music

« March 15, 2013

SXSW Thursday Showcases

By Chase Hoffberger

Small Stone Records

Lord Fowl

7pm, Headhunters Patio

Detroit indie Small Stone cornered the market on weed-fed power rock, celebrating its 10th anniversary at SXSW this year with a diverse lineup highlighting recent recruits. Boston's Mellow Bravo begins with burly rock informed as much by the Faces as by heavier inspirations. Surviving the late Scissorfight, Supermachine stomps out of its native New Hampshire in a fury of smoke and denim. Label head Scott Hamilton utilizes his position by including his own Luder, a legacy of defunct Detroit psych/shoegaze band Slot as much as the boss' guitar skills. The Lone Star State represents in the leviathan swampedelica of Dallas' Wo Fat, writing The Black Code with a titanium stylus. The meat-and-potatoes hard rock of Virginia Beach foursome Freedom Hawk wins no awards for innovation but satisfies through sheer skill and enthusiasm. One of the label's most exciting new signees, New Haven troupe Lord Fowl, puts a rocket up classic rock's ass and calls it lovemaking on the lush Moon Queen. In the absence of SS perennial Dixie Witch, New Orleans grunge rawk trio Suplecs anchors the evening with its own distinct eardrum punishment. – Michael Toland

Pop Montreal

Suuns

7:20pm, Swan Dive

First up on this first of two wildly diverse nights celebrating all things Montreal is Braids, a trio that twists wide-open atmospheric spaces around synth pulses on 2011's Native Speaker. Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene, along with musical partner Ariel Engle, debut their new project, AroarA, a primitive folk experiment based on a book of poetry by Alice Notley called In the Pines. Halifax transplant Each Other recently released its third 12-inch, Heavily Spaced, thick with jangly guitars and understated vocals; the trio calls its music "crackle pop." Next up, Philip Karneef fancies himself a "modern composer," which in this case means "goofy white guy is funky, ironic, and has poofy hair." Next month sees the release of Solar Year's debut full-length, Waverly, a collection of contemplative, eerie electronic tunes. The most interesting act on the bill may be Ottawa's A Tribe Called Red, a trio of First Nations rappers who specialize in what they call "pow wow step," a blend of electronica, reggae, and powwow drumbeats. Finally, Suuns, who is all over SXSW this year, lights an intimately rendered collusion between electronic experimentation and warm indie rock. – Melanie Haupt

APA Talent

M|O|D

7:30pm, Buffalo Billiards

It used to cost the amount of a SXSW Music badge to see Paul Oakenfold spin records in a bourgie London nightclub, so an eight-act showcase headlined by a man who dominated intercontinental house and techno music for the better part of two decades is one steal of a deal. Before the godfather tips off, APA Talent trots out a young lineup of DJs crafted in his image. Norman, Okla., 22-year-old PrototypeRaptor delivers an unusual blend of twitchy techno and melodic song lines on 2012's Nostalgiarithm. Consider Ukrainian import AbdeCaf more focused on the latter. Boston rumblers M|O|D may be the best kept secret of the bunch. The five-man collective of potentially underage troublemakers have spent the past two years blending dubstep music with reggaeton and hard-nosed house. – Chase Hoffberger

Tompkins Square

Alice Gerrard

7:50pm, St. David's Bethell Hall

Established in 2005, Tompkins Square continues as one of America's most thought-provoking labels. Issuing recordings of historical importance and music classified as outsider art, the label's garnered five Grammy nominations, including one for Best Historical Album for last year's He Is My Story: The Sanctified Soul of Arizona Dranes, whose notes where penned by Austin's Michael Corcoran. Opening and performing between sets will be one of the foremost ragtime piano players of our day, Terry Waldo. A contemporary of John Fahey, primitive guitar player Harry Taussig makes his first public performance ever. His second album and first in 47 years, Fate Is Only Twice, saw the light of day in 2012. Legendary old-time bluegrass act Alice Gerrard, best known for her groundbreaking work with Hazel Dickens, will release her Tompkins Square debut later this year. Hiss Golden Messenger, the most modern act on Tompkins Square, features Durham, N.C., songwriter M.C. Taylor with Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Scott Hirsch. Their lo-fi folk and blues compares favorably to Bonnie "Prince" Billy and Smog. Virginian Daniel Bachman, 22, plays a style of acoustic guitar he calls "psychedelic Appalachian." Last April, North Mississippi Allstar Luther Dickenson released a 78rpm 10-inch on Tompkins Square featuring a medley of traditional Southern melodies. – Jim Caligiuri

Audible Treats

Chippy Nonstop

8pm, 512

2012 found Brooklyn-based publicity agency Audible Treats pushing more new albums than Universal Music. In May, SL Jones released his fourth LP in four years, February's Paraphernalia, a collection rooted in Houston dirt. The same could be said for IamSu!'s $uzy 6 $peed, the latest from the Richmond, Calif., rapper, who pulls as much southern heat as California flair. Nasally Bay Area rappers Roach Gigz and Chippy Nonstop dig deep in the latter, rapping "hotter than Wasabi" on Bugged Out and #Moneydance101. Across the continent, ghastly NYC duo the Doppelgangaz schemed the largely instrumental Beats for Brothels, Vol. 2, while fellow Gothamist Hot Sugar reeled in Fat Tony and Das Racist's Kool A.D. for the MiDi Murder EP. Denver's BLKHRTS brings the goth; Jarren Benton brings the weed. Dallas duo A.Dd+ reps Texas with righteous flow, 2011's When Pigs Fly still in effect. The other showcasers not to drop an album last year: Oakland's Souls of Mischief, that hodgepodge collection taking it from 93 'til Infinity. – Chase Hoffberger

The Daptone Records Super Soul Revue

Charles Braadley

8pm, ACL Live at the Moody Theater

A fiercely independent operation with a signature sound powered by the analog House of Soul studio in Brooklyn, Daptone Records has spearheaded a funk and soul revival since 2002, longer still if you count the Desco days, which like Daptone, was co-founded by Gabriel Roth. A soul purist and producer with a knack for 1969 sounds, Roth doubles as bassist and songwriter for Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, who remain the label's marquee act more than a decade removed from their Dap Dippin' debut. The pint-sized Jones paid her dues, but even she didn't wait as long as Charles Bradley for her big break. The hardscrabbled "Screaming Eagle of Soul" was 62 at the time of his triumphant 2011 debut, and he's wasting no time with forthcoming follow-up Victim of Love. Instrumental ensemble Menahan Street Band, which backs Bradley, paints cinematic soul on this year's excellent The Crossing, while the organ-driven grooves of Sugarman 3 and gospel harmony of Mississippi vocal trio the Como Mamas round out a Super Soul Revue. – Thomas Fawcett

For the Sake of the Song

Amy Cook

8pm, St. David's Historic Sanctuary

Here's a first-class collection of respected tunesmiths, titled by us in our songwriterly nod to Townes Van Zandt. Each works a genre that could be roughly defined as roots music, all equally distinctive in their own way. Originally from California, Amy Cook has become one of Austin's beloved folk singers. Summer Skin, her latest, features guest appearances from Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, and Ben Kweller. Carrie Rodriguez's talents have grown tremendously since going solo in 2006. The fiddler's January CD, Give Me All You Got, explores poppier avenues, while remaining rooted in Americana. Hailed as one of Australia's most entertaining performers, Melbourne's Henry Wagons remains a relative newcomer to America. The country rocker's latest, Expecting Company?, could be his breakthrough. Amanda Shires and Jason Isbell were recently married in Nashville by touring companion Todd Snider. Fiddle player Shires, originally from West Texas, comes on dark and playful for Carrying Lightning. Former Drive-By Trucker Isbell & the 400 Unit released Live From Alabama late last year, a culmination of his rowdy/moody solo work. Straight-up cowpoke Jason Boland has sold 500,000 albums without a label. He and his Stillwater, Okla., quintet release their Shooter Jennings co-produced Dark and Dirty Mile in May. – Jim Caligiuri

'Metro Times' Detroit Blowout

8pm, TenOak

If any U.S. city can lay claim to rival Austin for a vital, active, long-running music scene, it's Detroit. From John Lee Hooker and Motown, through the Stooges and MC5's proto-punk assault, to techno's invention and the White Stripes-led garage-punk revival of the last decade, Detroit music rattles raw, rootsy, and suffused with blue-collar grit. No wonder the token outsiders on Detroit alt-weekly Metro Times' civic-pridefest is Austin's MC5-worshippers the Jade Idol. Following them are vets of that post-White Stripes boom, the Sights, still resembling Cheap Trick on a freak-beat bender. The Hounds Below exhibit a roots-pop overdrive that answers what happened to the Von Bondies' Jason Stollsteimer. Jamaican Queens' electronic assault houses Marc Bolan worship. Passalacqua, meanwhile, demonstrates that Detroit still produces credible hip-hop. Resurrected punk/metal elders Death headline. Judging by this brief sampling, Detroit's still producing damn good rides. – Tim Stegall

Ninja Tune

DJ Kentaro

8pm, Elysium

Convergence between EDM and alternative hip-hop has been all the rage since Snoop Dogg and Xzibit jumped onto dubstep songs in 2010, but Ninja Tune's been pushing that mix-up for more than two decades. Today, the UK label that first made headway as an outlet for DJing founders Matt Black and Jonathan More to push their complex and often confounding collective Coldcut has now grown into one of the most respected purveyors of counterculturist hip-hop, with such alums as Kid Koala, Diplo, and Saul Williams earning lifelong space atop the mantle. This year's crop includes bass-heavy British reggaeton MC the Bug; smooth-talking Chicago-based Zulu Guru Jesse Boykins III; Japanese wiz kid DJ Kentaro, whose trancelike blend of jungle house and drum and bass on 2012's Contrast will leave you breathless; and NYC electronic riff-master Hot Sugar, who's 2012 ended with him getting rich off that Moon Money. The big name in the bunch is London trip-hop producer Bonobo, who's been with the label for 13 years and has his fifth LP, The North Borders, coming in April. Chase Hoffberger

Red House Records

Eliza Gilkyson

8pm, 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn

Minneapolis-based Red House Records celebrates its 13th year this year. It thrives by releasing folk, blues, and country music that's either deeply traditional or inventive and contemporary. In folk circles, Austin's Danny Schmidt draws praise as a revered young singer-songwriter, frequently compared to Leonard Cohen or Townes Van Zandt for songs that are intelligent and poetic. His partner, Carrie Elkin, won equal praise for her last effort, Call It My Garden, heralding an important new voice among Texas tunesmiths. A two-time Juno Award winner from Winnipeg, Ruth Moody remains best known as a founding member of the Wailin' Jennys. As a solo artist, her songs bear a timeless nature belying her young age. Another Canadian, current Austinite Ray Bonneville twists the blues to his own imagination, drawing literary inspiration from Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O'Connor. An aristocrat among today's folk singers, Eliza Gilkyson has been with Red House since 2000, earning Grammy nominations along the way. Fervently political and universally adored, the longtime local releases The Nocturne Diaries this spring. Hardcore Austin honky-tonker Dale Watson just put out his best effort in years, El Rancho Azul, showcasing his deep-seated love for traditional country with great passion and humor. – Jim Caligiuri

Rosenberg Radio

Action Bronson

8pm, North Door

New York remains the cradle of hip-hop, but it's been a while since the city that birthed beats and rhymes felt like the city of the moment. Hot 97 DJ Peter Rosenberg says that's about to change. "I feel like more than any other year I can remember, there's really a shift happening in New York with young artists that have the chance to blow up," he predicts. The bulk of those artists are stacked here and highlight the Empire State right now. Action Bronson represents the biggest rapper on the bill, literally and figuratively. The former chef raps like the lovechild of Big Pun and Ghostface Killah, peppering his classic NY cadence with elaborate culinary metaphors. Backed by his Pro Era crew, 18-year-old Brooklyn phenom Joey Bada$$ taps into the golden era without sounding retro on last year's much-hyped 1999 mixtape. Other Brooklynites include Mr. MFN eXquire and up-and-coming crews the Underachievers and Flatbush Zombies, all of whom listened to more than a little Wu-Tang growing up. "It was a given that at a certain point, New York was going to stop trying to sound like the South," Rosenberg declares. – Thomas Fawcett

Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar/Dead Oceans

Foxygen

8pm, Red 7 & Red 7 Patio

Come early, stay late, and consider getting a SXXpress pass. Not since Bon Iver topped the bill in 2008 has this tri-label, two-stage showcase been this promising. Local opener Brazos should be a breakout act this year. Due in late May, Saltwater, the band's long-awaited follow-up to 2009's slept-on Phosphorescent Blues, offers a near masterpiece of boisterous indie pop – immediate, self-assured, poetic, and dressed in summer colors. Mika Miko sisters Jennifer and Jessie Clavin hit reset with Bleached, revving Californian surf-pop with the spirit of '77 on next month's Ride Your Heart. In fact, Suuns, Diana, Cayucas, Small Black, and Besnard Lakes all have new or upcoming albums, with the bruised AM gold of Night Beds' Country Sleep, in particular, garnering critical praise. Foxygen (10:55pm) does to early Stones on We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic what Panda Bear did to the Beach Boys with Person Pitch. Likewise, Phosphorescent (11:55pm) comes bearing his career best, Muchacho, a stunning work of complex Americana, while avant-indie rock stalwarts Akron/Family (12:35am) previews its seventh LP, Sub Verses. Unknown Mortal Orchestra closes with a psych-funk dance party. – Austin Powell

Western Vinyl

Balmorhea

9pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill

Austin's Western Vinyl earned national recognition as a launching pad for Dirty Projectors, Here We Go Magic, and Father John Misty's J. Tillman. The label's flagship act, Balmorhea, essentially bookends the evening. With last year's Stranger, the local ensemble traded the quiet reverie and delicate intricacy of past releases for a fierce immediacy that tied the shifting framework of Tortoise to the progressive streak of Robert Fripp. The band's cellist Aisha Burns opens with the intimate pop from her solo debut, Knife in the Midwater, due later this year. Composer David Wingo made his name with film scores for David Gordon Green, most recently scoring SXSW Film showcaser Prince Avalanche with Explosions in the Sky, but his work as Ola Podrida stands on its own accord, with visceral narratives that unfold at a near whisper. Think J Mascis at half the volume. Third LP Ghosts Go Blind arrives in late April. A similar tag could be applied to JBM, whose label premiere, last year's sleeper Stray Ashes, deserves a closer listen, as does the genre-defying debut by bedroom composer/rapper Lushlife, Plateau Vision. – Austin Powell

Beijing Underground

Carsick Cars

11pm, Soho Lounge

With the shuttering of infamous Beijing punk club D-22, China's nascent punk scene faces the same threats inherent in the country's unfettered development. Fortunately, nobody told Carsick Cars. Save for P.K. 14, few Chinese acts have come close to the success of trio Carsick Cars, led by charismatic frontman Zhang Shouwang, a student of Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, and other denizens of lower Manhattan. Shouwang's side project White+, an electronic duo that emphasizes a dreamier, less confrontational style, joins the bill. A third band, the Gar, a three-piece formed out of the ashes of the ill-fated outfit Hedgehog and sharing drummer Wang Xu with White+, trades in a postmodern sort of Chinese roots music, which it claims focuses on affairs of the heart. – Dan Oko

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