SXSW 2012: 10 Los Angeles artists to see


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On Tuesday in Austin, the annual South by Southwest music festival begins, and a flock of Southern California bands has made the journey to Texas. This year, as always, dozens of area artists are on the official roster, and a whole host of day-party invader bands has caravaned over from Southern California without ‘official’ status to get its music into industry/fans’ ears. (A lot of these invader bands are on the Burger Records throwdown, which any smart A&R person looking for young upstart punks should hit -- see below). Below are 10 acts to see in Austin, some signed to indies, others looking for bigger action.

Nick Waterhouse


One of those oddly, wonderfully obsessed musicians who walks the talk, Nick Waterhouse has an encylopedic knowledge of rock history and jumps around the decades with refreshing affection and absolute conviction. His cover of the Troggs’ ‘I Can Only Give You Everything’ offers evidence above. Waterhouse has just put out an EP, which you can check out along with his Austin dates, here.


Oft deep and deliberate like the National, L.A. band Papa makes guitar rock that finds a groove and then figures out the rest measure by measure. Its debut EP, ‘A Good Woman Is Hard to Find,’ features five solid songs, the best of which, ‘Let’s Make You Pregnant,’ twists and turns at every opportunity, hummable but not insidiously so -- just enough to make it sticky. Find Papa at any number of showcases here.

Soft Metals

Catchy, ethereal synth pop is all the rage these days, and the deeper the rhythms, the better, as Soft Metals understands. On its sticky but restrained 2011 debut, the duo composed of Patricia Hall and Ian Hicks doesn’t really invent anything new, but the craft with which it builds pensive pop songs is admirable. The duo recently relocated from Portland, Ore., to Los Angeles and has already made a dent in the city’s expansive scene. Its Austin gigs are here.



FIDLAR is one of the most thrilling L.A. punk bands to rise in the last few years, a confident, brash bunch of kids pushing hard guitars and ‘tude. Recently signed to Sleigh Bells’ label Mom + Pop, the Orange County four-piece makes totally catchy 1-2-3-4 garage-rock sprints, and sounds absolutely great blowing out of the speakers -- or other bands off the stage. The band also cusses a lot, so we can’t embed a track, but if you can handle some bad words, click here. They’re doing a show a day in Texas. Highly recommended.


Ryat is a Los Angeles duo whose jerky, rhythmic beat music is forthcoming on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder Records imprint. The band samples guitars -- sounds like some Gang of Four gets mixed in there, but maybe it’s just that Andy Gill-styled tone -- and isn’t afraid to meander into mid-song moments of relaxing bliss. Check it at Austin by clicking here.


Signed, like Nick Waterhouse, to the Innovative Leisure label, the Allah-Las bangs out jangly, catchy garage rock songs with singalong choruses, a wonderfully lazy pace, a lot of echoed organ and overall understanding that any good rock song also has to swing. The band has yet to release a full-length, but it’s one of the hottest rock bands in the city right now. In Austin? It’s here.

Electric Guest


An odd band whose sound draws on classic 1970s AM radio jams, the confidence to be romantic and tippy-toe-quiet without being cheesy, Electric Guest is signed to Downtown records and the Windish booking agency, so expect Electric Guest to make a play for national attention later in the year. Its SXSW gigs are listed here.


By our count, Bleached is playing 13 shows in four days at SXSW, an impressive feat but one that sisters Jennifer and Jessica Clavin are used to; as former members of L.A. punk band Mika Miko, the pair understand how to make themselves known. As Bleached, the sisters make similarly guitar-fueled music, but it’s laced with much more sweetness and pop. Check Bleached’s SXSW gigs here.

Jenny O.

Jenny O. released her debut EP in 2011 and is putting the finishing touches on a new full length. A ferocious live performer, Jenny possesses magnetism -- and the songs to back it up. Most recently she appeared on the fantastic tribute to Buddy Holly, ‘Rave On,’ from which the song above is taken. Check her Austin dates here.

Peaking Lights


A strange and beautiful electronic duo recently relocated from Wisconsin to Los Angeles, Peaking Lights make dub-inspired sounds that are rich on melody and introspection, like a trippier version of London group the xx. The group’s fantastic album ‘936’ was released by L.A. label Not Not Fun. Don’t miss.

A few tips on day parties:

Los Angeles labels and blogs are hosting a plethora of other area bands during day parties. Curious to catch up on the wildly diverse L.A. scene? Check out the Aquarium Drunkard day party, the huge Burger Records punk rock jam (don’t miss Audacity or the Cosmonauts!) or’s indie guitar blowout. Too, the Origami Records/Echo day party brings a number of the aforementioned musicians onto the same stage; and, as mentioned above, Innovative Leisure is killing it right now. See four of its bands at its showcase.

Curious what I’m seeing down there? Follow me on Twitter, where I’ll be updating regularly.


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-- Randall Roberts