Austin's annual new music showcase SXSW, which kicks off tomorrow, has always been press worthy - last year NME did a Peace cover feature direct from there, no less - but in 2014 it seems even bigger, even more intense.
Undoubtedly, a lot of that is down to BA, who've just started direct flights from London to Austin for the first time. This is great news for Brits who love new music - because it's about time the wider world woke up to the genius of the city. Before I started at NME I had little idea it was such a hotbed of breaking acts, but now - having been a few times for various interviews and gigs - I rank it every bit as important as New York and LA, maybe even more so. Put simply: if you're a band and you wanna make it, you need to conquer Austin. If you're a fan and you wanna have the most fun possible at a festival: you've just gotta go and hang out there.
Which brings me nicely onto this year's SXSW. Once again, Radar is covering the festival online and in the mag, on the hunt for the next big thing out of the thousands of bands playing. These kind of things are impossible to predict, but we've created the following playlist of acts we're excited to catch while we're out there. I'm most looking forward to The Districts (a bunch of Philly kids mixing southern garage with Springsteen-esque swagger), Twin Peaks (currently on tour with The Orwells), Benjamin Booker (New Orleans rock and soul - nothing online by him yet, mind) and The Garden (Orange County twins who make lo-fi punk with Ariel Pink on production duties).
There's also the NME showcase, which takes place at Latitude 30 on Saturday night, featuring Drenge, Fat White Family, Temples, Bo Ningen, San Fermin and Splashh (if they make it to Austin, that is - last we heard was that they were stranded out of town without a ride).
Here's a playlist of the acts likely to set tongues wagging at the festival. Check back throughout the week for blog updates, videos, galleries, interviews and more, and keep checking @NME_Radar for more updates as we go.