Expensive badges and VIP wristbands may get festival-goers close to the big acts at the increasingly commercial South By Southwest Music and Media Conference, which runs March 12-17 in Austin, Texas, but it's the smaller showcases where music lovers can still experience the excitement of discovering a new band. AudioFile scoured six days jam-packed with performances. Here are some of the highlights:
At the tender age of 22, Trevor Powers who performs under the name Youth Lagoon, proved his musical chops with last year's meditative debut, "The Year in Hibernation". The Boise, Idaho, native continues to explore dreamy landscapes in Youth Lagoon's 2013 record, " Wondrous Bughouse."
Watch AudioFile's interview with Youth Lagoon:
The next It Girl from across the pond, Charlotte Aitchison, better known by the moniker Charli XCX, has been compared to Marina and the Diamonds, Zola Jesus and Robyn. The 20-year-old played her first SXSW and pleased crowds with her sampling of Gold Panda in " You (Ha Ha Ha)". Her album "True Romance" is available for pre-order on iTunes.
The band for the Millennial generation, by the Millennial generation, Anamanaguchi conquered the Internet with danceable Nintendo-inspired tunes and meme-filled music videos. It's been four years since the release of "Dawn Metropolis," and the Brooklyn quartet teased Austin audiences with tracks from its forthcoming album, "Endless Fantasy."
For those in search of powerful female rock, look no further than Marnie Stern, a technically skilled guitarist whose squealing vocals contrasts with her otherwise laidback stage presence. During Under the Radar magazine's afternoon showcase, the singer's guitar pick flew out of her hand mid-song. Her band stopped to help her look, and once recovered, Stern fired up the chords again to claps and cheers from the audience.
With the album "Night Piece" in 2004, Tokyo-import Shugo Tokumaru first introduced his quirky talents to the U.S. Four records later, the singer-songwriter's use of unconventional instruments has become a signature element of his pop-friendly music. His box of musical toys at the SXSW stage included a bicycle bell, kazoo and wooden chickens pecking ball paddle.
Hear Shugo Tokumaru's cover of the 80s classic, "Video Killed the Radio Star":
Founded by four friends who, after graduating from college, just wanted to play music together, the LA-based Hands returns to SXSW with California-cool electro-rock. Hoping to quit their day jobs soon, the band recently signed with the label Kill Rock Stars. Hear the new single: " The Game Is Changing Us" from their album "Synesthesia" due out in April 2013.
Cloud Nothings Fronted by Dylan Baldi, Cloud Nothings roared into 2012 with a darker, heavier record, " Attack on Memory." Though a risky move, the shift from Baldi's solo indie pop project to full garage punk band has paid off, it seems. Early comparisons to 90s alternative and grunge music has since faded as Cloud Nothings establishes its own sound.
Watch AudioFile's interview with Cloud Nothings:
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