With a cold Lone Star in hand, we trudge forward toward a sleepless week of the all-music-all-the-time schmoozefest that is SXSW. While navigating Sixth Street is enough of a challenge in itself, plus meeting up with friends who have flown in from all over the globe, catching the most interesting new acts remains our modus operandi. Bands of varying levels of noteriety are funneling into Austin by the minute. But we love nothing more than catching an artist that’s catching their moment in a small venue. Sure that keynote with Lady Gaga will be neat, but those who caught her at her 2008 CMJ showcase at the Highline were in for a bigger treat. There are tons of great artists on this year’s giant SXSW bill. Lovers of finding the diamonds in the rough as we are, we’ve highlighted 15 up-and-comers (okay, 14 newbies and one old-time favorite) to catch between the free breakfast burritos and booze.


It’s going to be a sweat-and-sun week, so get your dose of reverby jangle pop, Ray-Bans and cutoff-style, along with that vitamin D.


Lorde may have all the press, but New Zealand has long been pumping out glorious rock of the indie variety. The dreamy vocal coos and splashing wall of sound of kiwi outfit, Broods, is a must-hear charmer of the week.

Cashmere Cat

Norwegian producer Magnus August Høiberg dropped his debut EP, Wedding Bells, as Cashmere Cat on LuckyMe last month, and ever since then I’ve been lost in his carefully curated smoothie of disco français-style and analog jolts. If you’re not lost yet, it’s time.

Far-Out Fangtooth

If you like your scrumpled fuzz blankets to come with three hairy dudes and one gal, all with a penchant for flowy patterned clothing items, this is your psychedelic Idaho. Or your acid-trip corn field.

Foster Care

The batty bastards of Brooklyn’s intermittent crap-core scene. Rest assured whoever they’re playing with probably slays too ‘cause they’re all arm-in-knicked-up-arm like that. Definitely check them out during Andy Animal’s Texas Chainsaw Meltdown Funabration at Hotel Vegas on Sunday for all the brain cell-smashing scuzz-punk one could ever take in.

Ghetto Ghouls

Desperately blown-out odd-punk trash from Austin, so maybe they’ll have some pals there getting them all drunk and such and things’ll get truly ghoulish.


Need some whip-smart rock jams? It’s pretty obvious why these Boston philsophers-at-large have been getting love from their local compatriots.


Over the last three years, this Austin action-garage bunch have toured their keisters off, splintered off into numerous side projects (singer Orville Neeley’s other band, Bad Sports, are great and are playing around SXSW too), and are working on a third LP. They will doubtless be one of the most explosive live acts you’ll stumble upon all week.


This West Coast rap collective makes knotted-up freak-rap that goes best with a sense of humor and a side of THC. Don’t forget to download their excellent 2013 mixtape, Boom first.


Amazing, late-70s power pop band from Belfast, Ireland, who’ve made an unlikely comeback that probably won’t last long or turn into a tour or whatever, so best you see them when you can, like NOW.

September Girls

New Irish all-gal gang who do the reverbed, dreamy, bootgaze thing but with a thicker, spookier edge. They’ve only got some SXSW shows and one NYC gig set, so it ain’t like they’re gonna come play your dorm anytime soon.

Sicko Mobb

These Chicago bop rappers’ nebulous Autotune cool-kid glory will make your beer-fueled body feel like you’ve got the mojo to make it through the week. Bonus points if you can dance to it without looking like you stepped on something sharp.


The U.K. producer and beatmaker’s trancey, helium-sucking track, Bipp, put him on the radar for anyone seeking a fashion forward approach to dance tracks.

Vancouver Sleep Clinic

We’ve been following Brisbane-based Tim Bettinson for a while now, and every one of his few, chilly releases brings back memories of Justin Vernon when he was first tugging at our heartstrings. Maybe you’ll even catch VSC doing that Drake cover.


This bunch of sludgey droners from accross the pond have a reigned-in slop-rock that’s both gooey and fun.