Eight International All-Stars at SXSW Music
WestermanWed. 13, Swan Dive Patio, 9pm; British Music Embassy @ Latitude 30, 3:50pm
A buzz-cut Londoner with a voice pure and high and whose emotive pop compositions are scaffolded with six-chord, ultra-clean guitar parts and seasoned with subtle synths and electronics, Will Westerman can sound David Byrne-esque even though his 2017 debut EP Call and Response drew Nick Drake comparisons.
Jealous of the BirdsWed. 13, Central Presbyterian Church, 9:20pm; Thu. 14, British Music Embassy @ Latitude 30, 4:40pm; Fri. 15, Radio Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center, 3pm; Sat. 16, Swan Dive, 9pm
After making her first stateside appearance at SXSW 2015, Naomi Hamilton returned to Ireland and penned "Plastic Skeletons." That three-minute syllabic master class, off last year's The Moths of What I Want Will Eat Me in My Sleep, hits with Courtney Barnett-style guitar rock oomph. The emergent Belfast siren also shines on acoustic songcraft, especially 2016's irresistible "Goji Berry Sunset," on which she refrains, "Your name fizzes on my tongue."
KiraraWed. 13, ACL Live at the Moody Theater, 9:40pm
A prolific electronic producer from Seoul, Kirara's joyful LP Moves scored Best Dance and Electronic Album honors at the Korean Music Awards. Formerly known as STQ Project, the reportedly transgender artist crafts epic compositions of uptempo, sample-oriented, alternative electronic with emphasis on cut-up polyrhythms and uplifting melodies.
Easy LifeWed. 13, Swan Dive Patio, 1am; Thu. 14, Palm Door on Sixth Patio, 11:30pm; Sat. 16, British Music Embassy @ Latitude 30, 12mid
Highly musical, especially poppy quintet from Leicester, UK. Frontman Murray Cameron plays trumpet, keyboards, and – for better or worse – raps over super clean funky pop with jazz notes. The whole act can feel like 21 Pilots on a Nineties kick, but the lyrics are thoughtful, the music's tasty, and they're booked for Coachella and signed to Island.
ElisapieThu. 14, Flamingo Cantina, 8pm; Fri. 15, Victorian Room at the Driskill, 8pm
Hailing from the Arctic Circle, Elisapie Isaac sends chills down your spine by singing in her native Inuktitut, which makes up most of her excellent third solo album, Ballad of the Runaway Girl. The Montreal-based singer, whose epically cinematic songs are rooted in American and Inuit folk traditions, represents a resilient culture with every breath.
YahyelThu. 14, Maggie Mae’s Rooftop, 12mid; Fri. 15, Cheer Up Charlies, 11pm
Dark and hypnotic electronic pop from a black-clad Japanese group whose name translates to "aliens." Influenced by UK synth and modern pop sounds, including James Blake (as well as American beat music), the gothy outfit brings extraordinary intensity to downtempo music. In action since 2015, the English-speaking quintet broke out with last year's Human LP as well as their movie-quality videos.
Trupa TrupaThu. 14, Hotel Vegas, 12:20am; Fri. 15, Flatstock Stage @ Austin Convention Center, 3:30pm
Remarkably well-crafted and dark avant-rock from Gdansk, Poland. Led by the lyrically insidious Grzegorz Kwiatkowsk, also a published poet whose delivery wields gravity. Since 2010, Trupa Trupa's self-released two LPs before dishing two long-players on the Blue Tapes label, including 2017 highlight Jolly New Songs. Weeks ago, the quartet signed a worldwide deal with Sub Pop.
Gong Gong GongFri. 15, Hotel Vegas Annex, 11pm; Sat. 16, 720 Club, 12mid
This Beijing band doesn't feature a gong in their instrumental arsenal. Hell, they don't even have a drummer. The Warf Cat-signed duo, who recently toured the states opening for Parquet Courts, instead rides the ghostly sound of Tom Ng's hollow body guitar and Joshua Frank's thumping bass. Together they coalesce into noisy, post-punk, Bo Diddley rhythms, over which Ng delivers urgent lyrics in his native Cantonese.