SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Friday Picks

LOCAL H: Singer-guitarist Scott Lucas and drummer Brian St. Clair have emerged from a four-year hibernation with Here Comes the Zoo (Palm), their first release since Pack Up the Cats on Island. Their Chicago hammerhead grunge is still defined by ecstatic highs and post-grunge lows, with the energy this duo generates onstage still the main attraction. (Town Lake Stage, 7pm) -- Melanie Haupt

VALLEJO: Transforming one of Austin's most popular live acts into an international radio phenomenon has been an understandably slow go, but Emilio Estefan's Crescent Moon label is patient; they recently green-lighted the band's second major-label set, the follow-up to 2000's promising Into the New. (Town Lake Stage, 8pm) -- Andy Langer

LATINO ROCK ALLIANCE PRESENTS: Another SXSW Rock en Español showcase, another Grammy fest. Two Latin statuette vets here, Cafe Tacuba guitarist Joselo, who debuts his sweet, scratching Oso, and Sindicato Argentino, who bring el hip-hop. Also aboard is the swaggering hard rock hip-hop of Chile's Chancho en Piedra, similar in sonido to last year's fest faves Genitallica, Monterrey's comic-book-loving answer to the Banana Splits. Closing out is the big-band horn blast of Austin headliners Grupo Fantasma, who prep late-night ravers for Sao Paulo's DJ Tarek and Control Machete's DJ Toño. Another blowout en Español. (The Vibe, 8pm-1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

RASPUTINA: Like characters escaped from a Dame Darcy comic, Brooklyn's trio of cello-playing frails, led by the sweet and wavery-voiced Melora Creager, will seduce you into a world of tattered petticoats, Transylvanian concubines, and the ancient methods of leechwives. Looking to get drunk on music? Rasputina's brand of absinthe makes our hearts grow fonder. (Elysium, 8pm) -- Wayne Alan Brenner

ROBERT BRADLEY'S BLACKWATER SURPRISE: RBBS is part R&B, part gospel, part soul, part lazy funk, and part straight-up rock & roll; but it's Robert Bradley's thick, slurry Otis Redding voice that lifts the band beyond the ordinary. Bradley was actually a busker in Detroit for years and years before being found by the Blackwater Surprise. The band's latest, New Ground, follows up the critically well-received Time to Discover. (Stubb's, 8pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE CONVERTERS: This ain't your Republican National Convention brand of blues being plied here. Nope, the Converters aim a bit lower on the anatomy with their loud, gritty, $1 Schlitz night style. Having built a buzz through their Monday night residency at Austin pizza joint the Parlor, the local quartet released their You Got 'Em debut on Voodoo Pie to widespread River City acclaim late last year. (Room 710, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

THE MOLDY PEACHES: Equally noted for their high-profile tour with the Strokes and the genuinely anthemic "Who's Got the Crack?," the Moldy Peaches duo of Adam Green and Kimya Dawson deliver beautifully divisive rock-as-performance-art. After all, how could kitschy lo-fi from a guy in a Peter Pan costume and a woman in a bunny suit add up to anything other than a love 'em or hate 'em affair? (Mercury, 8pm) -- Andy Langer

YEAH YEAH YEAHS: Pounding through undulating punk grooves with guitar, drums, and no bass, NYC's Yeah Yeah Yeahs draw comparisons to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the White Stripes, but neither of them has an ultra-sassy, coo-and-slap singer like Karen O. Still cutting a full-length, the YYY's five-song EP from last year garnered an inordinate amount of buzz from the pundits of Next Big Thingery. (La Zona Rosa, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

OXBOW: This S.F. troupe plays like its practice space is a rubber room with shit-stained walls. Vocalist Eugene Robinson exorcises himself of obscene prophecies as the band careens along in a Birthday Party/Today Is the Day-style stupor. Oxbow has worked with a wide array of avant-rock fixtures such as Lydia Lunch and Marianne Faithfull, and their new CD, An Evil Heat (Neurot) will turn your brain to pus. (Emo's Jr., 9pm) -- Greg Beets

CALVIN JOHNSON: Indie rock titan Calvin Johnson somehow finds the time to play in three bands (Beat Happening, Halo Benders, Dub Narcotic Sound System) in addition to running the seminal Olympia, Wash. label K Records. Then again, what's the point of starting a record label if you're not putting out something you're really into? (The Hideout, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

BARE JR.: Last year, Nashville's Bare Jr. were casualties of Virgin's internal drama. Lost in the shuffle was Brainwasher, an infectious sophomore LP frontman Bobby Bare Jr. subtitled "more songs about girls that don't like me." Fans of 1998's Boo-Tay may have been surprised by how the country leanings became Replacements-style garage-rock, but the band's albums have finally caught up to the recklessness and aggressiveness of their live show. (Stubb's, 9pm) -- Andy Langer

PAUL BURCH & THE WPA BALLCLUB: Respected for both his recorded output and reverent treatment of Jimmie Rodgers-style folk/country/western music, Nashvillian Burch is also the vibes player for Lambchop. With WPA Ballclub bandmates Paul Niehaus on steel and George Bradfute on guitars, Burch & Co. look back for inspiration while playing in today's milieu. (Continental Club, 9pm) -- David Lynch

ROGER WALLACE: One of the purest voices in country music today, Austin's Roger Wallace raised the bar with his 2001 release That Kind of Lonely, a collection of heartbreak songs and country soul that possessed a remarkable amount of charm and passion. Wallace is currently in the studio and planning to have new music out by summer. (Antone's, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

SHANNON WRIGHT: Is it the knife edge in her voice, her metaphorically forked tongue, or her edgy chord progressions that has pushed Shannon Wright to the forefront of indie rock sirens? If her superb Quarterstick outing Dyed in the Wool doesn't hold the answers, maybe her dynamic stage presence will. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

THE WEBB BROTHERS: Only recently, with Rufus Wainwright and Jakob Dylan, has the songwriter pedigree begun to translate. Add Christiaan and Justin Webb to that list. Their Mews 5/Atlantic debut, 2000's Maroon, was purple pop, a rich vintage of Fastball, Elvis Costello, and Fountains of Wayne. A certain Wichita Lineman musta been mighty proud. (The Drink on Sixth, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

KISSINGER: With Kissinger's cutting melodies and arena-ready rhythms, it's hard to get one's head around the fact that frontman Chopper once served a term (sentence?) in local bland-meisters Vertical Horizon. As the bastard sons of Joey Santiago and Dave Davies, Kissinger's got too much insouciant spirit and strut to bother paying for past sins. (District Bar & Grill, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

MASON JENNINGS: A phenomenon in his hometown of Minneapolis, Mason Jennings sold 30,000 copies of his first two discs on his own and is set to release a third, Century Spring, at the end of March. The New York Times: "We've met the new Dave Matthews, and he is Mason Jennings." (Pecan St. Ale House, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

MARAH: These Philly kids' SXSW 98 set helped launch them on a path that eventually landed them in front of Steve Earle, who helmed the band's 2000 quasi-breakout LP, Kids in Philly. Two years later, the follow-up, Float Away With the Friday Night Gods is slated for a spring release with the brothers Bienlanko still hooking listeners up with crap-free Philly rock & roll. (Stubb's, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

STARSAILOR: Is that a Tim Buckley reference I hear? Named for one of the late songsmiths finer tunes, these UK lads seem unfazed by the ever-fickle British music press having already tagged them with the "Brightest New Hope" award. Their emotive lyrics and soaring guitars are likely to break them stateside by the time you read this, just don't call them "the next Oasis," please. (Austin Music Hall, 10pm) -- Marc Savlov

PINETOP SEVEN: Despite the moniker, this Chicago collective has 17 current/former members. Someone's gotta play all those marimbas, vibraphones, keen-o-tones, automandolins, reeds, loops, metal pipes, pump organs, found percussion, melodicas, and spoons. They've recently toured with Will Oldham and Stephen Malkmus, and will open for Nick Cave next month. Their newest, Lest We Forget, is a place where Dock Boggs and Angelo Badalamenti hang out. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 10pm) -- David Lynch

THE MOONEY SUZUKI: Initially sponsored by garage core mavens Estrus Records, NYC's Mooney Suzuki have tempered their punk blues with tuneful Sixties post-soul on their new Gammon Records full-length, Electric Sweat. No doubt their balls-out live shows remain just that. (Emo's, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

DEAD LOW TIDE: From the ashes of two recently defunct Northwest staples comes Dead Low Tide, a quartet whose only goal is to piss in your Starbucks. Murder City Devils singer Spencer Moody still has every ounce of his Falling Down-style angry fatalism, while bassist Mike Kunka (godheadSilo, Enemymine) unleashes a whole new level of brute rock power. (Hard Rock Cafe, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

GIRLS AGAINST BOYS: From the same DC scene that gave us Fugazi, GVSB's bottom-heavy alt-rock has gone mostly missing since their messy major-label debut, 1998's Freak*on*ica on Geffen. Jade Tree Records sponsors their sixth full-length album this May, produced by old friend Ted Niceley, so let's hope the time off has restored the old GVSB we gritted our teeth to. (La Zona Rosa, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

THE SECONDS: Hooray for snotty post-punk with punchy boys and screechy girls! This Noo Yawk trio, comprising former members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the Strap-Ons, released their debut, Y, on 5RC/Kill Rock Stars in October and are winning fans by the minute at NYC lesbian bar Meow Mix with their cover of Richard Hell's "Love Comes in Spurts." (Beerland, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

XPLODING PLASTIX: Someone was going to lift that Warhol/Velvets moniker sooner or later. It's fitting for this Norway crew whose turns of the table revel in Sixties European soundtrack lushness and spy-theme intrigue, not unlike that of pop masters the Propellerheads. Their debut, Amateur Girlfriends Go Proskirt Agents, was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy. (Le Privilege, 11pm) -- Kate X Messer

ANDREW BIRD'S BOWL OF FIRE: Chicagoan and sometime Squirrel Nut Zipper Andrew Bird was raised on classical music and pre-WWII folk styles, these influences shining clear in 1998's Thrills and 1999's Oh! The Grandeur. Thanks to constant touring, the singer/violinist's newest, The Swimming Hour, incorporates overdubbing, amped guitar and sonic engineering. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 11pm) -- David Lynch

ELIZA GILKYSON: Hard Times in Babylon, her acclaimed 2000 release, re-established Austinite Eliza Gilkyson's career as a songstress and showed her, once again, to be an artist with formidable talents. Red House Records is set to release Lost & Found April 9, another collection of songs from a folk artist whose work can be both feisty and magical. (Mother Egan's, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

GOUDIE: Austin's Goudie were recently named one of Alternative Press' "100 Bands You Should Know About in 2002." After parting ways with Lars Ulrich's now-defunct Elektra imprint, they've rebounded with indie India Records' Effects of Madness. While frontman Johnny Goudie has long been one of the town's most charismatic frontman, only now does he seem comfortable enough to make it sound so easy on album, too. (District Bar & Grill, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

FLYING LUTTENBACHERS: Death jazz. Spazzcore. Sonic nihilism. Whatever it is, it's skronky, abrasive, and often fast as speed metal. The Flying Luttenbachers are definitely not amateurs though; former members include maestros Hal Russell, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Ken Vandermark. Drummer and ringleader Weasel Walter is a member of Chicago's renowned AACM, which you'd never guess based on his absurd onstage getup. (Emo's Jr., 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

NEIL FINN: Since Split Enz split and Crowded House emptied out, it's time for Neil Finn to make a third assault on the charts. My guess is that Finn called his new live disc 7 Worlds Collide in honor of the many different versions there have been of the aforementioned New Zealand pop groups. Expect a delightful career retrospective; wonder if we can expect anything from his soundtrack to that much-beloved Cane Toads documentary! (Austin Music Hall, 11pm) -- Ken Lieck

DAVID BRIDIE: Take the social conscience of Midnight Oil and the tenderness of Neil Finn, and you've got Melbournian singer-songwriter David Bridie. Bridie logged 15-plus years with now-defunct world-music outfit Not Drowning, Waving and My Friend the Chocolate Cake, the artsy chamber-pop side project that lives on today. Bridie's first solo album, Act of Free Choice, was released in Australia in 2000, but only just now in the U.S. and Canada. (Austin Music Hall, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

ADULT RODEO: Juicy beats and a hefty groove meet sharp, abstruse lyrics and a twisted-squinty perspective in the music of Austin quartet Adult Rodeo. Last year's Long-Range, Rapid-Fire was everywhere at once, stretching the quirky pop to its harder edges as well as crafting a few tunes that were more quietly beautiful than one might expect. (Hole in the Wall, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

COTTON MATHER: Didn't Liam Gallagher say "I wish we had made it, I play it all the time," about Cotton Mather's 1998 release Kontiki? Maybe it would've mattered if he hadn't said it about 12 minutes after everyone stopped giving a shit about Oasis. People still care about these four lads, as they're egregiously fab. Much the same could be said about 2001's The Big Picture. (Chile Pepper, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

DAVID BAERWALD & THE NEW FOLK UNDERGROUND: You probably don't know that you know David Baerwald. He was the "David" half of David & David, who spawned "Welcome to the Boomtown." He's worked as sideman/co-writer with Sheryl Crow and produced the soundtrack for Hurlyburly among other things. His most recent project on Lost Highway, A Fine Mess, features local brother Will Sexton. (Continental Club, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

JAKE ANDREWS: With one soulful debut, Time to Burn, behind him, Jake Andrews' latest, eponymous effort moves closer to rock & roll turf. That's a good direction for Austin's 22-year-old guitarist, as proficient at Chicago as he is Texas blues. Playing at the knee of legends like Hubert Sumlin and Albert Collins before he was 10 will do that for you. (Antone's, midnight) -- Margaret Moser

MICHAEL FRACASSO: Bred amongst Italian, Polish, and Irish immigrants of the Ohio steel mills, Michael Fracasso eventually found his way to Austin in the early Nineties, where his singer-songwriter aesthetic blended well with the city's urban-country flavor. His first release, 1992's Love & Trust, was followed by 1995's When I Lived in the Wild, while 1998's World in a Drop of Water was buttressed by last year's live Back to Oklahoma. (Hideout, midnight) -- David Lynch

SHANA MORRISON: The daughter of Irish legend Van Morrison, Shana Morrison has created a stir with her diverse mix of rock, blues, and pop in her adopted hometown of San Francisco. Her Vanguard Records debut, 7 Wishes, out April 2, is a skillfully crafted set of songs highlighting her versatile vocals and talent for writing songs with emotional depth. (Clay Pit, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

SPARTA: After finally clawing their way to the top, At the Drive-In broke up. Lead singer Cedric Bixler and guitarist Omar Rodriguez left to form Mars Volta, leaving the remaining trio, with a new bassist, as Sparta. They promptly inked with DreamWorks, recording the Jim Ward-fronted Austere EP, which doesn't miss a jagged beat, inheriting ATDI's sharp, subtle harmonies and enveloping dynamics. (Hard Rock Cafe, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

SPOON: With last year's Girls Can Tell, Britt Daniel took a huge step from indie rock cult figure to musician-in-full. Less frantic than its predecessor, the 30-minute masterpiece A Series of Sneaks, Girls Can Tell (Merge) was a straight-up pop album. Perhaps the most talented kid in Austin, Daniel et al. have another one on Merge due later this year. (La Zona Rosa, midnight) -- Michael Bertin

THE ACTUAL TIGERS: These Seattle-based genre-melters brighten the corners with a folksy No Depression bent. The trio released their debut, Gravelled and Green (Nettwerk), last year and breathless reviewers are citing everyone from Simon & Garfunkel to the Kinks and Wilco in trying to nail down the Actual (Tigers) sound. (Metro, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

MAGNAPOP: Jeezum, where have these folks been? The Athens-based quartet, fronted by singer Linda Hopper, hasn't released any new material since 1996's Rubbing Doesn't Help (Play It Again); you may remember the pleasantly lethargic hit single "Open the Door" from way back when. Bassist Shannon Mulvaney has officially left the band, but will pitch in at this year's festival; drummer TBA. (Momo's, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

PUSHMONKEY: Debuting in 1994 with the self-released Maize, in 1995 these Austin-based heavy-duty rockers released a three-song EP that landed them an Arista deal and yielding their Mike Clink-produced debut in '98. High-profile gigs on OzzFest, Woodstock '99, and with Kiss followed. So did the head-vises of a major-label record deal. Wisely breaking their Arista contract, the quintet recently released El Bitché on their Trespass imprint. (Steamboat, midnight) -- David Lynch

THE SOUNDTRACK OF OUR LIVES: Sweden's the Soundtrack of Our Lives is on a mission to create the perfect Sixties-style psychedelic pop record in the all-encompassing vein of visionaries like Arthur Lee and Brian Wilson. Their last album, 2001's Behind the Music (Hidden Agenda) tries too hard in spots, but the sextet's ambition is impossible not to admire. (Red Room, midnight) -- Greg Beets

THE REALISTICS: Does Paul Weller know about these guys? New York's Realistics give the Jam a run for their money with their retrofitted punk-pop. Hard to believe they've only got one guitar; there are more hooks here than in a dozen dimly lit lover's lanes, and more pogo-happy, Television-era punk rawk than prettyboy Julian Casablancas ever swiped. (Iron Cactus, midnight) -- Marc Savlov

AMERICAN ANALOG SET: Taking cues from the quiet grace of Low and Bedhead, Austin's American Analog Set have whittled a delicate niche in the realm of aural somnolence. Now a quintet, the band went through a lineup change and switched labels from Emperor Jones to Tiger Style for 2001's Know by Heart, featuring shorter, pop-oriented tunes with the band's penchant for blissed-out experimentation. (Buffalo Billiards, 1am) -- Greg Beets

AMY RIGBY: With each successive release, NYC-er gone Nashvillian Amy Rigby has found a new way to prove that she's the coolest voice of a slightly older generation that refuses to let go of its former cool. The cynicism of her ultra-fab debut, Diary of a Mod Housewife, seems to have subsided enough so that her last effort, The Sugar Tree, actually had a positive song on it. (Clay Pit, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

CHICKS ON SPEED: Bless all multinational conglomerates of art-school dropouts that make feminist-tinged, Eurotrash disco-pop. The Chicks have been so busy releasing other bands' work on their labels (Go Records, Stop Records, Chicks on Speed Records), they haven't launched a full-length of their own since 2000. Last year, they tossed out a handful of singles, including a cover of the Nick Cave/Kylie Minogue duet, "Where the Wild Roses Grow," found on the Kreidler Sessions EP released last November. (Emo's, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt DANIEL JOHNSTON: From giving away crudely dubbed tapes of Hi, How Are You? at Austin's old Dobie Mall McDonald's to becoming a cult figure of world renown, Daniel Johnston's saga is fraught with wonder and sadness. Having mounted a full-fledged tour in 2001 to support Rejected Unknown (Gammon), one hopes Johnston's battles with mental illness have subsided enough for him to enjoy the fruits of his legendary songs. (Scottish Rite Theatre, 1am) -- Greg Beets

GOLDEN ARM TRIO: Led by Graham Reynolds, Golden Arm music comes in trio, ensemble, and orchestra formats. Composer Reynolds is epicenter, innovatively expressing with drum, piano, and sax, and typically joined by bass and keyboards. A genre all its own, Golden Arm is sponsored by listener-supported all-classical radio station KMFA, but are also veterans of Emo's. (Ritz Lounge, 1am) -- David Lynch

SEMIAUTOMATIC: Kill Rock Stars, if you must, but for god's sake spare this Brooklyn duo; offing these noise terrorists would likely get you a sonic fork in the eye. Pre-programmed beats, sample-heavy loops, the occasional female vocal, and a backwash of dancey, scratch-heavy riffs mark their recent Vex Records debut, The Trebuchet. Art-core? N'York-core? (Beerland, 1am) -- Marc Savlov

MUSHROOMHEAD: Don't let the masks fool you. This Cleveland-based eightpiece took the long route to the nü-metal buzz bin by suiting up all the way back in 1993. With a gloomy, complex sound not unlike Faith No More remixed by the Chemical Brothers, they jumped to Universal last year after selling 50,000 indie CDs. Their live sets reportedly fall somewhere between the Residents and GWAR. (Back Room, 1am) -- Andy Langer

GRUPO FANTASMA: A contemporary Latin jazz dance ensemble, Austin's Grupo Fantasma succeeds because their nine members have put in time in hip-hop to modern jazz. Their eponymous debut features the tight interplay of percussion, guitars, horns, and electric bass, and while cumbia is often the rhythmic foundation, dub and funk are fair game as well. (The Vibe, 1am) -- David Lynch

JIMMY LAFAVE: Austin-based singer-songwriter Jimmy LaFave was born in Texas and grew up in Oklahoma, documented by his Bohemia Beat favorite, 2001's Texoma. Since his 1993 Bohemia debut, Austin Skyline, LaFave has earned a dedicated fan base, thanks to his distinct voice and renditions of Dylan songs like "Sweetheart Like You." (Mother Egan's, 1am) -- David Lynch

MONTE MONTGOMERY: Texas guitar slinger Monte Montgomery has been hailed time and again by his fans for his riotous playing, which has established his national reputation as a "guitar god in-waiting." Recent years have seen a maturation of his songwriting skills, as evinced on this year's rocking, soulful TMG release, Wishing Well. (Antone's, 1am) -- Dan Oko

KEVIN FOWLER: This Austin honky-tonker cut his teeth as a cock-rockin' Dangerous Toy, but the "Texas Country" movement has been very, very good to him; last year, he sold more than 20,000 copies of his indie hit Beer, Bait & Ammo. While statewide radio and incessant touring have been keys to his story, it hasn't hurt that he's a truly charismatic performer and witty observationalist. Fowler's June release, High on the Hog, could be just what it takes for a winning stretch beyond Texas borders. (Broken Spoke, 1am) -- Andy Langer

SALLY TIMMS: Though she's associated most with the Mekons, Timms' solo album Cowboy Sally's Twilight Laments for Lost Buckaroos proves the Leeds, England, native has a gingham heart. Her languorous style is both dreamy and smart, a western soul crossed with urban spirit. Don't be surprised if the Chicago-based Timms pulls out some surprises and guests. (Ruta Maya, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

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