SXSW 2008: Three Artists to Watch
This week, the South by Southwest music festival brings more than 1,700 bands to Austin, Texas, for a weekend that's all about volume in more ways than one. Narrowing down the seemingly limitless options isn't easy, but here are three acts likely to win some new fans in the coming days.
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Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon recorded For Emma, Forever Ago in a Wisconsin cabin, during a winter spent regrouping after a string of personal and professional setbacks. In between wood-chopping expeditions, Vernon single-handedly crafted nine fragile, rustic, bracingly beautiful songs, each of which hits like a punch in the heart. Best of all is “Skinny Love,” a cry for help that’s both tuneful and agonizingly sad.
In the early '70s, soul singer Darondo was a well-known figure in the San Francisco area, opening for James Brown and running with the notorious likes of Fillmore Slim. He cut three singles around that time before abandoning music, moving on with his life and starting a family. His singles became coveted collectibles -- his voice recalls a less wholesome Al Green -- and were finally reissued two years ago, in a campaign that launched a highly unlikely comeback. The best of the lot, "Didn't I," puts Darondo's soulful, croaky falsetto to good use.
Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat was raised on oldies radio, so it’s no surprise that the beguiling “In the Night” straddles multiple eras simultaneously. Bulat enters a crowded market for female purveyors of timeless pop music, but it’s hard not to bet on her breezily charming debut. “In the Night” sounds so well suited for placement in commercials that hearing it is enough to induce subliminal cravings for Volkswagens and iPods.