This year I'll be going to SXSW for the first time and frankly it looks a bit overwhelming. The sheer number of bands appearing is staggering, and then I've got to get my head round who's playing where, when, is it a showcase or at a party etc.
It occurred to me that there'll be loads of people in the same boat as me, so here's how we can help each other out. Below I've listed what I think are the 10 acts from the UK that it's most worth making the effort to see. When you've read it let me know who I should be seeing from your home country, and then as the list builds up we'll all have a great list of some cool acts to watch.
Gold Panda - creator of 'Lucky Shiner', my favourite album of 2010 (review here http://tinyurl.com/355jezy). Proof that electronic music doesn’t have to be cold and clinical, here was an instrumental album that managed to be touching and tell a story through its tracks.
Darkstar - ‘North’ was another of my top 10 albums from 2010 (review here http://tinyurl.com/36vjkux). Downbeat but somehow uplifting, especially their cover of The Human League’s ‘Gold'.
Edwyn Collins - a hero on so many levels. Writer of some of the best songs ever ('Rip It Up' and 'A Girl Like You' being just two) and more recently, survivor of 2 strokes, MRSA and aphasia. For a humbling and inspiring read, check out 'Falling and Laughing: The Restoration of Edwyn Collins' by Grace Maxwell.
Anna Calvi - a demon with the guitar, at times almost a female Jeff Buckley, at others like the secret bastard lovechild that PJ Harvey would've produced if Nick Cave had been allowed to have his wicked way with her (believe me, he tried...)
Noah and The Whale - their second album ‘The First Days of Spring’ was a brilliant but heartbreaking tale of loss. By all accounts their 3rd, due very soon, is even better.
The Vaccines - who knows if they can make a whole album as good as lead single ‘Post Break-Up Sex’ - this is where we’ll find out.
Frankie and the Heartstrings - produced by the aforementioned Mr Collins and on the verge of greatness.
Bombay Bicycle Club - after the success of last year’s acoustic album ‘Flaws’ these energetic young things will be plugging themselves back in for your pleasure at SXSW.
Chapel Club - hotly tipped by the NME, and with a debut album produced by Paul Epworth released on 31st January, this is definitely a band to watch out for in 2011.
Bob Geldof - This year's keynote speaker has a new album out (review here http://tinyurl.com/6ktdtxf ). Worth seeing to be reminded that he started life as a musician rather than a charity-working saint, and in the hope that he'll play 'I Don't Like Mondays'.