SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Saturday Sleepers

SHEILA NICHOLLS: This Essex, England, singer-songwriter's first introduction to America came while living in a commune on a school bus in an empty lot in Philly. Then she went Hollywood. Now, she records for Hollywood Records, and counts producer Glen Ballard as the ultimate Hollywood accessory. The pair collaborated on a tune for April's radio-ready Wake, her follow-up to 1999's critically acclaimed Brief Stop. (Momo's, 4:30pm) -- Andy Langer

EASTMOUNTAIN SOUTH: Not only is Robbie Robertson bringing a keynote speech and pre-The Last Waltz DVD/box set hype, he's brought his and Dreamworks' latest signing, Eastmountain South. Though now based in L.A., Peter Adams and Kat Maslich hail from Alabama and Virginia, respectively, which explains the atmospheric, Appalachian nature of their sultry singer-songwriter fare. (Momo's, 5pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

HADACOL: This Midwest outfit banded around brothers Fred and Greg Wickam, released its sophomore effort All in Your Head in late 2001 on indie Slewfoot almost three years after its Checkered Past debut, Better Than This. Named for the elixir that Hank Williams used to hawk on his radio show, Hadacol is a cut above the average alt.country. (Opal Divine's, 8pm) -- Michael Bertin

MISTLETOE: Sincere, unsigned, and still-young indie pop quartet with just enough mystery to make it interesting. That they've toured with Albuquerque citymates the Shins, as well as Pedro the Lion, is kiss 'n' telling. (Rehab Lounge, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ALL IS WELL: Like a Cuban cigar, Miami is a conglom of many tastes and cultures. All Is Well is much like their hometown in that they're what? Goth? Electronica? Circus clowns? Singer Bleu Prolly gets compared to Gwen Stefani a whole bunch, but that's where the concrete definables end. (Maggie Mae's, 8pm) -- Kate X Messer

EMPLOYER, EMPLOYEE: For a band this bruisingly loud and heavy, there may be no better home than the one they recently found at Relapse Records. This Austin band boasts an all-star lineup of Texas cult favorites from the hardcore scene, but their chaotic sound often veers a bit closer to grindcore. (Emo's Main Room, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

THE CHERRY VALENCE: Just in case your good, old-fashioned rawk needs aren't being met, let the Cherry Valence press you to its sweaty bosom. Having released their self-titled debut on Estrus last year, this Raleigh-based quintet is poised to release their just-finished second effort to meet your minimum daily requirements of rock, and verily, roll. (Emo's Jr., 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt

DIGGER: Another entry in the Sub City stable of socially conscious punk rock, Allentown, Pa.'s Digger are a high-energy trio that's released four discs on Hopeless, including their latest aggressively confessional opus, Trainwreck. They're seldom off-road, which guarantees a well-oiled machine when they take the stage. (Room 710, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

VERMONT: The Promise Ring took much the same career path as Austin's late Silver Scooter: start out hard 'n' fast, then mellow out to gosh-darn-innocent pop songs. There's something to be said for the craftsmanship of Promise Ring singer Davey von Bohlen and drummer Dan Didier, who have splintered off to form the pop-centric Vermont. (Buffalo Billiards, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

OH MY GOD: This Chicago-based trio creates obtuse, slightly industrial pop songs with no guitars. Instead, Oh My God relies on organ and bass to create a sound bearing a little resemblance to a school's Klaxon system going haywire. Their geek-centric new album, The Action Album (Novo), offers humorously scathing indictments of ridiculous parental bromides. (District Bar & Grill, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

THE HYPNO-TWISTS: From sand 'n' surf to spaghetti westerns, this hopped-up exotica act is to Phoenix what the B-52's are to Athens -- a bombs away dance party. Swingers only. (Hole in the Wall, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

RANDALL BRAMBLETT: From R.E.M. to Hillbilly Frankenstein, Athens, Ga., has delivered its share of world-class acts, so it's no surprise that Bramblett's career has been likewise notable. The singer-songwriter's work with Sea Level, Levon Helm, Gregg Allman, and Gov't Mule leaves an indelible impression, as does his underrated new CD on New West, No More Mr. Lucky. (Mercury, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

PORTER HALL, TN: Led by the duo of Molly Conley and Gary Roadarmel, Porter Hall, Tenn., has applied it's punk rock roots to traditional country sounds and come up with a hybrid of southern styles that's truly their own. Their debut, Welcome to Porter Hall, Tennesseee, comes out on Slewfoot at the end of March. (Opal Divine's, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

WILLIE KING: Mississippi-born bluesman Willie King may not be the next R.L. Burnside, but his Delta blues, edged with Chicago's southside and Alabama funk, speak the history of genre. His Rooster Blues sophomore disc is due this year. (Antone's, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

DIVAHN: Signifying a collection of poems or songs in Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian, Divahn is an internationally seasoned, Austin-based, all-female ensemble. Their repertoire is trad, original, and re-arranged Middle Eastern and Sephardic songs expressing the simultaneous emotions of longing and exploration. (Clay Pit, 9pm) -- David Lynch

DJ JESTTER THE FILIPINO FIST: You've found some freaky shit when the DJ drops Richard Simmons, spaghetti western samples, a Seventies cop show theme, Austin Powers dialogue, Run DMC, the Barney Miller theme, and "The Yellow Rose of Texas" -- all in one track. San Antonio's turntablist extraordinaire DJ Jestter gives the Invisibl Skratch Piklz a run for their money on his self-produced River Walk Riots disc. (Plush, 9pm) -- Marc Savlov

JOHN BUTLER TRIO: It doesn't take long into Three, the second album from Australia's John Butler Trio, before it makes sense that these guys would get hooked up with the same folks that manage Dave Matthews. The sound is a little darker, probably because it's bluesier and relies more on an acoustic 12-string, but much of the underlying groove remains the same. (Vibe, 9:30pm) -- Michael Bertin

BRAZILIAN SHOWCASE: Looks like SXSW's annual Rock en Español showcases has been translated into the Language of Love. Three of the bands here are from the Southeast part of Brazil, Belo Horizonte, while the fourth, Cravo Carbono and their tropical beat-poet funk hail from the North in Belem. Radar Tanà, Eighties rock with "electronic tendencies," Anglophiles Valv and their guitar-driven Manchesterian pop, and Pexbaa's percussively lo-fi free-rock constitute year one. (The Drink on 6th, 10pm-1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

MIKE ROSENTHAL: With Mike Rosenthal, Mike Rosenthal discovered his gift of songcraft among the dust and thorns. On his new Movin' In, he celebrates it among the Pettys and Posies. Even with pop sweetener, Austin's under-the-radar songsmith knows bittersweet is still the best sauce for storytelling. (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ADAM CARROLL: There could be no finer young man to carry the mantle of classic Texas singer-songwriter than Austin's Adam Carroll. He wields his acoustic guitar and harmonica as proficiently as any crusty ol' troubadour, and his latest release, Looking Out the Screen Door, is nothing short of outstanding. (Hard Rock Cafe, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

PATRICIA VONNE: Relatively new to the competitive field of female country singers, Austin-based, San Antonio-born Vonne has a beauty and grace that lifts her out of the masses. It's not just style to burn that she has, either; just listen to her self-titled EP. (Continental, 10pm) -- Margaret MoserSHANDON SAHM: The second son of Doug, Shandon Sahm has stepped out from behind the drum kit, working with folks like guitarist Garret Jamison of Ant Man Bee fame. Theirs is rock, rawk, and rahk. (Gatsby's, 10pm) -- MIchael Bertin

JEFF BLACK: Originally from Kansas City and currently calling Nashville home, Jeff Black has had Waylon Jennings and Sam Bush cut his songs. His second album, B-Sides and Confessions, Volume One, which he describes as "acoustic, organic, and really close to the ground" comes out on Dualtone in May. (Gingerman, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

PETTY BOOKA: This Tokyo-based ukulele duo is the latest all-girl act on Audrey Kimura's Benten label to make the jaunt to SXSW. Unlike punk-flavored Benten acts like Lolita No. 18 and Mummy the Peepshow, Petty Booka cuts a wide stylistic swath from punk to bluegrass with their lilting acoustic cover tunes. (Elysium, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

DRESSY BESSY: This Denver-based indie bubblegum outfit shimmies up and down the thin line between cotton candy sweetness and hyperglycemia. No wonder animator Craig McCracken tapped them to appear alongside Shonen Knife and Bis on 2000's Heroes and Villains: Music Inspired by the Powerpuff Girls (Rhino). Apples in Stereo guitarist John Hill's mastery of cartoon pop and vocalist Tammy Ealom's animated delivery go together like milk and strawberry Quik. Their third Kindercore offering, Sound Go Round, was released in February. (Buffalo Billiards, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

ABSORPTION: The DJ takes it in, that's his or her job -- to absorb culture and squeeze it back out. Infrasound Collective artist and recent Londoner Peter Beddow for all intents and purposes is Absorption, and as such, creates dense, slab of life soundscapes that wreak of trains pulling out of stations and late-night Hendrix on headphones. It's a dreamy, deliberate electronic lub-Dub that will slow your internal BPMs into the groove. (Le Privilege, 11pm) -- Kate X Messer

WESTERN KEYS: Western Keys hints at the slop-country aesthetic of popular locals Li'l Cap'n Travis, but plows deeper into a world of indie-mood pieces, soaked in a weepy slide-guitar gauze. Their debut EP is due this spring on Western Key Ben Dickey's Post-Parlo label. (Ritz Lounge, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

RODNEY HAYDEN: Just 22, Texan Rodney Hayden is turning quite a few heads with his debut The Real Thing on Robert Earl Keen's Rosetta Records. His music, deeply rooted in the sound of traditional country, induced the San Antonio Express-News to exclaim: "Hayden has more than singing talent -- he has the charisma of Hank Williams." (Broken Spoke, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JENAI: One of the few singers in Nashville to front a band playing bass, Jenai (pronounced Je-NIGH) is also an accomplished songwriter. Her songs have been recorded by Sara Evans, Mindy McCreedy, and Bering Strait and her debut, Cool Me Down, will be released on Curb in early May. (Hideout, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

BIG FOOT CHESTER: Big Foot Chester, named after one of Howlin' Wolf's sobriquets, stomps the blues, but there are no Strat-slinging Stevie Ray wannabes here. It's a down 'n' dirty brand o' blues, driven by longtime Austinite Walter Daniels' stinging harp work. Their Sympathy for the Record Industry CD Tabernacalin' finds the band ready to testify with the best of 'em. (Beerland, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE BRIEFS: In spite of their Kim Fowley fashions, the Briefs are arguably Seattle's most respected young punk act, thanks in part to the randomness of "Silver Bullet," an impassioned plea to "Kill Bob Seger right now!" While their blitzkrieg through "Come Dancing" steals Sub Pop's recent Kinks tribute, they'll most likely be previewing their upcoming Interscope debut. (Red Room, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

THE TAKERS: Too bad they're not playing Emo's, because Boston's Takers play the kind of supercharged, bluesy garage punk that helped catapult Austin's rock stronghold into the force it is today. Instead, the Takers will be playing the Rubric Records showcase on the heels of their furious 2001 slab of attitude, Never Get Out of These Blues Alive. (Empanada Parlour Upstairs, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

SLITHERYN: Almost as amusing as Slipknot is frontman Corey (#8) Taylor's discovery Slitheryn. Death metal vocals by someone who's voice hasn't broken is a brand-new one on the radar even if this Chicago band of 12-16-year-olds' guitar crunch and video game screech isn't. (Back Room, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

RUBBERHED: Austin's 101X has been spiking its playlist with this local, MC Truth-led act's "Jacknife," a nü-metal-leaning tune off last years Yo So Guillermo. Given the straight-to-the-majors track records of other 101X acts like Dynamite Hack, Riddlin' Kids, and Schatzi, file this under "Likely to Succeed." (Back Room, midnight) -- Andy Langer

HANDSOME 3SOME: A Dutch trio with a penchant for dropping drum 'n' bass behind their wall of guitars, Handsome 3Some's EMI debut, Quab, sounds like the bastard offspring of Johnette Napolitano and Roni Size. There's way more Fender crunch here than you're likely to find on your average d'n'b outing, though, and singer/ guitarist/lead vixen Arjo's tuffgrrrl vocals and decidedly kickass fretwork make this an estrogen-fueled anomaly. (Le Privilege, midnight) -- Marc Savlov

THE WEAKERTHANS: Winnipeg's Weakerthans purvey eloquent pop-punk combined with evocative, socially conscious lyrics sung by ex-Propaghandi bassist John K. Samson. Their last album, Left and Leaving (Sub City), won Best Independent Album at the Prairie Music Awards in Edmonton, and their 1998 debut Fallow was named one of the 10 best albums of the year by CBC National Radio. (Room 710, midnight) -- Greg Beets

TERRI LORD: Austin's beloved music scene cheerleader is also a legendary drummer, producer, pop songwriter, graphic artist, veteran of local legends (Sincola, Lord Douglas Phillips, Power Snatch ...), and Renaissance babe, whom we would love to share with the rest of the world. (Hickory St. Bar & Grill, midnight) -- Kate X Messer

STEVE ALLEN: Just call him "20." Allen is not the old Tonight Show host who claimed to have written 40,000 songs, he's one-half of the acclaimed New Wave-era pop group 20/20, whose song "Yellow Pills" still serves as a touchstone of that time. Between get-togethers with partner Ron Flynt, Allen rocks and rolls on his own. (Pecan St. Ale House, midnight) -- Ken Lieck

FRENCH KICKS: This NYC quartet softens the post-punk aesthetic of their former D.C. home with deliciously pretty melodies and an arsenal of time-and tone-shifts. Their latest, Young Lawyer, on Poptones, even goes so far as to feature vocal harmonization and a bit of piano. (Chile Pepper, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

DOMINO KINGS: These three honky-tonkers hail from Springfield, Mo., home of the Morells, Dallas Wayne, and their label, Slewfoot Records. The term "alt.country" hardly fits them, though; their hard-edged Bakersfield twang is about as country as you can get. 2000 saw the release of Life & 20, brimming with great Telecaster riffage and outsider-country songcraft. (Opal Divine's, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

GNAPPY: Like Charlie Hunter, Austin new jazz quartet Gnappy makes sax, guitar, bass, and drums sound like now, not yesterday. Their post-bop bleat swings equally well on the nine originals glued to last year's self-titled debut and their hip cover fare. (Elephant Room, 12:45am) -- Raoul Hernandez

ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE: Ex-Fracture frontman Adam Goren's Philly-based alter-ego comes accompanied only by the synthesizer behind his wacky, but seriously engaging, punk rock/New Wave amalgam. The results are more Kool Keith than Wesley Willis, with nuggets like "Pumping Iron for Enya" and "Hats Off to Halford." Last year's Redefining Music, sported the sublime "If You Own the Washington Redskins You're a Cock." (Room 710, 1am) -- Andy Langer

QUATROPAW: Floating around their third and latest CD, Flight, this Austin-based foursome is the purveyor of melodic pop-rock. Winners of such contests as Spin's Best Unsigned Band in 1998 and Rolling Stone's Valentine's Day Song Contest in 2000, Quatropaw are as eclectic as they are electric. (Hickory Street, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

THE STAR ROOM BOYS: These melancholy honky-tonkers hail from Athens, Ga., and deliver songs of bittersweet beer-joint dreams gone bust. It'd be mopey if they weren't such dead-on accurate players and if singer Dave Marr's musings weren't so damn earnest. Their new CD, This World Just Won't Leave You Alone, comes out on Slewfoot Records and serves up more of the same blue-tinged country grooves. (Opal Divine's, 1am) -- Jerry Renshaw

VIOLET CROWN: It's to his credit that singer-songwriter Larry Seaman, a founding member of Austin's Seventies punk-New Wave scene has such a cache of songs that he can release non-Violet Crown CDs and still have plenty of material left over. The band's misty ballads and pop songs have rock-solid foundations that are memorable, smart, and melodic. (Pecan St. Ale House, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

LORDS OF ALTAMONT: Your booze might be in equal jeopardy as your daughters when the Lords are around. It's the Stooges doing psychobilly for an arena rawk audience packed into a small club. Their latest, To Hell With the Lords of Altamont, is just out on Sympathy for the Record Industry. Fast, cheap, and out of control. (Beerland, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

THOSE PEABODYS: Did you forget to bring the rock again? Silly rabbit. Well, you're in luck, because Austin's Those Peabodys bring enough for all with plenty to spare. The mad focus of Clarke Wilson and Adam Hatley, the duo behind the band's self titled Post-Parlo debut (on stage they're a four-piece) can be summed up in one word: Angus. Those Peabodys make the Seventies sound better than the original. (Ritz Lounge, 1am) -- Michael Bertin

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