The Best of SXSW (A Playlist)

todayMarch 26, 2019 15

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By Claire Barker
Local Music Journalist

It’s the most wonderful time of year: SXSW Music Festival. The mania is here and if you’re like me, this year’s festival really snuck up you. There was relatively no time to prepare. Usually before the festival begins, I like to do my research. There are so many artists to see, almost too many. With this in mind, I’ve curated a SXSW 2019 playlist to help you out.

Here, I’ve highlighted some of my favorite acts. Some I’ve seen before, some are brand new to me. This playlist has a little bit of everything, but is by no means a summary of SXSW music. I’ll only go into detail on a few of my favorites, so be sure to check out the full playlist.

Sneaks – “DEVO”

Sneaks is fronted by musician Eva Moolchan. Hailing from Washington, D.C., the band has a minimalist yet pop punk sound. Soft spoken lyrics are laid down over lo-fi bass and drum machines. Sneaks is punctual yet melodic. The song “Devo” off of Sneaks’s 2017 album It’s a Myth, perfectly blends dreamy bedroom pop with spaced out hip-hop.

Crumb – “Part III”

Crumb is in the process of recording their first album. After listening to their EPs, I’m sure their new album will not disappoint. The four piece manages to combine psych rock, jazz, and indie into a soothing pop sound. Crumb’s newest single “Part III” gives listeners a taste of what is to come and it is so exciting. Crumb doesn’t come to Texas often and I have a feeling they are only going to get bigger and better.

Mamalarky – “Much Better”

Mamalarky consists of Livvy Bennett on guitar and vocals, Michael Hunter on keys, Dylan Hill on drums and Noor Khan on bass. The band experiments with psych pop and every show is breathtaking. Ethereal melodies placed over technical finger picking on guitar and atmospheric keys creates Mamalarky’s signature sound. “Much Better” off of their EP Fundamental Thrivehive stays true to the band’s sunshiny roots. The music really makes it hard to understand how anyone can play such complicated guitar riffs and sing so beautifully at the same time. Mamalarky resides in LA at the moment but they originated in Austin.

Colorful album art of bands listed in article
Album art collage for Borzoi, Boogarins, Mamalarky, Crumb, and Sneaks. Photo by Claire Barker.

Boogarins – “Foimal”

Boogarins are a four piece Brazilian psychedelic rock band. Boogarins are widely known and always make for a packed crowd. The rhythm section is steady and even, accompanied by hazy reverb and repetitive melody. The sound of dreamy Portuguese lyrics really makes the band distinct. “Foimal” off the album Lá Vem a Morte highlights this.

Borzoi – “Big Pink”

Austin’s own Borzoi creates something along the lines of art punk noise rock. When seeing them live, it is evident that these guys are about to explode with popularity. The coolest thing about them may be that they don’t even care. “Big Pink” off the album A Prayer for War utilizes howling vocals and a tornado of guitar.

Arguably, the best part of SXSW is going to random showcases and finding new music. This is almost always more fun than seeing a band you’ve known and loved for years. I encourage you to enter the festival with an open mind. Be unafraid of new things and branch out! Use the playlist to get your feet wet, but make sure to dive into the water wholeheartedly.

Featured image by Claire Barker.

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Singer Ian Ruhala performing during the Biker Gang showcase at the Spiderhouse outdoor stage during SXSW.


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By Caroline JanesMusic Journalist I had the chance to interview Hala and Baywaves after they played at SXSW to inquire about their experience at the festival and gain some insight about some of their music. All of the guys I talked to were super nice and gave some interesting answers. First up is Ian Ruhala of Hala after his show at Spiderhouse during the Biker Gang Booking showcase. Caroline Janes: […]

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