Artists to Watch: A SXSW Preview

If you're a music fan, the place to be this week is Austin, Texas. The annual South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival — known by many as SXSW — has been a staple of the music-festival circuit since 1987. It's a two-week celebration of independent sounds by both up-and-coming bands and established acts, as well as interactive media and film.

This year promises to be the biggest SXSW yet; more than 1,300 bands and artists will perform in just about every venue the Texas capital has to offer. Stephen Thompson, editor of the new NPR.org feature Song of the Day is one of the hundreds of music journalists descending on the city, looking for the hottest new acts. Here's a short list of some of his favorites:

Cover for Brother Ali CD 'Shadows on the Sun'

Brother Ali

Shadows on the Sun

A most unexpected hip-hop hero — he's a Muslim albino rapper from Minneapolis — Brother Ali draws raves for his live shows and smooth delivery.

Cover for the David Mead CD 'Wherever You Are'

David Mead

Wherever You Are

Mead creates intelligent pop in the Josh Rouse and Paul McCartney mold, with lush, gentle grooves.

Cover for the Chris and Thomas CD 'Vista Street Sessions'

Chris and Thomas

Vista Street Sessions

This acoustic folk-and-mandolin vocal duo reminds critics of Nick Drake and even Bob Dylan.

Cover for Don Walser CD 'I'll Hold You in My Heart'

Don Walser

I'll Hold You In My Heart

Walser didn't start performing for audiences full-time until he retired from the National Guard when he was 60.

Cover for the Headlights CD 'The Enemies'

Headlights

The Enemies EP

Glittering, minor-key power pop with a melancholy heart, anchored by Erin Fein's slightly vulnerable, lilting croon.

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I'll Hold You in My Heart

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  • Album: I'll Hold You in My Heart
  • Artist: Don Walser
  • Label: Valley Records
  • Released: 2000
 

Shadows on the Sun

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  • Album: Shadows on the Sun
  • Artist: Brother Ali
  • Label: Rhymesayers Entertainment
  • Released: 2004
 

Wherever You Are

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  • Album: Wherever You Are
  • Artist: David Mead
  • Label: Eleven Thirty
  • Released: 2005
 

The Enemies EP

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  • Album: The Enemies EP
  • Artist: Headlights
  • Label: Polyvinyl Records
  • Released: 2005
 

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