As the annual South By Southwest festival reaches a huge milestone in celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, the SXSW student team decided to round out 30 of their personal favorite artists of the festival and write short bits about what makes them stand out from the rest of the pack. With past success stories including artists such as The White Stripes, John Mayer, Alabama Shakes and M.I.A, be sure to check out our list of favorites before they explode onto the airwaves in the coming years.
Here are the first 6 artists that they’re excited about. Make sure to follow the article and playlist below for new artists and songs every day of SXSW.
13. RIVER WHYLESS
Location: Asheville, North Carolina
River Whyless is a band much like that of a titular body of water – a mingling of currents, a flow of time and physical space, all brought together in a murmuring sense of purpose. It is the expression of a group of musicians, three of which are songwriters, who have played together in various forms since their college days in the North Carolina mountains.
“Like Fleet Foxes, River Whyless have a contemplative, relaxed style. The instrumentation weaves together seamlessly, a high point being Anderson’s violin playing, and the band’s soothing harmonies.” ~ Bruce Warren, WXPN
“Hailing from the mountains of NC, River Whyless puts a hauntingly sweet spin on traditional
foundations. ” -Michael, Bandcamp Staff Pics
Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Genre: Indie Rock
“Virginia Beach’s Turnover has never been a band afraid of telling the truth. The emotional honesty poured out over a number of anthemic releases has been a proven formula of success for the band, but on their sophomore LP Peripheral Vision, the band treads into deeper water. Working again with Magnolia producer Will Yip (Title Fight, Circa Survive), Turnover’s latest record shows a band maturing to create their best effort: an ethereal, reverb-drenched soundscape blending elements of hazy dream pop and the delicate emo rock of yesteryear. Songs like “Hello Euphoria” and “Like Slow Disappearing” highlight the new calmer, more subdued approach to songwriting, matched by Austin Getz’s somber, confessional lyrics that echo throughout songs as if his words were haunting every measure. Peripheral Vision solidifies the idea that Turnover is a band with its finger on the pulse of its generation: growing and learning with every release, but never failing to provide a relatable, cathartic experience for anyone listening.” – Run For Cover Records
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Genre: Indie Pop
ELEL is HUGE! Not in success just yet but in terms of size. This 7-piece recently debuted their feel good, indie-pop track, “40 Watt”, drawing comparisons to the likes of Vampire Weekend and MGMT. Radio stations such as Alt Nation, WFUV, KCRW have picked up the the single. “Consisting of two horns, drums, three keys, guitar, bass and whole lot of vocals was born from front man Ben Elkins meeting a girl named Eliska. Ben’s now wife softened his edges while introducing him to the likes of Beach House and Toro Y Moi.”
Speaking on ELEL, Ben says “It’s the outcome of me producing music that risks leaving space and communicates emotion easily and softly.” This band represents a new start for its members, for a variety of reasons. Even it rains in Austin, ELEL is sure to light the stage!
16. COAST MODERN
Location: Los Angeles, California
Genre: Electronic / Indie Pop
Coast Modern, made up of Luke Atlas and Coleman Trapp, follow the same sonic vein as their LA-counterparts, The Neighbourhood, by blending electro-pop influences with so-cal indie rock that combines for hard hitting and infectiously warm sound, resulting in over 1 million Spotify streams of their single “Hollow”.
“Alluding to the most common of youth woes, “Hollow” talks about avoiding reality, responsibility and all the uncertainty of building a future with huge ambitions but no certainty. A true cult teen anthem” – Good Music All Day
Location: Edmonton, Canada
Genre: Electronic / Indie Pop
It’s not as though they’re a new Arctic Monkeys or anything – they don’t make “youth” their thing, their raison d’être or lyrical focus. They don’t sing about riot vans or mardy bums. In fact, they don’t sing about anything – their music is instrumental. And it is madly busy, chock-full of keyboard twiddles and brrrrps, glissandos, arpeggios or whatever sounds happen to be at hand. Such as, say, the caution beep of a car’s seat belt alarm when someone’s forgotten to strap in.
They use that really rather annoying tone, in the form of a loop, as the basis for what is a very lovely electronic lullaby – their latest track “Lay-By”. You’ll either find it infuriating or intoxicating. Or it will make you want to go for a spin (but buckle-up first). The track also features manic laughter and a part that opens into a starburst of synthy colours and flavours. It is positively synaesthetic. The duo posted it on SoundCloud with the message: “Hey. I hope this song reminds you to slow down. Sometimes the dark can be beautiful.” Who knows what they mean – nor why they’re called Tennyson and not, for example, Pretty – but if they keep making music as fine as Lay-By, we’re not bothered.
18. JACK GARRATT
Location: Buckinghamshire, United Kingdon
Genre: Indie Pop / RnB
Jack Garratt is an English multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer. He incorporates electric guitar, piano, rich percussion and electronic flourishes into his music. He’s released two EPs (“Synesthesiac” (2015) and “Remnants” (2014)) and two singles (“Chemical” (2015) and “The Love You’re Given” (2014)). Garratt has been likened to electro-R&B star, James Blake with the ethereal vocals of Bon Iver and has one of the most breathtaking (not to mention one-man) live shows you’ll ever see, thus rendering him a MUST SEE at this year’s SXSW.
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