams known to man? Hailing from Brisbane, the bratty punks that are Dune Rats are our first and final of answers. Having booted around a never-ending list of Aussie bars clubs, the stoner rock pair have taken their lazy haze to many pockets of the globe, developing a rapidly increasing fan base. 2014 will see the band’s smoky pop-punk infused cloud lower on Austin for their SXSW debut. Despite the band’s jovial nature, Dune Rats are an entirely professional and infectious outfit that are undoubtedly set to burst on the Texan platform.
Josef Salvat (Melbourne, Australia)
With a substantial number of critics casually twirling their hands in synchronisation drawing comparisons from Morrissey to Lana Del Rey as well as dubbing Salvat as ‘the next Gotye’ - it’s more than safe to say there’s some hubbub surrounding the Australian singer-songwriter Josef Salvat. Farfetched expectations aside, Salvat does indeed possess a prolific prowess in crafting his indie-pop productions. Tracks such as ‘Hustler’ have exploded online sending bloggers wild, pleading for more of the London-dwelling Aussie. 2014 will be Salvat’s first performance at the mega conference which will surely be a holy moment for those present.