The third wave of SXSW Music artist announcements came in like a wrecking ball, with 741 (!) new acts spanning virtually every point on the creative spectrum. The list below is by no means comprehensive — instead, these 12 names immediately jumped off our screens and had us clearing March 11-16 on our calendars.
A 300-pound Albanian-American rapper who specializes in intricate rhyme schemes linking basketball, food and medicinal substances, Action Bronson towers over the contemporary hip-hop scene. Here’s hoping the former sous chef films a few segments for his rumored new cooking show while in Austin.
New Orleans’ queen diva of bounce music was twerking before Miley Cyrus even graduated from pull-ups. Expect this Big Easy drag queen (real name Freddie Ross) and her bevy of big-bootied dancers to upend SXSW with azz-everywhere antics.
The Casket Girls
Songwriter, producer and record label owner Ryan Graveface provides the candy-coated riffs over which twin sisters Phaedra and Elsa Greene lay down spooky girl-group melodies. Expect February album True Love Kills the Fairy Tale to catapult this Savannah, Georgia, trio out of the Southern shadows and into the Technicolor light.
This English sensation should draw elite crowds at SXSW. After all, postmodern synth-pop appeals to every demographic slice of our digital-age pie. Like Miley Cyrus and Lorde, Charli XCX isn’t just racking up album sales and online buzz; she’s also redefining what it means to be an ambitious young woman in control of her career.
Matthew Daniel Siskin’s stark brand of storytelling folk sounds like the second coming of early Dylan and Cohen. But Gambles’ heart-wrenching songs are pulled fresh from the emotional wreckage of a failed marriage, allowing them to cut deeper than any elliptical smoke-and-mirror parables.
With well over 1,200 bands already announced for SXSW, standing out is a must — and this Portland trio will have no problem body-slamming our attention spans. From ’50s rockabilly to ’60s doo-wop to ’70s glam-punk to ’80s camp-pop, no other surf-inspired, Godzilla costume-wearing garage act comes close.
Lydia Loveless got her first break at SXSW in 2010 with a gritty, punk-infused take on alt-country. But the Ohioan looks to steal even more thunder this year with her take-no-prisoners, pop-flirting album To Love Somebody, which has placed Loveless high on several early best of 2014 lists.
Prodigy and Havoc’s 1995 classic The Infamous stands as one of the five best all-time examples of hardcore New York street rap. Consider this year’s SXSW return (they last appeared in 2012) a warm-up for their inevitable 20th anniversary celebration.
This twentysomething Midwesterner first caught a break backing up indie-folk royalty Bonnie “Prince” Billy. But Olsen’s haunting 2012 debut album and promising 2014 sophomore follow-up give her stunning, otherworldly voice adequate folk-rock room to roam.
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
These Alabama soul revivalists dress sharp, play hard and will drive a stake through the heart of any supposed SXSW sophomore slump. With debut full-length “Half the City” under their belts and frontman Paul Janeway hitting his James Brown-esque stride, they might just steal the whole damn show.
With quirky lo-fi folk-punkers The Beets, Juan Wauters positioned himself as another in a long line of sarcastic New York poet-immigrants. But the literary tendencies and gentle rhythms of Wauters’ work step fully forward on his debut album, N.A.P. North American Poetry, out February 4.
Kaleidoscopic extravagance is the name of the game for these Austin psych-pop luminaries; Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne even took notice and handpicked the local duo to open his Oklahoma City performance space/art gallery last fall. Don’t miss the chance to get lost at the intersection of avant-garde art and vibrant sonic experimentation.