Don’t head into South by Southwest unprepared. Accompanying the big-name bands attending the festival this year such as Iggy Pop, CHVRCHES and The Avett Brothers, hundreds of lesser-known groups will take to hole-in-the-wall bars and church altars throughout the week. Below, The Daily Texan recommends four smaller bands to check out during the week-long music festival.
In 2013, Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Shauf released The Bearer Of Bad News, a collection of introspective, melancholic pop songs. Three years later, he re-released the album under Oregon-based label Tender Loving Empire to critical acclaim. Recorded in a makeshift studio inside his parent’s basement, Bad News shares stories of drugs, death and life in a small town, capturing the small, intimate moments of life.
The Elliot Smith-esque singer is currently on tour promoting the album and new single, “Jenny Come Home,” a more upbeat, hopeful twist on his understated sound, released last October.
Artists you might like: Elliot Smith, Paul Simon, Bon Iver
Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio released his first solo album, The Names, under his stage name Baio last September. The 10-track electropop album, named after a Don DeLillo novel, is more electronic-driven than Vampire Weekend’s sound but boasts a similar energy.
It’s first single, “Brainwash yyrr Face,” a five-minute dance track, contrasts the record’s most popular song “Sister of Pearl,” which took to commercial radio because of its upbeat indie rock vibes.
Artists you might like: Vampire Weekend, St. Lucia, Phoenix
Brooklyn-based chillwave group Small Black has been on tour across America, hitting major cities and music festivals since 2010 promoting 2010’s New Chains, 2013’s Limits of Dance and 2015’s Best Blues. Their most recent release, a poetic synth-pop collection of 10 songs, includes lead single “Boys Life,” a groovy song written after frontman Josh Kolenik found decades-old images and letters clearing out his father’s Long Island home after Hurricane Sandy. One of the images Kolenik found serves as the album’s cover art.
Artists you might like: Washed Out, Wild Nothing, Toro Y Moi
Mirror Travel, a rock band from Austin, started with Lauren Green (guitar, vocals) and Tiffanie Lanmon (drums) in 2003. The band has expanded since, recording their first full-length album, the hypnotic Mexico, in Marfa, Texas, under local label Modern Outsider in 2013.
The group’s upcoming release, Cruise Deal, recorded in a storage unit the duo turned into a studio, promises similar sounds as Mexico, with a post-punk edge.
Artists you might like: Wye Oak, Sleigh Bells, YACHT