Bands We Love Set to Make a Splash at SXSW

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Even with thousands of bands playing, only a handful of bands usually emerge from SXSW as the acts everyone has their eye on.

Last year, Sam Smith played our showcase and, needless to say, he had a great year. We also discovered a young Irish singer named Hozier.

All this to say, these are the bands I’m betting we’ll be talking about in the months to come.

(Editor’s Note: this list doesn’t include artists on KCRW’s own showcases since I profiled them here. We clearly have high hopes for all of them!)


His debut full length, out March 17, is a reflection on a turbulent time he time spent in LA, including one of music’s best muses — heartbreak. He wrote the songs after returning to Vancouver to be with his ailing mother.

The gorgeous piano ballads, which have earned him comparisons to folks like Randy Newman, were honed by a group of great producers, members of Girls and The New Pornographers, The Black Key’s Patrick Carney and Haim producer Ariel Rechtshaid.

He’ll be at SXSW and his return to LA is triumphant – his April 5 show in LA already sold out, so he added another date.



I had the great pleasure to see Leon a few weeks ago at the Hotel Café and it was a stunning show. His record was produced by two members of White Denim and is throwback soul with a unique sense of style thanks to their instrumental finesse.

His live vocals were every bit as good as the recordings and with a big band, including two back up singers, they owned the stage



I’ve been hearing about this Bay Area band for years, but it wasn’t until their most recent single “I’m Ready” that I really got on board.

It’s the last song that composer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mike Deni wrote for “Ghost Modern”, his fourth full length, and I’m looking forward to seeing it come together live.


This 20-year-old artist from Las Vegas will release his debut in May, but KCRW DJs have been all over him since last summer.

His boundary-busting music has elements of disco, R&B, and house. He will play his first LA show at the Echo on April 8, but not before appearing on the NPR Music showcase at SXSW.



I came stumbled across Years and Years completely by mistake. I witnessed part of singer Olly Alexander’s soundcheck during Sundance last year and I was absolutely floored by his voice. It brought me to tears.

He appeared in the film “God Help the Girl”, written and directed by Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch, and Stuart recently joked that Belle might be opening for HIM one day. That’s how much star power this guy has.

The band will be playing in LA at School Night on March 23 after a stint in Austin at SXSW.


A few more worth noting:

Twerps – Australian indie popsters with a solid release on Merge Records.

AlvvaysI wrote about this Canadian band last summer and they seem to finally be getting the attention they deserve for their extremely catchy indie pop record.