The Young and the Restless: 21 SXSW Artists Under 21

March 16. 2011 | By Olivia Harrington

These SXSW artists are the type of barely legal we can easily (and eagerly) endorse. If you’re younger than 21, these musicians can give you something to which you can aspire. If you’re older than 21, well, it’s a bit late for you to try your hand at being a child prodigy. However, if what they say about age and wisdom is true, you’d already be wise enough to know that you should turn off the Weather Channel, set down those prunes, and give these young whippersnappers a listen.

Smith Westerns

Ages: 19-20

Tipping their hat, or in this case, luscious locks, to their many blatant influences, the Smith Westerns‘ sound recalls a mix of Dandy in the Underworld and even a dash of Halcyon Digest with generous wall-of-sound production and fancy guitar work. This trio has caught the eye of just about everyone, sending them into the loving arms of internet indie success.


Age: 19

Diverse instrumentation, lyrical playfulness, and an almost Owl-like “coo-ing” ability, make Oberhofer‘s eccentric styling of dreamy pop unavoidably catchy. Brad Oberhofer has been a machine when it comes to his band, creating his first few songs in his NYU dorm, and then sending them out to every venue a Google search would provide. Follow that with an obscene number of CMJ shows and tours with bands like The Morning Benders and The Vaccines, and it’s easy to see why Oberhofer is slowly rising the ranks for breakout success of 2011.

Cloud Nothings

Age: 19

He may have only been in the first grade when Enema of the State was released, but Dylan Baldi, who goes under the moniker Cloud Nothings, brings the same pop-punk intensity, but with a lo-fi tinge and increased electronic ambience.


Ages: Daniel Blumberg is 20

While the rest of the band has already become USA legal, lead singer Daniel Blumberg has yet to cross the threshold. Blumberg may seem familiar given that he and Max were part of the now defunct Cajun Dance Party. As the newly configured Yuck, these four band members churn out music reminiscent of the ’90s renaissance grunge/shoegaze era (also known to them as their first years of elementary school). Followed by an incredible amount of hype, Yuck has thankfully very little chance of truly personifying their name.

The Good Natured

Age: 19

Like fellow brit Ellie Goulding, Sarah McIntosh, the voice behind The Good Natured, experiments with electro-pop with a sinister undertone. Songs to check out: “Your Body is a Machine,” “Be My Animal,” and her cover of Sufjan Stevens “For the Widows in Paradise, For the Fatherless in Ypsilanti.”

Matt Corby

Age: 20

At 17, Matt Corby was a cute pop star on Australian Idol. At 19, he has traded that bubbly sound for that of a much more mature, folky, and rustic sound. While it’s easy to site Jeff Buckley or Bon Iver, the most exciting thing about Corby is not the comparisons he gathers, but his absolute chameleon-like musical abilities.

Death Letters

Age: 18 & 19

This Dutch duo, comprised of Duende Ariza Lora and Victor Brandt, channel their teen angst into aggressive, grimy punk-rock. With a ferocious drum line and untamed stage antics, Death Letters play rock n’ roll with an intensity that sounds as if they should have a trail of failed marriages with multiple rehab stints to boot.

Ruby Jane

Age: 16

At 10 years old Ruby Jane was invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry, becoming the youngest fiddler to ever grace their stage. Since then, she’s been using her talent to jam with the likes of Willie Nelson and Dale Watson, shot the pilot for a TV show, and penned her own line of pancake mix and jams. Clearly, she is putting her child prodigy title to good use and likely wont stop until the rest of us are assured of our mediocrity.

Street Chant

Age: One of them is 20

Street Chant seems to hold the sentiment of a child on a sugar high: plug in, freak out, fall down. A trio of two girls and one guy, they play hard and fast rock, earning them the 2011 Critic’s Choice Award at the New Zealand Music Awards, a tour with The Dead Weather, and a whole lot of opportunities to thrash around on stage.

Dominique Young Unique

Age: 18

This Tampa Bay rapper stays true to the title of her latest mixture “Glamorous Touch.” Dominique Young Unique’s songs all bring a rough, rapid-fire rap, but she also dabbles in pop stylings, even making Justin Beiber bearable when she samples him on her track “Show My Ass.”


Ages: 14, 16, 18

These three sisters of Smoosh, Asya, Chloe, and Maia, play the type of traditional indie pop they grew up/are still growing up with. However, they are hardly new to the scene having released their first album when drummer Chloe was just 10 years old. This was followed by openings for Death Cab for Cutie, Pearl Jam, Sleater Kinney, Cat Power, and Sufjan Stevens. Apparently large quantities of candy and Nickelodeon aren’t the only things that satisfy kids these days.

Hudson Moore

Age: 20

Hudson Moore is something like John Mayer, before Mayer underwent a Ron Jeremy makeover or Jason Mraz before, well, he was Jason Mraz. Moore is sweet, catchy pop done well.

Rachel Sermanni

Age: 19

Handpicked by Mumford and Sons for their Highlands tour may seem huge, but for Rachel Sermanni that’s just her getting started. This Scottish singer-songwriter embodies the new folk-wave and given her compelling vocals, stunning arrangements, and thoughtful melodies, she’s an artist who’s easy to get swept away by.


Ages: 15

Not yet even allowed to drive, the girls of Schmillion already have a considerable resume. They won the Austin Chronicle’s Best Band Under 18 competition with their pop-punk sound. They appeared in an Arcade Fire video and played in the finals of a national battle of the bands. And that’s just in the past year.

Therapies Son

Age: 19

A complaint these days amongst professionals is that anyone who stumbles upon a camera claims to be a photographer. The same can be said for laptops and musicians. Leave it to Steve Jobs and his GarageBand to ruin the music landscape (just kidding…that’s only about 50% of the time). However, occasionally you get someone who ventures out of the pre-set Daylight mode or in this case, someone who uses fuzzy, layered composition to their advantage. Enter Therapies Son, a mix of Tiny Tim, George Harrison, and a very large hard drive.

Lydia Loveless

Age: 20

She’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, and with a name like Loveless, it’s a combination that seems almost predestined.

Puro Instinct

Ages: 16 and 23

While only one part of the Puro Instinct duo qualifies as a minor, these shoe-gaze sisters are worth checking out. Just ask Ariel Pink who is featured on their atmospheric song, “Stilyagi.”

The Kingston Springs

Ages: 18

This quartet conjures up some of the Strokes’ earlier sound, but with a bit more country and a bit less bravado. Nashville natives, The Kingston Springs have the ability, and the Southern charm to go far.

Alessi’s Ark

Age: 20

While a veteran for her age, Alessi Laurent-Marke‘s folky, whimsical, and oh so pretty pop adds her to the list of the seemingly booming number of new female folk artists.

Unicorn Kid

Age: 19

If you long for the days of Nintendo, listen to electronica even without strobe lights, and get a thrill from sneaking in the occasionally 40, than Unicorn Kid is for you. This chip sampling teenager has remixed songs from bands like the Pet Shop Boys and the Gorillaz, always donning his furry animal hat while doing so.

Marz Lovejoy

Age: 19

L.A. rapper Marz Lovejoy isn’t afraid to show who she really is, something exemplified with the cover of her EP This Little Light of Mine. Peering through tousled curls, a devilishly smirking Lovejoy looks outwards as a tattoo artists holds her arm penning her newest ink. Her lyrics possess that same balance of pain and pleasure, her rhymes showing the struggle of who she wants to be and who she is expected to become. If this is poetry in motion, it will be a wonder what Lovejoy can accomplish once she really starts to run.

  • The Owl Mag | The Best Indie Music News, Album Reviews, and Free MP3s