A quick read through any music blog or Twitter feed will make it pretty damn clear that SXSW is less than two weeks away. For those of you newbies, that means that the massive South By Southwest Music Conference and Festival starts its music portion on March 17th in Austin, Texas. With hundreds of bands scheduled to play every hole in the wall available in Austin, we might understand how overwhelmed you might feel at the thought of choosing which shows to check out, even online. That’s where we come in, with our handpicked list of Latin bands that will be in town ready to defy and undoubtedly alter expectations of what music hailing from Latin America and Spain sounds like.
Niu-niu wave/indie rock
This four-piece band from Granada has been a staple of the Spanish indie rock scene since 1994, making consistent appearances at festivals such as Benicassim and Sonorama, despite the band’s ever-changing lineup. Never shy about their admiration for bands such as Joy Division and Mercury Rev, Los Planetas’ shoegaze rock will be a part of the Sounds of Spain Showcase, where they will be debuting their flamenco-infused songs from their newest album, Una ópera egipcia.
Don’t be confused if Banda Desenhada looks familiar – just recently the two members of the band were part of Telerama, the only band from their home state of Ceará that had made it to SXSW in 2008. Telerama shed two members, and Igor Miná and Alinne Rodrigues formed Banda Desenhada at the end of 2009, and they are now prepared to debut their brand-new EP at SXSW 2010. Banda’s straightforward pop rock and catchy female vocals display their wide range of influences, which they have said include everything from the legendary Os Mutantes to ABBA.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Pedro Moraes has become one of Brazil’s most promising singer-songwriters, mostly because of his blend of traditional Brazilian acoustic guitar tunes with unconventional melodies. Hopefully, Moraes will impress American audiences the same way he has already impressed not only his fellow Brazilians but also audiences across Asia, where has toured extensively. As a matter of fact, due to his tours he became the first Brazilian artist to have his music released by an Indian record label.
With a Latin Grammy nomination already under their belt, and with the initial support of the producer behind Illya Kuryaki and Soda Stereo, Superlitio’s seamless blend of cumbia, reggae, funk and rock has not only made them headliners at major festivals around South America, but also darlings for movie and TV soundtracks (the riveting Perro come perro and the 90’s TV series Francisco el matemático, for example). This will be Superlitio’s second appearance at SXSW, where they will aim to solidify their claim of being a “glimpse into the realm of 21st century world music.”
Crudo punk rock
This boy-girl duo has already garnered a loyal fan base in Austin, the live music mecca located conveniently close to their hometown of Monterrey, where an overall appreciation for DIY, unconventional musical approaches reigns. XYX’s raw and experimental music – proclaimed to have begun by band members Mou and Anel’s shared interest in dropping acid – is full of reverberations and noise. Want an example of how loyal their Austin fanbase is? For their second visit to SXSW, they are already fully booked for consecutive appearances at official showcases, unofficial parties and local house parties.
CEM, the mastermind behind multifaceted music brand Patafunk, is sure to entice new followers with his energy and his propensity to get parties started. It’s hard to keep track of the crazy amount of genres that this DJ-cum-live-band blend together, but it’s safe to say they include reggae, surf, cumbia, mambo, disco and bossa nova. After one quick listen of their MySpace repertoire, I dare you to try and get “OK LA” out of your head. “It’s OK, we’re in LA!”