The 50 Best Bets Of SXSW 2014 (Part 2)
Who doesn’t love a music festival, right? It’s all the best parts of a concert–music, friends, alcohol and drugs…just lots and lots more of them! Each year, more and more of them are popping up all over the place. More than just a fest, South By South West has become the industry standard of showcasing today’s best music. It’s fitting that it takes place in Austin, the live music capital of the world.
No matter how bad the U.S. economy might be doing, there are always certain things you can depend on. We will always spend money on food, technology and electronics, vacations, and music. And you can certainly count on the festival scene to not only continue, but to expand and grow.
Anyone who has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows how overwhelming it feels like when looking at the schedule. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. That’s where we come in to help. Live music festivals are still, despite all the advanced technology of 2014, one of the best methods of discovering new music. Essentially every artist plays here at some point. Some bands that have previously played at SXSW have been Vampire Weekend, Cloud Nothings, Kendrick Lamar, Wavves, Danny Brown, Yuck, Purity Ring, Skrillex, The xx, Local Natives, Alabama Shakes, Waka Flocka Flame, WALK THE MOON, Flosstradamus, Two Door Cinema Club, Grimes, Future, Surfer Blood, Gotye, Ty Segall, Freddie Gibbs, A-Trak, Theophilus London, and A$AP Rocky.
This can be used as a planning guide for deciding who to catch for those of you lucky enough to be able to attend. For everyone else, this is intended to be used as a primer for diehard music fans to discover some of the best new music before everyone else! Many other music websites and blogs list a top 10 or top 12 picks, but with so many artists there are too many great choices to have a list that small. And what if you can’t see the artist you want to? You need more to choose from! There will be thousands of musicians there, we want to help you make the most of your time and money, and to filter through the best. And sure, everyone is excited to see already established, well known acts like Sleigh Bells, Imagine Dragons, St. Vincent, Against Me!, Kurt Vile, Chance The Rapper, Dum Dum Girls, Perfume Genius, Action Bronson, ScHoolBoy Q, and Off!.
But for each of these, there are a ton of massively talented, vastly underrated artists they don’t get the attention they deserve, or that most music fans simply don’t know about yet.We have decided to put together our list of choices for The 50 Best Bets Of SXSW 2014. This is part one in what will be a five part series. The list includes everything from pop to hip-hop to rock to EDM to folk. And yes, we know it’s impossible to see all 50 acts during these few days. But these are the takeaways we believe you should most be familiar with. If these up and comers aren’t on your radar yet, they should be now. These are who most of us will all be listening to in the soon to come weeks and months from now. We love new bands that are popular this year like Speedy Ortiz, Betty Who, Eagulls, NONONO, HOLYCHILD, Vic Mensa, HAERTS, and ASTR–but we already covered them in last year’s The 50 Best Bets Of CMJ 2013 (see here).
So in our best and on going effort to cover the best in indie music, we present our picks for The 50 Best Bets Of SXSW 2014! The list is not presented in any logical or sequential order whatsoever. You can see Part 1 here.
1. Jagwar Ma
For Fans Of: Toro Y Moi, Classixx, Peace, Alpine, Beat Connection, Savages
Jagwar Ma formed in Sydney Australia when Jono Ma and Gabriel Winterfield bonded over a mutual passion of melody and experimental beats. The pair set out creating a sound that would capture their love for contemporary electronica and classic American Soul, Joe Meek and King Tubby, vintage drum machines and radio frequency manipulation, improvised percussion. Fusing the elements of disparate music, the vocal sweetness of Laurel Canyon, Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston, and the modern electronic space of the past 40 years, they created a contemporary take on psychedelia, with the beauty and simplicity of classic sun-soaked, beach pop. Just weeks after putting music online, it secured heavy airplay on Australian radio triple j and a seven inch release on new UK label The Blue Rider. The music received a positive reaction to the mix of old and new, the uninhibited rhythm and its classic harmonies sliced apart by a lyric informing how lonely love can be.
In mid 2012 Jagwar Ma decamped to a space in France to record their debut album – just the two of them in an empty farm two hours south of Paris, with an 808, a Fender Jaguar, a laptop and a pair of vintage Neve console channels. Their time at La Briche echoes like a strange psychedelic film: cycling in fields of sunflowers, cheese, caveman beards and going crazy in the studio. While working they listened to twisted electronica from Liars, Aphex Twin and Autechre. “And then when we sat down to dinner we’d listen to Sinatra and Nat King Cole” says Gab. Added to that were the neighbours who were into hardcore dub…“They were from a scene which is based around homemade soundsystems” says Jono “they take them out in to the middle of nowhere and play literally the hardest most sinister kind of music I’ve ever experienced. It is the weirdest thing in the world”.
Jagwar Ma were on a mission to re-create a two man wall of sound ensued and with help from friends, locals and a pre-historic desk once used by Conny Plank, they set about re-inventing the warmth, harmony and audio sunshine they had first hatched back in Oz. Their collaborators along the way included long-time friend Warpaint drummer, Stella Mozgawa and renowned DJ and producer, Ewan Pearson on mixing duties. By the dying days of 2012 their time in France had not been ill spent and a debut album Howlin was recorded and ready to be mixed.
Their first release from these sessions, ‘The Throw’, saw them occupying a space where screamadelica and its wayward children used to live. A joyful seven minutes weaving melodies and beats with the sole purpose of making people move, of throwing caution to the wind and reaching a higher level with a greater purpose, or maybe without one at all, it touched a nerve and helped soundtrack the last few months.
Second single ‘Man I Need’ is more introspective, beats minimal and Gab singing ‘all you say to me, is you’re not the man I need, that’s what you said to me”. Across the album, ‘Howlin’ twist its hooks in dirty clanking breakdowns. Pop songwriting is buried in layers of crunching synths and pedal effects.
Live the band has added Jack Freeman on bass, and they started 2013 in Australia on the Big Day Out festival tour before playing a packed NME show in London in February. Since then they’ve toured Europe with Foals and then Australia with The xx. Jagwar Ma are due back in Europe after album release to play more headline dates and festivals across 2013.
2. Bipolar Sunshine
For Fans Of: BANKS, ASTR, The Chainsmokers, Sam Smith, Great Good Fine Ok, FKA twigs
Bipolar Sunshine is based on a surreal world where anything is possible, the stranger the better as long as its done with an artistic approach. A Home for the defeated romantic, the passionately curious but in the mist of all still can see the bright side to every- thing.
Manchester based Bipolar Sunshine has quickly grabbed the attention of early supporters with track ‘Fire’ including Zane Lowe, John Kennedy, John Hillcock, Eddy Temple-Morris and the BBC introducing amongst others.
With the debut EP set to be released at the beginning of the summer and debut live dates just announced, it’s set to be an exciting year ahead.
3. Cherry Glazerr
Photo by Rhyan Santos
For Fans Of: together Pangea, Ava Luna, Cosmonauts, Audacity, Warm Soda, The Casket Girls
The three-piece band from L.A. took root in 2012 when front woman, songwriter/guitarist Clementine Creevy began making bedroom demos under the name Clembutt. These rough tracks evolved under the mentorship of Lucy Miyaki, of L.A. band Tashaki Miyaki, and were later recorded with engineer Joel Jerome. After adding bassist Sean Redman and drummer Hannah Uribe, the band was formed, and Burger Records released their first collection, Papa Cremp, on tape.
With dreamy vocals and an ethereal guitar, Cherry Glazerr’s “Trick or Treat Dancefloor” has become the band’s best known song to date, having been featured in a campaign for iconic fashion label Saint Laurent as well as in the television show Arrow.
But the band goes beyond shoe gazey, lo-fi dream pop. Their bare bones style and precise, honest lyrics anchor a diverse sound that ranges from White’s Not My Color This Evening, with Sleater Kinney’s post punk influences to their break out song, the surf pop “Teenage Girl”, which premiered on internationally known style site Rookie Mag and has over twenty thousand listens on Soundcloud.
Cherry Glazerr consistently tour in Los Angeles and Orange County, having played festivals Burgerama, Growlers Beach Goth Party and Jubilee in Downtown L.A. where they shared the stage with Bleached and The Black Lips. Most recently, they played the El Rey, opening for legendary 80′s punk band Redd Kross and Mikal Cronin. The band’s name is taken from NPR reporter Cherry Glaser.
4. Guantanamo Baywatch
For Fans Of: Mind Spiders, Cosmonauts, Ex-Cult, Useless Eaters, Xray Eyeballs, Bare Wires
Portland’s campy, trampy trio Guantanamo Baywatch plays slimy surf-thrash punk in a sweaty, sleazy way; like going to a beach where you shouldn’t be barefoot. Sometimes recalling obvious comparisons to surf pioneers like The Trashmen and The Ventures but laced up with Cramps like swagger and even a little Hasil Adkins and Johny Burnett style rock & roll R&B. A wildly popular live band known for their sexed up stage presence. Started in March 2009, Guantanamo Baywatch is comprised of Jason Powell, Chevelle Wiseman and Chris Scott.
5. Juan Wauters
For Fans Of: together Pangea, Quilt, La Luz, Painted Palms, Washed Out, Dogbite
In 2000, Alberto Wauters left Uruguay to live in a basement in Queens. Two years later he called his son, Juan, to join him. Juan Wauters crossed the threshold into manhood when he arrived in New York. Working at a factory, the father and son pooled their money to bring their family to the borough of opportunity. With no friends to speak of, Juan turned to music to take control of the loneliness of his isolation. Juan was inspired by his new neighborhood of Jackson Heights and delighted to find that his library card gave him access to an abundance of new music. In his debut solo record, N.A.P. North American Poetry, Wauters dreams big; coming into his own as a singer. Building on his songwriting, popularized by The Beets, Juan presents introspective tracks, like Water and Sanity, and reflections on humans’ relationship with technology in songs like Breathing—which features Carmelle Safdie. The record is completed, as always, by the artwork of dear friend and longtime collaborator Matthew Volz, who has honed the trademark visual aesthetic of Juan’s music. This album is a selection of recordings made between the fall of 2010 and the summer of 2012 at Marlborough Farms. N.A.P. delivers a fresh sound and lyrical candor from one of Queens’ most idiosyncratic adoptive sons. Live, Juan shares the stage with a revolving cast of international musicians of the highest caliber: vocalist Carmelle Safdie (Israel), multi-instrumentalist Tall Juan Zaballa (Argentina), percussionist Chie Mori (Japan), and flutist Amanda Rodi (Mexico). Matthew Volz heightens this lively and mood-altering experience with his painted banners, personal objects and manually manipulated light show. The ensemble is not to be missed. He will be on tour as opening support for Mac Demarco.
6. Isaiah Rashad
For Fans Of: Sza, Jay Rock, Vic Mensa, Chance The Rapper, Pusha T, Flatbush ZOMBiES
Isaiah Rashad (born May 16, 1991) is an American rapper, songwriter and lyricist from Chattanooga, Tennessee. and formerly signed to indie label Kid Primitive. It was announced in 2013 that he joined the roster at TDE, alongside Ab-Soul, Jay Rock, Kendrick Lamar, and others. Isaiah was a member of Chicago based group “The Village” and co-founder of the Chattanooga based collective “The House” respectively. Citing Curren$y, Outkast, Erykah Badu, UGK and Kanye West as his biggest influences, Isaiah blends revealing lyrics, infectious melodies, and an aggressive outlook on the world to craft a sound that has caught enough ears to land him on the 2012 “Smokers Club Tour.” Isaiah Rashad’s debut LP Pieces of a Kid dropped late Fall 2012, with EPs Fake Trill and POAK preceding. On January 28, 2014, he released Cilvia Demo, his debut extended play (EP), via digital distribution, and will be on tour as opening tour support for ScHoolBoy Q.
7. The Casket Girls
For Fans Of: Painted Palms, Jamaican Queens, People Get Ready, Wet, GEMS, Ava Luna
So many pieces of Savannah, GA three-piece The Casket Girls seemed to happen by accident. From their beginning – when electronic sound-shaper Ryan Graveface (Graveface Records, Dreamend, Black Moth Super Rainbow) found sisters Phaedra and Elsa Greene under a tree in one of Savannah’s many squares, playing Autoharp and singing bizarre songs – to the night they composed their sophomore album, True Love Kills the Fairy Tale, under circumstances that fall somewhere between séance and dream state, nearly everything about The Casket Girls seems to have been inspired by some kind of spooky happenstance. But then again, the Greene sisters don’t believe in accidents.
“I dropped off a shit ton of songs to the girls to work on one night,” Graveface says of the genesis of True Love, the follow up to Casket Girls’ critically acclaimed 2012 debut. “I went back to check on their progress, because they weren’t answering their phones. I don’t know if they dropped acid or what, but I walked in and Elsa was sobbing and reciting poetry while Phaedra was just staring straight ahead writing it all down, like catatonic. The next day they dropped off a CD and said, ‘We don’t even know what’s on this. You can throw it in the garbage if you want.’ I sat down and listened all the way through and cried. I was like, ‘Holy shit! They actually wrote a record like that!’ I booked studio time and had them re-record every note just as it was on the demo. They really didn’t remember any of it. Had to learn the songs as if someone else had written them entirely. Very bizarre.”
Phaedra and Elsa had filled the disc with lilting, almost whimsical melodies about chemical hazes and love gone sour like a couple of fucked up Shangri-las, to which Graveface added a bevy of grinding, multi-dimensional psych-rock keys that will be familiar to anyone with a Graveface LP in their collection. The title track speaks like an unknown voice in a lucid dream – perhaps the one that conveyed these songs through the veil in the first place -beckoning, “True love kills the fairy tale… until heart and lungs fail.” It’s this twisted and comforting charm, which set in motion the Graveface-Greene love affair in the first place, that relieves us from fear.
The Casket Girls have gained momentum and a substantial cult following due to the unflagging catchiness of their songwriting and the compelling development of their live stage show. They spent the last year and a half touring in support of BMSR and The Faint before growing into headliners in their own right. Last year, they released a self-titled EP on Record Store Day, and a “cassingle” cassette store day.
The trio will hit the road for a slew of U.S. dates, followed by a sojourn through Europe.
For Fans Of: Sam Smith, MØ, ASTR, Bipolar Sunshine, SOHN, BROODS
Some things don’t need to be defined. Some aren’t meant to be in a box, held in proverbial captivity. They inherently defy a need for classification. BANKS makes music. Great music. Why not just stop there? Allow her to be a siren for a generation, beckoning for self discovery. She begs for it. Conveying her sound seems almost unfair. It’s built on a simple notion of emotion. Perhaps that explains the near explosion of eager fans frantic to share their own discovery, ultimately propelling this songstress’ art to the top of Hypem charts. A toy keyboard is all it took to awaken the inevitable. That evolved into a piano. The notes articulated feelings. Then chords turned to melodies. Heart-piercing lyrics cloaked in lush orchestration. Now BANKS’ EP London applauds her arrival. The four songs introduce this budding self- taught songstress, one whose voice echoes a generation. She writes with a restless urgency, lyrically candid yet relatable, weaving vivid imagery into pop-skewed lullabies as she lures with every note, every chord, every breath. A hypnotic blend of beats, pianos, echoes and an addictive vocal presence, BANKS slips in and out of genres with an ease so effortless, it once again serves as a reminder to leave your tags behind. Hip-hop, Pop, R&B, Alternative, Electronic… they all live in this very place. And she can be any or all. Or none. A singer. A poet. A pianist. A narrator. An artist.
9. London Grammar
For Fans Of: MS MR, CHVRCHES, Disclosure, San Cisco, Lorde, Daughter
London Grammar’s debut album If You Wait cracked #2 on the ARIA album charts in it’s first week, cementing Australia’s love for the British trio.
London Grammar is Hannah Reid, Dot Major and Dan Rothman, who formed the band while at university together. They were holed up in the studio for most of 2012 working on their debut album. Their first official single release, “Wasting My Young Years”, strode confidently around the world.
It’s no understatement that London Grammar’s album was one of the most highly anticipated debuts this year. Each of the 11 tracks is testament to the trio’s innate understanding of the roles that subtlety, contrast and restraint have played in the creation of memorable, timeless and transcendent music. “That’s how this all started,” says Dan, “and it’s always been our primary goal, to keep space in the music. The way that, say, the guitar and vocal interact is massively important to us.”
Tracks like “If You Wait” and “Flickers” possess that strange duality of lament and defiance, filled with textures, colours, shadings and interjections that are subtle yet deliver devastating power. ”Strong”, is the final, killer blow. Building – as you would expect from London Grammar – from nothing, from the barest of bones, Hannah’s soaring vocals propels the song to its crashing climax.
“The longer we’ve gone on as a band,” says Hannah, “the more we agree on what we’re doing and why. You eventually reach a point where you find your place, and you realize your music has found its place, too. You just know.” She’s right: they have found it.
“London Grammar account for every slippery string, vocal echo, ultrasound heartbeat, and wordless, holy vocal peal on ‘Metal and Rust,’ the second in a so-far immaculate collection.” – Pitchfork
“The title track of their debut EP, ‘Metal & Dust,’ features backing so tasteful it cries out to be defaced, while the ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ breakbeat further enhances the sense of early-90’s dejà vu.” – The Guardian
“London Grammar are now officially 2-for-2, with this dusky, sumptuous new single [‘Metal & Dust’] emerging from the mysterious LDN group.” – Gorilla vs. Bear
10. Cashmere Cat
For Fans Of: Giraffage, Ryan Hemsworth, Odesza, What So Not, RL Grime, Tokimonsta
Uploading bootleg edits of Jeremih and 2 Chainz, and doing an official remix for Lana Del Rey, Cashmere Cat quickly gained thousands of cat-loving listeners online and support from DJ´s like Diplo, A-Trak, Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Brodinski, Baauer, Busy P, Nguzunguzu, Sinden and Kito. The cat´s take on seductive R&B, futuristic hip-hop and bass music also caught the attention of Paris Social Club residents Pelican Fly Records, who released his debut EP Mirror Maru in October 2012.
Behind the razor-sharp-but-soft-and-furry paws of Cashmere Cat hides Magnus August Høiberg. The 25-year old Oslo-based producer used to lurk behind the scenes of disco and house-music, previously working with labels like Kitsuné, True Panther and Ninja Tune. As Cashmere Cat, a project that is little over a year old, he embraces his true love – gritty R&B and slow jamz.
Cashmere Cat is the production alias of young Norwegian producer Magnus August Høiberg – who has caught one to watch buzz this year from the single “With Me” premiered with Zane Lowe on BBC Radio One & video premiere at Rolling Stone – plus a feature on the Ludacris single “Party Girls” alongside Jeremih & Wiz Khalifa. An unprecedented mention for a producer, it signals a sea change happening in popular music & the role of our “underground” producers. With this debut vinyl EP he is truly free – unbeholden to conventional pop structures from vocalists. Cashmere Cat’s own songs are crammed full of ingenious melodic ideas and counterpoint. These are songs built in equal parts from glittering RnB, French electro & 00′s club Hip Hop – this is wide, cinematic and unabashedly bright new dance music. Rarely does a new artist emerge with such a unique voice across their work – Cashmere Cat is unconcerned with where he fits with DJs and his music is smarter for it.
The Wedding Bells EP represents the next stage for Cashmere Cat as recording artist and has commanded support so far from: Kode 9, Éclair Fifi, Nguzunguzu, Hud Mo, Rustie, Baauer, Diplo, Skrillex, A Trak,Brodinski – as well as BBC Radio One & Triple J.
LuckyMe are proud to present: Wedding Bells; Cashmere Cat’s attempt at a perfect thing in an imperfect world =^.^=