SXSW Picks & Sleepers

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HIP HOP MECCA PRESENTS: All you major-label types want to know where this dramatis personae of aspiring MCs is repping? Try the jersey shortcut. Hip Hop Humpday mainstays Bavu Blakes and Tee Double get Texas Longhorn sweats by default; fellow locals Arctectonics could be rocking 49er gear as they've been noticed by the Bay Area underground, and Ballistix might choose Dodger Blue in honor of their new deal with L.A.'s Flatland Entertainment. Portland's Oldominion praises the Lord in Blazer red and black, Minneapolis' Atmosphere could go T-Wolves blue or Viking purple & gold, and Atlanta's Micranots have a Brave choice red, white, and blue or Falcon black. The evening's DJ, Austin's Massive, could show up in the Cardinal red of his native St. Louis, but if everyone's got on FUBU, Enyce, or local line Asiatic, you're on your own. (Back Room, 8pm-1am) -- Christopher Gray

THE SIR FINKS: This Austin-based surf-rock combo plies its chosen genre with staunch attention to twangy, salt-sprayed authenticity. After being an instrumental trio for most of their career, the band added a second guitarist, vocals, and a bashing new drummer last year, and found themselves on the alt.rock side of the surfboard. (Hole in the Wall, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

BAUER: Formed by former Bettie Serveert drummer Berend Dubbe, Amsterdam's Bauer combines Burt Bacharach-style adult pop arrangements with the utility of a four-track mind. Together with vocalist Sonja van Hamel and an arsenal of vintage synthesizers, electric pianos, and samples, Dubbe has created a unique, retro-futuristic sound that has captured the Benelux imagination. (Red Eyed Fly, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

TIFT MERRITT: North Carolinian Tift Merritt has a startling voice that would allow her to tackle almost any style she wants to; No Depression has compared her to both Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris. Musically, her focus is the area where traditional country, rock & roll, and folk meet. She recently signed with Lucinda Williams' new Nashville imprint Lost Highway. (Austin Music Hall, 8pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

BOTTOM: True to their name, this crushing NYC trio's got Bottom like Jenny Lopez got butt. Big Bottom! With their Man's Ruin debut Feels So Good When You're Gone coming down the pike in May, this three-headed hydra has big balls too, since chicks -- Sina, Nila, and Clementine, in this case -- don't normally draw attention to their backsides. Betcha mine's in trouble now. (Emo's Jr., 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE PATTERN: S.F.'s the Pattern makes one miss Bay Area favorites Mensclub and their Seventies big-hair Camaro rock. The quartet's stomp-time single for Alternative Tentacles takes said mean machine outta the garage for a joyride down to Detroit Rock City. Nice ride, dude. (Room 710, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ÜNLOCO: Austin's metal scene mostly keeps to itself in the Back Room, but Ünloco are about to come roaring out into the great wide open with Healing. Focused and lethal, the quartet's Maverick debut throws a big bucket of water on the whole lot of namby-pamby X-types who reside in places like Linkin Park. It's clobberin' time! (The Metro, 8pm) -- Christopher Gray

SWITCHBLADE KITTENS: This L.A.-based punk quartet takes minimalism a step further by eschewing the standard guitar lineup for two basses. The Kittens' self-released EP, Hey Punk, Try Heroine(s), features angst-ridden, yet light-hearted fare such as "All Cheerleaders Die" and a swell cover of Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On." (Iron Cactus, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

HIP HOP MECCA ALSO PRESENTS: Two (or three) words: German hip-hop. One of the most talked-about trends in the music industry comes to SXSW in the form of performances by D-Flame (who's been called the "Will Smith of Germany" … ouch) and an hour of turntable schadenfreude from DJs Lalo, Mixwell, Stylewarz, and Mad. Jeru the Damaja associate Afu-RA and Philly's Most Wanted stick up for the Stars and Stripes. What's Deutsch for dope? (The Empire, 9pm-1am) -- Christopher Gray

BOBBY CONN: Bobby Conn is a Chicago artist signed to Thrill Jockey, but is about as far removed from that image as one gets; he delivers bizarre, melodromatic show tunes adorned with everything from sick disco synths to campy brass and strings. (Red Eyed Fly, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

BLUE NOISE BAND: This Austin avant-jazz quartet is adept at lulling listeners into cocktail-hour complacency before going off on unforeseen musical tangents. Their debut, Multi-Purpose (Aerosol), was one of '99's most compelling local releases. The band recently supplied music for the documentary, Buy One, Get Five Free: Texas Fireworks Stands, and their second album is due out this month. (Elephant Room, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

ULTRABABYFAT: These self-proclaimed Big Star/Bowie/Beatles fans take inspiration from their heroes of the past as well as current neighborhood pals the Rock*A*Teens. UBF's 1998 album Silver Tones Smile captured plenty of acclaim with its smart, sexy pop tones, and their forthcoming Eight Balls in Reverse (Orange Recordings) ups the infectious jangle quotient considerably. (Blind Pig Pub, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

ORIXA: Under a moniker that could very well be Spanish for "Rock en Español's next big thing," "reputation for stellar live show," or "San Francisco's Vallejo," this bilingual outfit offers up a self-proclaimed "Latin Ruckus" of rock, samba, hip-hop, reggae, funk, Afro-Cubano, ska, and hardcore on their latest release, 2012 e.d. (The Drink on 6th, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

THE SATYRS: A pair of cuts on Loverly Records' 2000 singles comp (covering those bygone years '97-'99) revealed Memphis' Satyrs as melancholy brooders similar to current U.K. stars Muse or Coldplay. Their showcase could well be the closest this SXSW comes to a séance for patron saint of gloom Jeff Buckley. (Opal Divine's Freehouse, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

KITTY GORDON: With a trio of similarly frustrated artists, ex-Borrowers Mark Addison and Nina Singh founded India Records last year, and only last month released Kitty Gordon's full-length debut Weather. It delivers superbly crafted melodies and hooks, while their live show has nicely gelled after a year of weekly India showcases. (Speakeasy, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

DQE: While their particular oligarchy never achieved the stature of say, the Ottomans or those naughty, decadent Romans, angsty Atlanta noise-poppers the Dairy Queen Empire held rein over the jangle-punk DIY cassette cult of the early Nineties. Lead singer Grace Braun was a student of Jad Fair way before she even knew who he was. (Buffalo Club, 9pm) -- Kate X Messer

B-MOVIE RATS: Ugly as they can manage, middle finger flying in the face of the world, L.A.'s B-Movie Rats make punk rock the good ol' nasty way -- loud, fast, and senseless. Hailing from the land of style over substance, this old-school outfit wallows in the haze of neither. (Emo's Jr., 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

OPERATOR GENERATOR: Send the eardrums packing, 'cuz this heavy-duty quartet will have them screaming in agony. If they sound familiar, it's because OG is the reincarnation of early Seventies Black Sabbath; check out "Arctic Quest" from their chilly Man's Ruin debut Polar Fleet. They also say things like "findeth" or "an orgy in Lucifer's barn." (Emo's, 9pm) -- David Lynch

Jeff Klein
Jeff Klein

IMPERIAL GOLDEN CROWN HARMONIZERS: The name implies a traditional gospel vocal group in the old quartet style, but this Austin vocal ensemble is more a collective of talented local musicians, including Gurf Morlix, who like to get together and sing. Since South Austin eatery Shaggy's closed, they take their mellifluously harmonized sound to stages all around Central Texas. (Scottish Rite Theater, 9pm) -- David Lynch

DOMINO KINGS: Springfield, Mo., trio the Domino Kings have been raising quite a ruckus with their debut Life & 20. Nothing fancy, their straight-ahead honky-tonk evoked Buck Owens and Marty Robbins. They never sound retro or overly clever -- a fine line to walk, yet one they do with style and unremitting energy. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

ALICE STUART: Northern Californian Alice Stuart began her career during the folk explosion of the early Sixties, and later worked with both Mississippi John Hurt and Frank Zappa. She reappeared a few years ago to once again display her ample guitar chops and robust vocals. Her latest, Crazy With the Blues, shows her to be an older version of Lucinda Williams and Bonnie Raitt. (Cactus Cafe, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JEFF KLEIN: One of Austin's rising stars, Jeff Klein is a young singer-songwriter with a serious, cynical soul. His new sophomore effort You'll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart on local indie label India is dark and moody, bristling with tension, yet possesses a melodic edge that draws the listener in and won't let go. (Pecan St. Ale House, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JASON TRACHTENBURG & HIS FAMILY SLIDESHOW PLAYERS: Trachtenburg's SXSW Web site entry says his seven-year-old daughter plays drums in his band. More likely you'll find ex-President of the United States of America Chris Ballew, who manned the traps on Trachtenburg's Revolutions Per Minute, a collection of infectious, sloppy pop songs about the disgruntled consumer and the all-powerful ginseng high. (Blind Pig Pub, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

DEWATO: For lack of a more succinct comparison, this Austin alt.rock act is best described by imagining Sixteen Deluxe fronted by Greg Dulli. In truth, they're manned by the eminently watchable Ryan Carter, nephew of local songwriter Bill Carter. Last year's India Records debut may have been titled Demonstration, but it ultimately sounds like easy money for a smart major-label A&R rep. (Speakeasy, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

99 POUNDS: After a few false starts, ex-Big Boy Chris Gates says he and frontwoman Lisa Loomis have finally found a DJ that can work within an atmospheric live band: Mike Smith. Gates categorizes this collaboration as "a blending of pre-goth and post-hip-hop influences." Portishead and Massive Attack comparisons also work. (The Limelight, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

DISENGAGE: Dripping with the gut-squeezingly tight metallic and melodic philosophical angst that can only come from the Rust Belt, Cleveland's Disengage has been honing their original, vocal-gilded hard rock for a handful of years. With echoes of Jane's Addiction and Rage Against the Machine, the quartet is much more melodic and satisfying than many others of the same loud breeding; Obsessions Become Phobias proves the point. (Emo's Jr., 10pm) -- David Lynch

THE WAISTCOATS: Wildebeest Records' Stark Raving Mod by the Waistcoats makes the vintage-store dandies of most other garage outfits shake in their Beatles boots. Think cavemen with Vox guitars and Brian Jones haircuts, pounding out a guttural take on mid-Sixties the Who and Kinks, and you're picturing these Dutchmen. It ain't pretty, but it sure does rock. (Hole in the Wall, 10pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

BIG FOOT CHESTER: If Austin is the Home of the Blues, these badasses are the People Under the Stairs. Crawling kingsnakes on the killing floor, BFC's LPs The Devil in Me and Tabernaclin' offer a safe distance -- get too close to Bill Anderson's guitar and Walter Daniels' harmonica and they'll slice you in half. (Hole in the Wall, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

THE CUTTHROATS 9: Former Unsane guitarist Chris Spencer is still refusing to attend anger-management class. Spencer's new Cutthroats 9 furthers Unsane's propensity for infernal, ultra-aggro blasts of guitar torture coupled with hateful, throat-searing lyrics that are screamed rather than sung. Their self-titled Man's Ruin debt makes great background noise for watching good pets go bad. (Emo's, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

CERBERUS SHOAL: Expect from this Temporary Residence collective a thick, shifty sound and an unpredictable attack, featuring any of the following along with the trad guitar-bass-drums: brass, strings, flutes, saws, oud, pan pipes, various foreign objects. Reports are they harness this into an enthralling and exhausting performance. (Ruta Maya, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

CALEB KLAUDER: Portland, Ore.'s Caleb Klauder has made a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest as a member of Calobo, a hippie-groove band that packs clubs up and down the coast and has sold 85,000 albums in the process. No trace of noodling on his solo debut Sings Out, 11 tracks of solid songwriting featuring traces of Neil Young and Steve Earle. (Empanada Parlour, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

KIM RICHEY: Kim Richey is one the few people who appeals to both big Nashville and the less hygenic Americana crowd. After a trio of underrated albums for Mercury proper, she's been inked to Lucinda Williams' imprint Lost Highway Records, where she joins Robert Earl Keen, Ryan Adams, and believe it or not, Billy Bob Thornton. (Austin Music Hall, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

KEVN KINNEY: Best known as the leader of Atlanta's Drivin' n' Cryin', Kevn Kinney's solo LPs reveal a versatile and compelling singer-songwriter. His most recent effort, The Flower and the Knife, is clearly his best, featuring a jaw-dropping reading of "I Shall Be Released" that could likely wind up this showcase's must-see moment. (Texas Union Theater, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

THE MORELLS: This Springfield, Mo., outfit was the consummate beer-drinkin' bar band back in the early Eighties. Flatlanders lucky enough to see 'em back in the day heard an irresistible, slightly goofy mix of country, Chuck Berry, and rockabilly (with producer Lou Whitney on bass). On the heels of their new self-titled release, it's a delight to see them back together. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

GHOTI HOOK: After years of offering witty, no-frills punk, this D.C. outfit's fourth set for Tooth & Nail, Two Years to Never, leans more towards straightforward alt.rock. Internet posts suggest longtime fans are divided over what's clearly their most mature and complex offering to date, yet few seem to be questioning the overall quality of their raucous, anything-goes live show. (Scholz Beer Garten, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

FUCK: Not the spit-spewing metal you might expect from a band with such a moniker, this Oakland combo instead pushes through country-inspired indie-rock at the pace of a tortoise on Xanax. Smells Like Records released their latest, Cupid's Cactus, this past Valentine's Day … oh, the subtle suggestion of it all. (Red Eyed Fly, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

VICTIM'S FAMILY: This happily blasphemous Sonoma County prog-punk outfit broke up in 1994 after a decade on the Econoline circuit and reunited in 1998. Together with new drummer David Gleza, original guitarist Ralph Spight and bassist Larry Boothroyd have been recording tracks for a new album to be released soon on Alternative Tentacles (preview tracks can be downloaded at MP3.com). This gig will be among their first in seven years. (Room 710, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

Cash Audio
Cash Audio

CHRIS SPECHT: Longtime house stalwart and core member of Austin's 626 Soul collective, Specht has become something of a local legend thanks to his grindingly sexy beats and penchant for appearing topless when you least expect it. Various self-released continuous mix tapes have sealed his rep as one of Austin's most notoriously naughty DJs. Hey, pal, get your clothes on! (Texture, 11:30pm) -- Marc Savlov

JAPANIC: Houston's Japanic blends slightly robotic Europop with a radioactive R&B energy and plenty of punk. Tex Kerschen is fond of singing from places other than the stage, and he and Margeaux Cigainero's sardonic dialogues give 2000's The Social Disease a vibe like the B-52's doing the movie version of Neuromancer. (Iron Cactus, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

Atombombpocketknife: This Chicago-based trio seems to have borrowed a page from My Bloody Valentine's book of tricks -- well, trick -- and that's to throw out a big fat swell of noise. ABPK, however, also back down into less-threatening moments of indie noodling. (The Living Room on 6th, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

SPYLAB: Scottish trip-trance outfit Spylab uses subtle arrangements to produce somewhat unsettling but eerily cool melodies. Their paranoid artsy/futuro mission suggests they were maybe fired from their day jobs at Echelon. One Spylab recent single, "Celluloid Hypnotic," will be featured in American Beauty scribe Alan Ball's upcoming HBO series, but don't expect Thomas Newman. (Soho Lounge, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

JUNKIE XL: This popular Dutch act, led by master programmer Tom Holkenborg and former Urban Dance Squad frontman Rude Boy, pulls together the fist-pumping fever pitch of hard rock with the unrelenting energy of hardcore techno. 1999's Big Sound of the Drags (Roadrunner) was chock-full of infectious grooves further inflamed by latent pop sensibility. How can you argue with a group who loops the New Bomb Turks? (The Limelight, midnight) -- Greg Beets

CASH AUDIO: This Chicago duo of drummer Scott Giampino and guitarist/singer John Humphry are all about ferocious, lo-fi blues-rock. The band hits hard with the tight interaction of their third Touch & Go full-length. Green Bullet, as well as their rivetingly loud live shows. The twosome looks to Zep and the Stones for inspiration, and are known to cover Hound Dog Taylor's ".44 Blues." (Blind Pig Pub, midnight) -- David Lynch

RIPTONES: Another roots rock band from Chicago? The Riptones are so relentless in their history, so fervent in their delivery, and thankfully, throw just enough surf-guitar curveball into the rockabilly twang that they keep things from getting stale. (Opal Divine's Freehouse, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

LOVE PSYCHEDELICO: The Japanese duo of Kumi and Naoki Sato mixes languages and styles to come off like a cross between outtakes from either the Valley Girl or Bachelor Party soundtracks -- i.e. cute, slightly New Wave, and harmless. Oh, and Scandinavian pop, not the kind that sounds like ABBA, but the kind that sounds like syrupy Euro takes on Jimmy Webb songs. (The Mercury, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

THE DRAGONS: Led by the planted foot of youngest Escovedo Mario, these guardians of the Junk Records lair are true believers of Motor City Stooge rock, SoCal style. Charismatically glam, these fire-breathers have talons. (Emo's, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE URINALS: Formed in a UCLA dorm in 1978, the Urinals penned goofball hymns like "Surfin' With the Shah" and "Ack Ack Ack Ack," and became torch wielders for the L.A. mutant minimalist punk scene before changing their name to 100 Flowers and breaking up in 1983. They reunited in 1996, just in time to be inducted into the Punk Rock Hall of Fame alongside other L.A. legends like X, the Weirdos, and the Adolescents. (Buffalo Club, midnight) -- Greg Beets

SUPLECS: Another volume generator from Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin imprint, Suplecs hail from New Orleans. The gumbo these boys stir is all Turbo Dog and Crescent City viperism, producing loud and long bayou blues-metal. Their new Wrestlin' With My Lady Friend, is Southern-fried rock, in the batter and bong senses of the word. (Emo's Jr., midnight) -- David Lynch

REX HOBART AND THE MISERY BOYS: Rex Hobart hails from Kansas City, spinning a bittersweet brand of traditional honky-tonk on his new Bloodshot disc Spectacular Sadness. (Broken Spoke, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

PHIL ROY: If you believe the firsthand accounts in Phil Roy's press material, his debut Grouchyfriendly has been moving people. Not as in "their asses," but as in "to tears." Okay, maybe those people need to get out a little more, but Roy's definitely got a strong knack for slinging emotional arrows pretty deep and true. (Pecan St. Ale House, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

DAVE WAKELING: Wakeling was a pivotal member of the English Beat and General Public, as well as having worked with the Specials. It's been a while since his solo album No Warning, but his Eighties ska days ought to give him some real cred here in Austin. (Rainbow Cattle Co., midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

SONNA: Featuring Austinite Chris Mackie, this Baltimore-based fivepiece creates a delicate, piano-adorned, mostly instrumental emotional landscape. They issued a split 7-inch with Paul Newman in 1999, and their proper debut is due in May on Temporary Residence. (Ruta Maya, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

LAURA CANTRELL: Laura Cantrell is a big influence on the country music scene in NYC, where she spins alt.country on WFMU's "Radio Thrift Shop." Now making her own brand of country, she's released Not the Tremblin' Kind on Diesel Only Records, blending acoustic and electric sounds with just the right amount of heart. (The Hideout, 1am) -- Jim Caligiuri

JEFF BLACK: Good luck finding a crack that Jeff Black can't slip through. For that reason, he could just as easily draw comparisons to Kevin Welch or James McMurtry as John Mellencamp and Jeff Buckley. Okay, maybe Buckley is a reach. Black's follow-up to debut Birmingham Road should be surfacing any time now. (Waterloo Brewing Co., 1am) -- Michael Bertin

GAS GIANTS: Former Gin Blossom Robin Wilson's Tempe-based pop band has survived the death of their e-commerce-based label, Atomic Pop. They managed to buy the rights back for '99's underrated From Beyond the Backburner, and will use SXSW to find a home for it and its nascent follow-up. They'll also unveil their Beatles-meets-Banana Splits alter ego the Poppin' Wheelies. (The Drink on 6th, 1am) -- Andy Langer

WESLEY WILLIS: One man, one vision. One synthesizer, one pre-programmed pattern, one tempo knob and pitch knob. That, in essence, is the simple brilliance of Wesley Willis, now a cult hero for the same sort of genius/madness blurring of Daniel Johnston -- with less musical ability, but more ass-whuppin' references. The recent release of Rush Hour on Alternative Tentacles, recorded in 1993, is less of the same, and may turn a few heads. All the way. (Room 710, 1am) -- Phil West

IDLEWILD: They're another impossibly young, melodically gifted band from the British Isles, but Idlewild are more Superchunk than Supergrass. The three Edinburgh lads' well-mannered Capitol debut Discourage also features a disarming reading of Bob Dylan's "When the Ship Comes In" with toy piano as lead instrument. (La Zona Rosa, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

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