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.
WILLY MASON: The acoustic, alternative singer-songwriter from Martha’s Vineyard has been generating heat of late, especially in the United Kingdom, where his “Where the Humans Eat” album and “Oxygen” single, just released there by Radiate/Virgin, have been enthusiastically received. Before his trip to Austin, Mason traveled to Britain in mid-February to play the ShockWaves NME Awards show at London’s Astoria with Hope of the States, the Bravery and Sons and Daughters. The album was released in the U.S. last October by Team Love.
KATHLEEN EDWARDS: The sophomore album by the widely-praised Canadian singer-songwriter is released days before her SXSW 2005 appearance. “Back To Me” was released in North America March 1, the day Edwards performs at the Canal Room in New York and on “The Late Show With David Letterman.” In 2003, her debut album “Failer” was described by Q magazine in the United Kingdom as “the best debut album of its kind since Sheryl Crow’s.” The new album features 11 new songs and contributions by Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers on keyboards.
L’ALTRA: With its third album on Milwaukee-based Hefty Records, L’Altra has perfected a gorgeously haunting interplay between electronics and guitars. The keyboard-programmed sounds glide like a dream through melancholy and sultriness, and a wash of guitars keeps the proceedings from getting too sleepy. That also applies to the group’s vocals, while their lyrics offer a voyeuristic look into a relationship. Each of the band’s live shows tends to be a little different, as the lineup depends on who is available. Since the duo of guitarist/vocalist Joe Costa and keyboardist/vocalist Lindsay Anderson have spent little time on tour, the act’s Austin performance is among those considered a must-see.
M.I.A.: Rapper M.I.A. was born Mathangi Arulpragasam in Hounslow, London, to parents from Sri Lanka, where the family moved back when she was six. After a turbulent early life because of the political climate, she settled in South London. “Arular” was released in the United States and Canada on Feb. 22 and has a scheduled U.K. street date of April 4. Just before heading to Texas, M.I.A. played nine British gigs supporting fellow rapper Roots Manuva on tour. Her rap style has strongly English elements as well as flavors of her Sri Lankan and Indian upbringing, and has attracted considerable national and international press attention, from the New Yorker to Fader magazine.