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:
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.
Wherever You Are
Mead creates intelligent pop in the Josh Rouse and Paul McCartney mold, with lush, gentle grooves.
Chris and Thomas
Vista Street Sessions
This acoustic folk-and-mandolin vocal duo reminds critics of Nick Drake and even Bob Dylan.
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.
'I'll Hold You In My Heart 'Til I Can Hold You In My Arms'
The Enemies EP
Glittering, minor-key power pop with a melancholy heart, anchored by Erin Fein's slightly vulnerable, lilting croon.
It Isn't Easy to Live That Well