In the past few years, some have criticized the annual SXSW music festival in Austin, Tex. as becoming a logjam of bands, brands and free vodka that no longer serves as a place to discover promising new acts. That's ridiculous. At SXSW, sometimes a quick stop to eat or even a bathroom break can lead to the discovery of your new favorite band.
Here are five acts I knew little-to-nothing about before seeing and enjoying them at the fest.
Death by Unga Bunga
Sounds like: The Buzzcocks, The Kinks, The Orwells
More specifically: Frenetic garage rock with roots in the 1960s British Invasion. Highly recommended live show.
Listen: "I Wanna Go Wild"
From: Seattle (now based in Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Sounds like: TNGHT, How To Dress Well
More specifically: The producer/DJ plays a sonic version of Good Cop/Bad Cop, offering both smooth remixes of pop songs or channeling something far more primal on an original. His set was my favorite of the whole fest.
Listen: Robin Thicke - "Wanna Love You Girl" (Sango Remix)
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Little Brother, Pharcyde, Pre-Fergie Black Eyed Peas
More specifically: This one kind of isn't fair. A partnership between producer Exile (of Blu & Exile) and Aloe Blacc (the guy who sings that "Wake Me Up" song that your sister likes) is a perfect blend of smooth and thump. To my surprise, the previously underwhelming Blacc can actually rap! I now actually believe him when he sings that he's "The Man."
Sounds like: Big K.R.I.T, early T.I.
More specifically: Though he was third on a stacked lineup, the rapper commanded the full attention of writers and record label types in attendance with a vicious lyrical assault and an on-stage charisma that I haven't seen since the first time I saw Chance the Rapper.
Listen: "Crazy Thang"
Sounds like: Slum Village, G-Side, Goodie Mob
More specifically: A striking contrast from the laid-back style of most Texas rappers, this duo maintains solid lyrical content over spaced-out productions.
Listen: "Can't Come Down"
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