Friday, 6 March 2015

SXSW 2015 - the ones to watch.


With SXSW season fast approaching it's time for a trawl through the long list of music events to pick out the must-see artists. Sadly I won't be there this year, but if I was this is where you'd find me. (Anyone with a + by their name is playing more than one show so you should be able to find them somewhere else if you have a schedule clash).

1. Run The Jewels - Cedar St Courtyard 20th March+
Makers of the best hip-hop album of 2014, an incendiary live act, voice of the people and all-round good guys, Killer Mike and El-P should be on the top of everyone's list. In fact, they probably are, so make sure you get there early to guarantee your spot at a show that you'll be talking about for months.

2. Public Service Broadcasting - Latitude 30, 19th March+
As unfashionable as concept albums might be, the new one from PSB 'The Race For Space' is a mighty fine record. Telling the story of the USSR vs USA in the battle for space supremacy they manage to convey both the wonder and emotion of this amazing achievement. They're great fun live too.

3. Songhoy Blues - Parish, 20th March+
Hands down the most exuberant and life-affirming live band I've seen for the past few years. Exiled from their homes in northern Mali when making music was banned by the extremist leaders, they were welcomed into the Africa Express family by Damon Albarn and have now had their album produced by Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs). The most fun you'll have at SXSW, guaranteed.

4. Raury - venue TBC
If the whole world hasn't heard of Raury by the end of this year I'll be very surprised. Like a younger (and more prolific) version of Franck Ocean he sings, re raps, and is basically uber talented.

5. East India Youth - Latitude 30, 17th March
Nominated for the Mercury Prize in the UK last year for his 'Total Strife Forever' album, Will Doyle already has a second album ready for release next month and has signed to XL Recordings to put it out. A mix of melodic pop tunes and darker electronic numbers will keep you entertained at the British Music Embassy.

6. Kate Tempest - Latitude 30, 17th March
Another Mercury nominee, Kate is on the same bill as East India Youth so you won't have far to travel to see her. Poet, playwright, rapper and novelist, it's hard to pigeon-hole her, but rest assured that whatever she does she always does it with maximum energy and skill.

7. Skepta - venue TBC
Tottenham born UK Grime artist Skepta might suddenly be a lot more famous than he was this time last month. The reason? He was part of Kanye West's showstopping performance at the BRITs music awards, even getting namechecked by Yeezy at the end of 'All Day'. If he's good enough for Kanye then I'm sure he's good enough for you.

8. Oddisee - Bungalow, 17th March
One of my all-time favourite rap / hip-hop artists, Oddisee deserves to be feted by the music-loving world. With a new album on the way, he'll be following up his own show at SXSW by immediately coming back onstage as part of the 'DC loves Dilla' show at the same venue.

9. Courtney Barnett - Cedar Street Courtyard 19th March+
Australian indie-rocker Barnett has a punk attitude and a way with titles that could match Morrissey - witness her new single called 'Pedestrian At Best' and her album 'Sometimes I Sit And Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit'. 

10. Joey Bada$$ - venue TBC
Straight outta Brooklyn NYC,  Joey B brings the area's hip-hop heritage and updates it for a new generation. Founder of the Pro-Era collective, who'll also no doubt be in town, and with his début album 'B4.DA.$$' gathering critical & commercial acclaim he's definitely one not to miss.

11. Brolin - Day Stage ACC, 20th March+
This young and enigmatic producer and musician from the UK will be releasing his first album later this year. He's already had masses of support online and via alternative radio stations, and if the album's as good as people are expecting he'll likely be nominated for this year's Mercury Prize.

12. THEESatisfaction - Bungalow, 21st March+
Seattle-based duo THEESatisfaction are a sensual and seductive rap / r'n'b act making music unlike anyone else at the moment. Imagine Lauren Hill & Sade combined and you'll be somewhere on the right path. Working closely with Shabazz Palaces their records are an aural delight that will soothe your soul.

13. Catfish and The Bottlemen - Latitude 30, 17th March+
Fresh faced young indie-rockers from Wales. CatB recently won the BBC Introducing Award in the UK. Much of their appeal stems from frontman Van McCann's engaging style and they certainly know their way around a melody or two.

14. The Pop Group - Maggie Mae's Rooftop 20th March+
Post punk art-rockers The Pop Group have just released their first album for 35 years (!), produced by Paul Epworth, and the reformed original line-up are now taking that record on the road ad taking crowds by storm with it.

15. Hodgy Beats - Clive Bar, 20th March+
To my mind the most talented of the Odd Future collective, Hodgy recently released the brilliant 'Denatape2' mixtape with Don Cannon. Expect the unexpected, with Earl Sweatshirt also in town, who knows which other members of Odd Future might turn up (although probably not Tyler given the furore last time he hit SXSW)

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