Acts Playing South by Southwest


Hell Below/Stars Above (Interscope)

It can't be mere coincidence that only a month after Hannibal comes out, so does the Toadies' long, long, long-awaited follow-up to Rubberneck. And Hell Below/Stars Above deserves to make as much money as the movie has. From the white-knuckle "Plane Crash" on down, it just doesn't quit. The band's creepily humorous bent hasn't gotten stale (more on "Jigsaw Girl" in a bit), and they've managed to ratchet up their bug-eyed sound a few notches too. "Push the Hand" is spine-jacking mutated blues, while "Motivational" and "Heel" are more ticking time bombs of spit-in-your-face punk rock. A hypnotically tense riff, teased by steel guitar, makes "Pressed Against the Sky" transfixing, and the surging "What We Have We Steal" has summer album-rock anthem written all over it. But Hell Below/Stars Above's pièce de résistance has to be "Jigsaw Girl." To the same simmering dynamics that made "Possum Kingdom" so huge, Todd Lewis croons the sickest valentine this side of Nacogdoches horror maestro Joe R. Landsale: "Give me your hand and I will hold it forever … in a box on my nightstand." The Dr. Lecters of rock are about to have the competition with fava beans and a nice Chianti. (Saturday, March 17, Stubb's, 11pm)


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