Five Albums You Should Be Listening To Right Now: SXSW 2011 Edition

Great new records chosen by SXSW music programmer Matt Sonzala.

Every week, titans of the mediasphere give Nerve their music recommendations. This week: Matt Sonzala, Music Fest Coordinator at SXSW. His department books over 2000 bands each year for SXSW. Matt also runs a blog ( and hosts an online radio program called The AustinSurreal Show on

B L A C K I E, Spred Luv EP

Hailed by the New York Times as a "one-man noise ordinance violation," Houston's B L A C K I E (yes, all caps with spaces) embodies the best aspects of classic punk rock, and presents them in the form of hip-hop. He raps, and he makes his own beats, but said beats and rhymes are way more boom than bap.

Listen: "Nothing Stopping" or "My Window"



Anika, Anika

The new queen of space rock, German chanteuse Anika, has been compared to Beth Gibbons, but maybe that's because her self-titled debut was produced by Beth's partner in Portishead, Geoff Barrow. Off-kilter, ethereal, and uber-intelligent, her music harkens '60s psych-rock with a 2011 electronic edge.

Listen: "I Go To Sleep"



The Echocentrics, Sunshadows

The latest project from Austin musician Adrian Quesada (Grupo Fantasma, Brownout, Ocote Soul Sounds), is a radical departure from what you might have come to expect from this young leader in Latin music. Many don't know he also makes hip-hop beats for folks like Bavu Blakes and others from his home state. Vocalists Tita Lima and Natalia Clavier round out a trio that has a beautiful sound all its own.

Listen: "Esclavo Y Amo"



Butcher Bear & Charlie, Carbomb

A raucous mix of soulful noise and funky rhythms with an abstract hip-hop sensibility, the duo of Butcher Bear & Charlie are one of Austin's most fun party bands. Outfitted in a colorful bear suit, DJ/beat maker Butcher Bear is a strong fixture in the Austin music scene. Think Madonna if her earlier producers did more interesting drugs and grew up listening to the Butthole Surfers.

Listen: "Chopsticks"



Nive Nielsen & Deer Children, Nive Sings

Most people don't even realize that there are people living in Greenland. And they almost certainly don't know that one of modernity's most forward-thinking singer-songwriters was born and raised there and still calls it home. Nive Nielsen's songs are light and spacey, yet complex and edgy. She covers the topic of love, but also the topic of killing bugs with her vacuum cleaner, and says her mother is the most beautiful woman of all. It's one of the prettiest records of the past decade, hands down.

Listen: "Room"


Commentarium (41 Comments)

Mar 15 11 - 12:47am

Why do critics insist on describing artists as "intelligent" instead of just saying "can't carry a tune?" I'd rather hear Beth Gibbons read a phone book.

Mar 15 11 - 1:46am

Why do commentators on the internet insist on being dicks?

Mar 15 11 - 2:33am

A side effect of making sure your point gets across when you have no idea whether or not you'll get a response, I'd imagine.

Another side effect of internet commenting? The seemingly invisible line between sarcasm and being a dick.

Mar 16 11 - 1:36am

I agree. I hate reading critic's descriptions of music...especially those that are prone to use the words "complex", "edgy" and a myriad of other terms ("multigenre" comes to mind..) that often describe little more than bland, monotone music with shitty vocals. I'm sorry if this offends anyone's musical sensibilities, but fuck this hipster, indie, postmodern shit-fest of music.

Mar 16 11 - 2:57pm

yes! yes! yes! the whiney, immature, dull dull dull recordings masquerading as music are reflective of the (apparently, but hopefully short-lived) prevailing whiney, immature, dull dull dull audience.

Mar 16 11 - 10:21pm

So what "real" music should be listening to pray tell?

Mar 16 11 - 10:26pm

I'm assuming it's because she makes the daring move on her album of saying - in so many words - that warmongers are bad. Yes, sadly, "not wholly oblivious" is the new standard for uber-intelligence.

Oh, and she uses a lot of echo. Echo makes it sound deep.

Mar 17 11 - 12:01pm

Don't you just love the smell of dogmatism in the morning?

Mar 15 11 - 8:12am

One to check out! The Great Return by Purple Rhinestone Eagle
Been listening to it nonstop

Mar 15 11 - 11:24am

Also check out The Soul Traveling Experience by Austin musician Tee-Double,pretty creative and refreshing.

Mar 15 11 - 12:08pm
Matt Sonzala

The music is intelligent, it is what it is. She says a lot.

Mar 16 11 - 10:56pm

But we can't I see how it is.

Mar 16 11 - 10:58pm

Okay, all apologies. My comments weren't showing for a good half hour there. I expected foul play. My bad.

Mar 15 11 - 1:22pm

sorry, not for me!

Mar 16 11 - 7:59am

B L A C K I E (do you say that "Blackie" or speak each letter individually????) needs to learn to spell.

Mar 16 11 - 11:53am

anika sounds like an awful beach house imitation.......

Mar 16 11 - 5:19pm

She's the only good one on this list.

Mar 16 11 - 2:54pm

first time I have ever not liked any of the music on one of these lists

Mar 16 11 - 5:58pm
Vance Qualteri

The problem with the ivory tower pompous music reviewers in Austin is that they probably drink too much Austin water.

Mar 16 11 - 6:36pm

summer people

Mar 16 11 - 10:07pm

That gave me a headache. Was this really the best of the crop?

Mar 16 11 - 10:25pm

So again what "real" music should the unwashed masses be listening to? Seems like everyone can whine about how much music sucks but can't give an answer about what we really should be hearing.....put up or shut up.

Mar 16 11 - 10:59pm

Yeah! Give us some good stuff, Matt! :)

Mar 17 11 - 11:23am

If this is what we HAVE to listen to then I'll read a book instead. Man, music just keeps getting worse and worse. These kids plainly haqve NO IDEA as to just how awful their music genre really is. Wait until they find out how badly they have been ripped off by this Mundane, boring, yawning selections of poopy doopy they have to choose from. No wonder suicides are WAY up. This crap is really dismal and depressing stuff

Mar 17 11 - 12:34pm

If you, along with all the other commenters, dislike what Nerve recommends why do you continue to look to Nerve for recommendations?

Mar 17 11 - 11:35am

Start by eliminating anything that says "hip hop" in the description and you'll have a better chance of finding music worth hearing.

Mar 17 11 - 12:28pm

1 some angry guy shouting at me while a vacuum cleaner dies a painful death, 2 one of my favorite songs by Sia turned into instant headache starter,3 a very nice though derivative romantic song to put the pain on pause, 4 a woman not singing very well with ugly machine noises thrumming up through the floor 5 just boring ok music that I hear over and over when I look for new sounds on amazon. Did the reviewer really think we need to hear this of was the deadline for this week getting close and these were all they had in the inbox..? Can we try some old music you may have overlooked from the 60s 70s 80s etc..? I will do that if you can pay me.

Mar 17 11 - 3:51pm

"I Go To Sleep" I fell asleep

Mar 18 11 - 4:33pm

I was surprised to see someone on one of these lists I was actually somewhat familiar with. B L A C K I E is amazing. This recording doesn't do him justice. He has the most intense live show I've ever seen. Including Lightning Bolt

Mar 18 11 - 5:10pm

Great new records?
Are you getting paid (by the CD makers) to shill this shit?

That Spred Luv track is just plain ugly
Wanna get rid of Qaddafi?
Just blast this stinking audio sewage through his window.

The other crap ranges from mindless and mediocre to painfully boring.

Mar 20 11 - 2:46am

B L A C K I E is awesome! Check him out if you grt the chance!

Mar 27 11 - 10:46pm

Tita Lima from the Echocentrics is the freshest, most sultry and creative female voice that has come out of Brasil in the past few years....end of story!...oh wait and yeah her father (Liminha) played bass for Os Mutantes...ok now end of story.

Apr 01 11 - 9:53pm
angry commentator


Apr 05 11 - 5:09pm

totally agreed FUmanchu

Apr 05 11 - 5:10pm


Apr 05 11 - 5:14pm

That was in response to killsing's comment above but the comments didn't want to work right. It's whatever.

Apr 05 11 - 5:12pm

Nive Nielsen & Deer Children was ace, will have to check out them later, maybe B L A C K I E too.

Apr 13 11 - 3:34am

ni3VK6 THX that's a great answer!