who are we most excited to see this year?

by ellen carpenter

For many bands, music festivals symbolize a tipping point. Thanks to the major exposure that comes from performing in front of thousands, it's a chance for groups to go from literally rocking out in garages to scoring serious radio play. Case in point: indie favorites Warpaint, Surfer Blood, the xx and Best Coast all made the festival rounds last year- obviously with great success.

Just in time to kick off the new season, our Music Editor Ellen Carpenter shares her picks of The Bands to Watch at SxSW 2011.

Xylos: Electro-pop bursting with sunshine and glitter. Try not to smile.

The Head and the Heart: Euphoric (but oddly calming) folk-rock that will pair perfectly with BBQ.

Boy and Bear: Australia'a answer to Mumford and Sons. We're obsessed with "Mexican Mavis."

Dry the River: Semi-acoustic folk-rock that makes us want to waltz, bake brownies, and kiss someone all at the same time.

Mona: Raw, gritty, arm-pumping rock from Nashville.

Foster the People: LA electo-rock promising singalong choruses and boogie-ready beats.

Givers: Louisiana art-pop that files neatly between Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend.