With the esteemed South by Southwest music festival happening in Austin, Texas, this month, your seatmate could be hauling some indie cred along with a carry-on.
Lead singer Jenn Wasner impresses with her deep, soaring voice — it sounds as if Sarah McLachlan escaped to dingy, smoky bars and turned her guitar up to 11. The duo’s multitasking other member, Andy Stack, plays complex organ lines with one hand and loud-as-heck drums with the other.
This heart-on-the-sleeve troupe has toyed with U2-style arena rock for more than 15 years, but a rotating lineup and some uneven records have held them back. Their newest album, Degeneration Street, pushes old quirks aside with hooky, fist-pumping bombast.
Fergus & Geronimo
From: Brooklyn, N.Y.
How’s a modern teen supposed to rebel against punk-rock parents? The sock-hop tunes of Fergus & Geronimo might fit the bill. Band mainstays Jason Kelly and Andrew Savage layer fuzzy guitars and lackadaisical lyrics over ’60s inspirations like Little Richard and Chuck Berry.
With her barn-burning single, “Desire,” Calvi affirms her love affair with the likes of Roy Orbison and Chris Isaak. Yet the British phenom’s voice booms far beyond her inspirations’ baritones, perhaps because it has to compete with her frenetic, smoky guitarwork.
From: Brooklyn, N.Y./Washington, D.C.
After leaving his homeland of Sierra Leone last decade, Nabay settled in the United States and added modern, electronic flourishes to his lifelong musical pursuits. The result sees bamboo horns and traditional, West African choral shouts matched with stomp-heavy beats.