2014 was an incredible year for the music industry as we saw new and emerging artists break into the scene introducing fresh and avant garde sounds, as well as older and more established artists reinventing themselves to recapture their loyal fans all over again. With that in mind, this years SXSW has been one of the most highly anticipated festivals to attend and thus what better year than this to finally take the trip to see some of the artists that made 2014 so epic. Below is a list of the artists we think you should definitely check out while in Austin and if our word may not be enough, we’ve attached a playlist of our favorite songs from each artist to do the persuading. Because whether it be indie rock, rap, electronic, reggae, or soul, this SXSW lineup is one that should not be missed and we’ll tell you why.
- ASTR – Hailing from New York City, singer Zoe Silverman and producer Adam Pallin form this pop duo who broke into the music scene in 2014. They released their EP, Varsity, in late 2014 which features their flawless cover of Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” as well as their own upbeat and dance-worthy hits like “Blue Hawaii.”
- Gary Clark Jr – A Texas native himself, Gary Clark Jr. is hands down one of the best guitarist to emerge in this decade. His mix of soul, blues, and hip-hop has captivated fans all over the world and has made us younger generations appreciate this genre that was made impressionable by rock icons like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
- Gorgon City Live – Two London producers form this deep house duo that first emerged in 2013 with the release of their EP, Real. However, the group hit real stardom in 2014 when they released their hit “Ready for Your Love,” which was followed by their highly-anticipated full album Sirens featuring singles like “Here for You” and “Unmissable.”
- Brolin – There is little known about this London-based producer, which is probably due to the fact that he doesn’t give interviews and chooses to express himself solely through his music rather than through media appearances. With that said, after hearing his heartfelt songs and reading the lyrics to songs like “Swim Deep” and “NYC,” we realize that his music really does speak for him.
- Nosaj Thing – Although there are tons of well-respected and notable DJs in the scene right now, this one in particular has a unique and unconventional style that separates him from the others. Gathering inspiration from fellow DJs like DJ Shadow and composers like Danny Elfman, this LA-based musician has combined hip-hop with electronic sounds and has collaborated with well-known artists like Kid Cudi, Toro y Moi, and more recently Chance the Rapper on the single “Cold Stares.”
- Milky Chance – Fusing both folk and reggae, this German duo has created a catchy and addictive sound that has encapsulated fans around the world. With their hits like “Stolen Dance,” “Flash Junky Mind,” and “Down By the River,” MIlky Chance has become one of the most critically-acclaimed new artist of 2014. Their debut album, Sadnecessary, received raving reviews and has left us even more excited for what is to come.
- Travi$ Scott – Another Texas native, 22 year old Travi$ Scott is a fresh face in the rap world who has been signed to Kanye West’s record label Very GOOD Beats since 2012. Although he has yet to release his first full album, Scott has been featured in songs with Big Sean, T.I., 2 Chainz, and most recently in Drake’s album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. With a lot of potential and some of rap’s biggest names behind him, this artist has a lot to offer and is definitely an artist to keep your eye on.
- LANY – This male trio consists of Les Priest, Jake Goss, and Paul Klein, all of whom met in Nashville a few years ago after Klein moved from LA to put his solo career on hold. Starting off as just friends making music, the trio decided to create a SoundCloud account and began posting original songs. Soon enough they had a massive fan following and their release of “ILYSB” and more recently, “Bad Bad Bad,” has just further solidified the fact that this group is here to stay and their full album release is one to look forward to.
- Milo Greene – Described as a cinematic pop band, Milo Greene initially broke into the scene with their self-titled debut album Milo Greene in 2012, which consisted of popular folk-like tracks such as “1957” and “Silent Way.” However, this past year, the band has seen even more success, which may be due to the bands change in direction from folk to a more pop-like sound. Their singles like “On the Fence” and “White Lies” has made their sophomore album, Control,” a recent critical favorite.
- Only Real – This young Brit, has been one of the freshest and most unique artists to emerge in 2014. His sound incorporates both rap and rock, which makes for a very catchy tune in all of the singles he has released to date. He initially caught music bloggers’ attention with his song “Cadillac Girl,” which was followed by another critical fave “Pass the Pain.” Each of his songs features the distinct harsh guitar sound with his cool accented rap lyrics – a combination which makes for the perfect rock/rap beat.
- Tove Lo – There is just something about Swedish singer/songwriters that make their music both incredibly catchy and heartfelt. If you imagine a bit more upbeat version of Lykke Li, you’ll have Tove Lo. Her hit “Habits” helped bring this 20 some Swedish singer into the light, but her recent debut album release Queen of the Clouds has further affirmed her deserving place in the spotlight as it features other hits like “Talking Body” and “Not on Drugs.”
- The Weeknd – With a voice resembling Sam Smith and beats comparable to artists like Drake or Miguel, the Weeknd has made a name for himself as one of the most promising rising artists in the R&B scene. He perked attention with his free mixtape release in 2011, but garnered even more attention with his compilation album, Trilogy, which was released in 2012. He has been featured on albums with Drake, Juicy J, French Montana, Wiz Khalifa, MIA, and Ariana Grande as well as on major motion picture soundtracks like The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey. This young talent is up to big things, so be sure to keep following.
- Gyptian – This Jamaican-born reggae artist has been on the rise since he released his hit “Serious Times” featured on his 2006 album My Name Is Gyptian. However, it was his 2010 song “Hold You” that really made his mark in not only the reggae scene, but amongst rap enthusiasts as well, especially with Nicki Minaj’s remix of the track. With famed DJ and record producer Diplo by his side, we know that good things are still coming from this solo star.
- James Bay – 24 year old James Bay made a name for himself with the release of his second EP Let It Go in May of 2014 which features the chart-topping track “Let It Go.” Bay also just recently ended a tour with alt rock favorite Hozier with which he sold out his first show in Boston on Halloween. Now having signed his first record deal under Republic Records, Bay’s much anticipated full-length album is set for a March release date.
- Fred Falke – Fred Falke, in my opinion, is one of the best DJs, remixers, and producers to emerge in the past 15 years. Although he has released amazing tracks of his own like “808 PM At the Beach,” France-based Falke has made an even bigger name for himself releasing remixes to well-known indie tracks by artists such as Grizzly Bear, Whitest Boy Alive, Hot Chip, Miike Snow, Miami Horror, and Robyn. Having also written and produced tracks for Ellie Goulding, this DJ is a multi-talented act that shouldn’t be overlooked.
- Robert DeLong – Washingtonian Robert DeLong’s music has been described by Wired Magazine as a mix of “electronic dance music, alt rock, and vocals into tracks that are poppy enough to make you move but dissonant enough to be interesting.” He released his first full-length album Just Movement in 2013 under Glassnote Records, which was followed by most recent fan favorite EP, Long Way Down, which features the single “Long Way Down.”
- Joey Bada$$ – Taking inspiration from some of raps biggest icons such as Tupac, Nas, and Jay-Z, Bed Stuy born Joey Bada$$ has received a lot of positive attention from fellow rap artists for his ability to mix rap with street-like indie beats. He toured with Mac Miller and was also on the The Smoker’s Club’s One Hazy Summer Tour in 2012 with big names like Action Bronson, Kendrick Lamar, Yelawolf, and Big K.R.I.T.
- Paper Tiger – One of the founding members of the hip-hop collective, Doomtree, John Samuels aka Paper Tiger combines hip-hop sound with a RJD2-like rhythm on track favorites like “The Bully Plank.” Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota , Samuels was known as an underground DJ and producer; however, his 2010 debut album Made Like Us received noteworthy reviews and was even compared to artists like DJ Shadow.
- Ibeyi – Cuban-born twins Lisa-Kaindé Diaz and Naomi Diaz already have music in their blood as their father was the famed percussionist Anga Díaz of the Buena Vista Social Club. Now living in Paris, this duo sings in both English and Yoruba, which is an ancient Nigerian language spoken by their ancestors. With influences ranging from their father to Frank Ocean and James Blake, their self-titled debut album has received positive reviews from critics and fans alike who are drawn to the unique Afro-Cuban and R&B mix.
- Klangkarussell – Tobias Rieser and Adrian Held make up this Austrian electronic dance duo who broke into the music scene with their international hit single Sonnentanz in 2012.
Article photo cred: Gary Clark Jr.
Main photo cred: Joey Bada$$