None of them have names as great as Contact Dermatitis or Neil Patrick Harassment, but our favorite artists on this year’s South by South West schedule have the bonus properties of sounding incredible and actually existing. Maybe you were there and saw a few of them live, maybe you spend the week sitting bitterly at your office desk hate reading the SXSW Parties Twitter and Spotifying everything you wished you were seeing. We did the latter, and here are best things we heard. Whether established or emerging, you can guarantee these artists are all real as it gets.
1. Black Milk
Black Milk has been doing his thing since 2002 when he scored his first credit for Slum Village as a teenager. Since then he’s produced for Detroit underground artists J Dilla, Phat Kat, and Proof, and released slew of critically acclaimed albums, proving he’s more relevant than ever with 2013’s No Poison No Paradise.
If you’re not already obsessed with LA-based Kelela’s sultry vocals and electro and folk-infused brand of R&B, you will after one listen. The artists describes her music as “not just weird, it’s deliberately off-putting,” but she couldn’t be more wrong. Fans include Solange, Daedelus, and Teengirl Fantasy, and most of the internet.
TEEN is Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson, former keyboardist for the Brooklyn band Here We Go Magic, plus her two sisters Katherine and Lizzie plus Syria-born NYC kid Boshra AlSaad.
4. Jessica Lea Mayfield
The alt-country songstress’ Dan Auerbach-produced first LP finally has a way grungier followup, Make My Head Sing…, due out on April 15. Here’s the riffy first single from that.
5. Agnes Obel
It’s also been far too long since Philharmonics, the debut from Danish singer songwriter Agnes Caroline Thaarup Obel. She’s now touring her new album Aventine, accompanied by Anna Müller and Mika Posen (Timber Timbre) on cello and viola.
Top Dawg Entertainment‘s most exciting new signee is the label’s only singer and their main source of girl power. Her track “Ice.Moon” was one of Consequence of Sound‘s (and our) favorite tracks of 2013.
7. Ty Dolla $ign
Ty$ recently released his debut extended play, Beach House EP, which featured appearances from Wiz Khalifa, Twista, Jay Rock, Trey Songz, French Montana, and B.o.B., who lends his vocals to this summery track.
The Maybach Music Group rapper is a SXSW mainstay who originally performed in Ohio under his nickname, Stallion. He now goes by Stalley but his new stuff is just as gritty.
Scuzzy English psych group Temples manage to fuse The Beatles, Motown and Krautrock influences into something so modern. If you like Tame Impala, drown yourself in this forever.
Norway-via-India’s Sampda Sharma combines Bollywood with big beats, and it’s so catchy it hurts. This is pop you can listen to with your headphones off.
11. Bo Ningen
Japanese acid punk exists in the form of Bo Ningen, a four-piece guaranteed to earn you noise complaints (if you don’t listen to them loudly, don’t listen to them at all). This is the first single from their forthcoming 3rd album, due for release in May.
The little we actually know about BANKS, we like. She taught herself how to play the piano, She looks up to Fiona Apple, and her dark R&B-inspired music gives you an excuse to lock yourself in your room with your headphones on. The video for her haunting new track “Brains” also showcases BANKS’ new bangs.