A complete guide to who you shouldn’t miss at SXSW
1. NAS – As one of the most successful and memorable rappers ever, Nas continues to exceed expectations and bring a new meaning to the rap world. A Queensbridge native, Nas uses his impeccable gift as both a lyricist and musician to bring a new understanding to his life growing up in the projects. From his first album, Illmatic (1994), which features hits like “N.Y. State of Mind” to his most recent album Life Is Good, Nas has arguably made his mark as one of the best rappers of all time. And although he has many awards under his belt, a much-deserved Grammy is hopefully next for this unmatchable talent.
2. GREAT AMERICAN CANYON BAND – The newest and most talked about band to emerge from Baltimore, GACB, is one to keep an eye out for. The members of the band are Paul and Krystal Jean Masson, both partners in and out of the studio. With their debut album Crush released this past October, GACB has already made a name for themselves with their country meets weary, acoustic, and cinematic musical vibe. Listen to “Tumbleweed,” “Crash,” “Lost At Sea” and pretty much any song on their EP entitled Crash for a good taste of what this band is all about.
3. JAMIE XX – A musician who truly needs no introduction, Jamie XX has had one hell of a year. As part of the electro group the XX, Jamie has been making hits for the past several years, however, it was his most recent solo album, In Colours, that completely took his fame to the next level. In Colours has to be one of the best albums of the year and one that transcends and brings new meaning to the electro-pop genre. If you’re not much a music lover, listen to “Loud Places” or “SeeSaw” I can almost guarantee it will turn you into a believer.
4. POLIÇA – Not sure what Minneapolis, Minnesota is known for? Well, now you can say they are known for creating this awesome American synthpop and alternative rock band, Polica, is from there. This duo, consisting of Ryan Olson and female vocalist Channy Leaneagh, was started in 2011 and has quickly risen to top the charts with fan favorites like “Lay Your Cards Out,” “Lime Habit,” and “Dark Star,” just to name a few. If you are a fan of bands like Future Islands, Blood Orange, Twin Shadow, or Chromatics, then Polica is definitely a band you should get to know.
5. BAYONNE – Originally from Austin, Texas, this one-man-act is not a DJ, but rather a multi-instrumentalist. With a sound similar to Youth Lagoon or Washed Out, Bayonne is definitely the next artist to watch. His song “Spectrolite” put him on the map and his newest song “Waves” continues to impress. Stay tuned for more on this multi-talented artist.
6. YUNA – A Malaysian singer-songwriter and businesswoman, Yuna is probably one of the more refreshing female acts to reach next level stardom this year. With a soft and soothing voice, Yuna has done covers of some of the most famous rock and rap songs, such as “Hold On We’re Going Home” by Drake and “Come As You Are” by Nirvana. However, her newest single “Crush” featuring Usher, is evident of this Kuala Lumpur native’s wide range of musical talent. At only 29, there are big things to come for this diverse-sounding musician.
7. ANDREW WATT – A young rocker with so much potential, Andrew Watt is one to watch. His first EP, Ghost In My Head, has a very refreshing sound and features favorites like “Runaway” and “Seeing Red.” A New York City native, Watt has since moved to LA to continue growing his solo career as a singer-songwriter. Previously the guitarist for the band, California Breed, Watt has signed with John Varvatos Records/Republic Records and is set for great things. He was also praised for his performance of “L.A. Woman” during the tribute to Ray Manzarek.
8. ALUNAGEORGE – This British pop duo is comprised of Aluna Francis and George Reid. Their hit “I’m In Control” has been topping the charts and is a favorite amongst fans. They worked on Disclosure’s song “White Noise,” which was a catalyst for their growing popularity. They released their full-length album Body Music in 2013, but are gearing up for another album this year.
9. YACHT – Originally from Portland, Oregon and started as a solo project by Jona Bechtolt in 2002, Yacht has grown to be a full-fledged pop duo with the addition of Claire L. Evans. Hits like “Psychic City” and “Second Summer” have set this band apart from the others. With catchy rhythmic tones and beats, Yacht is a band that has the power to make you feel good inside. Perfect to listen to to uplift your mood, their newest album I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler, is no disappointment as it offers more dance-worthy tracks.
10. PETITE NOIR – Petite Noir’s song “Chess” has more than 1.5 million listens. And if that isn’t enough to impress you, we urge you to listen to this solo-acts most recent album, La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful. Born in Brussels to an Angolan mother and a Congolese father, Yannick Ilunga is the mastermind behind Petite Noir. His African roots create for a very unique and catchy sound, which Ilunga calls “noir wave.” Whatever it is, it is worth listening to, along with all of his songs.
11. BLOC PARTY – Possibly one of the best punk rock pop bands to come out of London, Bloc Party is a perfect example of how Brits just seem to know music. Headed by frontman Kele Okereke, whose voice is immediately identifiable, Bloc Party have been incredibly successful since their self-titled EP, Bloc Party, was released in 2004. With hits like “Banquet,” “This Modern Love,” “I Still Remember,” “Signs,” “Real Talk,” and from their newest album, “Virtue” and “So Real” to name a few, Bloc Party is a band that we hope continues to make music for years to come. Inspired by fellow British bands like The Cure and Joy Division, Bloc Party is definitely a band to be reckoned with and one that shouldn’t be missed in concert.
12. RAE SREMMURD – An Atlanta-based rap duo, comprised of two brothers, Khalif “Swae Lee” Brown and Aaquil “Slim Jxmmi” Brown, Rae Sremmurd released their first hit single “We” in February of 2014. Since then, they have grown in popularity thanks to their platinum hits like “No Flex Zone” and “No Type.” A modern day comparison to Kris Kross, Rae Sremmurd provides a refreshing beat that will be further evident in their upcoming album SremmLife 2.
13. FICKLE FRIENDS – Brighton-based band Fickle Friends is more than a band with a catchy name. Their debut single “Swim” put the band on the board as one of the bands to watch. With a toned down vibe, Fickle Friends has continued to release hits like “For You” and more recently “Say No More,” all of which have attracted popularity on sites like Hype Machine, etc. We are looking forward for this young band’s stardom.
14. THE CHAINSMOKERS – A DJ duo comprised of Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, The Chainsmokers first gained popularity with the release of their hit “#SELFIE.” Since then, the DJ set have released mega-hits like “Roses” and “Waterbed,” both songs that have captured the attention of EDM and Indie fans alike. Their debut album is set to be released sometime this year, which will include tracks like “Don’t Let Me Down,” which was released this past February.
15. RA RA RIOT – Formed by 4 classmates at Syracuse University, Ra Ra Riot is headed by vocalist Wesley Miles whose voice can carry a tune like that of Vampire Weekend’s frontman, Ezra Koenig. With a violinist as part of the band, Ra Ra Riot makes songs that have a very unique sound, which is evident in their songs “Absolutely,” “Can You Tell,” and “Foreign Lovers.” Although they have not yet released a full-length album, Ra Ra Riot has dropped enough great singles to hold us over until their debut album is released.
16. YUCK – A band that will probably resonate with those who can appreciate the hard rock sound of the 90’s, Yuck is a London-based band that reminds us why rock is such a great musical genre. Their debut album features their first hit “Get Away,” which is reminiscent of bands like Local H and Sonic Youth and which was a perfect taste of what was to come for this awesome band. Since their 2011 debut album, Yuck has since released two more albums in 2013 and 2016, which features hits like “Heart In Motion,” “Like A Moth,” “Swirling,” and many more. For those who get to see these guys in concert, we assume it won’t be anything less than amazing.
17. YOUNG THUG – Thanks to another one of the acts on this list, Jamie XX, Young Thug has shot to music stardom. His song with Jamie XX, “I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times” was a major mark for this young Atlanta rapper’s musical resume. With associated acts that include Birdman and Gucci Mane, this rapper has gained even more popularity following the release of his hits like “Best Friend,” “Old English,” “Check,” and many more. This is one act you definitely can’t miss.
18. DJ KHALED – So although DJ Khaled has recently been trending due to his Snapchat activity, he has been around since before Snapchat was even a thought. This Palestinian-American Miami-based DJ and producer is part of Fat Joe’s group Terror Squad and has had many mega hits like “I’m On One,” “Gold Slugs,” “We Takin’ Over” and more from his first album in 2007 all the way through his most recent success with his record entitled I Changed A Lot.
19. CHARLI XCX – “Boom Clap” is just one of this Brit’s popular hits released to date. She has also released hit singles like “Break the Rules,” “Vroom Vroom,” as well as the hit “Rollercoaster” from the Bleachers album Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2 released as an updated addition to the Bleachers’ debut album Strange Desire.
20. SAVOIR ADORE – Brooklyn-based Savoir Adore is a self-coined “fantasy pop” band created from a forty eight hour recording session. They first signed with Cantora Records (think MGMT) in 2008 and have since released hits like “Pop Goes the World” and “Dreamers” that have both gained commercial attention. Their most recent singles “Lovers Wake” and “Giants” are a continuation of the sound that brought this band major attention with the release of their previous albums, most recently Our Nature (2012).
21. SMALL BLACK – Another Brooklyn-based band, Small Black has been consistently dropping hits since their first single from their album New Chain (2010). Their subsequent albums Limits of Desire (2013) and Best Blues (2015) are two of the best indie albums to come out in their respective years. With a bit of a nostalgic sound, Small Black has an evident melody in many of their songs that always seems to bring back fond memories. A perfect example of this is found in their tracks “No Stranger” and “Boys Life” both of which are just 2 of the band’s great songs.
22. GALLANT – From Columbia, Maryland, Gallant is the sole project of Christopher Gallant, an American singer-songwriter. With a sound similar to D’Angelo, Gallant gained recognition when he self-released his EP Zebra in 2014. He released a cover of The Foo Fighters’ song “Learn To Fly,” which was an absolute genius rendition. Additionally, he has released popular singles like “Weight In Gold” – one version even features Seal. Keep an eye out for this young soulful artist, we are sure he has more great music up his sleeve.
23. MONOGEM – The project of California-based singer Jen Hirsh, Monogem is a dreamy, disco-tinged, pool-party-sounding vibe, finished with the sweet aftertaste of funk and soul. Her hit “The Glow” from her EP, Monogem (2015), has both a catchy beat and strong lyrics that make it easy to tap your feet and sing along at the same time. She most recently released her single “Gone,” which was just remixed by INSTRUM. This girl is going to do big things for sure and we can’t wait for what’s in store.
24. CHAD VALLEY – Oxford-based Hugo Manuel is the brainchild behind the name Chad Valley. Merging Ibiza and R&B inspired electro-pop beats, Manuel released a handful of his songs online, which then caught the eye of many labels, one of which is his current label Cascine. Since his first album in 2012, Young Hunger, Chad Valley has released his most recent album, Entirely New Blue, which contains hits like “Arms Away” and “Labasa.” A refreshing pop-like sound, Chad Valley is definitely different than his peers.
25. MISTERWIVES – One of the newest bands to come out in the past 2 years, this New York City group has released hits like “Reflections” and “Our Own House” which are off their debut album, Our Own House, released in 2015. They have a unique folk and indie rock sound that makes them very different in music world. It is great when bands know how to differentiate their sound, while still remaining true to their sound and this band definitely does it right.
26. POWERS – Not a lot is known about this new alt-pop band, Powers, except for the fact that they are a 2 man group from Brooklyn who were featured on the Knock’s summer hit “Classic” which was an instant favorite. Since then the duo has released awesome singles like “Hot,” “Beat of My Drum,” and “Loved By You,” all of which should be listened to at high volumes. Definitely check them out and look for their full-length album out soon.
27. SBTRKT – London self-taught producer, Aaron Jerome, also known by his musical name, SBTRKT, is behind some of the best remixes. From remixing songs by Radiohead, Basement Jaxx, and Mark Ronson to collaborations with ASAP Ferg and Jessie Ware, SBTRKT hit new levels of recognition with the release of his album, Wonder Where We Land, released in 2014. His newest album Transitions was released in March and features rhythmic and bass-heavy techno infused songs like “Gamalena.” This is definitely an album to be listened to all the way through and we can bet his live performance is going to be just as energized as his beats.
28. BLEACHERS – The side project of fun. member Jack Antanoff, Bleachers released their debut album, Strange Desire, in the 2014 and gained major popularity with hits like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster.” More recently, Bleachers released a follow-up to their first album entitled Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2, which consists of remixed versions of the prior albums’ tracks. Full of spunk and energy, Bleachers are a diversified yet fun band, a combination that can only mean they put on a great show.
29. WYE OAK – Named after a 460-year-old tree in Maryland, this Baltimore band has a different sound than others that have come out of this city. Comprised of Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack, Wye Oak has been making music under this name since 2008, but gained more traction following the release of their most recent album Shriek (2014) and the deluxe version that was released in 2015. They had more of a folk-like sound in the beginning, but have since infused folk with R&B and more electro sounds, which has made for great songs like “Glory” and “Civilian.”
30. X AMBASSADORS – Another Brooklyn band, X Ambassadors are a 4-man band who are more alt-rock than indie, which is actually refreshing considering the abundance of indie bands that come out of this borough. This band’s first album Love Songs Drug Songs (2013) was fairly popular, but their newest album VHS is the record that really put this band on the map with tracks like “Renegades” and “Gorgeous.”
31. JOEY BADA$$ – A Brooklyn-born indie rapper, Joey Bada$$ made a name for himself by creating his own hip-hop collective called Pro Era. He released his first album 1999 in 2012, but gained more fame with the 2015 album B4.DA.$$, which features hits like “Paper Trail$,” “Christ Conscious,” and many more. At only 21, this young rapper is up to big things.
32. HONNE – British Electronic-Soul duo formed in 2014 is made up of Andy and James who write, produce, and record all their music. Although new, Honne has already dropped very catchy tracks like “Gone Are The Days,” “No Place Like Home,” and their cover of Jamie XX’s “Loud Places.” They have not released a full-length album yet, but all evidence points to a release sometime soon.
33. DANDY WARHOLS – Although this band is mostly known for their 90;s and early 00’s hits, the Dandy Warhols are probably one of the more unique rock bands to come out of the 90’s. Originally from Portland, Oregon, the Dandy Warhols offer a different type of rock sound, one that is evident in their hits like “Bohemian Like You,” “We Used To Be Friends,””The Last High, “Burned,” and their newest single “STYGGO.”
34. ROONEY – If you were ever a fan of the Fox hit TV show, The OC, then you are definitely familiar with the band Rooney. Led by Robert Carmine, the younger brother of actor and Coconut Records’ Jason Schwartzman, Rooney has a California sound that is hard to miss. Their early hits like from their albums Rooney (2003) and Calling The World (2007), “I’m Shakin’,” “Stay Away,” and “When Did Your Heart Go Missing,” put them on the map, but their newest single “My Heart Beats 4 U” will hopefully be the beginning of more hits by this band.
35. GEOGRAPHER – This San Francisco trio released their first record in 2010 entitled Animal Shapes and have been making great songs and impressionable albums, like Myth (2012) and Ghost Modern (2015), ever since. However, their most recent album release Endless Motion Vol. 1 shows listeners that this band can also pull off some amazing covers. From New Order’s “Age of Consent” to Felix da Housecat’s “Ready 2 Wear,” Geographer is a great example of a band that uses its talent to create an evolving sound with each record that is released.
36. LEON RUSSELL – A musical legend, Leon Russell has been a part of some of the most influential singers and songwriters of our time. An Oklahoma native, Russell started his own recording studio in 1967. Russell has had a very long and notable musical history. For instance, in 1971, he appeared at George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh following sessions for B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan. He has toured with the Rolling Stones and during the 70’s began to focus even more on his solo career. And having played alongside artists such as Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis, George Harrison, Gram Parsons, Delaney Bramlett, Ringo Starr, Doris Day, Elton John, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, the Byrds, Barbra Streisand, the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Willie Nelson, Badfinger, Tijuana Brass, Frank Sinatra, the Band, Bob Dylan, J.J. Cale, B.B. King, Dave Mason, Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker and the Rolling Stones, Leon Russell is an absolute blues and rock icon. “A Song For You” and “Tight Rope” are just two of his most critically-acclaimed hits, but listen to any song on his albums and you’ll see why this man is deemed a legend.
37. TANLINES – Brooklyn just seems to know how to breed and build great musicians and bands and Tanlines is one of them. This indie pop duo has been popular since the release of their 2010 album Settings and is continued to grow in fame with the subsequent albums Mixed Emotions (2012) and Highlights (2015).
38. BAIO – A solo act, started by Brit and Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, Baio has already gained popularity from his hit songs like “Endless Rhythm” and “Sister of Pearl” both from his debut album The Names (2015). This multi-talented artist is clearly capable of creating intricate beats and we are looking forward to more.
39. NEGATIVE GEMINI – Queens-based producer and singer behind Negative Gemini shows that a one-man (or woman) act is sometimes all you need. Fan favorites like “You Never Knew” and more recently “Body Work” (which features bits from Britney Spears’ hit, “Everytime,” is an indication that this artist is very talented. She released her first full-length album in 2013 entitled Forget Your Future and is set to release her follow up album sometimes this year.
40. MIIKE SNOW – A 3 man group, 2 of which hail from Sweden, while the lead Andrew Watt is American, Miike Snow has made headlines since their 2009 debut album Animal. Their most recent album, Miiike Snow has a bit of a different pop indie beat, but songs like “Genghis Khan” make it an even more appealing and good time to get on board the Miike Snow fan boat.
41. THE BIG PINK – Another London-based band, The Big Pink, has a sound that is fun rock. From hits like “Dominos” to “Hit The Ground (Superman)” and most recently “Beautiful Criminal,” this band has definitely stood the test of time. Their full-length album is set to be released this year and will be one to watch out for.
42. GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY – Since 2007, Ghostland Observatory has been making great jam songs, most notably “Sad Sad City,” “Stranger Lover,” and “Silver City.” It is crazy to think that they are just now releasing their follow up album to their 2010 record, Codename: Rondo. Their EP, Life of the Party is proof that this Austin, Texas duo has most definitely not lost their captivating sound.
Photo Credits: ihitthebutton.com, Leon Russell