SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Thursday Picks

all showcases subject to change

LATIN ACADEMY OF RECORDING PRESENTS: ... three of the hottest regional Latino acts in veteran border pop mobsters La Mafia, newcomers Grupo Control, and chart-climbers Palomo and Costumbre. Slick sounds to go with all that "regional" cuisine you've been coating with salsa. (Town Lake Stage, 5-10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

BMI PRESENTS: This festival's BMI showcase may be its strongest in years, starting with veterans of L.A.'s Latin Alternative scene, Hijos Del Sol. If the hooks on Parmalee's five-song demo come across half as user-friendly live, the Greensboro, N.C., act will no doubt return next year in support of a major-label effort. Houston's Goneblind and their nü-metal sound is similarly radio-friendly, while Oklahoma's Huver and Atlanta's Butch Walker know a thing or two about major labels: The former includes three-quarters of the Nixons, while the latter's ex-Marvelous 3 frontman is on Arista, who'll release his Left of Self-Centered later this spring. As yet untitled, but near brilliant, is the upcoming debut from the Bees, a Nashville-based pop/roots outfit that's the brainchild of former T-Bone Burnett protégé Daniel Tashan. Like the rest of the bill, theirs is a can't-miss set. (Metro, 8pm-1am) -- Andy Langer

FILE 13/POLYVINYL SHOWCASE: Philadelphia has been birthing interesting acts of late, and the city's File 13 Records is there to scoop them up. Recent File 13 signee the 101 is actually from NYC, featuring Eric Ricther of the late Antarctica in a more straightforward pop style. The Three 4 Tens are from Philly, but you'd never know it from their high-energy British Invasion revivalist style. Wafting over to File 13 is Minnesota electro-jangle pop group Triangle, and apparently the Midwesterners got their revenge, as Danville, Ill.-based Polyvinyl Records scooped up Philly's AM/FM, whose Getting Into Sinking has garnered rave reviews for its Brian Wilson-style unorthodox pop genius. Philly-based Magnet magazine spotlighted hometown rock gods Burning Brides for their Fall of the Plastic Empire along with the Strokes and White Stripes as bands to watch for in 2001. Matt Pond PA is another ex-File 13er who signed to Polyvinyl for his upcoming The Green Fury CD, seething with his cello-adorned pieces of pretty pop. (BD Riley's, 8pm-1am) -- Michael Chamy

RIDDLIN' KIDS: Formerly the lawsuit-inducing Ritalin Kids, this Austin quartet is, by their own description, a straight-ahead pop-punk band. Hurry Up and Wait, on Columbia imprint Aware, is true to the band's live dynamism, which will hopefully include their redressing of R.E.M.'s "It's the End of the World as We Know It." (La Zona Rosa, 8pm) -- Michael Bertin

SING-SING: Here's a band with a pedigree, but without a U.S. record deal. Sing-Sing is Emma Anderson of Nineties Brit-poppers Lush, joined by lead singer Lisa O'Neill. Their debut, The Joy of Sing-Sing, is less dreamy than old Lush, less poppy than the late model, and driven by keyboards/sequencers more than strummed guitars. What remains is a slew of rich pop moments not unlike the UK's Black Box Recorder. (Buffalo Billiards, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

JOHN VANDERSLICE: Bay Arean John Vanderslice has just unleashed what looks to be his annual Barsuk release, The Life and Death of an American Fourtracker. This youngster is adept at telling stories that run the gamut from to full-on indie and everything in between. Horns, slide guitars, theremin, strings, goat hooves: It's all there, and the effect is nothing short of sheer genius. (Ritz Lounge, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

SECRETLY CANADIAN/JAGJAGUWAR: They're not really the same label, Secretly Canadian and Jagjaguwar, but both are based in Bloomington, Ind., share office space, and are solidly committed to their diverse stable of acts. Nad Navillus' JJ release, Show Your Face, is a spare and thoughtful acoustic effort that sounds like an indie take on Gordon Lightfoot if he were a Celtic-inspired fingerpicker. Bloomington's Early Day Miners make somber and gorgeous chamber rock on their stunning SC debut, Let Us Garlands Bring. Austin's Okkervil River, meanwhile, have their own new JJ release, Don't Fall in Love With Everyone You Meet, which fleshes out their tense folk into walls of soulful country sounds. When Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston get together, as on last year's JJ release Somewhat Humorous, the results are engrossing. Headliners Swearing at Motorists are surely the best thing to come out of Dayton, Ohio, since the Deal sisters skipped town. The duo's painfully honest homemade indie rock is quiet in an ominous way, and their follow-up to Number Seven Uptown, is due out later this year. (Ritz Lounge, 9pm-1am) -- Christopher Hess

GUY FORSYTH: Missouri-born Austin dweller Guy Forsyth uses his deep voice, guitar, and harmonica to color his many shades of blues, from Texas shuffle and Chicago shakedowns to country blues, recorded on Antone's Records releases Needle Gun, Can You Live Without, and 2000's Steak. One of River City's treasures. (Steamboat, 10pm) -- David Lynch

GRAND CHAMPEEN: Picture Soul Asylum after ...And the Horse They Rode in On (circa 1990) looking at two possible futures: One involves power ballads and MTV, the other more friggin' rock. Austin's Grand Champeen is what could have been had Dave Pirner et al. made a better choice. Their second local release, Battle Cry for Help, proves they did. (Gatsby's, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

BUKKA ALLEN: Terry Allen's keyboard-playing son Bukka has been making a name for himself as both a sideman (Robert Earl Keen, Joe Ely, Ian Moore, David Baerwald, his father) and as a songwriter and performer on his own. His latest project is Screen Door Music, an instrumental act that scored the soundtrack to the locally shot Grand Champion, which will premiere in town later this spring. (Ruta Maya, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

THE STRATFORD 4: This San Francisco quartet's My Bloody Valentine-inspired noise-pop jells on their recent Jetset set, The Revolt Against Tired Noises. While an all-female rhythm section and guitarist Jake Hosek combine for a venerable wall of sound, the real joy is frontman Chris Streng, who stands above the layered effects and covers plenty of ground lyrically. (Emo's, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE: Former Tripping Daisy vocalist Tim DeLaughter leads this Dallas-based symphonic pop ensemble through an aural affirmation that will warm even the most cynical heart. The 24-member collective's debut, The Beginning Stages Of... (Good), is a marvel in retro-innovation that brings Brian Wilson's Teenage Symphonies to God from the studio to the dance hall. (Stubb's, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

MAZARIN: Philadelphia's Quentin Stoltzfus used to be in drone-psyche favorites Azusa Plane, but now his falsetto rises over an indie pop terrain of folk, psychedelic, and electro trappings that instantly brings Yo La Tengo to mind. Last year's spinART debut, A Tall-Tale Storyline, delivered on the promise of his debut. (Buffalo Billiards, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

QUARASHI: It has to be a SXSW first: live-instrumented Icelandic hip-hop. Qaurashi aren't a can't-miss showcase just because they've come so far, however. The real reason is their forthcoming Columbia debut, Jinx, which sounds like they borrowed the keys to Paul's Boutique. (La Zona Rosa, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

KINKY: Dance en Español! Finally, someone has married the twin aural pleasures of south-of-the-border cumbia and Rock en Español to a bouncy techno beat. Five guys from Monterrey, Mexico, Kinky's self-titled Nettwerk debut brims with a heady mixture of Latin polyrhythms and electronic smarts. Now dance, you! (Element, 10:30pm) -- Marc Savlov

CHARLES CURTIS: La Monte Young, the father of modern minimalism, calls cellist Charles Curtis "the foremost interpreter of my music." Curtis' 2-CD boombox experiment, Ultra White Violet Light/Sleep, is a worthy epilogue to Young's theatre of the eternal drone, an oscillating envelope of sine waves, cello, guitar, and witty spoken word that's suitable for simultaneous playback on different stereos. (Elysium, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

LA HONDA: South London sounds like an unlikely place to find the smash-hit single/jingle for a new Tic Tac ad campaign, but then it's equally unlikely that some faceless megacorporation would choose a folky, VU-inspired foursome to be their spokesvoice. Singer Sarah Prentice's breathy-cool voice recalls everyone from Hope Sandoval to Joni Mitchell. (Maggie Mae's, 11pm) -- Marc Savlov

UNWRITTEN LAW: Although this SoCal outfit spent a decade cutting its teeth on gritty skatepunk, this year's pop-oriented Elva serves as a remarkable blast of maturity. While there's little doubt their live show still delivers a batch of straightforward punk thrills, it'll be interesting to see how they're adjusting to their newfound radio-readiness. (Back Room, 11pm) -- Andy Langer PATRICE PIKE: After disbanding Sister 7, Patrice Pike has wasted little time getting her Black Box Rebellion off the ground. Last year's Flat 13 EP served early notice of the project's singer-songwriter-leaning intent and spawned a single deemed KGSR-worthy in "Crazy." April's full-length, Fencing Under Fire, seems even more promising. (Hard Rock Cafe, 11pm) -- Andy LangerTHAD COCKRELL: Chapel Hill's Thad Cockrell turned a lot of heads with his 2001 debut, Stack of Dreams. His music possesses a traditional country feel, while No Depression called his voice "a wonder." High dry and lonesome, it cuts right through you. (Broken Spoke, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

THE DELPHINES: Expect plenty of chunky, occasionally punky, oh-so-modern blues-rock, courtesy of ex-Go-Go Kathy Valentines and former Bluebonnets vocalist Dominique Davila. The L.A.-based trio's latest, Cosmic Speed, hits the mark with songs that are as danceable as they are memorable. It's distaff rock as its best: hard, fast, and seductive. (Gatsby's, 11pm) -- Margaret Moser

CHOMSKY: The Eighties flashbacks might be a little less intense if one of the voices in Chomsky didn't sound so damn much like that guy from the Outfield. Truth is, the longer you listen the less you expect the band to step onstage wearing Devo radiation suits; Onward Quirky Soldiers, Chomsky's 2001 effort, has almost as much nifty Brit-pop tendencies as it does New Wavey retro leanings. (Iron Cactus, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE MENDOZA LINE: The name tempts fate, but maybe it's appropriately unassuming as the Athens-born, NYC-based Mendoza Line (baseball slang for a .200 batting average) doesn't pretend to be anything more than a simple pop outfit. A little lo-fi-ish, perhaps aiming to be something like the Elephant 6 collective, but that's overselling it. (Red Room, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

KEVIN SALEM: Returning to the scene after five years, New Yorker Kevin Salem released Ecstatic on SF's Future Farmer label late last year. An overlooked gem that glimmered and roared, proving the former Dumptruck guitarist to be an artist with a musical vision that's uncommonly satisfying. (Empanada Parlour, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

CAROLINE HERRING: One of 2001's best new local artists, Mississippi native and current Austinite Caroline Herring made a big splash last year with her debut recording, Twilight. A hearty combination of folk and bluegrass, her simple melodies and stories are put across with so much vitality, charm, and enthusiasm that they take on an energy that's truly distinctive and captivating. (Hard Rock Cafe, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

KNIEVEL: Sydneysiders Knievel are nearly eight, so they plan on releasing No One's Going to Understand in My Way, a collection of rarities to follow up their 2000 release, The Name Rings a Bell That Drowns Out Your Voice (Quietly Suburban), an indie masterpiece that set Australian reviewers on their ears, whispering allusions to Yo La Tengo. (Maggie Mae's, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

MAJOR STARS: Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar are psyche-rock staples of Cambridge, Mass. In Magic Hour, they played with the Galaxie 500 rhythm section of Damon & Naomi, and Major Stars' new Distant Effects recall Galaxie 500's harder edge in structure and mood, though Rogers' elongated solos serve as a launching pad into exotic Kosmische territory. (Elysium, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

ERIC JOHNSON: Never too obsessed with studio alchemy to miss SXSW, Austin's native guitar deity Eric Johnson is probably still pissed about having to remix the Ah Via Musicom DVD (since recalled), but he's gotta be pleased about his Alien Love Child getting a Grammy nod. Last year's Live and Beyond was the best new Johnson disc in years, and even if it's his only new genius in years. (Steamboat, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

PRESCOTT CURLYWOLF: Austin's P-Wolf is the antithesis of Yes. No, really. The latter is bogged down in long, indulgent, artistically bloated songs, while the former distills rock songs into their two-minute essence. Last year's Arkadelphia was the Austin quartet's fourth foray into multiple guitar riffgasms. (Gatsby's, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

RON SEXSMITH: Canadian singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith specializes in that moody, introspective folk-pop that the kids love so much these days. His latest album, 2001's Blue Boy (Cooking Vinyl) -- produced by none other than Steve Earle -- is more upbeat than we're used to, thanks perhaps to the Genie (Canada's Oscars) Sexsmith just won for "Love Is Free to Go (Where It Pleases)," from a film called The Art of Woo. (Buffalo Billiards, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

BURDEN BROTHERS: SXSW 2002 serves as the official live debut for this collaborative pairing of Horton Heat drummer Taz Bentley and former Toadies frontman Todd Lewis. Judging from the two songs available at, it's a good bet Toadies fans won't be disappointed.(Stubb's, midnight) -- Andy Langer

JENNY TOOMEY: Toomey's not just a musician, she's a musician-activist. She's also the former head of an indie label and even a music writer. The voice behind modestly successful Tsunami, Toomey's recent 2-CD set on Antidote had one disc labeled Nashville and the other Chicago. Both are filled with enough wit and melody to sustain the LP's 15 vignettes. (Red Room, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

BULLFROG FEATURING KID KOALA: Kid Koala, aka Eric San, is a vinyl scratcher who's opened for the likes of Medeski, Martin & Wood and Maceo Parker, and jammed onstage with Radiohead. In Bullfrog, a sixpiece originally called Publik Enema, Koala and five co-conspirators drive the crossroads of funk, jam, and groove. (Mercury, 12:30am) -- David Lynch

BLAZE: Austin's best no-nonsense jazz combo, Blaze is led by master drummer and Austin native Brannen Temple. Equally comfortable in funk and jazz, Temple has played with Janet Jackson, Eric Johnson, Stephen Bruton, Chaka Khan, MC Overlord, Christian McBride, and Roy Hargrove, to name a few. Blaze's debut made many local best-of lists, as did 2001's Say What Now? (Elephant Room, 12:45am) -- David Lynch

GFIRE: A fixture on the Austin trance scene since the early Nineties, DJ gFire started out spinning Goa and progressive trance to enthusiastic crowds at the notorious renegade raves back in the day, frequently augmenting the tracks with her own singing abilities. Goa's not a genre you hear much these days, but gFire crams her infrequent sets with psi-trance and the occasional drum 'n' bass fusillade. (Plush, 12:45am) -- Marc Savlov

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE & THE MELTING PARAISO U.F.O.: The U.F.O. stands for underground freakout. Acid Mothers Temple are the latest musicheads from Japan to break internationally, netting a recent cover story in The Wire. AMT and über-guitarist Kawabata Makoto are known for their obsession with drug-damaged Krautrock and cosmic psychedelia and the sweaty rock power of their live performances. (Elysium, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS: If Ronnie Van Zandt had been a punk instead of a Floridian, he would've been the DBT's Patterson Hood. It's all too fitting that the band's most recent outing, Southern Rock Opera, was based loosely on the rise and fall of Lynyrd Skynyrd. Far from hokey, the album re-establishes long lost credibility for southern rock and reunites volume with it's three-chord brethren. (Antone's, 1am) -- Michael BertinKNIFE IN THE WATER: Though Austin quintet Knife in the Water have kept a somewhat low profile lately, their SXSW showcase and a brand-new EP, Crosspross Bells, will prove effective steps out of the shadows. Their hazy and sedate take on roots music is informed and reverent, even while it dismantles the foundations of the country and rock that it fuses. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 1am) -- Christopher Hess

PALAXY TRACKS: They used to be Austin's best-kept secret, now they're Chicago's. Frontman Brandon Durham writes songs as personal and memorable as Nick Drake's, delivered with a distinctive voice equal parts Ian Curtis and Neal Halstead. Like Curtis' Joy Division, Palaxy Tracks' rhythm section extends the songs in all directions, as sharp slices of shoegazer waft in and out of the mix. (Gingerman, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

CENTRO-MATIC: Centro-matic's 2001 gem Distance and Clime is pretty lush for what's basically a rock album. Like many of indie rock's favorite sons -- Archers of Loaf, Lou Barlow, the Flaming Lips -- this Denton, Texas-based combo takes something near the fringe and brings it closer to the center. (Iron Cactus, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

EXPERIMENTAL AIRCRAFT: Between Rachel Staggs' vocal honey and guitarist T.J. O'Leary's bursts of pink noise, ExAir had the look of an Isn't Anything-era My Bloody Valentine on their Devil in the Woods debut. They've since kicked up the tempo and gone a bit Lush, but there's still plenty of dandy noise bursts and woozy rhythms lurking on their forthcoming second album. (Empanada Parlour Upstairs, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

THE SHINS: "Everybody loves the Shins. Everybody." So says their publicist at Sub Pop World Headquarters, and he's not kidding. The Albuquerque quartet's endearing, bent-tree pop debut from 2001, Oh Inverted World, subbed New Wave bounce for Weezer bombast. They're headlining Stubb's for a reason, and you don't have to wait for their June EP to be enlightened. (Stubb's, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

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