As Aaron did for you last week, I’ve combed through the list of every artist playing SXSW this year. There are so many good ones! You’ve got indie royalty like Jad Fair (Half Japanese) and Superchunk playing alongside the reigning King of Party Andrew W.K.
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead will set fire (hopefully just metaphorically) to every stage they take, and you’ll have more new favorite bands by the end of your time at the fest than you’ll know what to do with. You’ll also have the opportunity to take part in DJ Jonathan Toubin’s legendary New York Night Train Soul Clap & Dance-Off – this is an experience everyone should be lucky enough to have at least once in their lifetime.
As I compiled my short list of options to put particular focus on though, I noticed that the majority of them were female centric. It’s International Women’s Day as I type this, so with that in mind here are but a few of the badass lady musicians you should seek out to ensure that you achieve the optimal South By experience.
Sudan Archives may very well be the definition of the oft overused term “powerhouse.” She’s self taught on the violin, and she writes/produces all of her own material. That material being an intriguingly spare mix of electronica, R&B, and folk anchored by a subtly commanding vocal presentation, and the gorgeous predominance of that violin. Sudan Archives will play KCRW’s Day Showcase at the Radio Day Stage at the Convention Center on Wednesday March 14th. While you anticipate that performance, enjoy the life affirming video for stand out track “Come Meh Way.”
I think it was either 2006 or 2007 by the time I finally got around to fully immersing myself in the world of German band Lali Puna’s lauded 2004 release Faking the Books. It’s impossible to describe what it was like to encounter their particular mastery of beats, noise, and employment of Valerie Trebeljahr’s haunting voice. I can say with certainty that it was love at first listen though. I’m currently diving into their record from last year, Two Windows, that i’d completely slept on until now. I’m pleased to report they remain as wonderful as ever. Please catch one of their SX sets for me.
Enigmatic by design, L.A. based artist Elohim has crafted a persona that makes you work for it. In live performance, she moves coyly within the shadows of lights, and projections so that her face is never revealed. She sings often about her anxiety, experiences with hallucinations, and plenty more difficult subjects that often occupy the minds of most women I know (myself included). She also crafts some of the catchiest melodies I’ve ever heard, and I’m personally addicted to the sound of her voice. I believe you will be too.
Renata Zeiguer first came on to my radar last week in the most fortuitous way. I was prepping for a gig, and decided to do a quick inbox search to see if Mr. Twin Sister had released anything recently that I may have missed. While that search didn’t turn up the anticipated results, it did lead me to Old Ghost – the debut album from this Brooklyn based multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter. I’m eternally grateful for that happy accident as “Dreambone” is my absolute favorite song of the moment. The guitar centric intro is far more bracing than you might expect from a song with the word “dream” in the title, and it’s confounding beauty only expands from that point on.
Perhaps best known for being one half of the sadly now defunct genre defying duo THEESatisfaction, SassyBlack has also been steadily releasing a tremendous amount of deeply… well, satisfying (sorry) solo material over the past several years. I loved her record from last year, New Black Swing, but I far more often find myself drawn back to her debut No More Weak Dates. “Circle of Love” is my favorite song from that album, but I’m going to share “Comicon” with you instead because it’s such an endlessly delightful celebration of nerd culture.
MONOGEM is an L.A. based artist you’ll want to keep a very close ear on. Since we last wrote about her for this publication, she’s released her best single to date – “Get You High.” Sensual and engrossing, this is one for your ultimate late night playlist. The energy at her live shows is always electric due to her warm stage presence, and very devoted fan base. I’m certain that fan base will expand considerably after her upcoming performances in Austin so if you’re headed that way be sure to catch a set so that you can say you saw her when.
(Sudan Archives photo c/o Robb Klassen, Austin, TX photo c/o wikipedia)