The break­out stars of this year’s South by South­west

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - MUSIC -


SXSW 2015’s queen­pin in ev­ery way. The Aus­tralian and her band played eight shows and wowed at ev­ery turn with swag­ger­ing gui­tar-sling­ing and sassy, sharp song­writ­ing. Songs about buy­ing a cof­fee per­co­la­tor, Mel­bourne swim­ming pools and gro­cery shop­ping came tied up in the coolest rad gui­tar buzz heard in yonks.


Close your eyes and you’d swear it was Sam Cooke croon­ing be­fore you. From Fort Worth, Texas, Bridges is a star from head to toe, a singer rocking gospel, R&B and south­ern soul with fan­tas­tic riffs and a big stripe of style. An im­mi­nent al­bum pro­duced by White Denim’s Austin Jenk­ins and Joshua Block will en­sure Bridges’ days of wash­ing dishes are over.


SXSW has se­ri­ous form in the hip-hop game and there were many cut­ting-edge tal­ents in Austin to make their stand. We re­ally dug Cal­i­for­nia rap­per Boo­gie who was show­ing off his

Thirst 48 mix­tape. Like Ken­drick La­mar, Boo­gie has a strong tal­ent to ex­am­ine and ob­serve black Amer­i­can life with for­ward-think­ing in­sights and a sub­tle, nu­anced wit.


There’s been a buzz around Meg Mac th­ese last few months – she re­cently signed to Lyor Co­hen’s 300 En­ter­tain­ment set-up – and you can see why when she starts to sing. A pow­er­ful, rocking soul-pop voice un­der­lin­ing crack­ing tunes such as the bluesy holler of Roll Up Your Sleeves.


An­other act with a ma­jor buzz who didn’t dis­ap­point. The Las Ve­gas kid played a 20minute set that was jam-packed with loose, giddy pop vim and vigour to make up one hell of a dance party. By the sound of those tunes, he’s got a smash­ing de­but al­bum ready to roll.


It only took about a minute to be smit­ten by Kansas City dude Madisen Ward, his mama Ruth and their spine-tin­gling blues-and-coun­try-and-gospel. It’s a raw, bare-bones sound that works be­cause it’s right­eous, grounded in the mo­ment and com­ing from a good place. In a canny piece of busi­ness, Glass­note snapped them up a few months ago.


The Ir­ish band who made the big­gest and loud­est splash at SXSW 2015 thanks to ex­plo­sive, vis­ceral sets at many high-pro­file shows. Over the past three and a half years, the Dublin­ers have be­come a se­ri­ous live act, hon­ing a noise-pop sound that con­tains a unique and mes­meris­ing span and punch. The only band in Austin who sounded like a rocket go­ing off at close quar­ters.


From New Or­leans, Kristin Di­able (right) is a lady very much on the rise. Her new al­bum, the Dave Cobb-pro­duced Cre­ate Your Own Mythol­ogy, is a fas­ci­nat­ing slew of Nashville coun­try, Mem­phis soul and south­ern- rock. Live, the band kick, strut and swag­ger like pros, with Di­able her­self swing­ing like Lucinda Wil­liams or Ste­vie Nicks. An in­fec­tious brew.


What­ever about the con­tro­versy the Canadian band are field­ing over their name, their live shows at SXSW were some­thing to rel­ish. An­gu­lar, edgy, jagged and in­tense post-punk like this re­quires se­ri­ous chops and Viet Cong have them in spades. A show all the more im­pres­sive given drum­mer Mike Wal­lace, the heart­beat of the band’s dark and fe­ro­cious sound, was op­er­at­ing with a bro­ken arm.


From Van­cou­ver, To­bias Jesso Jr is a tall dude who sits at the pi­ano and hushes the crowd with sad songs about life, love and heartache. There are echoes of past gi­ants in Jesso Jr’s sound, but the soul-bar­ing that has gone into such lovely, bit­ter­sweet tunes as Hol­ly­wood and his su­perb lyri­cal prow­ess are very much his own hand­i­work.


Seat­tle duo Har­ri­son Mills and Clay­ton Knight cre­ated one of 2014’s best al­bums In Re­turn so it was in­trigu­ing to see how their bright, eu­phoric, ef­fer­ves­cent elec­tronic pop would work live. While you’d have wel­comed some vo­cal­ists on­stage to pro­vide the soul for Say

My Name or All We Need, Odesza worked around that dis­ad­van­tage by turn­ing up the in­ten­sity, pump­ing more buzz into their grooves and bring­ing the party.


Two lovely EPs and a tour with Lorde have led to many men­tions in the dis­patches for this New Zealand band. Live, there’s much to ad­mire too, in both their sweet, yearn­ing, hazy pop and singer Kim Pl­faum’s sassy, cute vo­cals. More tunes like The Brae and they’ll be elected.


A pint-sized Zim­babwe-born, Australia-reared teenager in bovver-boots, Tkay Maidza came, saw and de­liv­ered with tunes full of in­fec­tious hooks and en­ergy. There are notes of MIA and Azealia Banks, but Maidza has an oomph and wal­lop to her sound and quick­fire rhymes that are hugely be­guil­ing.


From Los An­ge­les, Wand bring the psych-pop and garage-rock noise to the pro­ceed­ings. There’s a lot go­ing on, from the fan­tas­tic play­ing from lead gui­tarist and vo­cal­ist Cory Han­son to Evan Bur­rows’ meaty, fierce drum­ming. There are twists and tan­gles of Ty Se­gall and Thee Oh Sees on some tracks, but there’s also some­thing much dif­fer­ent and far more ex­per­i­men­tal and fun go­ing on.


Swedish elec­tronic pro­ducer David Alexander is a man who has cho­sen his mu­si­cal moniker well. Sum­mer Heart’s set at SXSW was chocka- block with moody, sun-blissed tunes like Beat of Your Heart, all of which sounded like the best July jams imag­in­able. One to re­turn to again – and not just dur­ing the sum­mer months.


Many reck­oned that new­comer Your Old Droog was Nas in dis­guise when he first emerged due to vo­cal similarities. Your Old Droog turns out to be a tall, smart New Yorker spit­ting rough­neck rhymes and hard-chaw thumpers like it’s 1994. Much like other rap­pers from the Big Ap­ple at present, Droog wants to go back to the golden age – this is no bad thing when it’s done for in­spi­ra­tional rather than nos­tal­gic rea­sons.


From Canada, Andy Shauf’s al­bums to date have high­lighted a per­former with se­ri­ous song­writ­ing and gui­tar-play­ing skills. Here, per­form­ing solo, Shauf’s songs drew you closer and drew com­par­isons with the tonal, serene, re­flec­tive blues of El­liot Smith or Nick Drake.


Milk & Bone are Mon­treal’s Camille Poliquin and Lau­rence Lafond-Beaulne, a duo cre­at­ing at­mo­spheric elec­tronic mu­sic with al­lure. It’s a de­cep­tively sim­ple tem­plate, with the min­i­mal pat­terns con­tain­ing much emo­tional width and depth. Their de­but al­bum Lit­tle Mourn­ing has just gone on re­lease so add that to your post-SXSW playlists.


Both shows we caught by Cal­i­for­nia blues­man Xavier Dphrepaulezz were rammed to the rafters thanks to some timely Na­tional Public Ra­dio rave no­tices. Dphrepaulezz may have re­leased his de­but al­bum nearly 20 years ago, but he’s get­ting an­other bite of the cherry as Fan­tas­tic Negrito. Thanks to pas­sion­ate, raw sounds and some vin­tage good vibes, this may well be his time.


A Swedish band named af­ter a Volvo car from the 1960s, Ama­son do the smart pop shuf­fle with great aplomb. Fea­tur­ing mu­si­cians from Mi­ike Snow, Dun­gen, Lit­tle Ma­jorette and Id­iot Wind, Ama­son have a knack for crafty pop tunes full of wonky asides and kooky turns. They’ve also got a real win­ner in front­woman Amanda Bergman, whose vo­cals bring great pol­ish and spirit .

To­bias Jesso Jr Yumi Zouma Fan­tas­tic Negrito Viet Cong Tkay Maidza

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