From San Francisco, Aerobic International promotes healthy living through mind and body fitness by "challenging post-apocalyptic consciousness with futuristic aerobic dance culture." As such, they've developed a record label with a concentration on vinyl. Their fifth annual SX showcase celebrates an appreciation for all types of sounds, starting with Houston's DJ Baby Ro, who segues acts all night via the universal language: hip-hop. Most anticipated set goes to the first solo appearance in Austin by the B-52s' Cindy Wilson. A far cry from the shake and shout of Georgia's New Wave heroes, Wilson unveils swooning electro-pop described as "turbo chill." A poet, guitarist, and composer from San Francisco, Luke Sweeney melds a classic rock vibe with a psychedelic strain of pop. Portland, Ore., duo Phone Call offers up latter-day R&B. Their 2016 release Hang-Ups adds an Eighties angle to their songs about fame, sex, and unlucky breaks. Meanwhile, Yip Deceiver, a trio from Athens, Ga., remains best known for bouncy, synth-heavy pop, but they've taken a darker, rock-leaning turn on a new disc due this year.
– Jim Caligiuri
Homegrown management, marketing, and events company the Loyalty Firm culls from a sonically diverse roster of entirely local bands for the first night of SXSW showcases. Evil Triplet's debut last month, Otherworld, out on suddenly bursting ATX imprint Super Secret Records, spins epic psychedelia in trio form by a veteran of the capital's initial New Wave, Steve Marsh. Annabelle Chairlegs' high energy, gaudy guitar rock is imbued with glimmers of glam and surf-y, Sixties-inspired guitar lines; the Chronicle's recent "Pick 2 Click" follows frontwoman Lindsey Mackin's theatrical, cavernous vocals. Threepiece Honey and Salt plies cerebral, nimble guitar work on frenetic tracks skewing philosophical, while wrestling lyrically with existential dread on 2016 LP Seams of Value, which downshifts into aggressive math rock. New single "Existence Is Overrated" features pummeling drums and unnerving anger informed by the current political climate. Late Nineties instrumental psych outfit My Education rides in on the release of its first album in five years, Schiphol, and the Murdocks climb back onstage with bratty, indie pop/rock for the first time since their long hiatus began over five years ago. Mopey Muppet project Fragile Rock, an emo band fronted by puppets, closes the night.
– Libby Webster
In a year where discoveries might not be overshadowed by ego-buggin' headliners, Latitude 30 hosts a cusp-of-stardom showcase, co-produced by music discovery platform DIY and TicketWeb. New Jersey slacker rock quintet Forth Wanderers' stunning EP Slop features a well-reviewed eponymous single. Sounding (and writing) beyond her youth, vocalist Ava Trilling sings, "I know I'm weird/ I've been told/ New fears, they get old too/ They'll get old soon." Irresistible garage pop out of Colchester, England, rising quartet SuperGlu dispenses sure-shot melodies and witty lyricism. London punk trio and DIY scene regulars Doe deliver big pop hooks and defiant licks on their unusually charming and pointed proper debut, Some Things Last Longer Than You. South Londoner Jamie Isaac imports a particularly cool ambience to his unique brand of alternative/bedroom R&B. His mellowed out 2016 debut Couch Baby, a surefire future bong hit classic, tethers easy vocals with deep low ends and jazz influences. Hailing from Hampshire, England, angular indie rock trio Blaenavon are aiming for worldwide prominence, armed with one of 2016's best singles, the slick and resonant "Orthodox Man." The band is readying its major label debut, That's Your Lot, for an April release on Atlantic Records. Exeter indie punk trio Muncie Girls are going for it and giving no quarter: the big sounds, punchy lyrics, and critical messaging.
– Kahron Spearman
As cosmopolitan as New York or London, Berlin spreads its goodness across the musical spectrum on both Barracuda stages, alternating time slots for maximum exposure. Inside, modern composer Federico Albanese kicks off with his other medium: DJ'ing. Formerly part of New Zealand act the Have, transplanted Kiwi trio Sun & the Wolf show off both psych rock and dance grooves on latest LP Jungle Juice. Stentorian New Wavers Oum Shatt let rhythm motor their rock noir, like a combo of New Order and the Bad Seeds. DJ duo Conny Opper (a Berlin club legend) and Lizzie Paige (a transplanted NYCer) close out the indoor stage spinning tunes and inciting the danse. Outside, Slow Steve, led by Frenchman Rémi Letournelle, emulate the flow of air currents with undulating electro-pop on debut LP Adventures, while Magic Island beguiles with atmospheric New Age & B from her album Like Water. Distaff duo Gurr closes with clanging indie pop from debut In My Head.
– Michael Toland
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