What We Missed: Five More Artists To Watch From SXSW


Videos by American Songwriter

[pictured above: jj]

Every year the biggest lesson learned at SXSW: you can’t do it all. No matter how well you script out your day–using the SXSW.com online planner or printed festival guides; Sched.org (which turned out to be horribly inadequate this year); Austinist.com’s sxswist iPhone app–it’s a highly volatile environment to try to control. Here are a few artists we never got to see, plus what we’ve heard about their performances now that the dust has settled and, lastly, what 2010 has in store for them.

The Swedish electro duo has finally emerged from obscurity with the new release jj nº 3 on Secretly Canadian. I jammed the CD in the car all week long but never made it to their primo 10pm slot Thursday night at The Mohawk (On the same delicious bill as current tour-mates The xx.) Unfortunately, for jj’s first live shows stateside, the word is that the band’s performance left much to be desired. Let’s hope that as jj hits about twenty dates across the U.S. over the next two months, that they find a way to translate their beautiful recorded sound in a live setting.


Toro y Moi

Ernest Greene’s [Washed Out] boy from Columbia, South Carolina, Toro y Moi is Chaz Bundick, a one-man singin’/dancin’/groovin’ kind of guy who’s been getting some bigger notice lately as part of the chillwave phenomenon, though he’s been doing his thing since way back in ’07. I was hoping to chillax in the sun all Friday afternoon on the French Legation lawn and catch his 3:30 set, but never made it over. In January, D.C.’s Carpark Records released Causers of This and Bundick will be on tour with The Ruby Suns throughout March and April.


Neon Indian

Maybe the biggest act going into SXSW, and from what we’ve heard and read about Alan Palomo’s many performances at the festival, Neon Indian may also prove to be the most successful. Poised and professional on stage, Palomo pulled out all the stops and killed it at every show. It will be interesting to see whether Neon Indian sticks with indie Lefse Records or goes for bigger fruit. He’s in a place similar to MGMT three years ago, who ditched Cantora Records for Columbia. His Bonnaroo gig this summer could put him firmly on the national/international stage.

very best

The Very Best

The New York Times made it over to the Green Owl house party fifteen miles outside of Austin; but, unfortunately, American Songwriter never got the memo. Many of the artists on the label’s eclectic roster played throughout the week/weekend, including 2009 breakout artist The Very Best. Mixing traditional African melodies and drumming with electronic touches, these guys are making some of my very favorite music right now. You could talk about authenticity and American artists like Vampire Weekend, but, to me, the tracks on Warm Heart of Africa (released last August) featuring VW’s Ezra Koenig and M.I.A. are two of the very best on the album. Catch the band when they play Washington’s Sasquatch Festival later this spring.



Sounds like the abbreviation for some new designer drug the kids are taking; and, from what we hear, it kinda is. Amanda Warner, aka MNDR, is a gear junkie who’s MySpace “About” section reads “Ass tested beats.” (I’m just letting that phrase marinate in my mind for a few days before I decide all the things it could mean.) Warner’s catchy melodies and industrial beats put her in a good position to win big in 2010.


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