I went to SXSW this year and saw thirty bands total. I had heard or researched a majority of those 30 bands before attending the Austin festival and came prepared with a list of artists I knew I wanted to see. I created a “safe” zone, if you will.

But I also went to SXSW without expectations, unsure if I would even get into any of the showcases I had planned for — especially those boasting bigger names. On the Wednesday of the festival, I attended a showcase with only one band that I recognized on its lineup. While all four live acts in the showcase were pretty good, one band that I had no idea existed before that day impressed me so much that I deemed them the best surprise of SXSW this year. They went by the name In The Valley Below.

Photo by David Fisch

This male and female duo is based in Echo Park, though I wouldn’t have guessed that given their stage presence. Based on their promotional picture and the photo I took myself (seen above), I originally thought they emerged from a sepia-toned photograph taken while out on the Oregon Trail and were staying a spell in each town they visited before continuing on their way out West. I was honestly expecting to hear music of that nature.

But how wrong I was to judge them so quickly! The moment I heard the dark, bassy textures and dreamy synths rise with Angela Gail and Jeffrey Jacob’s harmonic vocals on tracks like “Palm Tree Fire” or “Peaches,” I was immediately overwhelmed with their grandeur to the point that I got shivers down my spine. Their sound was large and encompassing, taking over the Lustre Pearl on Rainey Street as if it were a stadium filled with thousands of fans.

In The Valley Below’s set and sound left me stunned and caught me so off-guard that day at SXSW that I couldn’t believe I had just made myself a new (and possibly favorite) discovery. Their duets and structures are unique to the synth-pop genre, and while they don’t have a full-length record out just yet, they will be releasing a Hymnal EP on April 1st from Oskar Recordings. Their studio recordings contain similar instrumental and effectual accents that their live renditions offer — perhaps more refined — and I couldn’t be happier with the output. Look out for their name again throughout the rest of the year!

For more info:

In The Valley Below Official Website