SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Thursday Sleepers

BOXSTEP: The lush, orchestral pop of Pittsburgh-based Boxstep approaches grandiosity with a distinctly indie perspective. Their debut for Chicago indie Overcoat, The Faces All Look On, is a startling album, the midground between the passion of the Dirty Three and the complexity of Lambchop. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 8pm) -- Christopher Hess

RIVULETS: The idea that Duluth, Minnesota's Low has mined since I Could Live in Hope is that the space between notes is as important as the notes themselves. Fellow Duluthian Nathan Amundson has taken this approach on his sparse debut Rivulets, recorded at Alan Sparhawk's 20 Below studio and released on Low's Chair Kickers Union label. The result is a naked-beauty counterpoint to the naked sadness of Codeine and Songs:OHIA. (The Drink on 6th, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

EAST SIDE SUICIDES: Take some Chumps, some Reclusives, a Hard Feeling or two and a little Bulemics, marinate 'em in cheap beer and sell 'em loud amps. Whaddya get? A local, multisex fivepiece that does the Stooges/Dolls thing with a vengeance. They've only got demos still, but man, they do rock. (Beerland, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

GUNFIGHTER: This San Diego quartet used to be known as Molly McGuire, and released Lime on Epic in 1998, supported by tours with Tool, the Jesus Lizard, and Girls Against Boys. Their effort on Dallas' Idol Records, High Noon, produced by Ed Rose (Get Up Kids, Appleseed Cast), is a set of dual-fronted angular pop platters that sound better the more ragged and frenetic they get. (Iron Cactus, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

D.B. HARRIS: One of the upstarts on the Austin scene, singer-songwriter D.B. Harris has a knack for writing tunes that mix California country with Texas twang. His latest performances, opening for Dale Watson, have shown Harris to be an artist with lots of potential and obvious appeal. (Broken Spoke, 8pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

GELLER: Lush orchestration and multi-instrumentation -- stylophones and zithers, anyone? -- lend this Swedish duo a theatrical sound halfway between Depeche Mode and Ben Folds. Listenable to a fault, their self-produced disc Everybody Loves You concerns itself with inalienable questions of love and death. (Momo's, 8pm) -- Dan Oko

THE APPLICATORS: Formed in 1999, this Austin all-girl punk quartet delivers loud bursts of two-minute hate that retain just enough Ramonesy pop aspirations to keep things fun. Their debut, What's Your Excuse? was produced by former Circle Jerk Greg Hetson. "I Don't Bleed" and "Puke on You" have endeared the Applicators to punk rock mavens nationwide. (Hole in the Wall, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

THE VENUE: A Stockholm quintet that resides in the same garage as all those Nuggets Rhino revamped into a 4-CD box set. Big Faces to get one's Hollies off. Who? The Venue. (Maggie Mae's, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

LOS LONELY BOYS: The young Garza brothers, age 20-24, are straight outta San Angelo, bringing exciting onstage antics and good-time, conjunto-infused blues-rock with them. Local critics are chomping at the bit to hear a follow-up to their eponymous debut record. (Steamboat, 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt

MACAVITY: Dallas' newest buzz band Macavity has that youth-in-a-bottle sound lots of bands attempt these days, but not many do well. Their spunky, twin-vocal serenade has plenty of room to breathe, thanks to a trio of guitars that sparkle, chime, and occasionally converge in a Texas twister. Their debut, Falling Hard in the Key of E, is out on Dallas' superb Idol Records. (Iron Cactus, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

PRETTY GIRLS MAKE GRAVES: While PGMG features Derek Fudesco, formerly of the Murder City Devils, there's no gimmicky schlock here. It's just angry and frenetic punk that, at least when it comes to the vocal delivery of Andrea Zollo, sounds more South Central than their Pacific Northwest home. This isn't your father's punk rock. (Room 710, 9pm) -- Michael Bertin

SOVIET SPACE: There's not much in Fort Worth, Texas, but there are some good museums. It was a short-lived museum exhibit that gave this quartet its name, and now they're entertaining people with a rocket-fueled pop-punk sound. They're proper debut Whenever Is Wonderful was mastered by Alan Douchess (the Promise Ring, Jets to Brazil) and awaits the attention of indie nation. (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

THE MAYFLIES USA: If you're going to explore the lazy-day glory of Southern pop, it helps to have Let's Active leader Mitch Easter and ex-dB-er Chris Stamey playing the respective roles of engineer and producer. Chapel Hill's Mayflies USA did just that on 2000's The Pity List (Yep Roc), and the result was a masterful pastiche of pop that runs the stylistic gamut from Big Star to Superchunk. (Continental Club, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

RICO BELL: Former Mekon Rico Bell has called Bloodshot Records home since 1999's Dark Side of the Mersey. Look for his new release on the label by April. Accomplished on the accordion and guitar both, his country-rootsy songs demonstrate great storytelling talent and a keen eye for life's darker side, while keeping a sense of humor. (Gatsby's, 9pm) -- Michael Bertin

SXSW AND HIP HOP MECCA PRESENT: There are kids in the Austin hip-hop scene that have been creating and supporting since high school, and there are kids in the Austin hip-hop scene that are creating and supporting that are still in high school. From this, Austin soil has sprouted a crop of MCs and labels that have credible material and are no strangers to the hustle. The "Boy Wonder" Arson Optics, at 16 years old, has already completed his second album, Based on a True Story, in which he not only rhymed and produced, but also played host to Austin MC elders. The showcase continues with the rash archaic teachings of Arctectonics, then gets ransacked as Circular Records artists Emcee, Jade, and Dosastro combine under the solitary production of Gage Inc. to teach some hand-to-hand combat and Grey Market tactics. Also on the bill are Seattle's Onry Ozzborne and Oldominion. (The Vibe, 9 pm-2am) -- Christopher Coletti

BLACK SUN ENSEMBLE: The Black Sun Ensemble's Jesus Acedo is a desert-fried guitar visionary along the lines of Giant Sand's Howe Gelb and the Meat Puppets' Curt Kirkwood. On the Tucson band's Camera Obscura release from last year, Hymn of the Master, sax, sitar, and Eastern modal work backs Acedo as he alternates between emulating Dick Dale on peyote and the spasms of a dying gila monster. (Elysium, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

CAR STEREO WARS: Jason White and Matt Gillman really wanted to be here for last year's SXSW, but had to withdraw due to "financial commitments and exploding drummers." It's amazing the Melbourne, Australia-based pop-rockers even got together, given that White was in Sydney and Gillman in Melbourne when their debut EP was born in 2000. A tight, poppy gem, Project A's strength is the adorable "Mr. Suitman," a silly indictment of corporate greed. (Maggie Mae's, 10pm) -- Melanie Haupt

HOLLY GOLIGHTLY: Having spent four years with Billy Childish in Thee Headcoatees before her first solo release in 1995, Holly Golightly knows her way around a three-chord garage. 2001's Singles Round-Up (Damaged Goods) is chock-full of diverse tracks, including several covers ranging from Lee Hazlewood's "Sand" to Pavement's "Box Elder." (Emo's Jr., 10pm) -- Greg Beets

CLUMSY: Clumsy isn't from Minneapolis (they're from Dallas), but they sure rock like they are. Last year's Idol debut Center of Attention Deficit Disorder has all the sincere hooks and straight-ahead rock power of vintage Replacements and Soul Asylum. Like those bands in their prime, Clumsy's Marc Solomon belts out every word like it could be his last. (Iron Cactus, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

FIVER: Fiver's two albums, Eventually Something Cool Will Happen and Strings for Satellites, both have that understated simplicity that belies some sort of sonic complexity. Can kids from Modesto, Calif. really pull off a Radiohead redux? The short answer is Fiver sounds more like they're hanging out in shoegazer-ville than on planet Yorke. (Empanada Parlour, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

SPEEDBUGGY USA: L.A.'s Speedbuggy USA brandishes Gibson guitars and loud amps, but they throw in a generous amount of twang and drawl for a bracing hayseed-punk sound. They're a Headhunter Records band, their latest release being Round Up. Go see why they draw so well on the West Coast. (Hickory Street Bar & Grill, 10pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

ARLO: Sub Pop has been "back" for several years now, and these five L.A. boys help count the ways. Their XTC-meets-the Smithereens chirped Up High in the Night on their debut last year, and odds are June's follow-up, Stab the Unstoppable Hero will put up a fight. (Stubb's, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ALIEN CRIME SYNDICATE: Joe Reineke is still a smartass. The former Meice ('s frontman) now rawks like a Man, but he hasn't lost his indie-rock irony. "Lift up your hands if you like Ozzy or the Mötley Crüe," crescendos the leadoff track from ACS's third full-length, XL From Coast to Coast. Mega-blasting power pop rock from Seattle never sounded more ripe for the Men in Black metal tees. (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE EYELINERS: Three sisters from Albuquerque playing Thatcher punk with Happy Days élan. The band's 12-song debut, Sealed With a Kiss, was released on Lookout! Records late last year. Think L7 with Belinda Carlisle out front. Then think it's a little cooler than that. (Room 710, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE GREENHORNES: This Cincinnati fivepiece is often mentioned in the same breath as the White Stripes for being the vanguard of bluesy, mod rock, but with an added Midwestern-garage twist. Last year's self-titled Telstar CD, produced by former Afghan Whig John Curley, stars singer Craig Fox shredding his vocal with impassioned vocalese. (Emo's Jr., 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

PORNSTORE JANITOR: This Portland, Ore., fourpiece is a throwback to the heyday of skater bands with an attention span to match. With songs like "Q-Tip" (about getting tested for STDs) and "Fuck You" (a 30-second opus that outlines a few ways in which the title will be carried out) you'd be hard-pressed to misread the band as well. (Hole in the Wall, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

TOM HOUSE: Tom House is a poet who actually gets put in print. He also happens to write songs well. Having recorded for both Bloodshot and Checkered Past, his latest collection of über-rustic farm folk, Jesus Doesn't Live Here Anymore, came out last fall on Catamount Records. (The Hideout, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

JIM & JENNIE & THE PINETOPS: One of an exciting new crop of bluegrass bands, Jim & Jennie & the Pinetops play the high lonesome sound in a very traditional manner, adding a bit of their own youthful ideas to keep things interesting. The Pennsylvanians' next CD, One More in The Cabin, is set for release on their own label in May. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JEFF KLEIN: His first batch of notebook torn-outs was titled You'll Never Get to Heaven If You Break My Heart. His second, still looking for a home, was produced by Matthew Ryan. If that doesn't spell out late nights and cigarettes for you, then you don't know you're singer-songwriters. Austin's Jeff Klein does, as do Everybody Loves a Winner stand-ins Patty Griffin, Jon Dee Graham, and Matthew Ryan. (Ruta Maya, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ANNA FERMIN'S TRIGGER GOSPEL: Calling Chicago (and the Hideout Inn) their home, Anna Fermin brought producer Lloyd Maines in for their l999 disc, Things to Come. The result is country music that stacks up against fellow Chicago/Bloodshot denizens like Neko Case and Kelly Hogan. Fermin's voice can catapult from a sweet Dolly Parton trill to a sultry soul shout all in the length of one song. (Broken Spoke, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

AMERICAN STEEL: The American Steel responsible for last year's Jagged Thoughts ain't the same band as the one responsible for 1999's East Bay punk outing Rogue's March. Sure, it's the same band, but the former LP is the work of a vastly more confident group, and one willing to take chances. And they did it without adopting English accents. (Room 710, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

DAVE WILKINS: Because Australia's Dave Wilkins is the hired-gun guitarist in Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts, this could very well wind up the most popular SXSW showcase from someone you've never heard of. This veteran's forthcoming solo debut, Stealing Any Beauty, suggests a sturdy grasp on gritty, low-frills rock, à la Lenny Kravitz and the Black Crowes. (Mother Egan's, midnight) -- Andy Langer

GONG LI: Austin-bred hardcore with a deep gash of Scratch Acid. Their Blessed Be is more like a curse. (Back Room, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

JESSE MALIN: After mastering sleazy, no-frills punk while fronting the criminally overlooked D Generation, Jesse Malin recasts himself as singer-songwriter. A Ryan Adams-produced demo, featuring plenty of grizzled heartache and a wonderful duet with Melissa Auf Der Mar, has landed him in a well-deserved major-label bidding war. (Ruta Maya, midnight) -- Andy Langer

FRUIT: It's almost too much. This five-female Aussie outfit can go from Ani DiFranco folk to Broadway musical to borderline cacophony. It almost always starts with an acoustic guitar, but goes any number of ways from there. Three different writers and singers keep things that much less predictable. (Pecan St. Ale House, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

PEGLEGASUS: Easily making the "Most Prolific Yet Least Recognized" short list of Austin bands, Peglegasus delivers tight-fisted tunes with lots of crazy curves and allusions to tasteful sources such as the Minutemen and the Who. Last year's Waltzes was a wild instrumental ride through umpteen flora zones in under an hour. (The Gingerman, midnight) -- Greg Beets

SALLY CREWE & THE SUDDEN MOVES: All-around UK music scene MVP, Sally Crewe is recording an album of her own right here in Austin, Texas at Jim Eno (Spoon)'s studio. Word has it she'll be ably assisted by said Jim, along with a snappy young fellow some of you may have heard of named "Britt." Her debut EP will see release after the conference with a follow-up LP later in the year from label 12XU. (Melagio, midnight) -- Kate X Messer

BIG LEAVES: Save the Wales! It's a cause, dammit. At least it should be a cause to put Welsh music on the map. The Welsh have Tom Jones, John Cale, the Manic Street Preachers, Shirley Bassey, and critics' darlings Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. Now check out Big Leaves, whose brothers Wilson-like penchant for melody/harmony might make what the Beach Boys are to surf, these men from Cardiff are to er, rugby, or, uh, sheep. (Maggie Mae's, 1am) -- Kate X Messer

SOULHAT: Although 2000's Experiments on a Flat Plane went underhead, Soulhat remain one of Austin's most quirky and entertaining live acts. Even as Kevin McKinney, the stubborn survivor and undeniable soul of the Soulhat franchise readies his first solo album, Soulhat has rarely sounded as vital onstage as it has of late. (Steamboat, 1am) -- Andy Langer

THE WESTBURY SQUARES: A Houston quartet that formed from the remnants of other highly respected indie bands (the Jinkies, Rubbur), the Westbury Squares are now positioned as one of the most popular groups on the scene. Their debut EP, The New Sounds Of..., was very well received, as was their first full-length, The Westbury Squares (Fuzzgun, 2000). Expect new stuff soon. (Melagio, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

TED LEO: Former Chisel frontman Ted Leo has been continuing the trajectory of his former band since its late-Nineties breakup. By the time of its last LP, Set You Free, Chisel had begun to resemble early Joe Jackson more than any hardcore heroes. Now on Lookout!, Leo is doing a good latter day Billy Bragg -- still brash, still angry, but a bit more mature and sophisticated. (Room 710, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

QUINTRON AND MISS PUSSYCAT: Big Easy-based Mr. Quintron is a one-man band whose primary instrument is the organ, augmented with a mouth machine and the Drum Buddy, Quintron's own invention. Accompanying the John Waters-esque Quintron on maracas and vocals while providing the occasional puppet show is spousal unit Miss Pussycat, who dresses up in skintight kitty-cat togs and who will dress you down if you dare heckle. (Emo's Jr., 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

JEFF TROTT: If you don't recognize his name from Wire Train, you know at least three of his songwriting credits: "If It Makes You Happy," "Every Day Is a Winding Road," and "My Favorite Mistake." He's also produced Stevie Nicks and Jeremy Toback, while doing guitar chores on Tears for Fears, World Party, and Pete Droge tours. His Dig Up the Astroturf DVD, a skillful mix of folk-rock psychedelia, is created expressly for 5.1 surround sound. (Ruta Maya, 1am) -- Andy Langer

THE BLOODTHIRSTY LOVERS: While fellow Nineties lo-fi all-stars Guided by Voices has ascended into cult superstardom, the Grifters' memory has faded as they splinter into a growing number of side projects. Grifters (and Those Bastard Souls) singer/guitarist David Shouse returns with the Bloodthirsty Lovers, sensitive-yet-experimental, singer-songwriter electronica. (Red Room, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

RHYTHM OF BLACK LINES: Having turned from quartet into trio, Austin's Rhythm of Black Lines have lost nary a step nor a decibel. What they lost in Paul Newman's bass they gained in the increasing use of Clint Newsom's vocals. Ever grand and sober in their rock & roll, their complex instrumentals are making way for songs that are more like songs. (The Drink on 6th, 1am) -- Christopher Hess

PLEASURE FOREVER: The Strokes and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club only wish they were this eeeevil. Formerly the Slaves, Pleasure Forever is dedicated to keeping your indie rock dark and nihilistic. Last year's self-titled debut on Sub Pop was a brooding bacchanal exploring the art of the orgasm, with singer Andy Rothbard channeling David Bowie's deep, sultry vocals. Yum. (Rehab Lounge, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

BAD CHOPPER: CJ Ramone, aka CJ Ward, along with Mark & John Chadwick, formed a band called the Warm Jets in Long Island, N.Y., in June 2000. They released a single under that name, then added a second guitarist and changed their name to Bad Chopper. The guys are currently working on an album, a Japanese tour, and some work with Holly Golightly. (Hole In the Wall, 1am) -- Ken Lieck

The D4: Joey Ramone would be proud of these young Kiwis, because the D4 are carrying the fuzzy New York-punk torch for the Southern Hemisphere. These guys are surprisingly tight, given their straight-outta-the-garage sound, and they've got the support of well-established New Zealand label Flying Nun. Look for 6Twenty, while they're here, or risk paying import prices for a CD every punk should have. (Beerland, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

DK KENNEDYS: People, let me tell you 'bout the DK Kennedys, a band featuring three out of four former Dead Kennedys with Brandon Cruz from The Courtship of Eddie's Father and longtime L.A. punk act Dr. Know on vocals. Some unscrupulous promoters have sold this as a Dead Kennedys reunion -- it isn't. Dead Kennedys vocalist Jello Biafra has nothing to do with this, and who can blame him after the infamous "failure to promote" lawsuit filed by his former bandmates? (Back Room, 1am) -- Greg Beets

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