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As we brush the dust from our eyes and the free beer from our collective systems, we now take our annual moment to reflect on the very best from this year’s South by Southwest 2011 music festival. For those not fortunate enough to attend yet, you will never find a better collection of new and popular music anywhere in the U.S.A. The largest of established stars coexist in a world with the newest of aspiring talent, each and every act angling for either recognition, PR buzz or standard fan accumulation. Much like 2010 where we gave Sleepy Sun top honors and 2009 where Akron/Family stood high above the rest, we take this moment to celebrate the best from 2011. Honestly, there are many many more that deserve to be on this list. The touring bands and recording artists hungry and determined enough to run around Austin’s crazy rock-and-roll party town all deserve to be proud of themselves. It’s a good time to be a music fan. In spite of all cynicism–ambition, creativity and determination are truly on the rise in the music industry. This year, a wild pack of youthful rappers that go by the moniker Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (or Odd Future for short) obliterated our senses and expectation. The Minneapolis crew Doomtree elevated our estimations of modern hip-hop as well. Similarly, Gayngs proved five vocalists is just right. And Nicole Atkins downright scared us with her own emotional power. On the established side, Duran Duran, Psychic TV and TV on the Radio all proved their greatest days are still to come. A supergroup of super proportions If By Yes finally provided Petra Haden the band she deserved. And lastly, yes, Kanye West pretty much stole the show. Until next year back in Texas, here are is mxdwn’s Best of SXSW 2011.
Best New Artists
Best Established Artists
Kanye West/Kid Cudi photo by WireImage/Getty. All others by Raymond Flotat