- Posted by Spinner
We've been lightheartedly calling Future Unlimited "gilt-wave", not because we get off on being genre taxonomists, but because the Nashville duo is too cunning for any other name. Their day-glo synths and pop vocal production are straight '80s, but they touch on something much more mysterious, seamy, and forlorn -- like looking at all the lavishness of the Reagan-era through a thick, 21st century lens. Sultry moods, arena hooks and a shoe-in for a spot on the 'Drive 2' soundtrack.
Jeremy D. Larson -- Content Director, Consequence of Sound
Polica are going to blow SXSW away. The Minneapolis quartet's sexy, psyched-out R&B has already got blogs buzzing (the fact that Bon Iver's Justin Vernon proclaimed them the best band he's ever heard gave them instant street cred), and with nine shows booked, they'll have a chance to seduce almost everyone in Austin. I'm particularly excited to hear what they do at our Billboard showcase Wednesday night at ACL Live. We might be dancing on the ceiling before Lionel Richie even hits the stage.
M. Tye Comer -- Editor, Billboard.com
Dead Sara (and Alabama Shakes)
I'll have to hedge my bets here and go with two bands. There's an energy around Dead Sara nowadays that strongly suggests they'll break free of the Los Angeles scene with the April 10 release of their eponymous debut LP. Rightfully so -- it's a fantastic collection of raw power and pure heart fury.
Then there's the deep soul immersion of Alabama Shakes. Singer Brittany Howard has the X-factor that 10,000 star-factory talent shows couldn't produce, and while the rest of the music bandwagon jacks off to the bass drop, Alabama Shakes are dredging the Southern spirit with incredible results.
Johnny Firecloud -- Founder and Managing Editor, Antiquiet; Music Editor and Senior Writer, CraveOnline
After several years and a handful of previous albums, Claire Boucher has truly hit her stride as Grimes with this year's 'Visions' (4AD/Arbutus). She successfully toes the line between art and pop, and has some serious potential this year at SXSW to entice even more mainstream audiences to consider her brand of R&B-influenced, tiny-voiced, big-electro dance party. It doesn't hurt, either, that Boucher herself is not only adorable and ready for her chance to redefine the term "manic pixie dream girl"; she's incredibly articulate in terms of artistic goals and it's beyond exciting to watch her explore her own strengths amid insecurities on-stage. Srsly, people, go dance with this girl -- but, of course, only after you hang out at Stubb's Friday afternoon with Spin.
Devon Maloney -- News Editor, Spin.com
With the release of his Philippe Zdar-produced debut LP coming next week (March 19), Kindness, the brainchild of Adam Bainbridge, brings his Prince-meets-Arthur Russell dreamy disco funk to Austin, playing five shows, including the Fader Fort, NME and Gorilla Vs. Bear parties. Not to be missed.=!
Theo Bark -- Editor, AOL Music/The Boombox
For indie-pop fans, your must-see act of the week is surely Hospitality, a New York act that released its self-titled debut on the venerable Merge Records (Spoon, Destroyer) in January. On songs such as 'Eighth Avenue' and 'The Birthday,' the band sounds like the heir apparent to Belle and Sebastian and the New Pornographers, equal parts sharp-tongued lyrics, guitar-pop energy and high-flying hooks. Catch them at Merge's official showcase at Frank on Friday night, and get there early enough for a hot dog.
David Greenwald -- Rawkblog.net and Star of Taiwanese Animation (See below)
The dusty, open-air venues of Austin's Sixth Street are perfect for underdog blues bands to strut their Strats for new listeners and the possibility of becoming the next "buzz band". Following acts like Alabama Shakes and Gary Clark, Jr., San Diego's Little Hurricane is already earning acclaim with just a few singles. This "one hot mess of a duo" will level even the most jaded SXSW critics with the smoldering, boot-stompin' grit of tracks like "Haunted Heart".
Harley Brown -- Writer, Consequence of Sound
Of Monsters and Men
With catchy tunes, an infectious live show and a bit of luck, Iceland's Of Monsters and Men landed a deal with Universal -- and they've only been to the U.S. twice. In fact, the six-piece has only been to New York City, so their trip to SXSW will be their coming-out party. Thanks to their poppy, anthemic indie folk, the band has deservedly drawn comparisons to Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and Arcade Fire, so you might as well get hip to them now. (Note: I hemmed and hawed over this pick, with my runners up including California punk act Ceremony, the Men and 11 of the artists I picked to watch in 2012. I do realize this is a total cop out. Sue me.)
We've all heard them already. We've raved over their down-home sound complete with the soulful vocals of frontwoman Brittany Howard. They've already performed on 'Conan.' BUT! Nothing gives a band that much more buzz than having the teeming masses of drunken, smartphone using tastemakers at SXSW appear at your show multiple times in one week.
With their debut album, 'Boys & Girls,' coming out on April 10, Alabama Shakes seem to possess the one thing a lot of buzz bands seem to lack: A good sound. Sure, we could call it novelty; a Southern band taking old-timey roots music and updating it to seem relevant. But when you have a band that can continually bring a live presence that forces you to intently listen and show up not to just "be a part of the scene," then you have something special.
I expect Alabama Shakes to make a lot of noise in Austin. It'd be a good idea to make it to whatever show they're playing a bit early to guarantee you get in. Standing in the back of a crowded bar in Texas isn't the best place to see a show: It's hot, sweaty and nowhere near the Lone Star.
Sami Jarroush -- Mastermind, Rock It Out Blog!
Picking a breakout SXSW band isn't as easy as picking a great SXSW band. Earlier in the 2000s, Toronto music critics and bloggers hoped dark-hued indie rockers Uncut would blow up. Instead, they broke up. That group actually began as an electro-punk duo with Jake Fairley and Ian Worang before the former decamped for a techno career in Berlin as Fairmont. The old friends find themselves back together again now that Worang has joined Fairley's electro-shoegaze group Bishop Morroco with James Sayce, ex of Tangiers and Deadly Snakes, and drummer Jon Mcann, ex of Tangiers and Guided by Voices. On the heels of a just-released EP on local uber-indie Arts & Crafts, Bishop Morocco will hit Austin with a storied past and stellar future.
Joshua Ostroff -- Senior Editor, Spinner Canada