Best Of SXSW Music: Critics’ Picks

We listen in with young critics to the hottest new music from South By Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Julian Casablancas and The Strokes perform at the SXSW Music Festival late Thursday, March 17, 2011 in Austin, Texas. (AP)

Back in the day, 25 years ago, the music festival in Austin, Texas – South by Southwest – was itty-bitty compared to now. My, how it’s grown.

Two-thousand bands in the “conference,” as they call it, that wrapped up this weekend. Packed beer halls and barbeques and waves of attendees.

Every kind of rockin’ music you can imagine. Big names flaying in too, to share the scene. But we’re looking for the fresh, the new, the buzziest sounds.

This hour On Point: young critics on the best of South by Southwest.

– Tom Ashbrook


Liz Colville, freelance writer and music blogger. She’s contributed to The Daily Beast, Nerve, New York Press, NPR, Pitchfork, Stylus Magazine, and The Village Voice Online.  You can find her coverage of SXSW here, and her personal blog at

Chris Martins, music writer and critic. He covered the South By Southwest Music festival for Spin.  He’s also a frequent contributor to the L.A. Times, L.A. Weekly, and the Onion A.V. Club.  He blogs at

Favorite groups our critics mentioned on air:



James Blake

Kurt Vile

Big K.R.I.T.

The tUnE-yArDs


Gold Panda

Twin Shadow

And some we didn’t get to:

Liz Phair

Freddie Gibbs

Odd Future

Lower Dens


Dum Dum Girls


Little Dragon

Dominique Young Unique


Gold Panda at SXSW


Dominique Young Unique talks how she got started.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
Nov 25, 2015
President Barack Obama, accompanied by Pulitzer Prize winning Iowa writer Marilynne Robinson, arrives to the State Library of Iowa in the Ola Babcock Miller Building, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Des Moines. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

On the day before Thanksgiving, we talk with Marilynne Robinson – one of America’s greatest authors, thinkers, moralists — about fear and hope in a hard, frightening time.

Nov 25, 2015
Three of baker Renee McLeoud's delicious pies, on display in the WBUR studios. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Bring your appetite! We’re gathering around the radio table with three chefs and new Thanksgiving recipes.

Nov 24, 2015
An archival image of a McKinley - Hobart Presidential Campaign Poster from 1896. (Public Domain / WikiCommons)

Republican political strategist Karl Rove is thinking about the McKinley 1896 campaign and the GOP field right now. Karl Rove is with us.

Nov 24, 2015
This photo made from the footage taken from Russian Defense Ministry official web site Monday, Nov. 23, 2015 shows fuel tanks  hit during the attack of Russian warplanes in Syria. Russian warplanes on Monday attacked oil extraction, transport and refinement facilities in areas controlled by Islamic State militants. (AP Photo/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service)

ISIS, Inc. The terrorist organization is raking in billions –from oil, grain, antiquities, and taxes. We look at how to break the ISIS bank. Plus, Turkey downs a Russian plane. We’ll have the latest.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Fresh Ideas For Your Thanksgiving: Recipes
Wednesday, Nov 25, 2015

Did our Thanksgiving 2016 episode make you hungry? Good news — we’ve got recipes right here.

More »
1 Comment
Karl Rove Still Won’t Get Involved In The 2016 G.O.P. Primary
Tuesday, Nov 24, 2015

Karl Rove may say he’s not endorsing or getting involved in the 2016 G.O.P. presidential primary, but that won’t stop from offering advice on how to beat Republican front runner Donald Trump.

More »
Roger Cohen And Barry Posen On ISIS
Monday, Nov 23, 2015

A brief, but illustrative exchange between Barry Posen and Roger Cohen during our conversation on ISIS today.

More »