You can’t pin Nicole Atkins down to just one place. The big-voiced indie-pop singer-songwriter, a native of New Jersey who spent some time in North Carolina and New York and now lives in Nashville, recorded two of her first three albums in Sweden. But she also has ties to Texas: “Goodnight Rhonda Lee,” her upcoming fourth album, was recorded in Fort Worth at Niles City Sound, the studio where former members of Austin band White Denim recorded Leon Bridges’ star-making solo debut a couple of years ago.
It’s not the first time she’s made connections with artists from here. Austin indie-rocker Robert Harrison, mastermind of the long-running indie band Cotton Mather, co-wrote a couple of songs on Atkins’ 2011 album “Mondo Amore.” The two recorded a few other songs together that finally surfaced a few months ago on an EP titled simply “Cotton Mather with Nicole Atkins.”
When we spoke to Atkins in 2014, she recalled working with Harrison when she was here to play the Austin City Limits Music Festival. “I was going through a really bad breakup, and he was helping me articulate my sadness in this grand, epic literary way,” she said. ACL Fest was productive for Atkins, whose 2007 breakthrough debut “Neptune City” was quickly followed by an EP of recordings from her appearance at the fest that year.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Harrison and Atkins made cameo appearances at each other’s SXSW shows. Atkins plays at at 1 a.m. March 15 at the Parish, the same night Cotton Mather plays a few blocks away at 11 a.m. at the Main. (Cotton Mather also plays at midnight March 16 at Palm Door on Sabine.)
More indie rock acts
Beach Slang: The Philly indie-punkers are making their second straight visit to SXSW, after a high-profile 2016 appearance in which they promoted their debut full-length release by playing one of the festival’s free shows at Auditorium Shores. “Here’s a very quick, not-at-all comprehensive list of images that make appearances in Beach Slang songs: guitars, cars, girls, garages, dirty cigarettes, Friday nights, and basements,” reviewer Steve Scheibal wrote of that show for Austin360 last year. (8:30 p.m. Wednesday at Lustre Pearl; 1 a.m. March 16 at Cheer Up Charlie’s)
Diet Cig: The upstate New York duo of Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman made a splash at last year’s SXSW, seemingly omnipresent at day parties in addition to their showcase schedule. “Luciano was all smiles, a state it seems she’s often in,” reviewer Eric Pulsifer wrote for Austin360. “She giddily pounced around stage while her hands were a blur on guitar and sang songs about making out and breaking up, with endearing lyrics that felt ripped from a teenager’s diary like ‘It’s hard to be a punk while wearing a skirt.’” After a well-received EP and 7-inch single, Diet Cig will release its first full-length album next month. (12:15 a.m. March 17 at Sidewinder Outside)
Eisley: Small-town East Texas isn’t typically a hotbed for indie bands, but Eisley has been a prominent exception to prove that rule. Rising from Tyler almost two decades ago, the band released two albums for major-label reprise before moving to prominent indie Equal Vision, which released the band’s fifth full-length record, “I’m Only Dreaming,” last month. (1 a.m. March 15 at Central Presbyterian Church)
Broncho: The Oklahoma foursome’s often dreamlike indie-pop has a cinematic quality to it that reflects the band’s origins in scoring music for an offbeat punk film project. Band leader Ryan Lindsey’s “frontman persona is shades of drunken Elvis, guttural belting and infantile squeaks,” reviewer Ramon Ramirez wrote for Austin360 when the band played Fun Fun Fun Fest 2015. “His knees jitter when he strums his guitar; he sings in incoherent servings of melodic howls.” (10:10 p.m. March 16 at the Bungalow)
Minus the Bear: Not many indie bands have enough pop cred to collaborate with a member of Hall & Oates, but this long-running act did just that when they appeared on a 2013 episode of Daryl Hall’s online series “Live From Daryl’s House.” The group’s sixth album, “Voids,” came out last week on Suicide Squeeze Records. (10:30 p.m. March 15 at Lustre Pearl; 1:15 a.m. March 17 at Barracuda Backyard)
San Fermin: An eclectic seven-piece ensemble from Brooklyn, San Fermin impressed at ACL Fest 2015, where reviewer Luke Quinton wrote for Austin360 that they showed off “a unique sound that finds a path somewhere between reference points like Thievery Corporation and the National.” Their third album, “Belong,” comes out next month on Downtown Records. (10 p.m. March 15 at Bar 96; 10:30 p.m. March 17 at Stubb’s)