SXSW Picks and Sleepers

Thursday Sleepers

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

VIOLET CROWN: Violet Crown rests easily at the head of Austin's melodic-rock class, due in part to the cello and steel sounds of Frank Kammerdiener. Such airy elegance is balanced by Larry Seaman's pensive, often-wistful lyrics, and a loping bass courtesy of ex-Reiver Cindy Toth. (Cedar Street, 8pm) -- Margaret Moser

ARTHUR YORIA: This Houstonian has been slogging along in the humid trenches for years now. The former Jeepney released an EP, Can You Still Look Adorable, last fall, and it's an elegant pop masterpiece that has garnered much-deserved praise from local critics. Yoria's high tenor is often compared to Jeff Buckley's, and pedal steel player Matt Rhodes sounds right at home on a pop record. (Spill, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

BOSCO & JORGE: Chicago's Bosco (Bill Lowman: guitar, piano, upright bass) and Jorge (Brad Gallagher: guitar, banjo) met at an Oklahoma Leo Kottke concert. Drawing more inspiration from Kottke's teacher, the late, troubled acoustic wizard John Fahey, the duo mixes in a healthy dose of experimentation. Their second and latest, Ally in the Sky, comes from Austin indie Sixgunlover and features the Dirty Three and guest spots by members of Isotope 217. (Privilege Patio, 8pm) -- David Lynch

TEGAN & SARA: Canadian twins Tegan and Sara Quin make bouncy, sometimes-screamy electro-folk. Their debut, This Business of Art (2000), came out on Neil Young's Vapor Records. Shortly thereafter, the girls toured with Mr. Young and the Pretenders followed. If It Was You was released last year. (Blender Bar, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

THE AND/ORS: San Diego's And/Ors deliver appropriately scruffy left-of-the-dial indie-fuzz that recalls the slightly skewed perspective of fellow travelers like J. Mascis and Frank Black. The quartet's 2001 debut, Will Self-Destruct (Better Looking), never belies its standard lo-fi pop pedigree, but the hints of tweaked-out experimentalism really keep you on your toes. (Momos, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

THE MAGIC MAGICIANS: Good to see that John Atkins, leader of late Seattle powerhouse 764-HERO, has found quite the, uh, magic with new cohort Joe Plummer, drummer for the Black Heart Procession. Stripped down to the essentials -- ultramelodic indie pop riffs played simply on guitar and drums -- the duo have a new 7-inch out, which follows up their impressive debut, Girls. (Roxy, 8pm) -- Christopher Hess

TEYE & VIVA EL FLAMENCO: Austin-based, Dutch-born six-stringer Teye left his rockin' ways for Flamenco, landing on Letter to Laredo as Joe Ely's strummer. Along with his ensemble and dancer Belén Oliva Bermúdez, Teye has toured worldwide. His first solo release, El Gitano Punky, was recently reissued on his Voy Solito label, as was his 1999 critics' choice Viva el Flamenco. (Opal Divine's, 8pm) -- David Lynch

RENEE WOODWARD: This coffeehouse regular, best known for her songwriters-in-the-round sessions with Billy Harvey and Kacy Crowley, has long been one of Austin's diamonds in the rough. Recruiting Harvey's production and an A-list cast of Austin sidemen, she's recorded a compelling set of demos that suggest her voice and phrasing are unmistakably country, but her songwriting is AAA all the way. (Cactus Cafe, 8pm) -- Andy Langer

WHITE COWBELL OKLAHOMA: WCO's cultural iconography consists of big mustaches, reflector shades, gimme caps, Trans Ams, Daisy Dukes, and doublewides. Musically, they're all about twin guitar harmonies and greasy Skynyrd-style riffage, but the band's main focus is schtick. For being Canadian, they've done their homework at the School of Southern Rock-isms. (Red Eyed Fly, 8pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

LORD STERLING: Lord Sterling's Web site disavows them being "stoner rock," but their Rubric CD, Weapon of Truth, will have you arguing the point. Over-amped guitars, agonized vocals, and tape effects designate them to the back of the Camaro next to the Melvins and Monster Magnet. (Room 7l0, 8pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

KING MISSILE III: One of the leading lights of producer Kramer's Shimmy-Disc stable, this New York-based group won many fans with novel, art-damaged favorites such as "Detachable Penis," "I Am a Sensitive Artist," and "Jesus Was Way Cool." Led by vocalist/poet John S. Hall, King Missile mach three released The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Instinct) in January. (Emo's Annex, 8pm) -- Greg Beets

NEW TEXAS SWING: Two pillars of the Austin jazz scene, saxophonist Alex Coke and vocalist Tina Marsh, reinterpret the music of Texas composers like Ornette Coleman and Huddie Ledbetter through adventurous improvisation. Their recent live, self-titled album, which also includes original material, was recorded at the fabled Bimhuis in Amsterdam. (Elephant Room, 9pm) -- Jay Trachtenberg

Clouseaux: The hottest thing in Houston right now isn't a seat at hit-and-run dentist Clara Harris' trial, it's this 10-member assemblage of alumni from ska/punk outfits the Suspects and Middlefinger. Clouseaux's "lounge exotica" combines Afropop, Latin jazz, surf-n-spy, and throws in a firebreather. (Opal Divine's, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

ELECTRIC SIX: Getting Jack White to bark out vocals on your debut single, "Danger! High Voltage," will land you in The New York Times ("pure driving disco rock") and get your sixpiece outta Detroit to Austin for the music industry to stick its tongue in your socket. (Emo's Main, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

SUPLECS: This Southern-fried power trio out of N'awlins knocks you upside the head with thick, dark slabs of greasy, grimy stoner rock. Their second album, Sad Songs, Better Days, originally released on Man's Ruin, found new life when reissued on This Dark Reign/Devil Doll last year. (Red Eyed Fly, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

OH, BEAST!: Rising like an angry phoenix from the burned-out nest of Austin prog-punk outfit Zulu As Kono, Oh, Beast! preserves the former group's ear-splitting intensity while stripping their multilayered aural slurry down to its barest elements. Together with their live shows, Oh, Beast!'s self-titled five-song debut (Perverted Son) established the group as one of 2002's best new local bands. (Emo's Annex, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

ALL NIGHT: Rising from the Greensboro, N.C., bar rock scene, this quartet came together in 2001 and gelled on their 2003 Tee Pee debut. Thanks to All Night's love of arena rock, the Seventies are alive and well, down to the phaser effects and songs about working, drinking, and ladies. (Room 710, 9pm) -- David Lynch

FIRE MARSHALS OF BETHLEHEM: FMOB is John Croslin's first band since the end of the Reivers a decade ago. The band is comprised of an interesting cross-section of Austinites, including members of Kissinger and the American People. "Sweetly melodic, somewhat depressing pop with a chick singer" is how they describe it. (Texas Union Theatre, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

KAREN POSTON: Ohio transplant Karen Poston has been a fixture on the Austin country scene since her 1994 arrival, supplying y'all-come-back vocals for years in Ted Roddy's Tearjoint Troubadors. Now heading up her own band Crystal Pistol, Poston's talents as both entertainer and songwriter are self-evident on 2001 Music Room release Real Bad. (Broken Spoke, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

JENIFER JACKSON: New York's Jenifer Jackson releases her Bar None debut, So High, on March 11. A crafty singer-songwriter with a taste for different styles, Jackson has collaborated with folks as disparate as Medeski, Martin, and Wood, Troy Campbell, Rosie Perez, Wreckless Eric, and Jules Shear. (Cactus Cafe, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

SPETTRO: Riding rhythm and driving bass, Eddie Scott shakes butts and fancies feet from the S.A. River Walk to house clubs worldwide. Having appeared in URB's "Hey DJ" notables last year, Spettro is set to win whether it's DJing, producing, or tennis tutoring. (Zero Degrees, 9pm) -- Christopher Coletti

KIMCHEE RECORDS SHOWCASE: Started by smarty-pants DJs at M.I.T.'s radio station in Cambridge, Kimchee Records slices and dices a pickled dish of dark Boston rock, strong voices, and glowering guitars. A whispering torrent called Torrez evokes Lisa Germano and Giant Sand slammed headlong into some sweet psychedelic soul riffs that could rouse the Brothers Johnson. Then, the velvety, sonic Spaceman jam-band lilt of Suntan will lull and jar as they rip through an EP and upcoming LP. Victory at Sea ignites its torrid torch tunes amid a perfect storm of melancholy. Nightcapper Thalia Zedek finishes with a six-string rasp and rumble as low as her throaty growl, the most sedating and disturbing this side of dead Nico. (BD Riley's, 10pm-2am) -- Kate X Messer

DRUNKHORSE: Not quite the frontrunner that this Oakland-based quartet's previous Alternative Tentacles snorter was, Adult Situations (Tee Pee) nevertheless plows through skeazy basement rock with all the grace of a mule at the Kentucky Derby. Live, these boys come on like Raiders nation. (Room 710, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

TRANSFORMER LOOTBAG: Madison, Wis.'s Transformer Lootbag sounds like a dangerously unbalanced Ferris wheel translated into pop music. The dexterous trio's proclivity for rapid-fire, herky-jerk dynamics conjures visions of Fugazi coupled with Akron-era Devo. They just released their eponymous debut on Science of Sound. (Emo's Annex, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

ABERDEEN: With a sound that embraces both the Byrds' airy desert jangle as well as the Cocteau Twins' ethereal kaleidoscope, it's perfect that some members of Aberdeen live in L.A. and others in the UK. Vocalist Beth Arzy's artfully restrained delivery, and the group's Homesick and Happy to Be Here (2002), hooked the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, on which Aberdeen appeared in February. (Momos, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

GARY JULES: He may be sick of hearing it, but L.A. songwriter Gary Jules has assured himself a few frames in the midnight movie Hall of Fame with his heartbreaking reading of Tears for Fears' forever fateful "Mad World" in Donnie Darko. (18th Floor Plaza, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

MICHAEL SHELLEY: With bouncy chord quirks, clever lyric-play, and doe-eyed romantic heart (à la Costello, TMBG, NRBQ, Ben Folds, Amy Rigby) Bar None artist Michael Shelley faces down the bitterness of the world with a grin. If Wes Anderson ever puts Rushmore II into production, he should call this sugar-sweet singer-songwriter to score it. (Cedar Street, 10pm) -- Kate X Messer

FEATURES: Tennessee's Features describe their sound as "progressive post-punk/New Wave that touches on the best aspects of music from the last 40 years without sounding derivative of anything from the past." (Spill, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

THE CARLSONICS: Bounding forth from our nation's capital, the Carlsonics rock in the smashing, crashing, cheap-beer-sneer vein. After catching the ears of several East Coast publications, the quintet signed with Brooklyn's Arena Rock Recording Co. late last year. (Buffalo Billiards, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

DAREDIABLO: NYC's Darediablo are all instrumental, letting a rumbling bass, guitar, Fender Rhodes electric piano, and drums do all the talking. Their latest release, Bedtime Stories, was released on Orchard Records; think Ummagumma-era Pink Floyd with occasional whiffs of Deep Purple and even jazz. (Privilege Patio, l0pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

LONGWAVE: NYC's Longwave aren't anything like their buddies in the Strokes, maybe a little more like Interpol. Their upcoming RCA album, The Strangest Things, steams on the heals of their calling-card tour with OK Go and the Donnas. (Venue, 10pm) -- Michael Chamy

C.C. ADCOCK: That Lafayette, La.'s C.C. Adcock came and went a few years ago with a killer debut on Island means nothing: This cat's got many lives left to lead. Whether laying out lowdown swamp rock or hunkered down with the Band of Gold, Adcock's not nearly done and lucky SXSW audiences may get to hear some of the music he's been writing with Doyle Bramhall. (Continental Club, 10pm) -- Margaret Moser

ERIC LEWIS & ANDY RATLIFF: Eric Lewis and Andy Ratliff are two of the most talented players on today's acoustic music scene. With Lewis on guitar, Dobro, pedal steel, mandolin, and fiddle, while Ratliff plays banjo, guitar, and mandolin, they play a brand of bluegrass music that leans more toward Steve Earle than Bill Monroe. Edgar's Blues on Betsy Records is new. (Pecan St. Ale House, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

TORCH: As the name implies, this Austin-based jazz/lounge combo specializes in torch songs delivered with sultry aplomb by singer Seela. Their new local release is Songs for Staying Home. (Elephant Room, 11pm) -- Jay Trachtenberg

TWO TONS OF STEEL: San Antonio's Two Tons of Steel keep it close to home on the rockabilly stuff, with a stand-up bass player and occasional lap steel. Neo-traditionalists to the very end, they haunt places like the Continental Club on a typical Friday night. Their latest is Oh No on Big Bellied. (Broken Spoke, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE JEALOUS SOUND: This L.A. emo-pop quartet's 2000 self-titled debut EP is equal parts sweetness and angst. Led by former Knapsack vocalist/guitarist Blair Shehan, the group's ill-timed 2001 jump to bigger indie Mojo didn't pan out, prompting the group to return to Better Looking to record their first full-length, now set for a June release. (Momos, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

MAKTUB: Maktub was voted Seattle's Best Band by the readers of Seattle Weekly, while Urban Network Magazine raved, "From Brian Auger back in the Seventies to Musiq and Remy Shand today, this group taps the vibe with the twist of some serious bursts of rock intensity." (Mercury, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

MINUS THE BEAR: Clean angles and melodic equations that never falter are the stock-in-trade of Seattle quintet Minus the Bear. Lead guitarist Dave Knudson twiddles his fingerboard like some exacting indie-dork hybrid of Eddie Van Halen and Stanley Jordan … only without the flash of the former or the chops of the latter. But in a very good way. Really. (Roxy, 11pm) -- Christopher Hess

SOUND TEAM: Their closest musical relative is the Olivia Tremor Control, yet the fact that Austin's Sound Team reference La Monte Young and Captain Beefheart on 2002's tasty debut, Into the Lens, is a glimpse into the music itself: smarter than it appears, yet never too clever to be fun. (Spiro's, 11pm) -- Michael Chamy

FROM BUBBLEGUM TO SKY: Wielding a reedy rasp like Sean or Beatle John, almost one-man-band (and originally San Antonian) Mario Hernandez glams it up on Me and Amy and the Two French Boys (Eenie Meenie) channeling as much early Elton as Thin White Duke. (Privilege, 11pm.) -- Kate X Messer

THE SPADES: The beer's better in Holland, which explains both the barley-fueled Motörhead punk of these five Shaft-ers and their moniker. Unprecious articles of clothing only. (Beerland, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

RUMBLEFISH: Come summer, this popular L.A. quartet releases Exit Highland, a slab of radio-ready nü-metal. How radio-ready? With production credits from heavy-hitters like Mudrock, Andy Wallace, and Jay Baumgardner this could be one of the festival's best saw-'em-first sleepers. (Club 505, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

THE LONG WINTERS: After John Roderick's Western State Hurricanes went the way of the dodo in 1999, the singer/guitarist fled Seattle for the Continent. When he returned stateside, he assembled this new indie rockers and released the beautiful, tortured The Worst You Can Do Is Harm on Barsuk last year, followed by the lighter, forthcoming When I Pretend to Fall. (Mother Egan's, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

MAYFLIES USA: Combining dapper Brit pop, languid Southern pop, and kinetic power pop, Chapel Hill's Mayflies USA cover all the pop canons only bookish people care to delineate. The quartet's latest, Walking in a Straight Line (Yep Roc) was produced to just that effect by Keith Cleversley. (Lava Lounge Patio, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

STEVE POLTZ: If all you know about this Cali-cum-Austin singer-songwriter is that he wrote Jewel's "You Were Meant for Me" you know nothing. The former Rugburns leader is notorious for getting his drink on and for his show-stopping ability to solicit topics from the audience and write on the fly. (18th Floor Plaza, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

LEONA NAESS: Diana Ross' ex-stepdaughter has flirted with different approaches in her short-lived solo career. Her first album, Comatised, leaned more toward the gloomy end, but her sophomore release, I Tried to Rock You but You Would Only Roll, was more adventurous but still committed to weepiness. (Lounge, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

FOZLUR: Fozlur is a young, Austin-based quintet running headstrong with ambition into an intriguing mix of Brit pop, no wave, and art rock. Their sprawling library of four-track experimentalism recently gave way to a fine-tuned five-track EP professionally distilled at Austin's Tequila Mockingbird Studio. (Hideout, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

BAD WIZARD: Fuckin' A! Stoner rock never really went away, baby! The BÖC/Black Sabbath/Deep Purple palette didn't get bogarted, according to the bad boys on the other side of the bridge (Brooklyn): Bad Wizard, who passed out on the couch in 1975, are just now waking up to smell the bongwater. (Room 710, 11pm) -- Kate X Messer

PUSHMONKEY: Austin's Pushmonkey hit the scene in 1994. Thanks to steady touring, the band inked a deal with Arista, who put out their 1998 debut, produced by Mike Clink. After tours with Kiss, Iron Maiden, and Ozzfest the band left Arista after enduring label hassles. El Bitché was released in 2001 on their own Trespass imprint, and the band is currently touring as they work on a new album. (Steamboat, midnight) -- David Lynch

THE DIRTBOMBS: Two drummers, two bass players, two guitar players: It could spell "m-e-s-s," but ex-Gories honcho Mick Collins pulls it off and traipses into blues, garage, R&B, and even glam territory along the way. Lots of noise, volume, and cohesion on these Detroiter's 200l disc, Ultraglide in Black. (Emo's Main, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

PETER PAN SPEEDROCK: Like Eindhoven, Holland, scene-and-showcase mates the Spades, PPS may be one of the best named bands at SXSW 03 even if their raw shout rock is primitive at best. (Beerland, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

PEGLEGASUS: This venerable Austin band has slowly but surely amassed a rich body of work. Their self-released, John Croslin-produced fifth album, 2002's Learning Curve, is a wild midnight ride through Meat Puppets/fIREHOSE territory that toddles along the borderline between dreams and reality. (Spiro's, midnight) -- Greg Beets

JUNIOR SENIOR: Watch out, America, these huggable, loveable, upbeat Copenhagen boys just might coax that kink out of your sacroiliac and have your ass out on the dance floor. Junior Senior's egalitarian message in lyrics like, "Everybody move your feet and feel united," is clear. ABBA and Deee-Lite can be proud at what they wrought in the booties of two dudes from Denmark. (Friends, midnight) -- Kate X Messer

MASONIC: Anchored by brothers Kevin, John, and Brian Mason, Masonic has emerged as Austin's prime purveyor of neologistic pop; 2001's Never Stood a Chance (Tight Spot) was one of that year's premier local releases. Since then, vocalist Jennifer Christen has been replaced by Leah Bogan, who fully envelops the role of nonchalant chanteuse established by her predecessor. (Club DeVille, midnight) -- Greg Beets

EARLIMART: Alternating stiff-necked, riffy indie rock with roomier compositions showcasing their poppier side, Californians Earlimart are as robust and full-bodied as the fruits of their native Modesto's vineyards. Listen for R.E.M.'s "Disturbance at the Heron House." (Tequila Rock, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

KEVIN MCKINNEY: The soul of Soulhat, Kevin McKinney is Austin's answer to the standard "Someday My Prince Will Come." A one-man pop savant, McKinney's first full-fledged solo album, last year's McVein in Green, brought back the Lovin' Spoonful in a funky, Austin fashion. (18th Floor Plaza, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

LUST MURDER BOX: Gloomy, desolate, and foreboding, Lust Murder Box features two ex-members of Austin Music Award-winning industrial terrorists Terminal 46. With the single-named Vaughn's bewitching female vocals, their 2003 self-titled CD has Dead Can Dance swapping bat-wing potion recipes with Skinny Puppy. (Elysium, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

LENI STERN: Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Leni Stern showed musical aptitude early in her native Germany, playing piano and guitar by age 11. After attending Berklee in Boston, Stern collaborated with drummer Paul Motian and guitarist Bill Frisell. She's since worked with famed Indian percussionist Zakir Hussain and Austin drum wizard Brannen Temple. Her 13th, Finally the Rain Has Come (LSR), is an ode to peace and 9/11. (Elephant Room, midnight) -- David Lynch

BIONIC: "Hard Times in the Land of Plenty" was hard blues Eighties/Austin-style from Omar & the Howlers. This Montreal quartet makes that land of whup-ass Australia, as in Angus and Malcolm Young hopping aboard the Toadies. (Red Eyed Fly, midnight) -- Raoul Hernandez

MIGAS: Featuring two-thirds of the Fast and Sexy Tia Carrera, Austin's Migas put the "mental" back into instrumental rock. The trio's brand-new Perverted Son EP trades off between steel-toed bursts of tempestuous shock-metal and stately passages of disquieting calm. (Emo's Annex, midnight) -- Christopher Gray

90 DAY MEN: 90 Day Men are a math rock band on Chicago's Southern Records, yet stand apart thanks to a clanging, Trumans Water-style dissonance and vocals echoing David Yow at his most deadpan. Last year's To Everybody added surprising layers of keyboard and piano to their sound, under the aegis of John Congleton, Paper Chase frontman. (Privilege Patio, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

SOUTH AUSTIN JUG BAND: One of the fastest-rising bands out of Central Texas, the South Austin Jug Band has been causing a ruckus with their brand of mostly acoustic music. SAJB combines their own fast-paced originals with tunes from the songbooks of Bob Wills, Walter Hyatt, and Townes Van Zandt. (Scholz Beer Garten, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

RED ELVISES: "Children, did your grandfather ever tell you about the time he and his friends drove through the mountains to that casino near the old mines? When they finally arrived, guess who was there? That's right, it was the Red Elvises -- yes, the same ones who took over Graceland in a coup d'etat in ought-nine with their animal-print suits and Eastern European surf rock." (Opal Divine's, 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

ODD MAN OUT: This young Austin-based group plays fresh, modern mainstream jazz. Regulars on the local scene, their self-titled debut release received positive reviews all around. (Elephant Room, 1am) -- Jay Trachtenberg

DIRTY WORMZ: If you like your hip-hop with a side of roaring rock, then Austin's Dirty Wormz are where it's at. With the Black Zorro Smackola at the helm of hard-hitting live instrumentation featuring members of Vallejo, the tempo and the rhymes tear through genres like a blender on grind mode. (Steamboat, 1am) -- Christopher Coletti

AREOLA 51: The voice behind Scratch Acid -- the guitar, stoopid, Brett Bradford -- crawls out from under Austin underachiever Sangre de Toro with bandmate/stickman Max Brody, corrals Honky badass Jeff Pinkus, and continues cranking out the screaming meamies like an Italian snuff film. (Privilege Patio, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

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