March 23, 2023
I recently attended the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, and after seeing countless performances, here are 10 artists I saw that you’ve just got to check out.
Brigitte Calls Me Baby, “Impressively Average”
Vocalist and songwriter Wes Leavins left his small Southern town to hone his stage presence performing as Elvis in a tour playing music from the Million Dollar Quartet (the supergroup of Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis). Leavins then moved to Chicago and formed the band Brigitte Calls Me Baby. The band rock out like The Strokes, and Leavins sounds like a cross between Morrissey and Roy Orbison. Having already impressed as the opening act for Muse, the band are due for discovery by a wider audience.
Civic, “Born In The Heat”
A punk rock band from Australia, Civic are a force on the stage. Frontman Jim McCullough stalks the stage and attacks the mic while the rest of the band tear through each song as though they are fighting against it. During one show, bass player Roland Hlavka broke two strings, something that apparently happens frequently enough that he was able to restring while singing backing vocals and able to end the songs back with the band.
Indigo De Souza, “Smog”
North Carolina artist Indigo De Souza sounds at times like she would fit into the quirky world of Moldy Peaches and the twee world of Regina Spektor. Other times she’ll slow jam into neo soul like Erykah Badu. With a father who’s a Brazilian guitarist and a mother who’s an artist, music was a prevalent part of De Souza’s youth, and she’ll be an interesting artist to watch as she perfects her sound.
Model/Actriz, “Crossing Guard”
Arty, energetic, and danceable post punk – Model/Actriz are a thrilling band to watch. Their debut album, Dogsbody, is a throbbing, sensual album that at one point hypes Lady Gaga, but equally references influences from Laurie Anderson, T-Rex, and the musical Cats.
Abraham Alexander, “Tears Run Dry”
Abraham Alexander grew up in Greece, and the memories of beaches and young brotherhood come out in his forthcoming album, SEA/SONS. Performing with a big smile across his face even while describing hard times pulls the soft feelings that wrap around childhood memories. It’s a warm sound flowing from the sweet-voiced Alexander.
Girl Scout, “Weirdo”
Sweden’s buzzy band Girl Scout formed during the pandemic. Formerly making jazz music, the band needed to make some money and started playing Burt Bacharach covers; from there, the sound morphed to folk and college rock. Taking inspiration from The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys, the band expanded and by 2023 there was a new band breaking out.
The Nude Party, “Cherry Red Boots”
Sounding like sunshine and dusty roads, New York via North Carolina band The Nude Party have a worn-in sound that is instantly familiar and welcome. A decade has changed the band once known at their college as “the naked party band” to a Nudie-suit-wearing, ‘60s-style rock band.
Hannah Jadagu, “What You Did”
With a full-length debut on the way later this year, Texas-born Hannah Jadagu is ready to share more of herself with the world. Her songs are softly spoken gut punches, full of questions and heart-on-sleeve examinations of her own actions.
Algiers, “Irreversible Damages” feat. Zack De La Rocha
It’s a little unfair to have Algiers on a list of discoveries since the post-punk band from Georgia have been making music since 2012. But their new album, Shook, is a front-door kicking, genre-jumping party and deserves a little more attention.
SUSU, “Psychedelic Gangster”
SUSU are a New York band who rock out with the dynamic force of dual frontwomen, Liza Colby and Kia Warren. At the raucous live show, Colby and Warren explore the political, personal, and emotional. As Warren shares in their bio, “We aren’t shy about being Black women in rock n’ roll. People can take away what they want but there is an aliveness, an awareness, and a spirituality to these songs that are both timely and timeless.”