Photo: Xavier De Nauw
Mallrat, Pronoun, Deva Mahal: 7 Best New Bands At SXSW 2018
Time and time again we've heard that one of the amazing things about the annual SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas, is the wide-ranging lineup of artists that come to town covering the full gamut of genres. Festival attendees get to discover great new music, including hot new sounds from up-and-coming artists who seem poised to break through any minute.
We had a chance to do a little exploring and we caught everything from innovative electronic pop to soulful bluesy stylings and so much more we think you'll want to hear. So with that in mind, here are seven rising artists who caught our ear at SXSW.
1. Deva Mahal
If her last name sounds familiar, you're not imagining things. Deva Mahal, the daughter of GRAMMY-winning blues legend Taj Mahal, is getting ready to release her debut full-length studio album, Run Deep, on March 23. Ahead of the drop, Mahal stopped by SXSW to play a set at the Miles Davis House on March 17 where she wowed the crowd with her soulful voice and poetic lyrics. As Parade wrote, "She powerfully connects with raw honesty, rich musicality and emotionally searing songs of love and loss that convey the true resiliency of the human spirit to triumph over adversity."
Pronoun — aka Alyse Vellturo — writes alt-pop tracks that capture the full range of human emotion with a smokey voice. She released her debut EP, There's No One New Around You, in 2016, which she created completely on her own in her apartment following a difficult breakup. She's now preparing her first full-length LP for 2018, which promises more of her relatable, engaging singing, songwriting and production, not to mention lyrics that speak straight to the heart of listeners. "I think what helps is the sincerity and transparency of the lyrics and how genuine they are," Pronoun told Atwood Magazine.
Australian native Grace Shaw — who performs under the moniker Mallrat — has self-described her music as "Hannah Montana of the rap game." Indeed, her ingenious pop-based sound incorporates elements of her rap idols, including Kanye West, in addition to an electronic pastiche that grab the listener's attention. She played two gigs during this year's SXSW, and fans can look forward to new music from the 20-year-old artist coming soon on her new EP, In The Sky.
4. Lola Marsh
With a sound described as dream pop, Tel Aviv duo Lola Marsh — comprising singer Yael Shoshana Cohen and guitarist/keyboardist Gil Landau — released their debut album, Remember Roses, in June 2017. The Observer describes their sound as "sweet indie pop in the vein of Edward Sharpe infused with a dash of Lana Del Rey." At SXSW this year, they wowed the crowd with three official showcases, bringing their tunes to a much wider audience. We can't wait to see what blossoms next.
5. Aisha Badru
What's in a voice? In the case of New York-based singer/songwriter Aisha Badru, everything. Her sound is, as OnesToWatch.com writes, "a voice that could seemingly move mountains if she whispered at them." With simple production values accompanying her folk-inspired tunes, her dreamlike voice cuts crystal clear across each track, pulling listeners directly into Badru's world and music. It'll leave you wanting more, just as it did for SXSW attendees during her showcase at 18th Over Austin. Get ready: Her debut full-length album is coming soon.
6. The Marías
Who couldn't use a little psychedelic soul in their life? Enter the Marías, fronted by Puerto Rican native Maria Conway and Los Angeles native Josh Conway. GrimyGoods.com has described their sound as '70s lounge with tracks that will "transport you to someplace where sensuality and ecstasy drip from the lips of those around you." They played three official shows this year during SXSW and fans new and returning can look forward to the release of their follow-up EP, Superclean Volume 2, in the near future.
7. Kweku Collins
It's hip-hop with a lyrical twist. Chicago rapper/producer Kweku Collins comes from a long line of innovative Chi-Town rappers who have a style all their own. "My music might not fit anywhere,” he told Pitchfork. "But if you listen close enough, you can see how it can fit everywhere." Collins' sound incorporates many of his wide-ranging inspirations, including his Latin/African percussionist father and the likes of Tame Impala, Migos, will.i.am, and D'Angelo. He was featured as a SXSW artist of the day prior to the festival, and you can catch his most recent EP, 2017's Grey, for more.