The rumor mill is still grinding away on the big names – Prince and Justin Timberlake, in particular, are still not confirmed – but the lesser-knowns have been lined up for weeks and (in some cases) building momentum toward the South by Southwest Music Conference, which officially kicks off with showcases tonight. I’m headed down there this afternoon, and here are five new acts on my list that I don't want to miss.
*HAIM: Sort of the Los Angeles hipster version of Hanson, these three sisters just came off tours with Mumford & Sons and Florence & the Machine and have charted in the U.K. with their Polydor-issued EP, featuring harmonious, Feist-like mmm-bop. So pretty much a shoo-in for SXSW attention this year.
*COMO MAMAS: And here’s one the unlikeliest of buzz acts this year. These three upper-middle-age women (two are also sisters) came straight out of singing in the church to recording for the Daptones label (of Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings fame).
*SAMANTHA CRAIN: SXSW used to be dominated by Americana/alt-country acts way back in the days before music blogs and Doritos sponsorship. This young Oklahoma songstress is coming in with that kind of old-school buzz for her new album, “Kid Face,” a dusty and dramatic collection of songs wrapped relatively raw in fiddle and banjo.
*BAJOFONDO: This eclectic tango-electronic-orchestral-rock ensemble, made up of musicians from Argentina and Uruguay, have already won a Latin Grammy and loads of respect throughout South and Central America, and they’re making an aggressive U.S. push this year (including an upcoming gig at the Cedar Cultural Center).
*DIARRHEA PLANET: You pretty much know you’re not getting another Radiohead copycat band from the get-go here with this scruffy, young Nashville quartet, and their rowdy, Japandroids-meets-Andrew W.K. noise-rock should do the trick getting the many day parties started.
Read daily reports from South by Southwest all this week at www.startribune.com/sxsw.