Yep, so we bought Joe Parry a ticket to Austin, sent him on his way across the Atlantic and awaited news that he was sober enough to check out some new music at the SXSW Festival. Alas, he managed to get away from the bar just enough to bring back his favourite top 10 bands, so dive into what went down and discover a bunch of great new music.
One of the most talked about garage-rock bands of the entire festival, Sheer Mag’s pop chops, Thin Lizzy-esque guitar licks and raucous energy helped them tower above the thousands of bands flocking to Austin. In singer Christina Halladay, Sheer Mag have a fierce and powerful voice that commands attention, whilst holding each track together with her astute knack for melody.
Three teens from NYC, Sunflower Bean quickly got tongues wagging with their unpredictable take on psyche-rock. Guitarist Nick Kivlen and bassist Julia Cumming form the frontline of what could be one of the year’s most exciting new bands. Switching up their blissed out haze with stomping, heavy freak-outs, Sunflower Bean were impossible to ignore.
One of the most talked about acts of the festival Mitski proved a vital voice over the course of the week. Her impassioned vocal flits between excited, empowered melodies and deep, introspective tales of young love and loss. With her ability to silence her crowd with her voice, as well as looking cool as fuck as she strums her low-slung, hot pink bass guitar, Mitski is no run of the mill singer/songwriter.
It’s no accident that Adult Books have garnered the approval of acclaimed labels Burger Records and Lollipop. As melodic as they are brash, their lo-fi garage-punk meets 60s pop is punctuated with some slick surf-rock guitars and attention to vocal melody that so many of their contemporaries neglect.
Combining the hip-hop experimentalism of Death Grips, with a raw and dangerous punk energy, LA three-piece Ho9909 were a captivating as they were terrifying. An intoxicating mix of punk samples, low-slung beats and trap, Ho99o9’s music confounds and puzzles yet if their two shows at SXSW are anything to go by, their live performances will quickly become the stuff of legend.
Dreamy two-piece Sales kept the rain at bay on Saturday at The Liberty. The minimal approach of their sound wouldn’t have allowed for the energy exhibited by other acts, but they were by no means less captivating, with their washed out guitars, electronic beats and singer Lauren Morgan’s sweet vocal.
A heavy clash of Albini indebted sludge and T-Rex stomp, Austin’s own American Sharks powered their way through a sharp set at Hotel Vegas. With the drums pushed to the front of the stage, the three-piece had the local following out in force and quickly got fists pumping.
Signed to renowned label Polyvinyl, White Reaper’s raw take on garage-punk is equal parts fuzz, pop and sweat. Despite their ramshackle energy, the band never missed a beat and provided some much needed relief from the swathes of singer-songwriters and icy blog-pop that has become commonplace at SXSW.
If a hardcore band were forced to listen to Belle and Sebastian for a year, the result could be Sweden’s Makthaverskan. A perfect combination of Ramones cool and all out pop-punk fun, Makthaverskan clash their sickly sweet melodies with some powerful and cutting lyrics.
The perfect bridge between post-punk and hardcore, local band Institute’s dark and imposing sound complemented frontman Moses Brown’s presence as he stalked the stage throughout their set.