SXSW Music: Ruled by Women

10 from indie rock’s new fem-led gen

Lucy Dacus
Lucy Dacus (Photo by Dustin Condren)

French Vanilla

Tue. 13, Barracuda Backyard, 7:45pm; Wed. 14, BD Riley's, 11pm

L.A. art rockers French Vanilla tackle power structures with danceable post-punk and a wall of sax. Infectiously persistent, Sally Spitz's wailing vox trade tumbling lines with off-kilter guitarist Ali Day. The trio is humorous and earnestly grandiose, pulled off with thunderous style on their self-titled debut.


Wed. 14, Hotel Vegas Patio, 10:15pm; Fri. 16, Seven Grand, 1:15am

Immediately recognizable for their jangly, clamorously carefree variant of garage rock, Madrid foursome Hinds has become Spain's ruling indie act. Ana Perrote and Carlotta Cosials' collaborative vox unleashed celebratory lo-fi on 2016 debut Leave Me Alone. Strummy single "New For You" previews sophomore followup I Don't Run on Mom + Pop Music.

Girl Ray

Wed. 14, Barracuda, 11:30pm; Thu. 15, Latitude 30, 11pm; Fri. 17, Maggie Mae's Rooftop, 8pm

Nico-styled, declaratively Todd Rundgren-loving trio Girl Ray takes Sixties rock classicism in a timely, DIY direction. The North London group hones a chugging, homespun sound with swirling melodies by best friends Poppy Hankin and Iris McConnell. Debut Earl Grey, a tongue twist on their moniker, launched a debut American tour backing Brooklyn buzz band Porches.


Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas Annex, 11:15pm

Guitarists Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt trade vocals for Philly act Palm, their soft phrases cutting through a sharply melodic ruckus. Crashing drums, synth pads, and mechanical, Animal Collective guitars approximate a zany, malfunctioning carnival ride. The quartet skewed discernibly garage for EP Shadow Expert, but new LP Rock Island pushes deeper into frenzied, experimental territory.

Sunflower Bean

Soccer Mommy
Soccer Mommy

Thu. 15, Hotel Vegas Patio, 11:35pm; Fri. 16, Radio Day Stage, Austin Convention Center, noon

Softly streaming "Twentytwo" shows off a sweeter side of NYC trio Sunflower Bean. The introspective track, taken from forthcoming Mom + Pop album Twentytwo in Blue (they're all 22-year-olds), puts bassist Julia Cummings' gracefully urgent vocals in the front seat. The high school-assembled group's debut Human Ceremony built a dreamy, metallic sound out of frenetic youth.


Thu. 15, Cheer Up Charlies Inside, 11:45pm

Self-referenced as "post-country," Chicago duo Julia Steiner and Dave Sagan make harrowing, tender songs both Americana and scuzzy DIY. Emotionally invested sophomore effort GN (text-shortened "goodnight") pulls inspiration from nature and news stories, "Peter the Wild Boy" sympathizing with a feral child, and "Elvis Is in the Freezer" eulogizing a deceased pet.

Soccer Mommy

Fri. 16, Cheer Up Charlies, 9:30pm

"I don't want to be your fucking dog," blasts 20-year-old Sophie Allison on Clean, her latest collection of openly angsty catharsis. The Nashville songwriter remains unhindered by her love of Avril Lavigne and Taylor Swift, unpretentious in her powerful, deeply vulnerable alt-rock. Preceding Collection, a playbook of bedroom tracks, introduced longing guitars and swoony vox.

Common Holly

Fri. 16, Swan Dive, 9:30pm

Jarring instrumentals and Brigitte Naggar's slippery phrases coincide in Common Holly's restless, electro-acoustic indie. If Sylvan Esso embraced the bedroom pop aesthetic, it might resemble the Montreal-based singer's keeling debut Playing House. Off-kilter patterns shift around deep string instrumentals, embellished by frazzled rock that landed tours with like-minded Half Waif and Julien Baker.

Lucy Dacus

Fri. 16, Cheer Up Charlies, 10:15pm

Two years ago, Richmond, Va., songwriter Lucy Dacus put out broodingly twangy debut No Burden on a little hometown label. That's where her small-scale story ends. The disarming LP unleashed her warm, alluring tone on a re-release on Matador. Her Courtney Barnett-esque lyrics and grunge-meets-country sound continue on upcoming sophomore album Historian.

La Luz

Fri. 16, Hotel Vegas Patio, 12:30am

Built on surf riffs and sweeping Sixities harmonies, L.A. quartet La Luz maintains a debonair air. Charles Burns-inspired, Ty Segall-produced sophomore album Weirdo Shrine existential dread around Shana Cleveland's sharply floaty vocals. "Cicada" is cinematically smoke-filled with glowy guitar backlighting, teasing propulsive consistency for third album Floating Features.

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SXSW 2018, French Vanilla, Hinds, Girl Ray, Palm, Sunflower Bean, Ratboys, Soccer Mommy, Common Holly, Lucy Dacus, La Luz, SXSW Music 2018

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