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SXSW 2015: 30 Artists You Need to See

Legendary rockers, emerging rappers, underground sensations and more to catch in Austin

Natalie Prass and Sam Hunt

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for DirecTV; Gaelle Beri/Redferns/Getty

The 2015 edition of Austin's annual music conference, South by South West, is set to kick off on March 17th. Once again they have a formidable lineup that includes everyone from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees the Zombies to emerging bedroom singer Alex G. We searched the lineup for the year's biggest stories, boldest victory laps, most awaited reunions, most buzzed-about Internet sensations and some stuff we just like. 

Tanya Tagaq

WILTSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 24: Tanya Tagaq performs on stage during the second day of Womad Festival at Charlton Park on July 24, 2010 in Wiltshire, England. (Photo by David Corio/Redferns)

David Corio/Redferns/Getty

Tanya Tagaq

Status: Blowing Up

Why You Should Pay Attention: Tanya Tagaq has been wowing audiences for years with her intimate, emotionally charged take on Inuit throat singing. But her latest album — Animism, released this year in the U.S. — and recent performances have found her blending her technique into a bold avant-rock trio. The result has been a critical sensation: the 2014 Polaris Music Prize, three Juno nominations, props from Grimes and a spot on this year's Bonnaroo. 

Title Fight

Gaelle Beri/Redferns via Getty Images

Title Fight

Status: Blowing Up

Why You Should Pay Attention: With their third album, Hyperview, 12-year-old melodic hardcore outfit Title Fight finally consummated their slow-burning flirtation with shoegaze. If the band's older, more aggro songs were steeped in the blood and sweat of full-contact battle, their latest tunes are punch-drunk post-victory fever dreams, awash in gauzy, lens-flaring guitars and drifting, detached vocals. Everyone from NPR and Vogue to Pitchfork and NME has showered the evolutionary leap with praise, and now Title Fight get to celebrate a big win with dynamic live shows that could define the phrase "study in contrasts."

Torres

Andy Sheppard/Redferns via Getty Images

Torres

Status: Emerging

Why You Should Pay Attention: Backed by PJ Harvey associates Rob Ellis and Ian Oliver, 23-year-old Brooklynite Mackenzie Scott might remind you of a young Polly Jean on her debut, alternating soft-spoken declamations with ferocious howls over grunge-storm guitars. A force to be reckoned with.  

Tove Lo

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 21: Singer Tove Lo performs during day 2 of the Sunset Strip Music Festival on September 21, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Chelsea Lauren/WireImage)

Chelsea Lauren/WireImage

Tove Lo

Status: Victory Lap

Why You Should Pay Attention: The Swedish singer's debut Queen of the Clouds was last year's most psychologically uncloaked pop LP, a relationship-post-game wrap-up hinging on her slow-burn Number Three hit "Habits (Stay High)," a dissolute ode to sex clubs and other dubious self-medication strategies. Its latest single, "Talking Body," makes the memorable offer "If you love me ri-i-ight, we fuck for li-i-ife." Shaking off the shadow of spotlight-stealers like Taylor Swift and Charli XCX, this could be Lo's year. 

Vic Mensa

AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 05: Vic Mensa performs during the Austin City Limits Music Festival at Zilker Park on October 5, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Vic Mensa

Status: Blowing Up

Why You Should Pay Attention: Twenty-one-year-old Chicagoan Vic Mensa has been on the verge for years, but with a recent co-sign from Kanye West, the "Down On My Luck" singer and rapper may finally take it to the next level. With roots in the Chicago-based hip-hop collective SaveMoney alongside Chance the Rapper, Mensa's enthusiastic flow and diverse set of musical influences (across hip-hop, dance and rock), helped drive his INNANETAPE mixtape to more than 100,000 downloads. Now, he's set to provide guest vocals and writing assistance to multiple tracks on 2015's most anticipated album: Kanye West's So Help Me God.

The Zombies

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 22: (L - R) Musicians Jim Rodford, Colin Blunstone, and Tom Toomey of The Zombies perform on stage as part of ALL ATX Presents: British Invasion! at ACL Live on September 22, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Rick Kern/WireImage)

Rick Kern/WireImage

The Zombies

Status: Back

Why You Should Pay Attention: Of course, a band called the Zombies had to come back to life. One of the leading groups of the British Invasion, the chart-topping pop-rockers broke up in 1968 on the brink of their biggest success, the smash single "Time of the Season." Their 1967 album, Odessey and Oracle is Rolling Stone's 100th greatest album of all time. Having influenced the likes of Nick Cave, R.E.M. and Foo Fighters, they're riding the wave of a heralded comeback album (2011's Breathe Out, Breathe In), and chomping into a new generation of brains with their time-tested earworms.

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