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SXSW Wednesday Picks & Sleepers

Wednesday night SXSW handicapping

Fri., March 18, 2011

All showcases subject to change

WEDNESDAY PICKS

Dale Watson

8pm, Continental Club He's been at it for more than 20 years, and yet Dale Watson remains a renegade, making traditional country music without compromise. With his latest, Carryin' On, Watson tried a more mature approach to songwriting. Recorded in Nashville using some of his favorite veteran session players, it lives up to his honky-tonk past with a newfound verve while remaining suitably timeless. – Jim Caligiuri

Skatenigs

8pm, Emo's Jr. Producer-vocalist Phil Owen's Skatenigs steered the industrial wheel as hard as their Chicago counterparts in Revolting Cocks, the two camps teaming up for the seminal Beers, Steers + Queers in 1990. With the local Skatenigs, Texas-based Owen – also a member of Snow Black and Choreboy – slam dunks the core with metal brutality and a sucker punch of punk. Masters of the genre. – Margaret Moser

The Echocentrics

8:50pm, Scoot Inn Spearheading local Latin outfits Brownout, Ocote Soul Sounds, and recent Grammy-winners Grupo Fantasma apparently wasn't enough for Adrian Quesada. The latest project from the Austin guitarist and composer is a stunning set of sun-drenched psychedelic soul with a twist of tropicalia, courtesy of Brazilian songstress Tita Lima (daughter of Os Mutantes bassist Arnaldo Baptista) and Argentine vocalist Natalia Clavier. – Thomas Fawcett

Skrew

9pm, Emo's Jr. Skatenigs' Phil Owen produced Skrew's first CD two decades ago, a roar that ground metal and industrial until they spewed sparks in tandem. The sevenpiece band halted nearly 10 years ago and now gears up for its first show since. Listen for songs from the upcoming Universal Immolation, proof that even a rusty Skrew feels as good as the first. – Margaret Moser

Jimmie Dale Gilmore & The Wronglers

9pm, Victorian Room at the Driskill Here's an unexpected collaboration that will surely shake up the folk music world. Gilmore, Austin's country music guru and a longtime Flatlander, joins the Wronglers, San Francisco's old-time music enthusiasts led by Warren Hellman of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. On debut Heirloom Music, the septet affectionately tackles songs from the likes of Charlie Poole, the Carter Family, and the Delmore Brothers. – Jim Caligiuri

Steve Arrington

9:30pm, Kiss & Fly Joining Ohio funk mob Slave in 1978, Steve Arrington propelled the boogie band to the top of the R&B charts with "Just a Touch of Love" and Snoop-sampled stalker anthem "Watching You." Los Angeles boogie ambassador Dâm Funk is hell-bent on resurrecting Arrington-era grooves, so he produced his forthcoming disc on Stones Throw. – Thomas Fawcett

Li'l Cap'n Travis

10pm, Momo's Since the release of starry Twilight on Sometimes Island in 2007, Austin's LCT has been primarily off the field. With a new album in the works, expect new amalgams of the Beach Boys, Flaming Lips, and George Jones. Wonder if Bill Murray pulls another Groundhog Day and hogs the group's stage front? – Jim Caligiuri

Foster & Lloyd

10pm, Saxon Pub The best news country music fans will hear this year: A new Foster & Lloyd album is on the way. After three influential discs in the late 1980s, Radney and Bill split in 1990, each enjoying a modicum of success as solo artists. Together they remain unique with a neo-traditional, almost Beatles-esque sound, realized on It's Already Tomorrow, due in late April. – Jim Caligiuri

Ted Leo

10pm, Swan Dive Last year's The Brutalist Bricks was Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' most exhilarating set of amped-up 21st century pub rock since 2003's Hearts of Oak. Leo – performing solo this time around – puts his English degree to good use with erudite, socially conscious lyrics replete with literary and historical references, but his words never get in the way of the message. – Greg Beets

Animals as Leaders

10pm, Habana Bar Backyard Ex-Reflux guitarist Tosin Abasi breaks open a whole new dimension with Animals as Leaders. It would be enough if the only thing his D.C.-based progressive metal trio did was slash and burn through complex instrumentals with lightning-fast technical precision that leaves your jaw on the floor, but Abasi's eight-string gee-wizardry is matched by the emotive compositional weight of his music. – Greg Beets

White Denim

11pm, Club de Ville White Denim added second guitarist Austin Jenkins and dropped a surprise full-length in October, Last Day of Summer, that's still available as a free download with an optional donation feature. While that album offered a concise take on slinky indie pop, expect the local soul powerhouse to shift gears on its fourth LP this summer courtesy of Downtown Records. (Also: Thu., 5pm, Dot Com Day Stage, Austin Convention Center) – Austin Powell

Chips for the Poor

11pm, Habana Bar These angular, gritty punk grifters slingshot the agit side of the 1980s like they never lived through 'em but totally dreamed they did. Their particular blend of art plunk is almost as ambitious, plus, they boast what we declare to be the greatest song title of this year's Festival: "C*ck, C*nt, P*nis, T*ny Blair, T*na Turner." – Kate X Messer

Nive Nielsen

11pm, St. David's Bethell Hall Simultaneously pulling off delicate, charming, and gutsy, Greenland's Nive Nielsen tapped into Norse indie magic on December's John Parish-produced Nive Sings. She's backed by the Deer Children, a polyphonic spree of ukuleles, Autoharps, guitars, bongos, and kazoos. (Also: Thu., 9pm, Lustre Pearl) – Chase Hoffberger

The Fresh & Onlys

11pm, the Windish Agency House @ ND The surfer shoegaze pop of San Francisco's Fresh & Onlys sifts through the sands of West Coast sounds that preceded it, melding subtle touches of everything from the Beach Boys and the Byrds to a raw punk edge. The quartet's third LP in two years, Play It Strange, unloaded last fall via In the Red. – Doug Freeman

Liam Finn

11pm, Red Eyed Fly He may be the son of Crowded House's Neil Finn, but Liam Finn blazes his own path. Like his father, the younger Finn has a natural knack for sunny melodies and compelling hooks. The New Zealander kicks off his first full-band tour of North America at SXSW in advance of a much-anticipated follow-up to wondrous 2008 release I'll Be Lightning. (Also: Thu., 12mid, Maggie Mae's) – Jim Caligiuri

Paula Nelson

11pm, Saxon Pub It'd be too easy for Paula Nelson to let her famous last name open doors for her, but the Nelson way decrees that even Willie pay his dues. This Nelson is no pushover; her tough songwriting on last year's Little City suggests she's got the soul of a Southern rock queen, a sound even Daddy hasn't tried. – Margaret Moser

Colin Gilmore

11pm, Velveeta Room With his 2010 disc Goodnight Lane, Colin Gilmore returned to the Austin music scene with a twangy jolt. The son of Jimmie Dale, Colin mixes a bit of his West Texan, Buddy Holly-influenced style with a love for the Clash into songs that are memorably breezy and filled with youthful vision. – Jim Caligiuri

When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth

11:35pm, Headhunters Local quintet WDRTE trimmed some of the fat off its lineup, but full-frontal assault is still the m.o. Last year's five-song 12-inch, Peaced (Monofonus Press), twisted metal into cacophonous drone missiles aimed right at your eardrums, and it should've won some sort of award for song titles ("You've Got Male," "Closet Athlete"). – Audra Schroeder

Flogging Molly

11:45pm, ACL Live at Moody Theater In their hometown of Los Angeles, Flogging Molly lights a fuse under traditional Irish music. Dublin-born bandleader Dave King fires up fiddle, mandolin, and accordion with seamless punk flair and rebel panache, proved once again on most recent disc Float. No Guinness required, but it doesn't hurt. – Margaret Moser

Cults

12mid, the Windish Agency House @ ND Cults seduced the pop world last summer with twinkling 7-inch charmer "Go Outside," released by Gorilla vs. Bear's recently minted Forest Family Records. Led by NYC-based couple Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion, the band splits the difference between twee and 1960s pop, and an official debut is due this year. (Also: Thu., 9pm, Central Presbyterian Church) – Doug Freeman

These United States

1am, TenOak Since their 2008 debut, pitting Jesse Elliott's lyrical contortions against the band's eclectic arrangements, These United States have solidified into a powerful Southern rock quintet. The Lexington, Ky., act sacrifices none of its original eccentricity on fourth LP What Lasts, which takes roots rock into cosmic corners. – Doug Freeman

The Dodos

1am, the Parish No Color, the latest Frenchkiss LP and fourth album from San Francisco folk-pop duo the Dodos, is something of a misnomer. Rather, singer-guitarist Meric Long has a way with bright melodies and candy hooks, as witnessed by ramblin' lead track "Black Night." As if that wasn't enticing enough, Neko Case sings on the album. Go ahead and swoon. – Audra Schroeder

Mexican Institute of Sound

1am, Elysium Austin's best-kept-secret festival, May Eastside blow-out Pachanga, last year imported as headliners these Mexican electro-rockers, who stole the show with DJs and dancers. Its corresponding Nacional Records earwig, Soy Sauce, digitizes traditional Latinate with woozy bueno. – Raoul Hernandez

Arson Anthem

1am Emo's Jr. A band so hardcore Philip Anselmo lets someone else handle vocals? Subtle as a diagnosis of Extreme Noise Terror, the crust punk of Arson Anthem is bone-deep and ripped bleeding by Eyehategod screamer Mike Williams. With longtime NOLA collaborators Crowbar in town, here's hoping there's also some stoner rock Down time this week. – Richard Whittaker


WEDNESDAY SLEEPERS

House of Songs

7:30pm, Ghost Room Part reunion, part experiment, part underwritten gig (the city of Austin sponsors this showcase), House of Songs brings together musicians from the United States and Denmark for a week of intensive writing and performance. The SXSW version expands to include Iceland's Lára Rúnars as well as Austin's Matt the Electrician. Expect the internationally unexpected. – Margaret Moser

Matthew & the Arrogant Sea

8pm, Barbarella With their 2008 debut, Family Family Family Meets the Magic Christian (Nova Posta Vinyl), these Dentonites wound pop orchestrations through mesmerizing contortions of early Animal Collective and Neutral Milk Hotel as Matthew Gray's lingering nasal lulls sank into a delicate dreamscape. The quintet's sophomore LP, You Can't Tame a Wild Rabbit, drops later this year. – Doug Freeman

Adam & Alma

9pm, Soho Lounge In 2009, a few months after they met, Stockholm-based Ellen Arkbro and Johan Graden started this experimental electronic act. Their debut EP, Back to the Sea, was released last March and features droning bass, swirling keys, and Arkbro's ethereal vocal flourishes. The duo recently received a STIM society fellowship to make their first album. – Melanie Haupt

The Fabulous Ginn Sisters

9pm, 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn You'd be forgiven for mispronouncing the Ginn Sisters' name as the alcohol rather than with a hard "G," as the local duo of Britani and Tiffani hit like a cold, hard shot. Road-honed rhythms and sisterly harmonies rip with a rockabilly fervor across last year's excellent third LP, You Can't Take a Bad Girl Home (Lonesome Day). Tough and true. – Doug Freeman

AWOLNATION

10pm, Rusty Spurs Aggressively grooved dance-punk that can just as easily cut screamo as it does soul or hip-hop, AWOLNATION's 2010 debut EP, Back From Earth, was released by Red Bull. Former Under the Influence of Giants frontman Aaron Bruno deploys his gritty vocal arsenal in a scorched earth campaign to "Burn It Down." (Also: Sat., 10:30pm, Stubb's) – Doug Freeman

The Eastern Sea

10pm, TenOak Following two promising EPs that set the Eastern Sea as one of Austin's most promising indie rock acts, the quartet finally preps its debut LP, Plague, for release this year. Behind the tender cut and subtle imagery of Matt Hines' songwriting, the band swims through light but ambitiously complex arrangements hearkening Death Cab and Broken Social Scene. – Doug Freeman

Gudrid Hansdóttir

10pm, Creekside at Hilton Garden Inn Last year saw Hansdóttir, a native of the Faroe Islands, visiting Austin twice: once for an artists' residency exchange and once to showcase at SXSW. She returns with a pastoral and dreamy third album, Beyond the Grey, in tow. – Melanie Haupt

Akina Adderley & the Vintage Playboys

10pm, Karma Lounge Local soul singer Akina Adderley needs not flaunt her sterling pedigree as a member of an esteemed jazz family – her voice is capable of doing that on its own. A righteous combination of old-school funkiness with a contemporary edge, Adderley & her Playboys blow through bluesy rock and jazz-tinged funk with style. – Margaret Moser

Lost Bayou Ramblers

10pm, Tap Room at Six It's no idle boast that the Lost Bayou Ramblers call themselves champions of Cajun music's cultural past. The Lafayette-based quintet weaves the traditional beauty of Louisiana's native music – some tunes hundreds of years old – with modern threads of rock. Et trois!Margaret Moser

Baskery

10pm, Speakeasy Kabaret If the Dixie Chicks were Swedish sisters appropriating Nashville-style country narratives, you'd have the Bondesson sisters, aka Baskery. The sibling trio, which used to perform as the Slaptones with their dad on drums, released its "banjopunk" debut, Fall Among Thieves (Veranda), in 2008 and spent the interim crafting a "killer live show." – Melanie Haupt

Yeti Lane

11pm, 512 Rooftop Armed with a moniker amalgamated from Amon Düül II and the Beatles, Yeti Lane's musical palette defies easy categorization. The Paris trio's 2009 Sonic Cathedral debut single, "Lonesome George," was a smooth slice of electronically enhanced indie-pop, but the duo's subsequent self-titled album reached further with extended forays into Teutonic space rock and New Zealand-flavored psychedelia. – Greg Beets

Darwin Deez

11pm, Latitude 30 Taking hipsterdom to absurd new heights will certainly earn Darwin Deez some haters. The NYC-based Darwin Smith bears a resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite and busts ludicrous choreographed dance routines onstage, but damn if he isn't writing insanely catchy indie-pop tunes. A new self-titled LP finds a spaced-out Deez "Up in the Clouds." – Thomas Fawcett

Warm Ghost

12mid, Soho Lounge Brooklyn singer-songwriter Paul Duncan takes on a new shape with Warm Ghost, his electronic project with former hardcore guitarist Oliver Chapoy. Their Uncut Diamond EP, just out on Partisan Records, merges organic and industrial, a chandelier edge cut with warm lines of synth and an affinity for 1980s mood music. – Audra Schroeder

Ava Luna

12mid, Malverde Often compared to the Dirty Projectors for the way this Brooklyn ensemble scripts melodies for a chorus line of post-punk doo-wop, the sevenpiece brainchild of reluctant star Carlos Hernandez recently opened for rising star Sharon Van Etten. One LP – 2009's 3rd Avenue Island – and last year's full-bodied Services EP give Ava Luna plenty to brag about on its own though. – Chase Hoffberger

Ellie Goulding

12mid, the Bat Bar Premiering at No. 1 on the UK album chart with her debut, Lights (Cherrytree), Ellie Goulding counts herself in the company of talented dames like Lily Allen and Amy Winehouse. On the folk side of more R&B-influenced Brit sisters KT Tunstall and Adele, she may not take long in hitting stateside with her rasp given recent raves in The New Yorker and Los Angeles Times. (Also: Thu., 11pm, Klub Krucial) – Kate X Messer

Volkova Sisters

12mid, the Hideout Sometimes one or two bands can't contain two people's ideas, so they form runoff bands, like how Okkervil River spawned Shearwater. That's how Dániel Sándor and Dalma Berger formed Volkova Sisters, a Budapest-based experimental quartet fusing electronic vibes with Autoharp. The band self-released its debut, Venus Robot, in September 2010. – Melanie Haupt

The Naked & Famous

12mid, the Phoenix Have you ever DJ'd the XX on vinyl and accidentally set the speed to 45 rpm? These young Kiwis sound like that: the brattier, faster, poppier, more playful kid brother/sister to that dos equis English indie phenom. Trust us, yourback seat will never seem the same. (Also: Fri., 1am, Maggie Mae's Rooftop) – Kate X Messer

Vetiver

1am, St. David's Historic Sanctuary Like an obscure early 1970s LP purchased on a whim from a garage sale, Vetiver's psych-tinged folk rock has a way of sneaking up on you. Bandleader Andy Cabic's best songs ("Everyday," "Rolling Sea") bottle the quotidian contentment of a perfect Sunday morning. The San Francisco quintet's follow-up to 2009's Tight Knit is due this summer. – Greg Beets

Uncle Bad Touch

1am, Spill It's not surprising that a band called Uncle Bad Touch is a bit scuzzy around the edges. Despite pop girding, the Montreal trio demonstrates more than a passing familiarity with late-1960s Brit-rock bombast on tracks like "I Wanna Love You." Kathryn McCaughey's vocal growl recalls Jennifer Herrema from Royal Trux, which ups the grit factor considerably. – Greg Beets

Dash Rip Rock

1am, Speakeasy Kabaret If awards were given for bands most loyal to SXSW, Dash Rip Rock would be in the Hall of Fame. The NOLA-based power trio never wavered from the wicked, full-throttle swamp rock that outgrew its frat-boy youth and morphed into blistering Louisiana cow-punk adulthood. Cult hit "Let's Go Smoke Some Pot" still gets a laugh. – Margaret Moser

Adrian Younge Sound Orchestra

1am, Scoot Inn Self-taught composer and part-time law professor Adrian Younge assembled the Sound Orchestra to record the score for brilliant 2009 blaxploitation homage Black Dynamite. The result was a deep soul masterpiece, meticulously crafted to bottle the movie-house magic of Curtis Mayfield and Willie Hutch. A forthcoming 2011 release on Wax Poetics will tell if Younge has more TNT in the tank. – Thomas Fawcett

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