Austin City Limits kicks off in the Texan capital in early October, and we're already getting excited about the festival's lineup here at Fuse HQ. Particularly the bands on the OTHER end of the bill. ACL has an impressive list of breakout artists, so we picked the 10 best that we won't be missing in Austin, like First Aid Kit (left). Sure, there are plenty indie sister acts—the Watson Twins, the Pierces, Tegan and Sara—but Johanna and Klara Soderberg soar over the pack, as does their latest album, 'The Lion's Roar.' Produced by Mike Mogis of Bright Eyes and featuring numerous session players from Omaha's Saddle Creek label, the LP is fluid, gorgeous psych-folk and country-tinged tunes, like the Fleet Foxes met the Carter Family. Conor Oberst even pops up on a tune, the album's closer "King of the World," an upbeat country hoedown featuring clap-alongs, accordion and lyrics about American roadside diners. Can someone give these girls citizenship?
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Hailing from Athens, Georgia, the Whigs are an excellent power pop rock group who, on record, will have you tapping your foot and nodding along. But live, they'll have you out of your chair, jumping and moshing. Yeah, it's like THAT. Most comparable to the Black Keys or Kings of Leon, the trio have released three albums—receiving accolades from everyone from Rolling Stone to Spin—and are set to release their fourth, 'Enjoy the Company,' on September 18. Fuse heard it already—trust us, you want to see/hear these tunes live ASAP.
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They might be a small-print band now, but Minneapolis indie electro act Polica is on the brink of something huge… at least according to most of the Internet. Bon Iver's Justin Vernon told Rolling Stone about the fivesome’s 2012 debut release, 'Give You the Ghost,' calling Polica "the best band I've ever heard." (Which may or may not have something to do with the fact that Bon Iver's Mike Noyce is featured on two tracks on the album.) Check out "Lay Your Cards Out" for a quick Polica 101.
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Few musicians outside his own family have done more to keep Afrobeat king Fela Kuti's name, sound and spirit alive than Brooklyn's Antibalas. The group, which includes members who have worked on the Broadway musical Fela!, have carved out their own unique niche via exhilarating live performances indebted to both Kuti and James Brown. The expansive band, who've been known to roll 15 deep onstage, play hours-long sets with plenty of yells, call-and-responses and traditional dance jams. Expect to sweat, heavily.
If you have a television, you've probably heard at least one song by Canadian indie pop act Stars over the course of their 12-year history. After gaining popularity with their 2005 release, 'Set Yourself on Fire,' a few of the band's tracks landed some prime airtime on TV shows like 'Gossip Girl,' 'The Vampire Diaries' and 'Skins,' to name a few. The band's sixth full-length studio album, 'The North,' dropped this year via ATO Records. Check out "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead,” but grab some tissues first.
Liverpool-based indie rockers the Wombats have been doing their thing in the UK for almost a decade now, but have never been poised for cross-Atlantic success... until now. Like the Arctic Monkeys or Phoenix, their sound is catchy as hell; dancey pop-rock epitomized by gems like “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” and “Techno Fan.” Their live shows often turn into dance parties, so be prepared.
There's a shortage of badass female country singers today who can outdrink you and write a gorgeous melody afterward. Meet Nikki Lane. The peripatetic drifter has bounced around from South Carolina to Los Angeles to New York, sacrificing normalcy for life experience and channeling that into her debut album 'Walk of Shame.' Live, Lane balances tender, mellifluous ballads with exuberant kiss-offs that make you believe she can drink you under the table. She probably can.
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Soul Rebels Brass Band
New Orleans' the Soul Rebels craft a sound as diverse and inimitable as the city they spring from. Combining funk, reggae, Latin rhythms, hip hop, various permutations and an incredible musicianship, the Soul Rebels Brass Band are a live experience that can't be missed. If you've watched HBO's 'Treme,' you've probably heard their music before. If not, imagine funky high school marching band conducted by A Tribe Called Quest and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band.
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While I'm not sure why a band of melodically-savvy Brooklynites call themselves Caveman, it could have something to do with their "old school" approach to making music: eschewing electronics and studio tampering to produce a lovely, shuffling indie rock. As on "Decide" and "Old Friend," key tracks from their latest album ‘CoCo Beware,’ the quartet manage to produce a sound that's simultaneously relaxed and energetically limber. Perfect music whether you're nursing a hangover or just getting the party started.
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Father John Misty
Does that dude look familiar? Well, once upon a time his beard and mane were much longer and he played drums for Seattle's Fleet Foxes. While he's been quietly recording solo for years, his debut effort as Father John Misty, 'Fear Fun,' only recently showed the larger music world just exactly who the real Josh Tillman is. For a peek, watch his performance of the folk-rock ballad "Only Son of the Ladies Man" on 'Letterman.' He sashays in a ruffled tux and gets equally suave, hilarious and introspective all at once. In fact, he's such a character he was invited to chat with Letterman, too, which is wildly rare for a completely unknown artist of Tillman's caliber. That Dave knows what's up!