Xenophobia?

International Acts at SXSW

Atari Teenage Riot

Feeling Boutros Boutros-Gali? Well, here's the world, or parts of it anyway, represented by 90-some-odd international acts playing South by Southwest; and this is your Baedecker. It's rife with reference points (other band names) to clue you in because, hey, you're an American, you know, the people who can't be bothered with learning how to spot their own country on a world atlas (hint: Canada borders us to the north) much less worry about other lands.

So why should you go see these bands? Because, in all likelihood, they ain't coming back. Some of them anyway; Lolita No. 18 and the Pugs have made the trek all the way from Tokyo again, but can you count on this? Probably not. Besides, where's your sense of adventure? Where's that devil-may-care spirit, that throw-caution-to-the-wind proclivity you used to treasure? The choice is yours, you can plant yourself at Emo's and stand next to the A&R types from L.A and N.Y. who are busy ignoring the bands, or you can see music from around the world, dammit.

And, what about the international visitors, don't you think they'd appreciate the attention? Groups you've never heard of from countries you're never going to visit play to full houses. They return home and rave in their local press about the great people in Austin, Texas. It's a P.R. bonanza for the city. Tourism booms. People come to town from all over the world. Oh, wait. Austin is already getting crowded. On second thought don't go see any of the bands lest you ruin this city.


WEDNESDAY

PURE (Vancouver, B.C.): Flaming Lips. Cracker. Smashing Pumpkins. Their album Generation Six-Pack is loaded with hooks o'plenty and a variety of other noises; surprising, really, that it ever came out, seeing as the band made complete assholes of themselves in front of the label reps from Mammoth and got signed anyway. Guess this type of music needs attitude. (Liberty Lunch, Midnight)

WHO NEEDS AMERICAN BANDS?
... AT MAGGIE MAE'S THRUSH HERMIT (Halifax, Nova Scotia): One press clipping calls the guys in Thrush Hermit humble, but they're quoted in another publication saying, "We're shit-hot players right now, and we can wail." Ego aside, their Elektra debut, Sweet Homewrecker, displays alternative grooves from when alternative was actually an alternative. (9pm)

GOUGE (London, U.K.): Once again, shame on England. This time for hoarding the goods -- sending over Elastica, and keeping Gouge under wraps. Gouge has all their grunge, but more stylistic range and better perspective ("don't drown/we love you"). (10pm)

COOPER (The Hague, Netherlands): Dutch version of the Doughboys. Cooper's got the same punk riffs and the same vocal harmonies. Well, maybe they've got a smattering of Dick Manitoba in the guitar and the vocals sound a tad more like Andy Partridge, and they do cover Blondie. Maybe it's not like the Doughboys at all. (11pm)

SUPERMODEL (Egham, U.K.): The Afgan Whigs crossed with an even lower-fi Slanted and Enchanted-era Pavement, only instead of (Greg Dulli's) pro-sexuality it's proletariat. (Midnight)

CANADA BORDERS US ON THE NORTH
... AT MAGGIE MAE'S WEST MARY JANE LAMOND (Halifax, Nova Scotia): In her press photo Lamond looks like the Cranberries' Dolores O'Riordan. That's where comparisons end. Even though Lamond sings in Gaelic, she's Canadian. And while the Irish popstress shoves her ideology down the listener's throat, who knows what Lamond is singing? It's in Gaelic. But it is gorgeous. (9pm)

MELANIE DOANE (Toronto, Ontario): Doane was Michelle Phillips (sang her vocal parts anyway) for the Mamas & Papas reunion/recreation tour from a few years back. Don't let that dissuade you, though. Doane is a multi-instrument talent (violin, mandolin, guitar) and with her luscious, breathy voice she could make VH-1 watching a blameless activity. (10pm)

DAMHNAIT DOYLE (St. John's, Newfoundland): Damhnait (pronounced: dav-ven-net) Doyle got signed after being overheard singing at work. She was working for a record distributor so it wasn't completely an astronomically improbable fluke, but it makes a nice story anyway. She's another young Canadian, but she isn't screaming obscenities. Doyle's more Jane Siberry or Sarah McLachlan. They're both Canadians, aren't they? (11pm)

RON SEXSMITH (Toronto, Ontario): When Sexsmith's Interscope debut came out almost two years ago it received universally near orgasmic press. His songs were simple yet courageous, and the production by Mitchell Froom (Elvis Costello, Los Lobos, Richard Thompson) was understated yet rich. What happened? Not much yet, but almost two years later Sexsmith's record is still lodged in my disc player. (Midnight)

GLUELEG (Toronto, Ontario): It may be more germane to give instruments instead of influences as references points here. Glueleg has a sax player, someone on Chapman stick -- that ten-stringed guitar-bass hybrid made famous by King Crimson's Tony Levin -- and a drummer, who does some metal scrapping (à la Einsturzende Neubauten). They've got some of those regular instruments, too. (1am)


THURSDAY

Sto Zvirat

WILLIAM TOPLEY (London, U.K): Topley's a singer-songwriter with a soul jones and a very distinctive voice -- like a Leonard Cohen after a healthy dose of vocal training. (Continental Club, 9pm)

STO ZVIRAT (Prague, Czech Republic): It's pronounced Stow Zvee-rhot and their first U.S release is called Druha Brada (it means Double Chin). The music? Czech ska, but Sto Zvirat must have spent its formative years rehearsing in Joe's Garage. (Ruta Maya, 10pm)

EXIT (Dublin, Ireland): Three brothers from Dublin (David, Judah, and Jon Merriman) and a couple of their friends make up Exit. Less than two years old, the pop/rock band is another in the long line of Next Big Things. (Maggie Mae's, 9pm)

LINDA MCRAE (Vancouver, B.C.): See, if you stop taking your Prozac and nurture just a tiny bit of your depression with whiskey, then you've got material. If you don't even out the highs and the lows, you can use them both in tiny little singer-songwriter (with a touch of country) vignettes. (Maggie Mae's West, 11pm)

UZ JSME DOMA (Prague, Czech Republic): Uz Jsme Doma (pronounced Oozh smah-DOM-a, and meaning "Now we're at home") cause a little genre shock. The Czech quintet, clad in surgical scrubs with little houses drawn on them (get it?), played a maddening, captivating set at SXSW last year that left the small crowd drooling. It's frenzied John Zorn deconstructionist saxophone melodies and meta-ska rhthyms played with the precision of Flap. Unbelievable stuff. (Ruta Maya, Midnight)

NIKKA COSTA (Sydney, Australia): At the age of eight, this young lady opened for the Police. Now at 23, Costa's an Alanis with soul and a different kind of angst. Instead of taking on some boy who dumped her for someone who won't give head during a movie, she goes after Jaques Chirac. The Black Crowes on a good night's rest back her up on her fifth and most recent, Butterfly Rocket -- no, not the actual Black Crowes, silly. (Bob Popular's Headliners Upstairs, 12:30am)

TREBLE CHARGER (Toronto, Ontario): The band's comparisons range from Teenage Fanclub to AC/DC to R.E.M; Treble Charger lists among its favorite indies fellow Canadian SXSW-ers the New Grand, Pluto, and Thrush Hermit (who are actually no longer indie). (Babe's, 1am)

THE HENRYS (Toronto, Ontario): That sound you hear coming from the north is actually the islands. It's called a kona and it's a rare Hawaiian slide guitar. No Don Ho though, the Henrys are more of a jazz quartet with a subtle David Lindley sound, or as kona man Rooke calls it, "roots improv Hawaiian groove music." Grow a goatee, wear a lei. (Elephant Room, 1am)

OASIS IS SHITE
... AT ATOMIC CAFE NIGHTCLUB

BABY CHAOS (Glasgow, Scotland): Baby Chaos is everything tiresome about music. They steal from everybody. They sound like everybody. They say the F-word a lot. They also overcome all of those handicaps. It may be what everyone else is playing -- pop-punk-rock with lots of melodies and stuff -- but it's done with a little more blistering intensity. (9pm)

COTTONMOUTH (London, U.K.): Snap. Crackle. Pop. Jangle jangle jangle jangle. Wait, hit the distortion box. That's better. Vocal harmonies. Short guitar lead coming up. Verse chorus. Verse chorus. Add an introspective line. "Sometimes too much knowledge is a curse." Another song? Okay, how 'bout something noisier this time? There's some dissonance for you. Ten bucks some critic raves and calls these Camden (England, not Jersey) lads the next something-or-other. (10pm)

SLOAN (Halifax, Nova Scotia): Sloan almost faded into oblivion after being crushed by major label expectations. Glowing reviews for their two DGC releases, Smeared and Twice Removed, were incongruous with the sales figures. Eventually the band broke up or took a hiatus or something. Although it's got an indie sound, last year's "reunion" album, One Chord to Another, is much bouncier than the heavy melody of Smeared. (11pm)

THE BOO RADLEYS (London, U.K.): If Oasis didn't work so hard at being pompous they could be the next Boo Radleys. Wait, maybe if the Boo Radleys spent some time shagging groupies and learning obnoxious self-promotion they could be the next Oasis. The London band's fifth album, C'mon Kids, is loaded with a harder-edged kind of Brit-stuff and isn't nearly as stolen -- I mean, as derivative as Oasis. (Midnight)

TIGER (London, U.K): This band's bound packet of press clippings is thicker than my Master's thesis (that's not a joke). Tiger plays ebullient D.I.Y. Brit-product with a constant guitar buzz. (1am)

Gus Gus

LAST TRAIN TO LONDON, EDMONTON,
AND SYDNEY... AT BOB POPULAR EMPIRION (Essex, U.K.): "Giving them drugs. Taking their lives away." So goes the vocal sample on Empirion's "Narcotic Influence," an apparent club smash. Brits with synths, sequencers, and other techno gizmos. Somebody give Adrian Zmed a call, I've got Dance Fever. (9pm)

BABY FOX (London, U.K.): This trio originally hooked up in the London warehouse scene where they were putting on shows of film loops. As musicians, it's total dub-filled trip-pop. Portishead and Primal Scream. Electric blues spliced into a spacey vibe with reggae syncopation underneath the mix. Girlfriend Christine Ann Leach has the sexy voice. Play the debut, A Normal Family, when your rave winds down and you're ready to chill. (10pm)

THE EGG (Oxford, U.K.): Hey, deejay! Give us a beat. Forget the bass. Don't need to liquefy our internal organs. We want the dance, but we also want the trance. That's it, rhythm with a bit of psychedelia. Nicely done. Ovum and out, babe. (11pm)

LEONARD, NANCI, AND GOOD MIKE...
AT BOB POPULAR'S HEADLINERS ROOM

DOUGLAS SEPTEMBER (Toronto, Ontario): September is a young singer-songwriter out in support of the "folk-poetry" on his debut record, Crows. A plethora of reviewers have likened his lyrical stylings to some run-of the-mill people. Maybe you've heard of them: Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen. (9pm)

CORI BREWSTER (Edmonton, Alberta): Canadian Cori Brewster should fit right into Central Texas. She's a self-described singer-songwriter and she's got a decidedly country flair. Brewster even covers Lone Stars Nanci Griffith and Guy Clark on her independently released CD, One More Mountain. (9:30pm)

JASON FEDDY (London, U.K.): David Gray and good Mike Scott come to mind listening to Jason Feddy's demos. (11:30pm)

YOU CAN'T HANDLE ATR,
BUT HOW 'BOUT THE PIXIES OR JUDYS...
AT THE ELECTRIC LOUNGE BEN LEE (Sydney, Australia): Simplistic but witty acoustical pop songs. Info is scarce, but Ben Lee's Australian and is also in a rock band called Noise Addict. He recorded this little gem of an album called Grandpaw Would in Chicago, featuring a bunch of people who only have first names, except Liz Phair who sings back-up on "Away With the Pixies." (10pm)

BIS (Glasgow, Scotland): Remember the Judys? Bis is a raunchier version of them with gradeschool go-go back up singers. There's some Julie Brown (the Earth Girls Are Easy one, not the Downtown one) in the female vocals and, with songs like "Kill Your Boyfriend" and "This Is Fake D.I.Y.," there's some of her lampoon in the attitude as well. (11pm)

ATARI TEENAGE RIOT (Berlin, Germany): You want Atari Teenage Riot? You can't handle Atari Teenage Riot. The Berlin trio is intense, nay, jackhammer, playing what's either digitized thrash or dance music for the criminally insane. ATR has all the subtlety of an Ayn Rand novel. Very Euro. Very Sprockets -- provided Dieter is a nihilistic cyber punk. Makes your double espresso seem like Kool-Aid. Oh yeah! (Midnight)

DIGITAL HARDCORE (Berlin, Germany): Featuring deejays from the aforementioned Atari Teenage Riot -- and perhaps a few guests -- you probably can't handle this either. (1am)

Spring Heel Jack

HEY HO! LET'S GO
... AT EMO'S & EMO'S JR. TENGOKU JACK (Yokohama, Japan): "Ah-so, Let's go! Ah-so, Let's go!" Okay, it's not entirely the Tengoku Jack Bop. The band has a bit of hardcore attitude, punk speed, glam metal pomp, and art-rock circumstance, but that first riff is all Ramones. (Emo's, 9pm)

FLUFFY (London, U.K.): Four glowing goddessettes schooled only in the essentials of punk -- the way it was, not the way it is. Front(wonder)woman Amanda Rootes paints vivid vignettes with "Color of Her Eyes" sexuality. Overdrive the guitar. Beat the shit out of your drums. Definitely not nice girls. (Emo's, 1am)

THE NEW GRAND (London, Ontario): Superchunk melodic punk with some occasional Weezeresque out-of-key vocals. These guys are a charmingly juvenile bunch of Canadians. Their ambitions? "Eventually we hope to have separate tour buses, really complicated riders, and an onstage rotisserie." Live long and Rock Star guys. (Emo's Jr., 9pm)

SHALLOW, NORTH DAKOTA (Hamilton, Ontario): Serenades for the apocalypse? Shallow's just a bunch of nice kids making cute little songs. You know, like the Melvins and Killdozer. Auto Body Crusher, the debut, is total AmRep fodder. (Emo's Jr., 10pm)

WORLD MUSIC CHALLENGE

... AT THE TEXAS UNION BALLROOM A FILETA (Corsica, France): If only somebody could've gotten some Corsican band whose music incorporates elements of European folk, Mediterranean rhythms, and even a little monastic chant in the vocal parts. Maybe a nine-piece outfit capable of elegantly blending all of those styles. Why, here they are. (9pm)

DUO ZIKR (St. Petersburg, Russia): This is for those of you who like a challenge. The duo of Olga Tkachenko and Igor Silin perform what is almost atonal, a-melodic vocal improvisation. The result is something very unique, which combines the "elements of freedom and formality to be found in everything from Asian sacred chant to contemporary free jazz." (10pm)

SHAI NO SHAI (Montpellier, France): Shaï No Shaï, a trio from the south of France, is centered around Olga Helm's vocals and consists of an acoustic guitar, violin, and bass. The ethnique, the mod, and the traditional clash in the music, and the content purports to be pretty heady. Then again, listening to Shaï No Shaï isn't nearly as burdensome as reading Sein und Zeit. (11pm)

YAT-KHA (Kyzyl, Tuva): Yat Kha draws its name from a Mongolian instrument. The four-piece from Tuva in southern Siberia uses both an indigenous singing style -- khoomei throat singing, which is very deep and guttural -- and instruments to produce other-worldy noises. On Yenishi Punk's closing track, "Kargyram," a 10-minute long a cappella number, throat signer Albert Kuvezin manipulates his voice to produces an unreal sound that's human buzzsaw and theremin. (Midnight)

NETHERWORLD MUSIC...
AT THE TROPICAL ISLE THE PRODIGAL SONS (Amsterdam, Netherlands): Now that Victoria Williams has become the Yoko Ono of the Twin Cities, you may have to go Dutch to get your fix. The Prodigal Sons' recent You Still Think is very Midwest for a bunch of guys from Amsterdam. (9pm)

MIZPAH (Nieuwegein, Netherlands): Mizpah is a Hebrew term which translates, more or less, as "may good fortune be with you wherever you are." The seven-piece Dutch band plays folk influenced rock that's drawn comparisons to the Walkabouts, the Levellers, and even Fairport Convention. (10pm)

BEESWAMP (Amsterdam, Netherlands): This is the Ugly Americans with a couple of females out front, oh, and they're from Amsterdam, not here in town. The album, Sweet Sticky Stuff (you should read the press kit, talk about taking the "bee" theme a little too far), was produced by Liam Sternberg, who worked with the Bangles. (11pm)

CORDS (Deventer, Netherlands): You'll begin to detect a trend coming from the Continent, and the Netherlands in particular: female singers. Cords have one too. Simone Holsbeek is her name and she's got some pretty fierce pipes on her. But even when Johnette Napolitano's evil twin fronts your band, if you really want to nail people between the eyes you better be as well schooled in the fundamentals of Tommy Iommi as you are in those of Bob Mould. (Midnight)

THE STRANGLERS (Bath, U.K): No press kit, no music. Where's my Trouser Press guide when I need it? No word on who's in the band these days or whether these seminal U.K. punkers still dwell in the dark recesses of their beloved dirges, but, hey, when did you ever think you'd get to see the Stranglers again? (1am)


FRIDAY

GUITAR WOLF (Tokyo, Japan): Japanese guitarist who loves American punk rock, but apparently isn't very good at playing it, which is fascinatingly inconsistent. Isn't the hallmark of punk that it's kind of shitty to begin with? Guitar Wolf has a recent Matador release, and the live show is supposed to be a scream, or howl as the case may be (okay, that was uncalled for). (Liberty Lunch, 8pm)

PLUTO (Toronto, Ontario): Why, it's the band from the chainstore! Canadian four-piece Pluto would be the reincarnation of the Buzzcocks if the Buzzcocks hadn't already reincarnated themselves. (Alamo Drafthouse, 9pm)

JPP (Kaustinen, Finland): Ya down with JPP? (Sorry, couldn't help it). Actually Finnish folk music, which this is, could be the genre antipode of hip-hop. At the risk of sounding like a Beavisonian moron, this is cool. The harmonies here are much more concordant than in traditional Celtic music, and there's something spellbinding about the tightly wound melodies of this Finnish-flavored Kronos Quartet. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm)

SUPERGRASS (Oxford, U.K): Of all the British bands to make some noise in the last few years, Supergrass is probably the least contrived. The band turns the whole sex drugs and rock & roll trip into an innocuous little indulgence. Given the elapsed time since the first record, Supergrass ought to be showcasing material off a follow up to I Should Coco. (Stubb's, 10pm)

TAKADJA (Longueuil, Quebec): Takadja's band members come from West African nations Senegal and Guinea, as well as the non-West African nation of Canada. The band's self-titled record won a JUNO in 1996 for best global album. Takadja's shows are as much visual as they are aural, consisting not only of intricate African melodies and beats but also vibrant and elaborate traditional dress and dance. (Speakeasy, 11pm)

BETTIE SERVERT (Amsterdam, Netherlands): Dutch popsters making a return trip as part of the Matador showcase. The band's third record, Dust Bunnies, hits the shelves in March just after SXSW. Singer Carol Van Dijk still makes copious use of that singing pattern where her voice makes large jumps in pitch and intensity between any given syllables. (Liberty Lunch, 11pm)

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW...
AT BOB POPULAR PERFUME TREE (Vancouver, B.C.): The sopranos in the Buddhist temple's choir get a drum machine and go dreaming. Get your ambient fix in a new way. (10pm)

SPRING HEEL JACK (London, U.K): Too polished and ambient for the London mainstream jungle scene, Spring Heel Jack loads up their breakbeats with jazz horns, symphonic harps, and decadent amounts of bass. The duo of Ashley Wales and John Coxan have also done some remix work with the likes of Everything But the Girl and Tortoise. (Midnight)

GUS GUS (Reykjavik, Iceland): See, this is the kind of press kit info that's useful: In Reykjavik the "sex is free and the natives drink like crazy." Call my travel agent. While I'm there, I'll check out GUS GUS (German for cous cous) -- all nine members. It's ambient, it's techno, it's melodic, it's on 4AD. More skinny on Iceland? "Busty blondes, the lowest crime rate in the world," and according to the Icelandic press clippings, "Sinna sem hafa pá scrstöku." Yes! (1am)

dEUS

INSOLENCE AS A SUB-GENRE...
AT THE ELECTRIC LOUNGE COAX (Kent, U.K.): You'd think with all the Brit-pop out there that you'd have identifiable sub-classes of it within the genre by now. No such luck. Then again, maybe in England they can't tell the difference between Son Volt and Marilyn Manson. Anyway Coax has a few more grating guitar riffs than the average group of lovely lads. (9pm)

CATATONIA (Cardiff, U.K.): Catatonia has earned a few Bjork comparisons, but singer Cerys Matthews never degenerates into unnatural, atonal squawking, and the band never strays too far from palatable pop. The Welsh band's single "You've Got a Lot to Answer For" is a deadringer for the Darling Buds' "Crystal Clear." Apparently the band is the source of controversy in its homeland for singing in English instead of Welsh. Matthews brushes off the criticism though, as she possesses the insolence of a young Chrissie Hynde, and, according to nearly every press clipping, a world-class ability to drink. Great combination. (10pm)

BLINKER THE STAR (Pembroke, Ontario): Blinker the Star's Jordon Zadorozny is the next Kurt Cobain. That's not an assertion of either the quality or power of his band. He's the man doing the stand-in duties behind the next Hole album. What about Blinker? It's got some Sonic Youth, some Cure, and yes, some Nirvana in it. It's an odd melange, but the band consistently pulls it off on its album A Bourgeois Kitten.
(Midnight)

I SAID, TO THE NORTH...
AT MAGGIE MAE'S PETER JEFFERIES (Taranaki, New Zealand): Is it really that VU, or is it that Jefferies' voice is so reminiscent of John Cale's? Jefferies, SXSW '97's lone Kiwi, who's made two records for Ajax and is now on Trance Syndicate imprint Emperor Jones, writes minimalist songs that are desolate and haunting, yet courageous and challenging. (9pm)

CRYBABY (Toronto, Ontario): We steal all of their hockey teams, so how do our neighbors to the north retaliate? They send us Shania Twain. If they give us Crybaby, however, we'll give 'em the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec Nordiques back. Singer Rae Billing has a slow, sinking voice and delivery that could put Toni Price and Kelly Willis out of work; the band makes a reference to its affinity for the Austin scene in just about every interview. No need to wait another year for Lucinda's next album when you can pick up Crybaby's debut, Paintings, today. (10pm)

UNIVERSAL HONEY (Toronto, Ontario): "We just write what we like and hope it does well," says Universal Honey singer Leslie Stanwyck. How delightfully unambitious. Nobody here is out to save the world, just make fat guitar hooks with a little élan, or maybe it's panache. Be careful, though, Stanwyk's voice could land you on Santa's naughty list. (11pm)

MATTHEW GOOD BAND (Vancouver, B.C.): There's a lot of Live and it's better than Better Than Ezra, but that's pretty much the territory in which this Canadian four-piece camps out.
(Midnight)

LOST & PROFOUND (Toronto, Ontario): The husband and wife duo of Terry Tompkins and Lisa Bordeaux features the latter's singing, which manages to combine the slash and burn of PJ Harvey with the textbook theatricality of Judy Garland (her two favorite singers). The pair's third release, Love's Sweet Messenger, blends murky folk with aggressive pop. (1am)

BEST REGGAE BAND EVER: THE CLASH...
AT SCHOLZ BEER GARTEN STERLING MOSS (London, U.K): Sterling Moss' raunchy but melodic music might have something to do with the band's being born in the pit that is the borough of Lewisham. Then again, it sounds more Seattle than English shithole. (9pm)

COMET GAIN (Oxford, U.K.): And I thought Americans were paranoid conspiracy theorists. So Sarah sings and it's a fun Sesame Street ditty (as if Big Bird would ever sing depresso-punk). Then, David sings and it's like the Clash covering those same Sesame Street ditties. "Say Yes! to International Socialism." (10pm)

BIM SHERMAN (London, U.K): For 15 years Bim Sherman was the man behind On-U Sound. Last summer he put out Miracle, one of the most inventive reggae albums in years. What many have called Jamaican blues is Sherman's attempt to inject some originality into reggae. The soothing beats and unbelievable voice get percussion help from Talvin Singh (Massive Attack). (1am)

JAPAN SHOULD COCCO...
AT TROPICAL ISLE HUSKING BEE (Yokohama, Japan): So which Minneapolis trio whose guitarist used to live in Austin does this band's name remind you of? I dü believe the similarity goes well beyond the name. (9pm)

COCCO (Okinawa, Japan): Cocco is a 20-year-old Okinawan, but you'd never guess that by listening to her sing. Well, you might guess it if you listen to one of the songs she sings in Japanese. Otherwise, she sounds deceptively mature and very "Western." Cocco's lyrics are rich with a very nurturing and emotional aesthetic, and while her music is very mainstream, it's impeccably produced. (10pm)

LOLITA NO. 18 (Tokyo, Japan): Hey, we all made the "thank yous" in the linear notes of Lolita No. 18's Sister Run Naked CD. They give a nod to the "Flamingo Cantina, Hole in the Wall, Maggie Mae's, KVRX," and "People in Austin Texas." That's us. There was quite a line for this Japanese pop-punk band at Maggie Mae's last year, so get there early. (11pm)

THE MAD CAPSULE MARKET'S (Tokyo, Japan): Remember when the Chili Peppers were good? Back 'round the Uplift Mofo Party Plan maybe? Take that, give it a little more in-yo-face guitar edge, and intensify exponentially. That's Tokyo's The Mad Capsule Market's. (Midnight)

PUGS (Tokyo, Japan): "If Zappa was genetically spliced with Bjork and hooked up to an LSD drip, it might sound like this." Theatrical avant-surf for skaters, metal heads, and side-show freaks (me). Pugs almost corners the originality market. (1am)


SATURDAY

DAYTONA (Vancouver, B.C.): The second album, Sustain, from Vancouver's Daytona is part Jane's Addiction and part My Bloody Valentine performed with the genial frenzy of the Supersuckers sans the trailer park image. The vocal pairing of Colin Cleaver and Jenny Lundgren pull off a better Perry Farrell than Farrell can pull off anymore. Not as fast as Earnhardt but just as much thunder. (Hole in the Wall, 9pm)

MASHA BIJLSMA BAND (Netherlands): This could be the most alternative band at SXSW this year. You don't get much further from the mainstream than scat singing. Bijlsma's debut record, Winds of Change, is full of standards like "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and Monk's "I Mean You," as well as original jazz compositions by her band members. (Elephant Room, 10pm)

THE MINSTRELS (Vancouver, B.C.): According to bassist George Christian, "Coming from where we come from [Quebec City], the only way to get out was to either play hockey, become a politician, or play in a band." I guess the guys were better at surf-lounge-abilly-a-go-go and British invasion harmonies than at slipping one through the five hole past the goalie. (Hole in the Wall, 10pm)

OH SUSANNA (Vancouver, B.C.): Susanna Ungerleider was once described as "Hank Williams Sr. with tits." Yeah, right. Who isn't Hank Williams these days? This time it may be true. Her songs have the unadulterated pain and the visceral purity that can turn spare country into something hauntingly beautiful. (Bob Popular, 10:30pm)

DRIVING BLIND (Montreal, Quebec): Two vocal forces at work here. Seal and Keb Mo'. It's AAA soul with just an occasional hint of gospel. Strange things afoot on the self-titled debut: a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Hypnotized," and, no kidding, a Rik Emmet sighting. (Cactus Cafe, 11pm)

THE SMUGGLERS (Vancouver, B.C.): Young Fresh Fellows with a little more garage punk. Presidents of the United States of America with a little more garage punk. The Smugglers' motto: "Don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle." The debut's lead off track: "To Serve, Protect and Entertain." (Emo's Jr., 11pm)

DIANCANDOR (Nyon, Switzerland): The Lunachicks at 78rpm with all sorts of neat little sonic twists in it like carousel melodies, Eddie Van Halen finger tapping, etc. Think of a Veruca Salt that actually learned to play its instruments before going on stage and without the star posturing either (maybe a little snarl instead). Is rocking out supposed to be this fun? (Tropical Isle, Midnight)

ROCHE (Dublin, Ireland): If you dug Jeff Buckley's Grace, you're going to dig singer-songwriter Roche, especially if you thought Grace needed a little more guitar punch. (Bob Popular's Headliner's Upstairs, 1am)

AGE OF ELECTRIC (Vancouver, B.C.): AOE is two sets of brothers. Siblings Ryan and Kurt Dahle are also two-thirds of Limblifter. AOE originally started out as a Top 40 cover band playing weddings and the like. Ah, to be young and dumb again. There are few traces of past indiscretions left in the band's sound, unless they were playing Zep's "How Many More Times" at the reception. (Tropical Isle, 1am)

GRATUITOUS PAUL HOGAN SLAM HERE...
AT MAGGIE MAE'S GLIDE (Sydney, Australia): Glide includes some less-than-flattering reviews in its press kit. Who promotes themselves with indifferent press? Eventually that may make these guys endearing. No antics, just good volatile pop. Singer William Arthur keeps mentioning an affinity for Buffalo Tom and it's evident on the band's CD, Disappear Here. (9pm)

REGURGITATOR (Brisbane, Australia): Here's the blatant allusion to The Player portion of the show: The Beastie Boys meet Urge Overkill, Urban Dance Squad meets Sergio Leone, Dag Nasty meets Liz Phair, the Butthole Surfers meet Mongo Jerry, Phish meets Rage Against the Machine. It's all that and more. (10pm)

DREAM POPPIES (Brisbane, Australia): "I think we're not just another guitar pop band... we combine two really different elements. One is quite a heavy guitar sound. And the other is the sweetest, sweetest vocals as only [singer and guitarist] Jo can sing them." That's Tracey Kirk's description of Australia's Dream Poppies. She can't be wrong. She's in the band. (11pm)

EVEN (Melbourne, Australia): Apparently, Even's debut, Less Is More, was one of the most anticipated releases around Melbourne recently. Influences? Let's see. There's a song called "Dear Morris" that begins with essentially an electrified "Dear Prudence" melody, then kicks in with the first lyric being, "It's a new day rising." You catch that? (Midnight)

RICAINE (Melbourne, Australia): Regarding the band's music, Ricaine's bio says "call it anything the hell you want, except punk." No need to be so hostile, but we'll call it Bitch Magnet's third album. Ricaine's offers lots of ennui; their latest is titled Regret Is an Inevitable Consequence of Life. Lots of ear bleeding stop-start frenzy. (1am)

IS ALL GOOD...
AT MAGGIE MAE'S WEST LA GUSANA CIEGA (Mexico City, Mexico): LGC is a Mexican trio that put out its first disc almost two years ago, and said this about it in rather eloquent English, "The CD is called Merlina and has 14 songs (is good!)." Can't think of any reason not to trust these guys and their spirited south-of-the-border pop (is good!). (9pm)

PLUM (Finland): Plum's song "Feed Me Judy" sounds like the X-Files theme with a dance beat and some bitchin' guitars. That's pretty much the story with this Finnish band: pop songs with groovy dance beats and the occasional shred. (10pm)

WARM JETS (London, U.K): Finally, an English band with ordinary people in it. No, their clothes aren't so deliberately fashionable or unfashionable that it becomes worth talking about in the British press. The music is not derivative, it's not engineered to be outlandish, it's a little spacey, but it's not grating. Wow, if the Warm Jets were any more regular, they would be down right fascinating. (11pm)

DEUS (Brussels, Belgium): Everything comes to mind, and everybody who's written on dEUS have used just about everybody to describe them. Mercury Rev with some Beach Boys and Beatles? Maybe. It's more outlandish occasionally, but sometimes all I hear is the chicka-chicka-chicka rhythms from all of those bands raised on the strum of the Velvets. You know, those bands you love like Luna and the Feelies. (Midnight)

ARNO (Brussels, Belgium): Remember that story about the first time Roger McGuinn heard Tom Petty's "American Girl" and he thought someone had stolen one of his songs? Wait 'til Tom Waits here's this. According to his publicists, Arno is "poised to take America by storm," and he "attracts women like honey." SXSW could be your first chance to experience "the lure and the mystery of Arno, the contemporary European rock hero." (1am)


[All showcases are subject to change, so please doublecheck all times, locations, and venues]

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