SXSW is my favorite time of the year for collecting new artists to watch. Far be it from me to keep these gems to myself. Here are some of bands and songs I discovered this year:
19. Haley Bonar – “Bad Reputation”
I was attracted to the tone of Haley Bonar’s voice. It stuck out in a sea of voices while I was going through all the SXSW announced artists and got this Minnesotan a spot on my best of SXSW playlist.
20. Kodaline – “All I Want”
These Dubliners made it into one of my top sets of SXSW, partly due to the circumstances surrounding my first seeing them and partly due to their intoxicating tunes like this one. The way this song builds gets me every time. A Kodaline show = a magical experience.
I had heard of Frank Turner prior to SXSW 2013, but I hadn’t given him a proper listen. I saw two of his sets this year and, especially the one with The Sleeping Souls, they could be described as one of the more energy-packed, empowering sets I’ve seen. Turner has an impressive ability to stir a crowd into fist-pumping madness. Giving his tunes a few listens, I can tell why. His recently released album, Tape Deck Heart, is packed full of gems.
I have known Curtis for a number of years now, and have really enjoyed watching him grow as both a person and an artist. He came out of writing and recording hibernation Saturday night to play a show at The Mint. He seemed so genuinely happy to be back on the stage and to share some of his new tunes with us. And that’s one of the things I love about Curtis. He’s so genuine and honest (I mean, the man admits to loving CSI: Miami, having a fetish for 80’s music, and wearing girl’s jean…). But this honesty also comes across in his songs and in his performance which always makes him a pleasure to watch.
My favorite Curtis tune has to be the last single, “All I Want”, from his latest self titled album. I still can’t decide, however, whether I like it best sung with the full band (gives it power and allows it to build a bit more) or just simply with Curtis and his guitar which is how I first heard it. Check out the video and let me know what you think!
Of course he sang “All I Want” Saturday night. Curtis also played several new tunes including one that he wrote with Tyler Hilton called “So Young” which I think will be a stand-out on Tyler’s forthcoming CD.
The set was capped off with a fantastic version of Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” with Dave Yaden delivering masterful solos on the keys…and which has subsequently set me off on a Tom Petty kick.
Can’t wait for next time!