Stromae Catfish and the Bottlemen Elle King Milky Chance Shamir Goldfish Ryn Weaver Tei Shi Halsey Max Frost Jess Glynne Girl Pool Misterwives Tove Lo Leon Bridges Casey Veggies James Bay Elliphant Goldlink Dej Loaf Alvvays Bleachers Black Milk Ivy Levan Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence
Stromae is already huge in Europe, but it wasn’t until Kanye West remixed the Belgian-born singer’s song, “Alors on danse” that us here in the States started paying attention. His music is dance-floor ready hip-hop and even though he sings in French, it translates to party music in every language. With a Madison Square Garden show booked for October, the buzz is only just beginning.
It’s hard to stand out in the mass of indie rock bands of SXSW, but Catfish and the Bottlemen does it the old fashion way: with catchy hooks and sheer talent. The Welsh band is reminiscent of Oasis and The Strokes, proving that good guitar riffs and rocking out hard never goes out of style.
Bushwick resident Elle King’s blend of retro pop and soul is bound to get her compared to Duffy, but she’s a bit more bluesy. She’s already on Reese Witherspoon’s and Hayley Williams (of Paramore)’s playlists and after her set to an excited crowd at SXSW, is about to be on many others.
Though this is their first time at SXSW, it’s already a stretch to call Milky Chance a breakthrough as their song “Stolen Dance” is already being looped on Top 40 stations everywhere. Things have accelerated quickly for the German duo, whose second single, “Flashed Junk Mind” already has over 5 million views on YouTube, showing they aren’t just a one-hit wonder.
Shamir knows how to start the party. The musician blends hip-hop and electronica making happy dance songs that would be right at home being played at a warehouse party in his native Brooklyn. Or, just for when you feel like dancing around solo in your apartment.
This South African group’s happy energy in contagious and their repetitive, catchy hooks make their songs destined to stay in your head —- in a good way.
One of MTV’s Artists to Watch, alternative songstress Ryn Weaver sounds like a less airy Ellie Goulding; Weaver’s voice has a definitive force. Her debut album (out next month) was produced by Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos, and her single “Octohate” is already getting raves from critics, as well as from Charli XCX.
Argentinean-born, Brooklyn-based singer Tei Shi blends airy pop with electronica and heavy bass that’s the musical equivalent to taking a nap in the sunshine. Her debut album is out next month.
With her teal hair and sequin, netted dress, Halsey looked like an alt-pop mermaid as she played her SXSW set in the rain. Similar to Tove Lo and Charli XCX, she’s joining the ranks of female singers specializing in singing melodic pop songs while giving the finger.
Austin-native Max Frost blends R&B, electronica, rock and a surprising amount of soul for a unique sound that’s getting him recognized far outside his home state. He generated buzz with his cover songs —- and treated his SXSW crowd to an Outkast cover, but its his own songs like “White Lies” and “Let Me Down Easy” that make him worth listening to.
There’s a total girl power element to British singer Jess Glynne’s songs, but she’s way too soulful to be labeled a pop diva. Her songs are reminiscent to your favorite ‘90s songs, but with a heavy dose of Motown.
Sometimes, all you need are two girls and their guitars. This punk rock duo belts out tunes dripping in angst.
With “Reflections” slowly climbing the charts, Misterwives is a band on its way. Front singer Mandy Lee is backed by three guys, together making feel good, catchy alt-pop.
Tove Lo’s songs “Stay High” and “Talking Body” are everywhere right now, making it hard to believe the singer is still a relative newbie with one album. The pop singer specializes in exploring the darker side of relationships, and belting about breakups without making it a ballad.
Texas native Leon Bridges may have been born in the ‘90s, but he’s fully mastered blending retro pop and soul that can transport listeners to a bygone era.
Casey Veggies started rapping in middle school, making him an already seasoned pro at 21. He paid his dues opening for heavy hitters such as Kendrick Lamar, but with his single “Backflip” --- which features YG --- gaining momentum, 2015 is quickly becoming his year.
At the ripe age of 24, British singer-songwriter James Bay is about to blow up. Last month he won the Critic’s Choice Award at The Brits, which considering past recipients include Adele, Sam Smith and Ellie Goulding, bodes well for the artist, whose debut album is out today.
Singer/rapper Elliphant hails from Sweden, but her songs have a distinct Jamaican feel to them. It’s no wonder she’s been dubbed music’s “most unconventional pop-star.” Fans of M.I.A. and Diplo: make this your next download.
Rapper Goldlink’s debut mixtape “The God Complex” is getting him major props, from reviewers, fans and even Rick Rubin. Goldlink’s blend of hip-hop and electronica is just what the music scene is craving right now.
Detroit rapper Def Loaf’s performance was one of the buzziest hop-hop showcases at SXSW. Not only did Drake publicly claim his love for her song “Try Me” on Instagram, she’s featured on Eminem’s song, “Detroit vs. Everyone.” This year is her year.
After a successful run at SXSW playing several shows, five piece alt-pop band Alvvays is set to go on tour with The Decemberists. Similar in sound to beachy band Best Coast, their music is pure happiness.
Lena Dunham’s beau Jack Antonoff used SXSW to show that his focus is now primarily on Bleachers, not his other band Fun. This was the band’s first time performing live --- they played both scheduled and a surprise show --- and killed it every time, proving Bleachers is no longer a “side project.”
This Detroit rapper is the first hip-hop artist signed to Jack White’s label Third Man Records. White’s featured on two of his songs, playing guitar on “Brain” and drums on “Royal Mega.” Performing with a sizable band, Black Milk brings something new to the hip-hop game.
Pop-singer Ivy Levan gave a powerful performance at Perez Hilton’s One Night In Austin party the last night of SXSW --- this girl has some killer pipes. Expect to see her name on the mainstream music charts later this year.
Catfish and the Bottlemen
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence