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8 must-see SXSW bands coming to New York City

After years of complaints that it had gotten too big and too commercial, Austin's South by Southwest Festival slimmed down in 2015.

There were fewer sponsorships and fewer celebrities, which put the focus back where it was supposed to be -- on the music. More than 2,000 bands performed last week, ranging from up-and-comers to those who've spent years building loyal fan bases, but haven't quite become household names. Here are some to look for as they make their way to NYC.

Courtney Barnett

One of the acts with the most buzz
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

One of the acts with the most buzz coming into SXSW, Barnett more than lived up to expectations. She's one of the best young lyricists around and an engaging live performer. Her debut full-length album comes out Tuesday and offers more of the witty, finely observed story-songs fans loved about her earlier EPs, while adding bigger melodies that should earn her plenty of new fans. May 19-21, Bowery Ballroom

Spoon

One of the most consistent rock bands of
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

One of the most consistent rock bands of the last 15 years, Austin hometown heroes Spoon returned from a four-year hiatus in 2014 with one of the best albums of their career, "They Want My Soul." The band is incredibly tight live, weaving their mix of Stones-y classic rock, R&B and modern indie sounds into something uniquely their own. June 16, Kings Theatre

Run the Jewels

The duo of Killer Mike and El-P's
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

The duo of Killer Mike and El-P's "Run the Jewels 2" was widely considered last year's best hip-hop album for its collection of booming beats and raps that range from the political to profane boasts. But what comes through most in their live set isn't their lyrics or their verbal dexterity, but the sheer joy they have in performing together. They'll be one of the headliners at New York's answer to SXSW, the Northside Festival, in June. June 14, 50 Kent

Leon Bridges

When people talk about throwback soul singers, they
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

When people talk about throwback soul singers, they usually don't mean this far back. Bridges' music harks all the way back to the early '60s soul of Sam Cooke. It's a style so old, it sounds new again. He was quickly signed to a major label on the strength of two singles that blew up online. His debut album is due this summer. June 23, Bowery Ballroom; June 24, Music Hall of Williamsburg

Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow's George Lewis Jr. delivers songs that
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

Twin Shadow's George Lewis Jr. delivers songs that could have come straight out of a John Cusack movie. Live, his huge, emotional, '80s-inspired synth-pop epics take on more of a rock edge, giving Lewis a chance to show off his considerable guitar chops. March 31-April 1, Music Hall of Williamsburg

Alvvays

Toronto's Alvvays make dreamy indie-pop that splits the
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

Toronto's Alvvays make dreamy indie-pop that splits the difference between '60s girl-group sounds and the alt-rock of the early '90s. It's not the first band to cover this ground, but the hooks and powerful longing in Molly Rankin's voice set the band apart from the pack. April 2, Bowery Ballroom; April 6, Beacon Theatre, opening for The Decemberists

METZ

Sounding like a cross between pre-
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

Sounding like a cross between pre-"Nevermind" Nirvana and a jet engine, Toronto's METZ makes music that you feel as much as hear. Frontman Alex Edkins looks like the office IT guy but can unleash howling screams and eardrum-bleeding guitar riffs. May 26, Bowery Ballroom; May 27, Music Hall of Williamsburg

Waxahatchee

Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, who records as Waxahatchee, is
Photo Credit: Jeff Colchamiro

Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, who records as Waxahatchee, is known for her intimate, confessional songs. At SXSW, she performed tracks from her upcoming album, "Ivy Tripp," which finds her polishing her sound, adding keyboards, drum machines and loud electric guitars, without losing her personal touch. April 9, Music Hall of Williamsburg

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