ACL Top Picks

7 must-see ACL Fest acts with brand-new albums

7 must-see ACL Fest acts with brand-new albums

Arctic Monkeys
The Arctic Monkeys released AM earlier this month.  Photo courtesy of Austin City Limits Festival
Okkervil River
Okkervil River's latest album is a 1980s concept piece.  Photo courtesy of Austin City Limits Festival
Blind Boys of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama released a new album this week.  Photo courtesy of Austin City Limits Festival
Arctic Monkeys
Okkervil River
Blind Boys of Alabama

Whether you're attending weekend one, weekend two or an official late-night show, there are plenty of new sounds to explore at ACL Fest 2013 in Austin. In this selection of bands to watch at the festival, we focus on seven artists that have released new albums in the past month. Our suggestions range from newcomers with a debut album to a gospel band with decades of music under its belt. 

HAIM
This California band of three sisters (and an unrelated "mister") has been making waves across the country thanks to a three-song EP released in 2012. The band’s debut full-length album, Days Are Gone, released earlier this week, coincides with their ACL Fest debut. Days Are Gone is an easy-listen release — heavy on pop tunes that could make for a fun, impromptu girl-power dance party during the festival. 

Saturday, October 5, at 2 pm on the AMD Stage, and Saturday, October 12, at 2 pm on the Lady Bird Stage

Kings of Leon
Modern rock stalwarts Kings of Leon released their sixth studio album, Mechanical Bull, on September 23. "Although this album hardly feels like a comedown, or an apology, it's loose and down-to-earth; you can imagine them bashing it out in a shed, albeit a very large one," says Rolling Stone. Expect to hear new single "Supersoaker" along with the band’s 2008 super hits — "Use Somebody" and "Sex on Fire" — from this ACL Fest headliner playing opposite The Cure. 

Saturday, October 5, at 8 pm on the Samsung Galaxy Stage, and Saturday, October 12, at 8 pm on the Samsung Galaxy Stage

Arctic Monkeys
The Brits return to the ACL stage on the heels of their fifth studio album, AM, released September 9. "It sounds like a Dr Dre beat, but we've given it an Ike Turner bowl-cut and sent it galloping across the desert on a Stratocaster," frontman Alex Turner told NME of the new album. Listen for "Do I Wanna Know" and "R U Mine" — new standouts in the vein of the band's 2005 hit "I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor."

Friday, October 4, at 6:30 pm on the Samsung Galaxy Stage, and Friday, October 11, at 6:30 pm on the Samsung Galaxy Stage

Neko Case
Long-awaited album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You was received with open arms by fans (new and old) when it dropped on September 3. The Worse Things Get moves beyond Case's country persona, offering the lyrical depth you expect, but taking new risks with up-tempo tunes and heavy, experimental instrumentation. Her first release in four years, the album solidifies Case as a forerunner in the bare-bones tradition of singer-songwriters. 

Sunday, October 6, at 7:30 pm on the Austin Ventures Stage, and Sunday, October 13, at 7:30 pm on the Austin Ventures Stage

Okkervil River
Darlings of the modern indie-folk movement, Okkervil River released The Silver Gymnasium on September 3. The Silver Gymnasium is a feel-good concept album that cleverly tells the 1980s coming-of-age story of frontman Will Sheff, calling on the era's distinct motifs of sing-along choruses and masterfully placed synthesizers. Into the '80s nostalgia of the album? Play Okkervil River's accompanying 8-bit game

Friday, October 4, at 5 pm on the Honda Stage, and Friday, October 11, at 5 pm on the Honda Stage

The Blind Boys of Alabama
Formed in 1937, the Blind Boys of Alabama have been actively spreading the Southern gospel sound for more than five decades. I’ll Find A Way, released this week, features vocals from Patti Griffin and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon — one of the band's largest supporters. The album is a follow-up to 2011's Take The High Road (produced by Jamey Johnson), which featured guest vocals from Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Hank Willliams Jr.

Friday, October 4, at 4:30 pm on the Zilker Tent Stage, and Friday, October 11, at 4:30 pm on the Zilker Tent Stage

The Band of Heathens
Sunday Morning Record, released on September 23, is a more mellow approach to the rootsy sound that established this Austin band in the mid-2000s. The new album reflects a seminal switch in the band's lineup (two original members left in 2011) and catalogs a period of great change for the group. No matter the changes, we expect their ACL Fest appearance to be a true testament to Texas-born roots rock.

Sunday, October 6, at 12:20 pm on the Austin Ventures Stage, and Sunday October 13, at 12:20 pm on the Austin Ventures Stage