SXSW Picks and Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Cruiserweight, Emo's Annex, 1am
Cruiserweight, Emo's Annex, 1am

Wednesday Sleepers

All showcase times subject to change.
Please check official SXSW schedule.

MIDLAKE: One of the newer musical forces to emerge from the small North Texas musical mecca of Denton, Midlake is cut in the Radiohead mold, a soundscape of swirling keyboards and detached Julian Casablancas-style vocals. 2001's Milkmaid Grand Army EP was a solid building block as the band's debut long-player nears completion. (Mercury, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

POWERSQUID: Bringing cartloads of punishing post-Blues Explosion low-end punk, Austin trio Powersquid are a familiar sight at Room 710; their mondo-distorto "Profound" was a highlight of the club's 2002 CD Independence: An Austin Sampler. Second LP, P.S. I Love You, is due on Southern Love later this year. (Room 710, 8pm) -- Christopher Gray

THE CRUEL & UNUSUAL: The Austin punk rockers most likely to drink up all the beer and stick you with the tab. Last year's flaming snot rocket Kill Time resurrected the Dead Boys even as it revealed frontman Eric Unusual's secret Beatles fetish on a killer cover of "Run for Your Life." (Beerland, 8pm) -- Christopher Gray

THE MILITIA GROUP: Make that three groups within the Hits showcase: the heart of Hunington Beach's Militia label. With one ear on emo and another on SoCal pop bliss, the Militia braintrust are fielding quite the roster. Atlanta by way of FLA fourpiece Copeland hasn't Ben around long, but their Folds/Kweller piano-core pounds at times like the Police drummer on their new Beneath the Medicine Tree. Fold another one off in Colleyville, TX's Rocket Summer, 20-year-old Bryce Avary's bopping debut Calendar Days another teen dream. Seattle's Acceptance dredge Seaweed's combustible kick and kiss it emo. (Spill, 9pm-midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

ANDREW KENNY: Austin's serene popsters American Analog Set went on hiatus when frontman Andrew Kenny moved north for grad school, but the singer-guitarist continues writing songs. The peppier, more song-oriented direction of the Analog Set's last album, Know by Heart, plays into the hands of Kenny, who toured with Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard earlier this year. (Mercury, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

BLUES CONDITION: Evidently old-fashioned tar-paper Texas roadhouses are now scarce in the Austin metro area, so Blues Condition makes do in punk rock bars like Emo's and Room 710. No matter; this trio of brothers' overpowering 12-bar attack peels away the years like paint. A debut LP is in the works. (Ocean's 11, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

HAYMARKET RIOT: Named after a violent 1886 Chicago labor riot bombing, this ChiTown coalition features explosive rock firepower. The tumbling basslines recall the Jesus Lizard's David Sims, while the blistering guitar takes a page out of Fugazi's book. 2001's Bloodshot Eyes screams to be experienced live. (Red Eyed Fly, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

SLUM CITY: Sloppier than a spontaneous make-out session in a nightclub bathroom, Slum City never fails to leave audiences all hot and bothered. The foursome's 2003 CD, Hot Beef Rejection, is an up-close and all-too-personal look at the love lives of punk rock man-boys and the ladies who barely tolerate them. (Beerland, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

SHANDON SAHM: "The other white Iggy," this son of Sahm's sound falls squarely into the slash-and-burn/glam-metal realm. The Austinite's solo debut, Good Thoughts Are Better Than Laxatives, neatly fuses his past with Pariah and the Meat Puppets into his edgy, rhythm-heavy sound. (Fox & Hound, 9pm) -- Margaret Moser

HOBBLE: Hobble may be the best local example of the "Room 710 sound," a belligerent mash-up of metal, thrash, and Southern boogie that thrives at 710 Red River. Their 2001 disc, Blackmassking, is like being locked in the trunk of a 1975 Plymouth Valiant during a high-speed chase through south San Antonio. (Room 710, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

KISSING CHAOS: Rising from the ashes of Deep Elm Records' Pop Unknown is Austin's Kissing Chaos, consisting of the former band minus the singer. In Spartalike fashion, Kissing Chaos manages to blend raw-throated aggression with tuneful, coming-of-age songcraft. Their debut EP, Enter With a Bullet, is out on Fueled by Ramen. (Emo's Annex, 9pm) -- Michael Chamy

MACAVITY: After coming together in the Dallas suburbs, Macavity built a buzz opening for such Big D quirk-pop venerables as Chomsky and the Deathray Davies. The youthful quintet's six-song debut, Falling Hard in the Key of E (Idol), is a multilayered, tangent-heavy mixture of emo-pop, post-punk, and space rock that soars across the Texas sky like an armada of fighter jets. (Venue, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

RITE FLYERS: The Rite Flyers are Austin's Steve Collier and John Clayton, who fronted late-Eighties locals Doctor's Mob and Balloonatic, respectively. They recently finished recording with Spoon drummer Jim Eno. (Lava Lounge, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

RICHARD JULIAN: Based in NYC, Richard Julian just finished a tour opening for Norah Jones. His third CD, the self-released Good Life, was warmly received by the press and radio alike. (Cedar Street, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

FLO MOB: "What You Know About That Wood?!," hot Texas, summer barbecues, or synthed-out, trunk-rumbling Southwest flavor? Well, if your knowledge is lacking, check out this tight-knit Austin rap crew as they Mob the stage with plenty of soldiers, bass, and their sweltering sounds of Flo Motion. (Spiros, 10pm) -- Christopher Coletti

MANIKIN: Austin's Red River strip stands on the skinny shoulders of punky local trios like Manikin. The group's self-titled debut on local indie Super Secret was an Orwellian poison dart aimed at today's mall monarchy. (Beerland, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

Zykos, Mercury, 11pm
Zykos, Mercury, 11pm

PRIMORDIAL UNDERMIND: You never know what you're going to get from guitarist Eric Arn's veteran psyche-rock troupe. From a jammy take on traditional riff rock to the improvised Eastern-scale acid meltdowns of 2001's Beings of Game P-U (Camera Obscura), this Austin-based beast runs the gamut. (Ocean's 11, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

SNIFFY: Featuring moonlighters from Squat Thrust, Hobble, and Sexy Finger Champs, Austin trio Sniffy traffics in bug-eyed riff rock with surprisingly melodic underpinnings. Put on their 2002 debut, No Secrets in Sweatpants, the next time you down a fifth of Old Crow, and howl at the moon. Same goes for ladies. (Room 710, 10pm) -- Christopher Gray

PALOMAR: This Brooklyn quartet makes somewhat spastic power-pop for one of the coolest indies going, the Self-Starter Foundation. Last year's Palomar II is nothing if not a blast, like Imperial Teen consuming copious amounts of sugar and schnapps -- before the crash, of course. (Friends, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

FIVER: Sunny fivepiece Fiver is a charter member of the California indie-pop circuit, populating the same town and clubs as Modesto's Grandaddy. Last year's Here It Comes was their third document of mellow space pop on SF's Devil in the Woods Records. (Hideout, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

SLOWREADER: Frontmen Rory Phillips and Gabe Hascall used to be in Austin ska sensations the Impossibles, but their recent self-titled debut came out on punk label Fueled by Ramen. Slowreader's music is slow and melodic, veering from piano-pop to acoustic strummers peppered with occasional electronics. (Emo's Annex, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

NADINE: St. Louis' Nadine has been described by Mojo as "an increasingly sturdy Americana band, whose music is distinctive and well-crafted." Featuring former members of Sourpatch and Wagon, plus a current member of Hazeldine, they're releasing a new CD, Strange Seasons, this spring. (Opal Divine's, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

HEYBALE: Heybale's logo should be a Bowie knife, so sharp is this erstwhile local country act. The presence of Redd Volkaert, Earl Poole Ball, and ex-Wagoneer Tom Lewis tells you all you need to know about this band. (Broken Spoke, 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

[DARYL]: This Dallas band, named after the 1985 flick about a kid with a robot brain, leans heavily on the retro synths, but twists them in more of a Cars-like straight pop/rock direction. Their eponymous sophomore effort on Idol Records last year was one of North Texas' finest releases. (Venue, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

ROCKLAND EAGLES: Though it sounds like (and in some instances is) the name of a high school football team, these Rockland Eagles eschew jockdom for cockdom. The Austin quartet features former Pocket FishRmen axemaster Cris Burns laying down the finest cheeze metal riffage this side of 1981. (Fox & Hound, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

THE ACTION IS: Lesser bands would have burned out or faded away long ago, but The Action Is keeps cruising along. A fixture of Austin's alt-rock scene since the mid-Nineties, TAI's streamlined crunch most recently kicked some ass on 2001's Blackbelt and a cut on 2003 local compilation Ear Candy. (Red Eyed Fly, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

WE RAGAZZI: Frontman Anthony Rolando plays Mick Jagger in this sassy threesome alongside femmes Colleen Burke (keyboards) and Alianna Kalaba (drums). The Chicago trio's swanky The Ache came out on New York's Self-Starter Foundation late last year. (Friends, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

RUBBERHED: Rubberhed has not-so-quietly developed into one of Austin's prime punk-metal bands. Recalling the gritty, melodic energy of SoCal stalwarts Bad Religion, their ferocious live shows have built them a rock-solid following; the six-song firebomb Throw Your Voice was released last month. (Back Room, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

BEDBUG: After a six-month hiatus, Austin's fuzziest indie-pop band is making another go of it. Building on 2000's naively wonderful Happiest of Hours, Chris Hillen and company have a biting sophomore effort due this spring on Tight Spot Records. (Maggie Mae's, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

THE REAL HEROES: All crotch thrusts and shit-eating smirk, Austin's Real Heroes have a blast mixing glam poses, self-referential irony, and unapologetic cock-rock. Front hero Save Hotchkiss plays a haughty, kiss-my-ring rock god so convincingly onstage he might even be one in real life. (Fox & Hound, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

U.S.S. FRIENDSHIP: All you really need to know about U.S.S. Friendship is that it's a sequel/spinoff/companion to longtime local troublemakers the Fuckemos. The rest is better left to your imagination, but only if your imagination can withstand their withering, codeine-addled Texas pill-punk. (Room 710, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

PARTICLE: How does a jam band from California distinguish itself among its patchouli-drenched peers? By designating their sound as "Space Porn Funk." While it's not really "funk," the rest of the description fits. (Stubb's, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

MECHANICAL WALKING ROBOT BOY: Actually, they're a band of art-rockers fronted by Alamo City agitator Chris Smart. MWRB's debut won them a 2001 CitySearch nomination for best San Antonio band on the strength of feel-good anthems like the title track, "(Baby Baby Baby) We're All Doomed." (Lava Lounge, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

Bedbug, Maggie Mae's, 11pm
Bedbug, Maggie Mae's, 11pm

LOWERY 66: Miss Darlene's droning fiddle, set against frontman John Troutman's world-weary folk-rock calls to mind Desire-era Dylan, but maybe that was just the local combine's appearance at Jupiter Records' Dylan in-store. Last year's Holiday With Genie on India Records was positively "Isis." (Steamboat, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

ELEVEN HUNDRED SPRINGS: Featuring former members of the Toadies, Lone Star Trio, and Reckless Kelly, EHP serves up old-school country, but with just a dash of attitude thrown in. Lone Star Beer, twanging Telecasters, crying steels -- you get the picture. Their latest is the self-released A Straighter Line. (Momo's, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

DASH RIP ROCK: Long revered as one of the South's favorite road bands, New Orleans' Dash Rip Rock has enthralled patrons by the barful since 1984. Guitarist/vocalist Bill Davis took the trio in a mellower, country-leaning direction with 2002's Sonic Boom, but their gigs remain nightclub bacchanalia. (Fox & Hound, midnight) -- Greg Beets

BLUE DIAMOND SHINE: Austin's Blue Diamond Shine plays country rock à la Gram Parsons, with moody vocals, reflective lyrics, and a name cribbed from a Blue Rodeo song. John Stark has a keen eye and a rumbling voice that makes for solid post-country grooves on their second CD, That Godforsaken Road. (Broken Spoke, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

HOUSEHOLD NAMES: Jason Garcia overcame an initial shyness to become one of Austin's best young pop songwriters, employing dead-on melodic instincts and let-it-all-hang-out lyrics with equal flair. The Trouble With Being Nice bowed to rave reviews in late 2000; a new lineup and single "Hold on Tight!" are due in April. (Red Eyed Fly, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

THIS MICROWAVE WORLD: Unless you're from New York, you probably don't know what the hell "electro-clash" means. We don't either, but This Microwave World may be Austin's entry into the genre, combining early Factory Records organic rhythms with supercharged electronic pulses à la the Faint. Their The Same Things Kill Your Kids EP is an auspicious debut. (Privilege Patio, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

AMERICAN MARS: There are, in fact, twin guitars in American Mars, but not the kind you'd expect from a Motor City act. Instead, guitarist/vox Thomas Trimble muses darkly over cold hearts and a cold heartland while producer/pedal steel player David Feeny adds twinkling touches. The dreamy No City Fun (2001) follows 1997's full-length debut, Late. (Mother Egan's, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

SUBSET: It's either a fierce rallying cry for the underdog, a full-bodied whimper for the bygone days, or a liquor-fueled rock circus, depending on what mood they're in. This Austin power-pop trio features ex-Silver Scooter skinman Tom Hudson and co-frontmen Lindsey Simon and Nathan Fish, and their live shows are always a full-fledged hootenanny. Memo: They're even better on record. (Maggie Mae's, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

SPACETRUCK: There among the Wilcos and Kelly Willises of the inaugural Austin City Limits Music Festival, these scruffy truck-stop rejects brought the rock. Not the classic, not the jam -- the trailer-park psychedelic. The Austin quartet's debut, Night Rider, showers shoegazer guitar over a glammy, Jane's Addiction shriek and will delight the freak family redneck. (Roxy, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

LITTLE JACK MELODY AND HIS YOUNG TURKS: Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, bandleader, and musical historian, Denton, Texas' Little Jack Melody and His Young Turks are self-described alt-cabaret meisters. Tools of choice include tuba, banjo, clarinet, and harmonium. (Lounge, 1am) -- David Lynch

JEFF HUGHES' CHAPARRAL: This Austin band has held weekly slots at the Black Cat and the Broken Spoke. You can call it country, but try to two-step as Hughes blasts you with his wicked guitar. Or you can just forget about labels and let the band's wild ways soothe that savage breast. (Broken Spoke, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

BASTARD SONS OF JOHNNY CASH: Nope, they don't share any blood ties with the Man in Black. It does say a lot, however, that Cash himself is fine with their moniker. The BSOJC's play country with enough outlaw edge to fit in with any and all outlaws. Their latest is Distance Between on Ultimatum Records. (Opal Divine's, 1am) -- Jerry Renshaw

ATTACK FORMATION: Four not-so-paranoid androids with a fondness for prime D.C. prog-punk and Sister-era Sonic Youth, Attack Formation sends out garbled postcards from a dysfunctional future. Their self-titled 2002 CD on Die Die Diemond is a virus-riddled maze of turgid dynamics. (Ocean's 11, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

SPONGE: Gone are the grungy salad days of 1994's Rotting Piñata and 1996's Wax Ecstatic, as are four- and six-string siblings Tim and Mike Cross, yet Motor City stooges Vinnie Dombroski and slide guitarist Joey Mazzola keep up the classic rock. The group's new EP, For All the Drugs in the World, soldiers on with Dombroski's Bowieness. Expect "Plowed"; hope for "Wish You Were Here." (Venue, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

THE HOCKEY NIGHT: Don't let the corny video game-inspired band name and arrested adolescent song titles ("Battlestar Scholastica," "Axe of Deliverance") fool you. These Twin Cities denizens may hide behind Eighties-pop cheese, but their optimistic manifesto in the face of our bleak future is 100% heart. (Friends, 1am) -- Kate X Messer

DARIN MURPHY: Because Yanks are such pop philistines, talented souls like Austin's Darin Murphy ply their trades at early-week speakeasy gigs instead of on Top of the Pops. Murphy's first-class melodic instincts, as heard on his latest CD, Haunted Gardenias, make him one local boy who's not badly drawn at all. (Lava Lounge, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

THE CALIFORNIA ORANGES: This Sacramento outfit is all about pop music as sweet as their namesake; a single listen to their self-titled 2001 debut will leave you as sticky as a fly caught in a juicer. With songs devoted to folks like John Hughes and Olivia Newton-John, they spare us the irony that such backward glances usually employ. (Tequila Rock, 1:30am) -- Christopher Hess

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