SXSW: Live From Austin

Smith Westerns: SXSW 2011

Smith Westerns' members are no strangers to NPR Music's coverage of the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas: Just last year, they were a bunch of skinny, no-name teenagers winning over the crowd at our annual daytime party. That enjoyable and ingratiating set — all propulsive rock energy, timeless pop hooks and some of the shiniest hair in music — laid the groundwork nicely for last fall's well-received Dye It Blonde, a engaging blast of candy-coated swagger.

Given that only a year has passed since that show, these guys are still jarringly young — and still the owners of shampoo-commercial-quality hair. But newer songs like "Tonight" and "Weekend" feel exceptionally sturdy, built on a foundation that conjures images of both Replacements-style rock and girl-group pop. That mix of brashness and sweetness loses nothing in translation to the live stage.

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