SXSW is currently taking over the North American music world, but I’m not there this year. To deal with this sadness, I have largely ignored what’s going on out there in Austin. So here are a bunch of tracks by bands that may or may not be showcasing at SXSW.
1. “It Takes Over” – Dream Curtain. I like chillwave so much that I wrote an academic paper about it. Dream Curtain loves chillwave so much that the project keeps making hazy, woozy, reverb-heavy, summery slices of wonder.
2. “Strange Feeling” – Panama. The ’80s influence is strong with this one. Piano, synths, a move-your-feet beat? It’s all happening on this yacht, y’all.
3. “Mountain (Alternate Version)” – Driftwood Miracle. What was a churning, heavy emo track is transformed into a lounge-y, chilled-out track with wah guitar and silky keys. It’s suprisingly fun and only a bit cheesy.
4. “Conquer It All” – Afterlife Parade. U2 and Coldplay influences abound in this upbeat indie-rock track, but it’s far more enjoyable than Coldplay’s “Magic.”
5. “Clearhead Real” – Plateau Below. Starts out a chill, spare guitar-pop track, turns into a big ‘ol guitar-rock stomper. (Bonus: The album art is a striking representation of the sound.)
6. “Bad News” – Slinger Francisco. I listened to a lot of Tooth & Nail Records pop-rock in the early 2000s, and Slinger Francisco takes me back to those heady days of MAE and Watashi Wa. Pop-rock arrangements with an emo heart and pop-punk vocal melodies.
7. “Cruel to Be Kind” – The Worriers. Alternately sneering and jubilant, hyperkinetic Aussies The Worriers come off like a Southern Hemispheric answer to The Vaccines.
8. “Why It Stopped Raining” – The Bacchanales. Frantic Southern rock with a ’90s bent — from Australia.
9. “Melt” – HEYROCCO. Another tune full of mid-’90s guitar crunch, this one tells the story of teenage (?) romance at the highest possible volume. That chorus is towering, catchy, and even sweet.
10. “Bells of Paonia” – The Fresh and Onlys. Walls of guitars have rarely sounded so warm and inviting. A truly touching shoegaze-inspired tune.
11. “Cherry Tigers” – Low Forms. A straight-ahead rock’n’roll charger. Low Forms is a duo coming right out of Minnesota, where they know a thing or two about noisy indie rock.
12. “Electric Feet” – 28 Boulevard. You want a big, happy rock song? Here’s a big, happy rock song.