SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Friday Sleepers

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE: Even with former Cher UK singer Mike McCoy returning to Kansas, Austin's American People will not be going the way of the dodo. Their cheeky brand of garage pop punk, found on last year's critics' fave, Because We Can, has already been followed up with a sampler from their completed second LP. (Iron Cactus, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

AURORA PLASTICS COMPANY: This free-noise duo inhabits a world all their own, making a sprawling mess of sound, abusing guitars, tape loops, clarinet, theremin, and all manner of electronic equipment and found percussion. Their performances are often accompanied by the super-8 films of Plastic woman Anne Heller. (Ritz Lounge, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

MINUS THE BEAR: Songs titles like "Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked" and "Pantsuit ... Uggghhh" suggest a brainless guitar attack, but that's not all there is to Pacific Northwest collective Minus the Bear. The smart lyrics and limber guitars on their debut, This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic, are charged up, but not buried in electronic enhancement. (Buffalo Billiards, 8pm) -- Christopher Hess

SUPLECS: Formerly of Frank Kozik's Man's Ruin stable, this heavy power trio from New Orleans will irrigate your eardrums with a rusty sewer snake. Their second album, Sad Songs, Better Days, originally released before Man's Ruin's demise, has now been reissued on This Dark Reign. Firmly mired in Southern mud, they still deliver a mean cover of the Beatles' "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." (Red Eyed Fly, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

Ü.S.S. FRIENDSHIP: With Fuckemos vocalist Russell Porter and Squat Thrust/Voltage guitar antihero Jimmy Bradshaw onboard, a voyage on the U.S.S. Friendship is bound to be mind-addlingly loud and depraved beyond Attorney General John Ashcroft's wildest wet dreams. Austin's newest big-dumb-rock supergroup maintains an ever-so-slight pop sensibility beneath the crusted mucousoidal overgrowth. (Emo's Jr., 8pm) -- Greg Beets

EXPORT MUSIC SWEDEN: Forget ABBA. Unrepentant riot grrls will meet their match in Sahara Hotnights, an all-female foursome who'll kick you in the teeth before donning bikinis. Nominated for two Swedish Grammies, the Hotnights' latest, Jennie Bomb (BMG), testifies to the fact that small-town kids the world over have absorbed the lessons of Cobain. Likewise, teen sensations Willowtree have begun to emerge from obscurity, winning the dubious distinction of being Europe's best unsigned band back in 2001. Now signed with Undertow Records, Willowtree's solidly crafted guitar rock should win them new fans. Maryslim and Citizen Bird are also on the bill. (Red Room, 8pm/1am) -- Dan Oko BOTTOM: Last year, in this space, this same writer made tasteless ass jokes about the trio of metallic lasses in NYC's Bottom. The good news is their Man's Ruin sophomore LP, Feels So Good When You're Gone, is being issued by the UK's Rise Above Records. The bad news is I'm a buttman: Bottom's got back. (Red Eyed Fly, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

JULE BROWN: While folks like Jon Spencer and Gregg Foreman attempt to gyrate and caterwaul their way to a new version of the blues, Jule Brown, aka Mark Holland, has quietly invented just that in Chapel Hill, first as leader of Jennyanykind, and lately, by himself. His The Town, the Clowns, and the Sound of Jule Brown, is a stark, quiet, and edgy swagger through moody Southern blues. (Momo's, 9pm) -- Christopher Hess

CRAIG ROSS: Having worked with everyone from Daniel Johnston to Shawn Colvin, Ross' resume might seem a little strange until hearing his own work. His Dead Spy Report nods to Neil Young and the Thirteenth Floor Elevators, as well as the Jesus and Mary Chain. And no, this isn't the Craig Ross that plays guitar for Lenny Kravitz. (Ruta Maya, 9pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE OCTOPUS PROJECT: This new local outfit comes at you from eight different directions on their new album Identification Parade on longtime Austin indie Peek-a-Boo. They have the same fascination with minimalist electronic composers as the Thrill Jockey crowd, and their groove is similar to the shifty electro-acoustic assault of Bubblecore bands the Dylan Group and Mice Parade. (Melagio, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

OCEANSIZE: These guys are way small-time -- they released their A Very Still Movement EP on tiny Manchester label Soviet Union Records, and Amputee, their 2000 debut, on Errol Records. The quartet runs the gamut from loose-limbed, jangly spareness to soaring, flange-heavy guitar to create an intense but nonthreatening alt-rock experience. (Element, 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt

TRIGGER HAPPY: Austin's Trigger Happy does the honky-tonk thing, which wouldn't be too remarkable if they didn't play it smart and keep it real. Eddie Cute's vocals call to mind Johnny Cash, while guitarist Dale Allen pulls off tasteful Tele and steel work. Their brand new release, Side of the Road, presents the band at what they do best; dark, intelligent country music. (Opal Divine's, 9pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

SIMON BRUCE: He's a dewy-eyed singer, songwriter, and poet ... sigh. Seriously, though, this young pup from Down Under has garnered a lot of attention for a self-produced, six-song EP called The Champagne Sessions and spent some time last year seeing and being seen in Nashville. (Mother Egan's, 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt THE STANDARD: Beneath the post-industrial sound effects of this Portland, Ore., quartet beats the heart of a post-hardcore math-rock band from Pacific Northwest. Beneath that, is the crystalline, sometimes arty pretensions of shoegazers. Another layer down, their 2001 debut hits pay dirt again and again. Nothing standard here. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE WAXWINGS: This Detroit quartet has been putting an edge on their streamlined, Sixties-styled guitar rock since the mid-Nineties. Their debut, 2000's Low to the Ground, was a favorite with both critics and power pop fans around the world. (Emo's, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

ACTIVE RADIO: Although Active Radio has been together only a year, frontman Aaron Barrera has a estimable resume, including roles in Hush, Ten Percenter, and Abra Moore's touring band. An early EP suggests Jeff Buckley and Radiohead fetishes. (Iron Cactus, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

BLACK LIPSTICK: Rising from the ashes of Austin's Kiss Offs, Black Lipstick takes the latter band's sense of romantic kitsch and infuses it with the Lower East Side seediness of the Velvet Underground. The quartet's cool 2001 debut EP, The Four Kingdoms of Black Lipstick (Peek-a-Boo), is a rich panoply of sassy boy/girl vocals, fuzztone guitars, and swirling biker acid movie keyboards. (Melagio, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

FIVE POINTE O: This Joliet six-piece's Untitled carries two important seals of metallic approval: it is set for release by Roadrunner and produced by Colin Richardson (Fear Factory, Napalm Death). They're led by an 18-year-old frontman and their current run with Mushroomhead is their first-ever tour of the U.S. (10pm, Back Room) -- Andy Langer

BUCKTOOTH JOHNSON: A quartet from New York City, Bucktooth Johnson have drawn favorable comparisons to the Band for their amalgam of swampy blues and roots rock. Individually its members have performed with the likes of Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan, Wilco, and Squeeze. (Opal Divine's Freehouse, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

BALDWIN BROTHERS: Nobody in this quirky Chicago quartet answers to Alec, Billy, Stephen, or Daniel. Just as encouraging is their forthcoming TVT debut, Cooking With Lasers. Using loop-based software, they've concocted rock-solid acid jazz from a mix of live bass and drums, guitars, synthesizers, turntables, and their secret weapon: a scrupulously slinky Fender Rhodes. (Le Privilege, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

LOUIE AUSTEN: When a 55-year-old Viennese lounge singer hooks up with some young European DJs with a penchant for sampling Style Council, the results are nothing if not novel. Despite lugubrious arrangements, Austen's Only Tonight (Kitty-Yo) features a few transcendent moments, like a risqué duet with fellow Kitty-Yo artist Peaches called "Grab My Shaft!" (Emo's, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

THE BAD WIZARD: Having their genesis in Athens, Ga., but relocating to NYC, this fivepiece is all about Seventies riff-rock & roll, full of screaming vocals, a dual-guitar phalanx, and under three-minute songs, documented on their Tee Pee Records debut Free and Easy. Not quite as effective as Thin Lizzy, they've learned a lot from AC/DC, MC5, and Kiss. (Rehab Lounge, 10pm) -- David Lynch

DAMESVIOLET: After dipping their toes into last year's SXSW, this young hard-rock Austin act made a post-conference splash with a self-titled, self-released album that spawned a local radio hit in "Paris." The A&R contingent due to check this year's showcase may wind up surprised by their confident onstage presence. (Steamboat, 10pm) -- Andy Langer

SHEARWATER: This may be Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff's "other band," but it's Jonathan Meiberg's voice that's Shearwater's secret weapon. His gorgeous falsetto helped make The Dissolving Room one of last year's local successes, and their as-yet-unreleased sophomore album adds more of Thor Harris' delicate percussion and mallet work without compromising an ounce of intimacy. (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

TED RODDY: Though he's famous locally for his twice-yearly Elvis salute, Roddy's smooth baritone is suited to blues, rockabilly, swing, country, or whatever he chooses to sing. With his Tearjoint Troubadours on hand for this "cocktail & western" showcase, dancing shoes, beer, and a hanky are all required. (Broken Spoke, 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

THE LOVELIES: Elastica isn't quite the right place to start, as the Lovelies hail from Wisconsin. Still, the cool, bleeding-heart female harmonies are there just the same. "Mexican Wedding Shirt," though, that's a Pixies tune, and a darn good Surfer Rosa era one at that. So Liv Mueller and Barb Endes (guitar and bass respectively) can obviously do a stellar faux Deal. (Chile Pepper, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE DISHES: Bounding forth from the Windy City, the Dishes are a quirk-laden garage punk quartet that pays homage to the art school angularity of Wire and the Rust Belt desperation of Naked Raygun. Their debut on No. 89 Records covered the Urinals' "I'm a Bug." An Alternative Press "Band to Watch" in 2001, the Dishes' second LP, 1-2, is due April 9. (Room 710, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

MITTENS OK: Austin's Mittens have recently re- formed amidst lineup changes, but they continue to offer no-frills Austin indie rock with melodic abandonment. Led by Tobin Scroggins, the band's fall debut will be on Four States Fair Record Co., home to Adult Rodeo. (Hole in the Wall, 10pm) -- David Lynch

SHANE BARTELL: Local boy Shane Bartell generated buzz last year with his seven-song debut. Call it Squeeze redone or maybe it's Imperial Bedroom-era Elvis. Either way, Bartell has the Brit knack for filling up all the empty spaces in pop tunes without leaving it uncomfortably claustrophobic. (Ruta Maya, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

ULTRASOUND: From his vantage point in Den Haag in the Netherlands, former Austinite R.F. Ovetz continues exploring the boundaries of sound and its place in society. Joined by current Austin residents Kirk Laktas and James Alexander, and frequently joined by acclaimed local projectionist Luke Savisky, Ultrasound serves up escapist mind-food similar to Stars of the Lid and Labradford. (Ritz Lounge, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

KATELL KEINEG: Keineg, whose wispy voice falls somewhere between Alison Moyet and Paula Cole, made a brief splash a few years back cutting a couple of albums for Elektra and popping up at the Lillith Fair. Her second record, Jet, is one of those beauts that never really found anybody, perhaps because it was so genre-less that the record company folks didn't know what to do with it. (Mother Egan's, 10pm) -- Michael Bertin

CENTURY MEDIA SHOWCASE: Not only the foremost American home for Scandinavian doom metal, Century Media is a formidable repository for homegrown metal as well. After their newest signing, Chicago's Yakuza, the sixpiece Haste from the unlikely base of Birmingham, Ala., show off their dual lead singers in support of their lastest effort When Reason Sleeps. One of Century's hottest acts is Boston's Shadows Fall, who since their start as a death metal band have ventured into more tuneful, progressive realms. (Elysium, 10pm-1am) -- Michael Chamy

HAZELDINE: This Albuquerque-based female trio is known for its harmonies and an ability to combine folk, punk, and country into their own distinctive sound. Their first stateside CD in nearly five years, Doubleback, is due in May. (Gingerman, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

FREE RADICALS: A loose-knit group of radical Houstonians, the Free Radicals dabble in everything from jazz, ska, and punk to African music and polka. The group, whose core of six often swells to more than 30, released Our Lady of Eternal Sunny Delights (Rastaman Work) in 2000, and is currently recording its third studio release. (Empanada Parlour, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

OWSLEY: Actually, it's Will Owsley, formerly of Nashville's Semantics. He released his self-titled debut in 1999 on Giant/Warner Brothers, having written, performed, and produced the whole thing himself. The Anniston, Ala., native recently covered "Band on the Run" on Listen to What the Man Said: Popular Artists Tribute to Paul McCartney. (Empanada Parlour, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

FIVEHEAD: These four indie rockheads play it straight. John Hunt and Beaty Wilson have a deep well of great tunes, the band having jelled to that recognizable point of telepathic communication. Their latest EP, Big Mistake Factory, showed a depth, willingness, and ability to stretch out. (Melagio, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

JJ PARADISE PLAYERS CLUB: Members of this New York foursome create the soundtrack for a world of car crashes. If they hadn't imploded, Man's Ruin would have been a good home for them. Instead, NYC bulldozer indie Tee Pee stepped in to release their debut, Wine Cooler Blowout. (Rehab Lounge, 11pm) -- David Lynch

THEE SHAMS: The familiar-yet-distinctive sonic quality of this Cincinnati quartet fuses the blues-based swagger of the Rolling Stones with Keith Moon-style daredevil drumming and All-American garage rock-a-rama. Last year's Take Off (Orange) was one of 2001's overlooked gems. (The Drink on 6th, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

THE DARKNESS: Darkness singer Justin Hawkins probably wishes he was either Freddie Mercury or Bon Scott, but he'll have to deal with the fact that he's also as much Todd Rundgren. Slip these UK kids into rotation on your favorite local classic rock radio outlet, and nobody would know it wasn't from Head East in the Seventies. (Maggie Mays, 11pm) -- Michael Bertin

THE INDUSTRIAL JAZZ GROUP: This isn't some third-generation Rammstein trenchcoat ring that bought trumpets. They're a septet that knocks out traditional jazz licks in the styles of hard bop, Mingus, and the Duke. Yet their latest, City of Angles, sometimes strays into a world of tape loops, vibes, and avant-garde plucking within the confines of leader Andrew Durkin's meticulous composition. (Elephant Room, 11:30pm) -- Michael Chamy

BEDBUG: Along with Masonic, Fivehead, and Subset, Bedbug provides further evidence of yet another burgeoning collegiate pop renaissance in Austin. The quartet's 2001 release, Happiest of Hours (Tight Spot) combines earnestly nasal vocals with warm, fuzzy guitars in a tasteful, low-key manner slightly reminiscent of Pavement. (Melagio, midnight) -- Greg Beets

FOE: Japanese bands are unpredictable, and Foe is no exception. Melodic garage rock is the rule, but don't be caught off-guard by electronic squalls and mellow hypnotic interludes. There's also a Jap-pop sensibility at work, so you might get caught singing incoherently to catchy foreign lyrics. (Mercury, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

DIXIE WITCH: This fuzzed-out, hard-rockin' Denton, Texas, power trio released its debut, Into the Sun (Brainticket) last spring and spent summer on tour with Alabama Thunderpussy and the Suplecs for the Southern Domination tour. Running with the baton passed by Blue Cheer and John Rutsey-era Rush, Dixie Witch provides the perfect soundtrack for a summer night of cruising and boozing circa 1974. (Red Eyed Fly, midnight) -- Greg Beets

DNA DOLL: Yeah, what the hell ever happened to that promised glam re-evolution, back when Obi-Ewan Kenobi was in his Iggy phase? Velvet goldmines never really materialized did they? London's DNA Dolls can't quite be pigeonholed in any sort of clichéd "glam" birdcage, but their gritty, glittery brand of junkie anthem cock-rock sure could smear the mascara of your cockatoo. (Maggie Mae's, midnight) -- Kate X Messer

BLUE STATES: There just aren't enough British trip-hop groups under the sun, are there? Currently in Thievery Corporation's pocket (opening for them on tour, signed to their label) Andy Dragazis and friends are still supporting their 2001 release, Nothing Changes Under the Sun, but promise a new album sometime this year. (Le Privilege, midnight) -- Melanie HauptCASH AUDIO: This Chicago-based guitar and drums duo has played its share of stages, and it's this traveling sense of abandonment that infuses their urban strain of blues rock & roll. Think of blending Chicago imprints Bloodshot and Touch and Go with ample whiskey and smokes. (The Drink on 6th, midnight) -- David Lynch

DAN BERN: Along with having the festival's best-named backing band, the Jewish Banking Conspiracy, this new folkie is notable for five consistently engaging albums and a solid underground following of Phil Ochs-loving NPR listeners and Ani DiFranco fans. (She produced 1998's Fifty Eggs in Austin.) Last year's New American Language found Bern mining more electric soundscapes. (Gingerman, midnight) -- Andy Langer

DANNY FRANKEL: L.A.-based percussionist, Danny Frankel plays more timekeepers than a Swiss watch convention, including his own creation, the hubcapaphone, a wheel hubcap with stretched springs. Frankel has performed with Fiona Apple, Flying Karamazov Brothers, Bo Diddley, Lou Reed, Bebel Gilberto, and Laurie Anderson, and True Classical Records released his atmospherically rhythmic second album The Vibration of Sound in 2002. (Ritz Lounge, midnight) -- David Lynch

REX HOBART AND THE MISERY BOYS: Kansas City native Rex Hobart does retro-honky-tonk Bloodshot-style. Befitting the band's name, his is a world where broken hearts are discarded like gum wrappers, and happy hours are anything but. Check out his 2000 release Spectacular Sadness and have a glug of whiskey to toast your own inner mope. (Broken Spoke, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

ROD PICOTT: Austinites are more familiar with this Nashville singer-songwriter than they realize: He teamed with Slaid Cleaves on last year's award-winning Broke Down. Picott (sounds like "why not") deals in Americana, and his recent Tiger release, Tom Dixon's Blues, is proof that Music City still produces quality as well as quantity. (Pecan St. Ale House, midnight) -- Margaret Moser

MILTON MAPES: Led by Austin-based singer-songwriter Greg Vanderpool, Milton Mapes warmed local ears with the low-key twang and languor of last year's The State Line. Named in honor of Vanderpool's grandfather, the group combines campfire aesthetics with the pop aspirations of Wilco to create well-worn songs of lost love and broken down dreams. (Pecan St. Ale House, 1am) -- Greg Beets

MASONIC: This Austin-based quintet has a remarkable penchant for warm, left-of-the-dial pop hooks and a sound just airy enough to approach homemade transcendence. A lot of credit goes to vocalist Jennifer Christen's warm but slightly droll delivery. Masonic's solid 2001 debut, Never Stood a Chance (Tight Spot) garnered a fair amount of attention from the local X-Station and will likely continue to prick up ears as more people hear it. (Melagio, 1am) -- Greg Beets

THE JERRY LEE PHANTOM: Tokyo's Jerry Lee Phantom is a hard-working, visually-inspired amalgam of pages from punk, funk, surf, and ska. Ayuko, the quartet's pianist, lives up to the "Jerry Lee" moniker with her fiery style. The JLP has released three LPs and several EPs in Japan, including last year's Freedom (Pony Canyon), which features three tracks recorded during the band's SXSW 2001 showcase. (Mercury, 1am) -- Greg Beets

MARK D: "The Silent Treatment" is the 2001 Tee Pee release from El Paso resident Mark Deutrom, founder of Bay Area punk label Alchemy, imprint for Neurosis. Mark D. is also the former bassist of the Melvins, tourmates with Rush and Nirvana. Mark D's music is sometimes as heavy as a '52 Ford, and other times it's introspective, in that dark-alley reverb sort of way. (Rehab Lounge, 1am) -- David Lynch

ARAB ON RADAR: It's doubtful the SXSW film festival is carrying a show this full of horror. Providence, R.I., was founded as a city of peace, but you'd never know it hearing the off-kilter mayhem of this bass-less quartet. On their ruinous Skin Graft release Yaweh or the Highway, they fall into a sonic whirlwind similar to Big Black -- during those rare moments when it sounds like they're all playing the same song. (Emo's Jr., 1am) -- Michael Chamy

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle