SXSW gets underway in Austin on Friday with the film and interactive portions of the festival, before the music showcases begin in earnest on Tuesday, March 11. With over 1,700 artists flocking to the Texas capital to perform, the sheer number of choices and options can feel overwhelming, a problem compounded by the fact that many are smaller bands who attendees may not be familiar with.
Thankfully, the good people over at NPR music have released their annual list of “The Austin 100,” a hand-picked, 100-song collection of “the music festival's best discoveries.” For the next 30 days, music fans can download the six-hour sampler on a song-by-song basis, or in it’s entirety as a 839 MB zip file. The collection is also streaming through NPR’s website and on their mobile apps.
The mix is a diverse and thorough sampler that serves as a sort of digital companion to the long-running event. More than any other music festival, SXSW is about discovery and finding great new artists and bands whose current exposure may not stretch much beyond their local music scene. The Austin 100 provides an analogous experience, as NPR promises that “it's virtually guaranteed to contain something you'll love that you didn't know existed.”
While the collection, like the festival, skews towards indie rock, a quick shuffle through the songs reveals everything from mercurial electronica (Until The Ribbon Breaks) to anthemic folk (Saint Rich) to left-field hip-hop (clipping.) to ruminative world music (Imharhan Timbuktu). For those of us planning to attend, it serves as a helpful primer on a bevy of new artists. For those who can’t make it, it’s the next best thing to being there.
Stream or download The Austin 100 by clicking here.