From Thousands Of Bands, Four SXSW Discoveries

Play associated audio

This week, more than 2,000 bands will perform live as part of the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas — and each will hope to stand out somehow. It's one thing to play SXSW, but another to generate excitement.

For the NPR Music team, attending SXSW means sifting and winnowing through hundreds upon hundreds of songs for weeks in advance, in an effort to better anticipate the festival's highlights. Each year, writer and editor Stephen Thompson assembles a mix called The Austin 100 — a 100-song playlist highlighting new discoveries from SXSW — and in 2012 that meant listening to more than 1,300 songs.

In an interview for weekends on All Things Considered, NPR's Guy Raz asked Thompson to distill that 1,300-song bundle down to just four discoveries — songs by artists he'd never heard before the process began.

Thompson's choices:

* Now, Now, "Dead Oaks" (from Threads)
A young trio from Minneapolis, Now, Now is led by two women (Cacie Dalager and Jess Abbott) with a remarkably sophisticated ear for irresistibly infectious pop-rock.

* Kishi Bashi, "Bright Whites" (from 151a)
A Kickstarter-funded solo project for a performer named K Ishibashi (a touring member of the band Of Montreal), Kishi Bashi plays homemade toy-box pop with Beatles-esque harmonies and a sense of grandeur.

* Chic Gamine, "Closer" (from City City)
A throwback to girl-group soul with a touch of Francophile pop, Chic Gamine features four Canadian women who take turns singing lead vocals. A Juno winner in its home country, the band sounds poised for a U.S. breakout.

* Silverbus, "Those Forgotten" (from Orange)
SXSW always offers a chance to indulge in something head-clearingly loud and grand, and the Taiwanese band Silverbus fits that bill. (See also: Deafheaven, The Calm Blue Sea.) With big guitars that get bigger as the songs progress, it's instrumental music that makes listeners want to shout along.

Visit for NPR Music's full coverage of SXSW, including live broadcasts, videos, photos, podcasts and more from the festival.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


From A Weirdo Nerd To A Guy Who Plays One On TV

NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with the actor Rainn Wilson about his new memoir, The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy.

How Long Can Florida's Citrus Industry Survive?

The USDA recently stunned growers when it projected the smallest orange harvest for Florida in more than 50 years. The culprit: A tiny insect that's killing off the state's trees — and industry.

Snapshots 2016: Trump's Message Resonates With A Master Cabinet Maker

From time to time during this election season we'll be introducing you to ordinary people that our reporters meet out on the campaign trail. Today: a snapshot from a Donald Trump rally in New Hampshire.

Someday A Helicopter Drone May Fly Over Mars And Help A Rover

NASA is building a 2-pound helicopter drone that would help guide the vehicle on the Red Planet's surface. That way, the rover wouldn't need to wander as much to find its way around.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.