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Each year, after four days of nonstop madness and constant reporting, we recap our picks for the best of the South by Southwest festival. Last year, given the impressive strength of talent across the board, we expanded our selects to have lists for both “new” and “established” talent. Ranking Akron/Family against Metallica would have come off a bit strange right? This year, acts both brand new and long established came to show off their skills at SXSW. The most impressive of which came unexpectedly on the first day of the festival. Before things were even in full swing, the dueling harmonies of Bret Constantino and Rachel Williams of The Sleepy Sun were enough to inspire real shock and awe. With the sultry, rocking sleaze of The Kills hot wired by the riffing aggression of vintage Black Sabbath and tempered with a knack for soulful rumination that would make Mark Lanegan proud, The Sleepy Sun are the one to watch in 2010. Also playing with purpose were the champions of time changing metal The Dillinger Escape Plan, The Octopus Project with their epic “Hexadecagon,” The xx and Titus Andronicus. On the established side the once dead, once alive fury of Thurston Moore’s Demolished Thoughts (an all 7 Seconds cover band) used brutal hardcore with vital poignancy to challenge and confront. Elsewhere Muse, GWAR and The Black Keys all had a nice day in the sun, and Sharon Jones showed age has nothing to do with real beauty.
Best New Artists
1. The Sleepy Sun
Best Established Artists
1. Demolished Thoughts