Marissa Lorusso

What's most striking about Japanese Breakfast's first full-fledged album, Psychopomp, is how gracefully it treads over difficult territory. What started as singer and guitarist Michelle Zauner's side project — she took on the moniker to release solo work when not performing with Little Big League — eventually became an outlet for songs of grief and mourning in the aftermath of her mother's death. Sonically, Psychopomp is a far cry from the Philadelphia emo band's music, trading crunchy indie rock for haunting pop songs with swirling synthesizers.

"Sometimes we like each other / and sometimes we just wish we were with another," sings Hannah Mohan on the title track from And The Kids' upcoming album, Friends Share Lovers. "It's okay because / friends share lovers," she later adds. As the title attests, both song and album zero in on what happens when a tight-knit group gets maybe too close.

The music of T-Rextasy is an impeccable combination of sarcastic, swaggering humor and timeless pop-punk grooves. Throughout the band's upcoming debut album, Jurassic Punk, singer Lyris Faron scolds misogynists, plans for punk-rock domination and praises both a cafeteria woman and a one-night-stand-loving lady. The last track on Jurassic Punk, "Gap Yr Boiz," crystallizes the band's formula of punchy lyrics and catchy hooks.

Yung's music is a space of duality: innocence and experience, beauty and pain, darkness and light. Frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær embodies opposites, too: His music showcases both his maturity as a songwriter and his youth, as he relies on more than a decade of songwriting experience despite being only 21. Both of Silkjær's parents are musical; they put him behind a drum set at the age of 4 and introduced him to the local punk scene as a teen.

Yung's music is a space of duality: innocence and experience, beauty and pain, darkness and light. Frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær embodies opposites, too: His music showcases both his maturity as a songwriter and his youth, as he relies on more than a decade of songwriting experience despite being only 21. Both of Silkjær's parents are musical; they put him behind a drum set at the age of 4 and introduced him to the local punk scene as a teen.

Mitski closed her set at our SXSW showcase with this angst-ridden song for a scorned ex-lover. It ends with a series of no-holds-barred shouts that seem to be coming from the depths of the singer's heart; once the song ends, she thanks the crowd and whispers "stay safe" into the microphone.

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Set List

"Everything you feel is good / if you would only let you," Mitski sings over a slightly rushed bass line in the opening lyrics of "I Will." Her voice cracks with empathy throughout her performance, even as the rest of the band joins in and the song picks up a fuller, grooving sound. Her voice grows more powerful as the song progresses; just before the end, she shouts "I'll be brave."

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Mitski's first single from her upcoming album, Puberty 2, features blisteringly honest lyrics and moments of explosive energy that serve as powerful testaments to her experience as a Japanese-American woman.

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Set List

"I Don't Smoke" features a drum machine and heavily distorted guitar and bass, but the song's power lies in the unbridled emotion in Mitski's voice. At our SXSW showcase, she performed the simple, yet intense song with an air of controlled passion.

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Set List

"Francis Forever" opens with just Mitski and her bass. "I don't know what to do without you," she sings mournfully at our SXSW showcase. The song grows to incorporate Casey Weissbuch's drum machine, then Callan Dwan's distorted guitar and eventually Weissbuch's full kit, climaxing in a powerful riff from the whole band.

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Set List

While "I Want You" is the oldest song Mitski played at our SXSW showcase — it's from her 2013 album, Retired from Sad, New Career in Business — it still holds up next to her current sound. Centered on the emotional intensity of her voice and cutting lyrics, it has all the hallmarks of what make Mitski's songs so memorable.

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Set List

For a song about a love that makes you want to jump off a ledge, "First Love" is surprisingly subdued. At our SXSW showcase, it featured Mitski's signature earnest vocals and a solo from guitarist Callan Dwan.

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Set List

Mitski opened her set at NPR Music's 2016 SXSW showcase with one of the catchiest songs from Bury Me At Makeout Creek, her breakout 2014 album. Over crunchy guitars and punchy drums, she recounts a house party gone wrong and details her macabre romantic prospects: "I want a love that falls as fast as a body from a balcony / I want a kiss like my heart is hitting the ground."

Watch the entire set here, or check out individual songs in the set list below.

Watching someone close to you spiral into self-destruction is never easy. On "Strange Torpedo," Lucy Dacus details the frustrating process of observing a loved one make the same mistakes over and over, assuredly swerving through four and a half minutes of pent-up rage expressed with a balance of empathy and exhaustion, played out as thoughtful, forceful indie rock. "You're a strange torpedo on the loose," Dacus bemoans on the chorus, "and I'll play the fool."

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