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5 Austin artists to watch in 2020 (and where to find them at Free Week)

Deborah Sengupta Stith
dsengupta@statesman.com
Deezie Brown performs as part of a hard-hitting ATX hip-hop bill at Empire Control Room on Friday. [LYNDA M. GONZALEZ/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Free Week, the local music mini-fest focused on filling the clubs during one of the slowest times of the year, has contracted from a sprawling 10-day affair into an action-packed long weekend. But with talent-packed rosters and no cover charges, the event still provides ample opportunities for ordinary Austinites to explore the Red River club scene and find their new favorite band.

Here are five artists who are playing this weekend and who we expect to see making big moves in 2020:

Sam Houston & Blk Odyssy. New Jersey native Sam Houston relocated to Austin five years ago during his senior year of high school. His 2017 debut solo EP, “April,” was a sensual collection of simmering slow burners. With Blk Odyssy, a powerhouse ensemble that features “tons of other vocalists and instrumentalists” at his back, he says he’s building “a new identity behind the sound.” The group just finished tracking their debut album, which should be out early this year. Houston describes the sound as “a crazy mesh between soul and rock,” and the snippets we’ve heard are electrifying. Friday at Empire Garage with Sir Woman, Vapor Caves, Lunar Rae, Andrea Magee and Killer Whale.

Mean Jolene. “Try Harder,” the sophomore album from the power pop five-piece, is a delightful platter of guitar-driven rebellion and sugar-coated regret. Vocalist Jolie Cota Flink weathers emotional highs and lows over fuzzed-out guitar riffs that feel simultaneously vintage and fresh. Friday at Hotel Vegas with Nevil, Leather Girls, Pinky Ring and Wet Dip.

Nolan Potter’s Nightmare Band. With a high-concept internal mythology that feels like an Acid-laced game of Dungeons and Dragons, the seven-piece psych prog ensemble delves into magical otherworlds where wizards gaze from rocky cliffs, elves labor below and forces of good and evil battle for supremacy. Propelled by a pair of drum sets, the group unfurls complex jams that move from urgent instrumental rock passages through jazzy interludes, folding in occasional vocals that are alternately pastoral and furious. Their Free Week performances include a tribute to fantasy master J.R.R. Tolkien at the Mohawk outdoor with Thor & Friends, Food Group and AMA on Friday and a show with TVs Daniel and Hong Kong Wigs on Saturday at Barracuda outdoor.

Angélica Rahe. The Spanish American artist, who did a stint as music director, guitarist and backup singer for Kali Uchis, quietly relocated her American home base to Austin over the last year. She’s gearing up for the release of her debut full-length album in February, and in November, she dropped the lead single “Como Yo” which features her gauzy vocals trembling with lust over a lush soundbed that gives way to a poignant regret rap from Dallas artist Cure For Paranoia. Saturday at Stubb’s indoor with Amirah Tiye.

RELATED: On the record: A recap of local releases

Deezie Brown. While songs from his excellent 2018 debut, “Judith,” have been steadily racking up streams on Spotify, the Bastrop native and fierce rhyme-slinger has been at work on his sophomore joint, tentatively titled “Hydrate.” While the first album was an aggressive collection of alternative hip-hop centered on a theme of slaying naysayers, he promises a brighter outlook on the new album, and the Champagne-soaked title track and first single delivers with lush harmonies and a rejuvenated spirit. Friday at Empire Control Room with the Teeta, J Soulja, Cha’Keeta B, Cece Hustle and Ben Buck.

MORE FREE WEEK SHOWS

THURSDAY

Kalu and the Electric Joint, Superfónicos at the Mohawk outside

Belcurve, the Blowies, more at Mohawk inside

Annabelle Chairlegs, A. Sinclair, Lowin at Barracuda

Swimming with Bears, Kady Rain, Thomie at Stubb’s inside

Jonathan Terrell, Altamesa, Kae Astra at Hotel Vegas

ElectrOrganics with Trouble in the Streets, more at Empire Garage

Jaymoneykream, Yung Bambi, more at Empire Control Room

Growl, Blushing, Sun June, more at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Melat, Tje Austin, Eimaral Sol at Far Out Lounge

The Rotten Mangos, Twinsins, Cheap Wave at Dozen Street

Crystal Voyager presents Eclectic Electro at Swan Dive

Intercom, Dog Flavored Lightning, more at Valhalla

A Live One, Josh Pearson at Belmont

Black Heart Saints, Lake House at ScratcHouse

FRIDAY

Otis the Destroyer, Go Fever, Lola Tried, Cosmic Chaos, Born Again Virgin at Cheer Up Charlie’s

Sailor Poon, Country Legend Roky Moon & the Sunsets, Dirt Pile, Hotmom, Rattlesnake Milk, Pussy Gillette, Lord Friday the 13th, Scan at Barracuda

Jane Ellen Bryant, Jaimee Harris, Caelin Anne at the Belmont

Being Dead, Magic Rockers of Texas, Batty Jr., Large Brush Collection at Mohawk indoor

Nayome, Ladi Earth at Stubb’s indoor

Abram Shook, Primo, Teddy Glass, Nurk at Far Out Lounge

King Woot and the Holy Nah Nah, Obsolete Machines, Sheverb, Hankie Doodle at Swan Dive

Bill Mularkey, the Genders, Amber Eye at the Venue ATX

The Vega Texas Revival at Swan Dive

Transit Method, Pollen, Rad Gnar at Dozen Street

This Party Sucks, Awesome Death at Valhalla

The Vega Texas Revival at Swan Dive

SATURDAY

Blackillac, Magna Carda, Kydd Jones at Parish

Quiet Company, Darkbird, Color Candy, Super Thief at Barracuda indoor

Money Chicha, Kev Bev, Como Las Movies, Lesly Reynaga, Megafauna at ScratcHouse

Nane, Dr. Joe, Cilantro Boombox, Jeff Hortillosa, Beat Root Revival, Bourgeois Mystics at Empire Garage

Cowboy Diplomacy, Torino Black, Halfways, Human Circuit, Satalights, Mike Kidoo at Empire Control Room

American Sharks, Eagle Claw, Billy King & the Bad Bad Bad, Thieves at Mohawk outdoor

Rickshaw Billie’s Burger Patrol, Greenbeard, Auntie, Mandate at Mohawk indoor

Blood, Big Bill, Son of Stan, Borzoi, Exercise at Cheer Up Charlie’s

JD Clark, Country Legend Roky Moon & the Sunset Riders, Rated Exes, Payton Andrew Green at Hotel Vegas

Batty Jr., Lolita Lynne, Aubrey Hays, Half Dream, Bummertown at Far Out Lounge

The Well, Psychotic Reaction, Peach Almanac, Rotten Mangos at Swan Dive

183 South Band, MVF, Shelley King at the Venue ATX

Dirty Charlie Band, Bulemics, Black Earth at Valhalla

Sex Pump, JD Pinkus, Coms at Dozen Street

The Selfless Lovers, Honey Made at the Belmont

SUNDAY

Half Dream, Frosty Palms, Hong Kong Wigs, Semihelix at Hotel Vegas

Infinites, Chronophage, 2069, Samson at Cheer up Charlie’s

Sadie & the Ladies, Synthetic Ghosts, Lucky Badger at Mohawk indoor

Bruce 3 and the Revenge, Modern Day Midas, more at the Venue ATX