Selected profiles of noteworthy acts that will perform during this year’s South by Southwest Music & Media Conference March 16-20 in Austin, Texas. The full roster of performing artists is available at SXSW.com.
THE CRASH: “I would definitely have no difficulty in naming the Crash as the Finnish buzz band” of this year’s SXSW, says Paulina Ahokas, director of Music Export Finland. Following the band’s success in Germany, Europe’s largest music market, and neighboring Austria and Switzerland, “it seems they’re the band on every U.S. A&R manager’s lips,” Ahokas says. The four-piece emerged in Finland at the end of 1999 with debut album “Comfort Deluxe.” The Warner Music act has also seen its current release, “Melodrama,” gain fans in Denmark and Sweden.
BLOC PARTY: Alternative rock act Bloc Party is touted in Britain as “the next Franz Ferdinand.” The comparison has relevance since that Scottish band used last year’s acclaimed performance in Austin as a springboard to major success. After a top 30 U.K. single last November with “Helicopter,” Bloc Party was in the top five of the sales chart in February with the double-sided “So Here We Are”/”Positive Tension.” That set up last month’s release of the band’s debut album, “Silent Alarm,” by indie label Wichita. After performing at SXSW, Bloc Party will headline a British tour in April.
BUCK 65: The honky-tonk hip-hop of Canada’s Buck 65 has reached the United States through V2 with “This Right Here Is Buck 65.” After releasing six albums in Canada, and winning a Juno Award in 2003, Buck 65 remained largely unknown outside of his native country. Yet for an artist who covers Woody Guthrie and raps over a pedal steel guitar, a SXSW performance may be the perfect setting to boost his profile. The gruff-voiced talent is also at a bit of crossroad; his V2 set is a compilation of earlier work, and his next album is said to feature more singing and an appearance from instrumental act Tortoise.
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMAProving that a highly venerable act can create as strong a buzz as a brand-new one, the Blind Boys of Alabama have prompted keen expectations for their SXSW performance. One of the indelible names in gospel music, the Blind Boys, hailing from Birmingham, Ala., have been attracting audiences for a remarkable 66 years. The group’s vitality was clear from their release on Virgin Records last year, “There Will Be Light,” a collaboration with Ben Harper that earned a Grammy Award for best traditional soul gospel album. The Blind Boys will arrive in Austin fresh from the Hong Kong Arts Festival.