SXSW 2016’s Most Exciting Acts

Tomorrow, the monster that is SXSW descends upon a sleepy river town in central Texas. Hundreds of local bands will rub shoulders with thousands more traveling from all over the world. Every parking lot will have a stage and tacos will seemingly be raining down from the big ole Texas sky. I can’t wait to get back and bury my head in queso. And the best new music from the best new bands. But also queso. Now if the thought of navigating the miasma of SXSW gives you cold sweats and shakes like a bad bout of queso withdrawal (sorry), here’s a few choice picks to get started with:

1. Mothers

This Athens, GA, band just dropped its debut When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired (Grand Jury) at the end of last month. Check out this video released yesterday of the third single “It Hurts Until It Doesn’t.” The song pulls and pushes, playing with the tempo like changes in yer mood. See them outside at Mohawk next Friday at 10pm.

2. Car Seat Headrest

I can’t say enough about Will fucking Toledo. Having listened to him essentially exist through his numerous bandcamp releases over recent years, it’s incredible to witness the growth of an artist moving at an increasingly rapid pace. He’s reaching a new level of production with obvious influence from people not named Will Toledo, which is both tragic and encouraging. On the most recent single “Vincent,” Toledo’s voice is unmasked from his usual trademark lo-fi megaphone vocals. The artist who once hid in his family’s minivan is now signed to Matador records putting out idiosyncratic guitar rock, performing to more than an audience of one, and none that resemble the car seat’s headrest. The band plays next Wednesday at 10pm at the Central Presbyterian Church.

3. Alex G

Like Toledo, Alex G is part of our post-myspace bedroom artist scene. One where large unadulterated compositions exist and are supported by likeminded networks of bandcamp subscribers. Read about it straight from bandcamp. Alex G is now performing and recording with help from Domino Records. The music is characterized by cleanly dry production and oddly comfortable melodies that become perverse the longer you linger within an album. Strange flanging and dissonant guitars contrast the confident boy-singer. Check Alex G and co. next Wednesday at Cheer Up Charlie’s, 9:30PM.

4. Mercury Rev

Mercury Rev is a band that has existed for over two decades but hasn’t received the type of American attention it deserves. The band came from the same early 90s psychedelia that spawned the Flaming Lips with Fredonia, NY, producer Dave Fridmann, who has recently worked with bands like MGMT, Spoon, Clap Your Heads Say Yeah, and Tame Impala. Fans of The Polyphonic Spree will hear the influence of Mercury Rev. The band’s always off-center perspective is gorgeously grandiose and fantastic. Check out veritable psychedelia next Wednesday at Elysium, 1AM.

5. Big Thief

For folk-rockers, Big Thief is one of the newest to come out of Omaha’s Saddle Creek Records who will release The Masterpiece May 27. Watch the video for the very fun, driving single of the same name. Great harmonies and gritty telecasters sound like a fresh car wheels on a gravel road. Find the band at Bar 96 next Saturday at 9pm.

This is a place to start, but don’t worry, just follow your nose and you’re bound to end up finding your new favorite queso, er, band.

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