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SXSW Presents: Shubzilla x Bill Beats

 The Pacific Northwest may not be known as a hub for hip-hop, but by all means its residents know that through all of rain drops there are some great artists writing some great rhymes. Some of those rhymes come spunky lyricist Shubzilla, back by some funky production of her collaborator Bill Beats.

It's been some years since Shubzilla and Bill Beats began working together, and over the course of the six years since The Campaign Mixtape came out their collective efforts have grown even more esteemed and enjoyable. Shubzilla prides herself in writing about whatever the hell she chooses to and somehow, Bill Beats always has the perfect measures to accommodate. Their performances are energetic, fun and enthralling and once they're finished, you'll leave feeling like you just partied with your friends.

Though SXSW is already one of the biggest parties of the year, consider stopping and checking Shubzilla and Bill Beats. They'll be some of the most entertaining yet.

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SXSW Presents: Thunderpussy

 For the longest time, rock and roll was a genre dominated by dick. Men have used their braggadocious sense of entitlement act like big guitars and big hair to try and rule the music world, but rock was never meant to be a male dominated arena. Quite the contrary, actually. Continuing to plant their feet in unwelcomed territory like all of the great ladies before them Thunderpussy have grabbed rock by its reins, and they're not letting go anytime soon.

There are plenty of non-male acts in punk, garage and indie, but when it comes to the unapologetically barebones element of rock, there was a hole that Thunderpussy perfectly filled. They're brash in a sexy way, unfettered by whatever "roles" society tells them they need to play. Instead, they play some of the most in-your-face, raw and fierce tunes around. Combined with the power they release onstage, Thunderpussy is the kind of force that you want to overcome you.

Catch Thunderpussy on their Pour Morals Tour starting in March (which includes four SXSW dates) and lend an ear to their newly released and amazingly named record Greatest Tits below.

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SXSW Presents: Naked Giants

*photo by Stephanie Severance 

In a place that doesn't see a lot of sun, anything that's recalls warm beaches, endless sunshine and running around outside is definitely appreciated. Naked Giants encompass this aesthetic in their sound, bringing the styles of a brighter region all the up to the romantically dreary Pacific Northwest. 

The trio, having popped up onto to scene not even that long ago, make fun and youthfully jaunty garage rock that no matter how old you are, make you feel like you're in your early 20s again. Naked Giants have dropped a few collections of songs over the last three years of their new but bright career, but their upcoming full-length debut Sluff shows them at their most energetic and excited yet. Exactly what "sluff" is depends on who you're talking to, but whether it stands for "South Lake Union Fuck Face" (which references the techies taking over Seattle) or the black sludge that comes off your shoes in the snow, the one thing that is for sure is spark is infectious, sluffy or not, and it'll make you want to bounce around whenever you see them.

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SXSW Presents: SassyBlack

 *photo by Dusty Henry

SassyBlack is everything. The songstress and producer is well-educated and classically trained with roots in jazz and soul, though she is in no way confined to them elementally. Formally of the Seattle group THEEsatisfaction and having worked closely with experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palaces and traveled the world, SassyBlack (whose real name is Catherine Harris-White) has no shortage of experience to contribute to the psychedelic electronic r&b she makes.

Her voice smooth like soulfully funky butter, it's reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald, Janelle Monae, Erykah Badu and J*Davey with a Herbie Hancock twist to her production, adding a modern and intellectual spin to her performances. SassyBlack grew up with a family devoted to music, their time spent together having dance parties and playing music history trivia. She still engages her love for pop culture and music history, having recorded three volumes so far of her Pop (& R&B) Treasury cover EPs. 

Whether it's an original track or a tribute to a deep cut, everything SassyBlack touches is gold, and worthy of numerous replays.

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SXSW Presents: Special Explosion

It's been nearly a decade since dreamo (that's dream-pop and emo, in case you were wondering) act Special Explosion erupted onto the scene, and we couldn't be more happy to have them after all these years. They take out the whininess typically associated with emo music. Instead, they keep all of that emotion and channel it through tender indie rock with lucid atmospheres and textures.

Even during a time when the world around them, in a musical and real life sense, was unreliable and confusing, Special Explosion maintained their collective head, supported by their four pairs of shoulders. With many releases behind them, their late 2017 album To Infinity can be considered debut, as far as full-length records are concerned. It provides 10 tracks worth of their adept instrumentation, recalling earlier days of Death Cab for Cutie and Sufjan Stevens but always sounding like their own.

They're the kind of band you see and fall in love with, over and over again, and that's part of what makes them so special.

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