6 Favorite Artists and Their Must-See New/Side Projects at SXSW

SXSW is a sea of new bands trying to be discovered, but it’s also a great launching pad for some more established artists to reinvent themselves. If you’re looking to see some familiar faces with a twist at the festival, here are six favorite artists in new projects that you can’t miss.

Andrew McMahon andrewmcmahon.com
Andrew McMahon is a singer/songwriter known for piano pop rock tunes. You’re probably better familiar with him through Something Corporate and the recently defunct Jack’s Mannequin. As a fairly prolific songwriter, expect lots of new songs that you’ve never heard before in Andrew’s set. He’s not likely to stray too far from the sounds that we’ve already heard from him, but like each album of his in succession, expect a new maturity level. He’s probably not going to stick to just brand new stuff and he’s apt to oblige with some SoCo and Jack’s as well…just don’t be that annoying person who yells for “Konstantine” during his set. Yes, we all love that song, but when you have less than a 30 minute set in the middle of a busy festival, you’re not going to spend it playing your old band project’s 10-minute number.

Here’s one of Andrew McMahon’s new songs live – “Learn to Dance”:

Divine Fitsdivinefits.com
Divinie Fits is close to what people like to call a “supergroup.” Britt Daniel of Spoon suggested the formation of Divine Fits to Dan Boeckner after both Boeckner’s other projects (Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade) broke up. The two had long been friends and admirers of the other’s work. So in 2011, Britt sent Dan a demo to add vocals to and the first Divine Fits song was born. Divine Fits doesn’t really sound like either of the guys’ former bands, but fans should still be pleased by the recognizable vocals and catchy riffs. Just be prepared for a bit more distortion and reverb from the Divine Fits. Since Divine Fits has enough music already on their own, you’re probably not going to hear any music from Britt or Dan’s other projects, but don’t let that stop you from checking this new group out.

Divine Fits – “Would That Not Be Nice”:

Icky Blossomsickyblossoms.com
Derek Pressnall is one of the busiest Omaha musicians. He is perhaps better known as the guitarist for the tap dancing indie rockers Tilly and the Wall, but he also has worked in several other side projects. While working on Flowers Forever with Nik Fackler, the two invited Sarah Bohling to join them on stage for a few shows. They liked her sound so much, that they started working on more tunes with her, moving in a more electro pop direction. From here, the psychedelic electro pop act Icky Blossoms was born. Their sharp sound will get you dancing and is a set not to be missed.

Icky Blossoms – “Perfect Vision”

Jim Jamesjimjames.com
Jim James is best known as the frontman of My Morning Jacket. With his solo project, he still retains much of his My Morning Jacket sounds, but strips it down and creates a more minimalist sound. He also pushes his vocals a bit more and reaches for some higher registers than his other projects. He just released his debut solo album, so expect his set to mostly be from that, but we wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t try and throw in a MMJ song or two.

Jim James – “A New Life”:

Twin Fallsdashboardconfessional.com
Chris Carrabba’s name has long gone hand and hand with the emo genre, but the man best known for Dashboard Confessional is embracing the folk rock movement with his new project, Twin Falls. Twin Falls sound a bit like Mumford and Sons meets Flogging Molly. Joining Carrabba are a few other well-known artists: Suzie Zeldin from the Narrative, Ben Homola from Bad Books. Jonathan Clark also joins on bass. The band is working on its first album, so Dashboard Confessional fans might get a song or two thrown in to help flesh out the set.

Twin Falls – “Scraping Up the Pieces”

Sound City Playerssoundcitymovie.com
This list has featured some acts that get pretty close to supergroup status, but Sound City Players are the definition of the phrase supergroup. The act is only playing one show and it is such a big deal that it is being limited to ticket lottery winners. Sound City Players is the formation of artists featured on the soundtrack for the documentary: “Sound City.” The film is about a famous recording studio that has worked with artists such as Fleetwood Mac, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and more. Performing as part of the Sound City Players are: members of the Foo Fighters, John Fogerty, Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Fear’s Lee Ving, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, Brad Wilk of Rage Against the Machine, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, Chris Goss from Masters of Reality, and more. So what should you expect? Some special material just for this project and a mix of hits from the individual members’ bands.

Sound City Players Live on Letterman – “You Can’t Fix This”:

Know a SXSW side project that should have made the list? Comment and let us know.

About Bethany Smith