The British Are Coming (To SXSW)

(Little Big Man) Every year, a cadre of the United Kingdom's hottest new artists set sail for Austin to partake in sUKonthis -- the annual British invasion of the South By Southwest Music Festival. Some already have major label deals in the States; others are new even in their home country; but they all have one thing in common: the potential to explode in the months following SXSW. They bring with them a coalition of British music business and international trade entities, ready to help pave the way for the next generation of exceptional English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish musicians in America.

In 2003, it was The Darkness. In 2004: The Futureheads, Aqualung, Jamie Cullum and Athlete. Last year, The Go! Team and the Kaiser Chiefs were the talk of the festival, while the Magic Numbers and James Blunt went from virtual unknowns to Next Big Things.

Read on to see what 2006 brings...

Austin Music Hall
sUKonthis and BBC Radio 2

Corinne Bailey Rae
Richard Hawley
The Zutons
(set times t.b.a.)

Blender Bar
sUKonthis and BBC 6 Music

KT Tunstall
The Feeling
Jim Noir
The Kooks
(set times t.b.a.)

Additional events + artists to be announced in the coming weeks.

* Brakes

Brakes, uhhhhhhh, is three years old. It was born in the UK in Power's Bar in Brighton. It was fine, received water and gig offers sporadically, was offered a single deal by Tugboat Records, released "Pick Up The Phone" in late 2004, and found its 26-second video on rotation on MTV. Then it all got crazy. Now it's like a dream. Rough Trade released its debut album, Give Blood, sometime around the Fall of 2005. It received universal appraisal, and it went out on tour with Buck 65, Belle and Sebastian and Editors. It's not enough. Running through water. It had its live US debut in Piano's bar, Ludlow St., NYC, where it sold out two consecutive nights and made someone shout "You're the best band in America." "OK," said Brakes.

* Editors

"An extraordinary piece of music... a debut that will endure." (NME) Editors' debut record, The Back Room, has hit the platinum mark in the UK, and will be released in the U.S. on FADER/Kitchenware in March. Editors have built things the traditional way across Europe by touring relentlessly, winning both respect and an army of fans and letting the media play catch-up later. They played a handful of US shows in January that were all sold out weeks in advance, and are now gearing up to bring their epic live show to the US for a full tour which will be bookended by performances at SXSW and Coachella.

* The Feeling

The Feeling met at college in London. They answered an ad in the back of a music mag for a covers band to play a season in the French Alps, then spent three months living in a shoebox on the side of a mountain and playing ten two-hour shows a week for drunken snowboarders. They returned to London determined never to play a cover ever again, and set up their amps in a garden shed and recorded some of their own songs. Their name came from the neon sign on a bar in Paris they drove past on their way home.

* Goldfrapp

Sex, subversion, style, humour, songs: great pop music's greatest components. Goldfrapp have always known it, since their Mercury Music Prize-nominated 2000 debut Felt Mountain. Through pioneering electronics, crystalline vocals, visual theatrics and glam-sex decadence, they've moved through the ambient shadows into the technicolor thrill that is the hallmark of classic British pop music. Notable recent happenings with Goldfrapp include the fall 2005 tour with Coldplay and their nomination for an MTV Europe Music Award as "Best Alternative Act." Goldfrapp's new album Supernature will be released March 7 on Mute Records.

* Richard Hawley

In a career that began playing r 'n' b in German beer halls in 1981, Hawley has never been a stranger to toil. His early musical life involved playing guitar for lost indie heroes Treebound Story. He commenced his solo career with a self-titled mini-album in 2001, and most recently released his third solo LP Coles Corner in September 2005. Other activities in the past year have included producing songs for Nancy Sinatra, who invited him on her UK and European tour in 2005, gigging with his rockabilly band The Feral Cats, and a series of high-profile shows with R.E.M.

* The Kooks

It's less than a month since The Kooks' debut album, Inside In / Inside Out, was released in the U.K., debuting at #9 on the charts -- but already the band has had three singles debut in the Top 40, Top 30 and Top 10, respectively; along with an appearance on "Top of the Pops" and a string of sold-out U.K. tours (including a run opening for the Subways last fall) under its belt. Inside In / Inside Out was produced by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Supergrass) and recorded at KONK Studios in north London, which is owned by legendary Kinks singer Ray Davies.

* Morrissey

Morrissey's eighth studio album Ringleader of the Tormentors - which those who have heard it are identifying as one of his greatest recording achievements - is a record of a different complexion than all previous Morrissey records. It seems somehow suffused with a new confidence and, dare one venture, happiness? Ringleader... is a savagely alive record. Recorded at Forum Music Village in Rome with long-term hero Tony Visconti (who produced favorite records for T-Rex and David Bowie, during their most creative periods of the 60's and 70s), it will be out April 6 via Sanctuary Records.

* Jim Noir

For the majority of 2005, Jim Noir was the best-kept secret of discerning music lovers across the UK. Three limited-edition vinyl EP's on Mancunian indie My Dad Recordings were promptly snapped up by those in the know. From the NME to Dazed and Confused and the dance magazines, critics praised his mix of '60s-influenced pop and electronica. My Dad did the honorable thing and put the best of the tracks, plus some new ones, on the album Tower Of Love, which was released to unanimous critical acclaim. Appearing at SXSW with his five-piece band.

* Corinne Bailey Rae

It becomes self-evident the moment you hear her sing the very first note of her very first EP, Like A Star, and it's a slice of sublime blues delivered with a voice that pins you, in the softest but most persuasive of ways, to the wall. Her name is Corinne Bailey Rae, and she was born to do this. Like A Star entered the UK Top 40 in November 2005, and the first single "Put Your Records On" became a Europe-wide smash. Add to that a mountain of incredible press articles singing her many praises, magazine front covers, topping the BBC's "Sound Of 2006" poll, sold-out tour dates and the kind of radio and TV play that established artists can only dream of, there seems to be no stopping Corinne. Her debut album is out at the end of February 2006.

* KT Tunstall

Three Brit nominations ends a phenomenal year for KT Tunstall, the UK's biggest-selling female artist in 2005. Her Mercury Music Prize-nominated album Eye To The Telescope sold over 1,000,000 copies in the UK, and KT's single "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree" won a Q Award, beating Coldplay and U2.

* The Zutons

The Zutons' 2004 debut Who Killed The Zutons? spawned five Top 40 singles in the U.K., earning a Mercury Music Prize nomination and selling more than 600,000 copies. The band spent a solid year on the road supporting the record, including opening slots for U2, Oasis and REM. The follow-up, Tired Of Hangin' Around, was recorded in London with Stephen Street (The Smiths, Blur, Kaiser Chiefs) and will be released later this year in the U.S. by Epic Records.

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