SXSW Picks and Sleepers

Friday Picks

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

DAVIS McLARTY AGENCY PRESENTS: ... three Austin acts the former Ely drummer, forever Booze Weasel-turned-booker books: Hank Williams' illegitimate honky-tonker, Wayne Hancock; twang-bangers the Derailers; and Austin's answer to the Band, the Gourds. Now take it easy on the libations, there's still plenty of Friday night left after this. (Auditorium Shores, 6-8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

KIMMIE RHODES: The sons of Lubbock are more renowned, but Panhandle Jackalope Kimmie Rhodes has the voice. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Townes Van Zandt flocked to Rhodes' 1996 career-high, West Texas Heaven; Emmylou Harris, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and Benmont Tench appeared on last year's return to form, Love Me Like a Song. (Texas Union Theatre, 7:45pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

BIZ 3 PUBLICITY PRESENTS: After razing some Fantastic Damage at La Zona Rosa last year, as the highlight of the hip-hop portion of SXSW, Biz 3 is back, bigger, and badder. Adding ex-Antipopper Beans, freestyle fellow Aceyalone, Diverse, and buzz-bin breakout Jean Grae as exclamation to an already hard-hitting headlining of Def Juxsters El-P, Aesop Rock, Mr. Lif, and co-flows Mr. Len, this lineup reminds us of the quality hiding in the dirty subterranean of hip-hop. Trucker hats optional. (Venue, 8pm-midnight) -- Christopher Coletti

BELLA UNION SHOWCASE: Since their dissolution five years ago, Cocteau Twins Simon Raymonde and Robin Guthrie have been quietly building a quality record label, Bella Union. Denton, Texas' unheralded Jetscreamer is their newest signing, a dirty dual slide-guitar assault that weds the primitive madness of Confusion Is Sex-era Sonic Youth with Blues Explosion stomp. Seattle folkie Laura Veirs represents the label's other side with her new Troubled by the Fire, spare Americana unafraid of taking musical chances. London's Garlic opened for New Order in November 2001, though their brand of witty Brit pop is more akin to Coldplay. Josh T. Pearson of Denton's favorite Old Testament-fixated space-rockin' cowboys Lift to Experience is playing a rare solo set, previewing the "songs about angels and devils" that will populate his forthcoming solo record. L.A.'s Devics lie a lot closer to the Cocteau Twins, though Portishead or Mojave 3 is a better touchstone for the group's organic "not quite trip-hop." The Venue is the label's entry into the Scandinavian garage-mod sweepstakes. (Friends, 8pm-1am) -- Michael Chamy

THE TRACHTENBURG FAMILY SLIDE SHOW PLAYERS: In the immortal words of Gypsy Rose Lee, "You've gotta have a gimmick!" This family trio snaps up random slides at estate sales, writes twee little songs to match the slides, then mom Tina runs the projector and cooks food for the audience, dad Jason plays the guitar and sings, and daughter Rachel, age 9, plays the drums. If you missed their appearance on Conan's corner, this one's a must-see. (La Zona Rosa, 8pm) -- Melanie Haupt

LATINO ROCK ALLIANCE PRESENTS: How do you say "blowout" in Spanish? Start with Nuevo Leon, Mexico's hopped up teenie-bop punks Panda segueing into Monterrey neighbors Jumbo, who stomp classic roc. Lima, Peru, ringers Libido, encoring a SXSW 02 triumph, a similar, ballad-heavy path. Mexico City's Molotov burn down the house next with their X-treme mosh meltdown, a fire that will only be flamed by the DJ/big banda traditionalism of Austin collective Grupo Fantasma. At least the ladies can dance to these Austin Music Poll favorites. Speaking of ladies, the three chicas in Ultrasonicas are no ladies. Try the Donna's if they were L7. Theirs will be one of the showcases of SXSW 03. Remember Los Aterciopelados? The Latina Rock Alliance bags another one. (Vibe, 8pm-1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

MADRUGADA: Though divinely monikered with a truly evocative Spanish word that translates as, more or less, "so late it's early," Norway's Madrugada only plays "dawn" music in the sense that their VU/Gun Club drone is 6am rock & roll. Sivert Høyem has a Bauhaus monotone to die for, while the band's third full-length, last year's gritty Grit (Virgin), is by design, madrugada rock. (Tequila Rock, 8pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

RICARDO LEMVO & MAKINA LOCA: Since splashing onto the international touring scene in the Nineties, L.A.-based Ricardo Lemvo and ninepiece Makina Loca have successfully built up a devoted fan base with their melodic and danceable music that exudes the playful energy of Mother Africa. (Cedar Street, 8pm) -- David Lynch

EXTRA GLENNS: The Mountain Goats John Darnielle has been making music with Franklin Bruno of L.A.'s Nothing Painted Blue for as long as the Mountain Goats have been in existence. Last year, the duo released their first album, Martial Arts Weekend, on Absolutely Kosher Records. Collectively they're a more ornamented, smoothed-over Mountain Goats with a twist. (Hideout, 8pm) -- Michael Chamy

BUTCH HANCOCK: If nothing else, the Flatlanders' continued spreading of Lubbock throughout the world has brought the Panhandle's best songwriter out from the wilds of roof repair in Terlingua to share Texas with those poor unfortunates that live somewhere else. (Texas Union Theatre, 8:30pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

SWEDISH NIGHT NO. 1: Like the Japanese, the Swedes do to American rock what should be done to American foreign policy: make it disarming. Stockholm's Prime STH doses their rock cocktail with Everclear, while User rages like Alanis Morissette on a PMS day. The Whyte Seeds' new Slow Motion EP strokes a Sixties flame like April Wine if they'd been on Nuggets. The Sounds' tight rhythms, glitter-ball synths, and singer Maja Ivarsson sound like they just stepped out of 1983, buzz and all. The Teenage Idols are a Bo Diddley big beat Blues Explosion ready to take the U.S. out of its Strangelove ways. (Maggie Mae's, 9pm-1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

BABOON: With last year's smashingly compelling Something Good Is Going to Happen to You (Last Beat), Denton-based Baboon solidified its claim to the grand old men of Texas noise rock throne. Going on their 13th year, Baboon skirts the line between pop sentiment and obtuse, art-damaged cacophony. (Red Eyed Fly, 9pm) -- Greg Beets

DEATHRAY DAVIES: Dallas' Deathray Davies are one of Texas' most energetic live acts, melding mod garage and lithe New Wave into a tight, poppy package. They're also prolific, a follow-up to Idol efforts The Return of the Drunken Ventriloquist (2001) and The Day of the Ray (2002) is due any day now. (Buffalo Billiards, 9pm) -- Christopher Gray

GRANDADDY: Jason Lytle's lethargic vocals speak to the couch potato in you, while the keyboards, guitar, and light-fingered drums of this Modesto, Calif., fivepiece cushions you from the harshness of everyday life. 2000's Sophtware Slump (V2), made them a household name among nod-rockers and earned them a supporting spot on Coldplay's Parachutes tour. (La Zona Rosa, 9pm) -- Melanie Haupt

TIFT MERRITT: This Texas-born, North Carolina-raised singer-songwriter recalls early Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, and Maria McKee vocally, and a variety of Southern poets and authors lyrically. She's currently writing for her follow-up to last year's Lost Highway debut, Bramble Rose. (Austin Music Hall, 9pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

JEFF KLEIN: As if Britain didn't have enough to worry about with Tony Blair's war-mongering, along comes The London Times and hands Everybody Loves a Winner, Jeff Klein's stark sophomore LP, four stars. Jon Dee Graham better hop the same trans-Atlantic flight. (Cactus Cafe, 9pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

CHRIS STAMEY: Whether you know him as songwriter/musician (the dBs, Alex Chilton, Yo La Tengo), master of the knobs (Whiskeytown, Flat Duo Jets, Alejandro Escovedo), or not at all (c'mon out from under that rock, honey ...), a trip to a Chris Stamey gig is like a traipse through the brightest and jangliest parts of the past few decades. (Opal Divine's, 9pm) -- Kate X Messer

JAYHAWKS: Getting ready to release their seventh and perhaps best album, the perfect pop of Rainy Day Music on Lost Highway, the Jayhawks are back after frontman Gary Louris had a scare when he was hospitalized with a heart infection. This appearance will be their first since then. (Austin Music Hall, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

BEAVER NELSON: With a legion of renowned Austin troubadours criss-crossing the continents for generations now, local singer-songwriter Beaver Nelson has his work cut out for him where making his name is concerned. Fortunately, last year's Legends of the Super Heroes (Freedom) was, in fact, a heroic work; Nelson's fourth album in five years seals his fate as another Austin roots muse. (Cedar Street, 10pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

TOM RUSSELL AND ANDREW HARDIN: Physical place and artistic tone is not the only trait Tom Russell shares with Cormac McCarthy. Russell is a true literary soul, his lyrics tracing the mongrel worlds that have come together to make this country what it is. Joined by the masterful Andrew Hardin on guitars, Russell will be playing Modern Art from his new Hightone release. (Texas Union Theatre, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

STEVE WYNN & THE MIRACLE THREE: Although best known for his work in the Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn has since released nine albums on his own and two as a member of Gutterball. 2001's Here Come the Miracles garnered worldwide acclaim and is the best work of his career. Its European follow-up, Static Transmission, features more compelling guitar rock. (Cactus Cafe, 10pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

PETTY BOOKA: This novel Tokyo-based ukulele duo blends country, bluegrass, exotica, and punk together in a pure, enthralling manner. Petty Booka's Hawaiian-style version of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend" confirms the song's intrinsic pop goodness. After several Japanese releases on Audrey Kimura's Benten label, Petty Booka is finally releasing its American debut, Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian: Best of Petty Booka, on Weed Records. (Mercury, 10pm) -- Greg Beets

KAITO: An intergenerational head-on with Lipstick Traces and post-post-feminism feminist ex-rrriot babies delivers KaitO UK's latest, band-red (SpinART). Then again, playing that Liliput reissue backward or visiting Elastica in rehab might yield the same results. (Blender Bar, 10pm) -- Kate X Messer

LAGWAGON: These SoCal punkers churn out Descendents/All-style punk rawk for Fat Wreck Chords. Stop/start arrangements, paddle-beat drums, tight harmonies, and pop sensibilities all go into this band's songs. (Emo's Main, 10pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

THE BLACK KEYS: Gutbucket crotch-grabbin' blues, baby. This new-thing duo from Akron, Ohio, is fresh off a tour with Sleater-Kinney and about to follow up their breakout smash, The Big Come Up, with a hefty new batch of Delta garage bizangery called Thickfreakness, due April 8 on Fat Possum. (Antone's, 10pm) -- Christopher Hess

THE STINGERS: Austin's first standout CD of 2003, the Stingers' This Good Thing is old-school 2tone ska. Live, the local sixpiece stings plenty, a staggering trombone glissando buckling your knees like the mescaline just bit into your cerebral cortex. Spit-shine guitar, key come-ons, and rum-soaked island-wailing belly rub under the skinny tie umbrella of their fat, stalking groove. (Filling Station, 10:15pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

SPOON: With every new album, the list of superlatives applied to Austin's Spoon grows longer and longer. Last year's Kill the Moonlight was a true original, leader Britt Daniel's songwriting given a whole new arena in which to shine, the music becoming less guitar-driven and more the product of a larger vision. (Stubb's, 10:30pm) -- Christopher Hess

SPYMOB: It's entirely possible you own an album from this Minneapolis quartet and don't know it; they're the instrumentalists behind N.E.R.D.'s In Search Of. Their Arista debut, Sitting Around Keeping Score, is a dizzying and complex mix of hard rock and subtle soul that oozes funky charisma. (Iron Cactus, 11pm) -- Andy Langer

BOBBY BARE JR.: Stepping away from his band, the hard-hitting, Nashville-based Bare Jr., Bobby Bare Jr. released last year's decidedly softer Young Criminals' Starvation League on Bloodshot under his own name. A hit with critics, it made a number of year-end Top 10 lists. (Buffalo Billiards, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

LOS LONELY BOYS: San Angelo's Garza brothers, Henry, Jojo, and Ringo, are riding Austin's cresting wave of Latino love, the three sons of a conjunto veteran mixing blues, classic rock, and traditionalism into their high-octane live blowouts. That Willie Nelson befriended the young trio just adds fuel to the fuego. (Steamboat, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

GRANT-LEE PHILLIPS: After a long struggle with Warner Bros., Phillips disbanded the much-loved Grant Lee Buffalo and struck out on his own. His solo debut, Mobilize, struck in 2001, and Rounder just released the earlier-recorded Ladies' Love Oracle. Phillips continues making lovely, aching, and sometimes-political Americana-rock. (Cactus Cafe, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

ELIZA GILKYSON: One of the real treasures of the Austin music scene, Eliza Gilkyson has come into her own over the past couple of years. Her last two albums, 2000's Hard Times in Babylon and 2002's Lost and Found, contain some of her most enlightened and poignant songs. (Texas Union Theater, 11pm) -- Jim Caligiuri

LUCINDA WILLIAMS: Lucinda Williams is possessed of a powerful, literate, songwriting talent, and a great, earthy vocal presence to match. Williams has a new release, World Without Tears, slated for release on Lost Highway in April. It's no hyperbole to say that Lucinda Williams is one of today's most important female artists. (Austin Music Hall, 11pm) -- Jerry Renshaw

RAMSAY MIDWOOD: Originally released on Germany's Glitterhouse label in 2000, Ramsay Midwood's debut, Shoot Out at the OK Chinese Restaurant, was re-released by Vanguard late last year. Midwood, who relocated to Austin from L.A., recalls Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart with shades of Mississippi John Hurt. If this is Americana, it's the itinerant vagabond version subsisting on muddy truck-stop coffee in pursuit of the eternal groove. (Mother Egan's, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

THE COURT AND SPARK: The Court and Spark, named after Joni Mitchell's 1974 release, speaks of universal desolation, set to warm, melancholy Americana that serves as the perfect backdrop for singer M.C. Taylor's haunting, somewhat ragged voice. This is rangy American storytelling at its nostalgia-inspiring finest, never hitting a sour note, despite any imperfections. (Continental Club, 11pm) -- Melanie Haupt

BETCHADUPA: Tucked neatly in the habit folds of legendary New Zealand label Flying Nun, these cheeky Kiwi lads hardly need to pull their ace ("lead singer Liam is Neil Finn's kid!") to get attention. On two EPs and an LP, their frenetic bounce betrays the average age of the band members (16), yet their sophistication in the songwriting department belies it. Bet your sweet ass. (Aussies, 11pm) -- Kate X Messer

DILLINGER FOUR: This Minneapolis quartet trades in intense hardcore witticisms that coldcock the genre with beer-fueled Midwestern vigor. How could they miss with song titles like "A Floater Left With Pleasure in the Executive Washroom" and "D4 = Putting the 'F' Back in Art''? Both tunes are featured on 2002's Situationist Comedy, D4's first release on Fat Wreck Chords. (Emo's Main, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

ESTRADASPHERE: Less tailor-made for the über-nerd set than Mssrs. Zappa or Bungle, this brave Santa Cruz combo shoots its musical payload to the stratosphere and beyond. Mining prog-jazz avant-core moon rocks the way the Tijuana Brass might bust a move if they were scoring cheesy Eighties video game themes, these kids are the "Super Mario Bros." à la Trinidad and Tobago. (Elysium, 11pm) -- Kate X Messer

IKARA COLT: London has been breeding arty bad boys since the Rolling Stones were basement sweathogs. Heeding the siren call of an altogether different, yet hopefully no-less eternal band -- Sonic Youth -- Ikara Colt gallops hard on the bad moon rising that is Chat and Business, their Epitaph debut. (Antone's, 11pm) -- Raoul Hernandez

ICARUS LINE: At SXSW 02, Icarus Line singer Aaron North endeared himself to anarchists everywhere when he broke open a Hard Rock Cafe case displaying one of Stevie Ray Vaughan's guitars and had his way with the sacred axe. The L.A. fourpiece's 2001 debut, Mono (Sweet Nothing), commits several malicious acts of its own -- of the aural, fuck-everything variety. (La Zona Rosa, 11pm) -- Christopher Gray

CEPHALIC CARNAGE: Formed in Denver in 1992, this spoonful-weighs-a-ton outfit plays "Rocky Mountain Hydro-Grind." Currently on the vibrant Relapse roster, Carnage released Lucid Interval last year, another slab of magma riffs, THC visions, and stop-on-a-dime tempo shifts. (Emo's Annex, 11pm) -- David Lynch

THE OCTOPUS PROJECT: Imagine a visionary group of electronic rock pioneers trying to pull it all together with equipment salvaged from thrift stores, and you'll have a pretty good feel for Austin's Octopus Project. The trio's Identification Parade (2002), attached minimalist bleeps and rudimentary beats to guitar-driven underground rock aspirations, blowing many minds in the process. (BD Riley's, 11pm) -- Greg Beets

TUATARA: Consisting of Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Justin Harwood (Luna), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), and saxophonist Skerik, Tuatara has been fiddling with instrumental experimentation since they formed in Seattle for soundtrack work in 1995. Their new album, Cinemathique, pits orchestral horns against old-timey, wavery keyboards for a sound that needs no dialogue. (Speakeasy, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

YO LA TENGO: Gods of independent-record-store clerks everywhere, this stalwart Hoboken trio was making genius rock & roll when you were just crappin' up diapers. Their understated 2000 release, And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out, slid by most critics, but it grows more profound and stirring and beautiful with every single listen. In April they'll release Summer Sun on Matador. (Stubb's, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

ADAM FRANKLIN FROM SWERVEDRIVER: For a generation weaned on early-Nineties shoegazer Brit pop, only the great Swervedriver managed to take the sonic maelstrom of My Bloody Valentine and marry it to timeless rock songs. With the band on hiatus, frontman Adam Franklin visits Texas for the first time since 1998. The rhythm section of Denton's Lift to Experience joins him as he revisits his excellent Toshack Highway solo project. (Club 505, midnight) -- Michael Chamy

MICHAEL FRACASSO: Releasing his Charlie Sexton-produced Back to Oklahoma: Live at the Blue Door (India) is the most recent accomplishment for Michael Fracasso. This live album cumulates the sweet-voiced songwriter's musical life, beginning in an Ohio steel-mill town, then for a dozen years performing in NYC, and finally to Austin. (18th Floor Plaza, midnight) -- David Lynch

JIMMY LAFAVE: There's no mistaking the voice of Jimmy LaFave. It's an instrument capable of evoking the most astonishing emotion. His last album, 2001's outstanding Texoma, won rave reviews across the country. He's as much Guthrie as Dylan, as much Boss as Ramblin' Jack, but for all that, he's unmistakably LaFave. (Texas Union Theatre, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

PETER BRUNTNELL: Imagine Nick Drake fronting Son Volt. A rarity in that he's British and actually does alt.country the way it was meant to be, Peter Bruntnell released Ends of the Earth in 2002 on the Back Porch label. This rare American appearance is a must-see for fans of country rock with an intelligent bent. (Continental Club, midnight) -- Jim Caligiuri

JOHN DOE: On the heels of his recent acoustic release, Dim Stars, Bright Sky, John Doe, lead singer of L.A. punk rock stars X, comes to Austin to do the quiet thing. He's touring with what he refers to as "the JD folk trio," which includes Dave Carpenter on upright bass and Nick Luca of Calexico and Neko Case's band on keyboards. (Cactus Cafe, midnight) -- Christopher Hess

GOGOL BORDELLO: Eastern European musical sensibilities (violin, accordion, Slavic lyrics) collide with plate-throwing Gypsy passion and sneering Western punk on this Gogol Bordello's sweaty, filthy, immensely enjoyable Multi Kontra Culti vs. Irony, released in September on Rubric. This Brechtian band is the brainchild of mustachioed Eugene Hütz, a Ukranian immigrant who cut his musical teeth on black-market tapes of the Birthday Party. (Red Eyed Fly, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

THE DATSUNS: The latest of the big-in-the-UK "it" bands, New Zealand's the Datsuns ask us to do the time warp again on their self-titled V2 debut. Dolf De Datsun and company love themselves some Thin Lizzy and Deep Purple and sound like a Detroit chop shop on "MF From Hell." (La Zona Rosa, midnight) -- Andy Langer

VERBENA: Being positioned as the new Nirvana didn't exactly help Birmingham, Ala.-based Verbena establish their own identity with the public. After their well-received 1997 indie debut, Souls for Sale (Merge), they signed with Capitol and pared down to a trio for 1999's Dave Grohl-produced Into the Pink. Verbena's long-awaited third album, La Musica Negra, is due in May. (Antone's, midnight) -- Greg Beets

BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE: Aside from a devilish name, L.A.'s BJM slays with a mean psychedelic drone-rock. Watch out for the poncho-clad guy who bangs a tambourine all night. Their newest release is 2001's Bravery, Repetition and Noise. (Buffalo Billiards, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

AVAIL: Richmond, Va.'s Avail are adherents to the Black Flag school of hard touring and hard living. They bring a trashy Southern aspect to their brand of punk rock (and have since 1990 or so), some twang here, a catchy chorus there, on their 2002 Fat Wreck Chords release, Front Porch Stories. (Emo's Main Room, midnight) -- Jerry Renshaw

BRITISH SEA POWER: They're from Brighton, England, they cut dashing figures onstage in WWI military outfits, they describe themselves as "an art band that rocks," and Pulp's Jarvis Cocker thinks they're very, very good. Joy Division and Echo & the Bunnymen comparisons notwithstanding, BSP's soaring guitars and rhythm section make for a heady precursor to Our Upcoming War. (Blender Bar, midnight) -- Marc Savlov

THE MENDOZA LINE: Some music fits like a nicely worn shirt pilfered from an old lover. The softness of the much-washed material feels like home. Such is the work of the Mendoza Line, the Brooklyn-based sixpiece that features pitch-perfect instrumentation, from the languid piano to the yearning pedal steel to Shannon McArdle's sad, countrified vocals. (Hideout, midnight) -- Melanie Haupt

DARDEN SMITH: One of Austin's perennially undersung singer-songwriters, Darden Smith crafted a thing of beauty with last year's Sunflower (Dualtone). Adult pop of the Paul Simon sort, Sunflower breezed like a springtime daydream in the soft Texas soil of sound songwriting. (18th Floor Plaza, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

JANE BOND: Jane Bond's sassy, seductive vocals have made the Massachusetts native a front-runner for first great Austin singer of the new century. Now with Keller brothers Mike and Corey and Johnny Cash/Byrds piano man Earl Poole Ball in her live band, the 25-year-old's gigs are creating more buzz than a Weedwacker while fans eagerly await a follow-up to her 2001 self-released debut. (Cedar Street, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

PATRICE PIKE & BLACK BOX REBELLION: Still soaring from the release of last year's Fencing Under Fire, Pike and company are in fine form these days. She's traveled light years from the jam-band thang, but maintains a fervent audience. The former Sister Seven singer-songwriter likes her rock with funky overlays, courtesy of longtime musical partner Wayne Sutton. (Fox & Hound, 1am) -- Margaret Moser

FRAMES: Having been together more than a decade now, the Frames have made a name for themselves throughout Europe with their brilliant live shows and a handful of releases on Island and ZZT. The Dublin band's last studio release, For the Birds, was produced by Steve Albini and has generated comparisons to folks like Will Oldham, Nick Cave, and Grandaddy. (Club DeVille, 1am) -- Jim Caligiuri

FRENCH KICKS: Where the NYC soft punk-redux movement meets ultramelodic indie rock, the French Kicks have staked out a nice bit of territory through rigorous touring and a strong word-of-mouth fan base. Last year's One Time Bells didn't generate a Strokes buzz, but it came close. (Buffalo Billiards, 1am) -- Christopher Hess

OXES: This Baltimore trio makes intensely geeky instrumental metal that's somehow exultant and ironic at the same time. It's all done with a wink to help you to catch the joke. To quote the cover of their sophomore album, Oxxxes: "Oxes Suck Coxes." And they will rock your soxes. (Emo's Jr., 1am) -- Melanie Haupt

THE FIRE THEFT: Marching through the South for the first time is the Fire Theft, the new project from ex-Sunny Day Real Estate members Jeremy Enigk, Will Goldsmith, and Nate Mendel. The sound is reportedly closer to the classic Sunny Day sound than the gloss of their spotty final album, The Rising Tide. (Aussies, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

EX-GIRL: Hailing from Tokyo by way of the planet Kero Kero, eX-Girl is an all-girl trio specializing in multisensory art-punk freak-outs that retain a veneer of sweetness even as they boggle the mind. 2001's Back to the Mono Kero was released in America on Mike Patton's Ipecac label. (Elysium, 1am) -- Greg Beets

SINGAPORE SLING: Oh you'll get bombed alright. Once the Icelandic lads of Singapore Sling gun you down with their triple blast of VU rays, they'll pump you full of Jesus & Mary Chain till you coma. Last year's treacherous The Curse of Singapore Sling bangs a gong and gets it on. (Spill, 1am) -- Raoul Hernandez

HEKILL THREE: Originally from the small coastal-plain city of Victoria, Austin's HeKill Three play menacing Texas thrash-metal in the Pantera vein, which means it's sliced wide-open and spewing razor-sharp, brick-heavy riffs all over the place. Their latest CD, 3.0, has just been unleashed. (Back Room, 1am) -- Christopher Gray

BURNT BY THE SUN: Headlining this year's Relapse showcase is Brunswick, N.J.'s meaty, furious Burnt by the Sun. Last year's Soundtrack to the Personal Revolution fumes like a toxic waste dump, the sledgehammer riffs moving forward in a perpetual explosion as clean-burning as nuclear fusion. (Emo's Annex, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

CEDELL DAVIS: Born in pre-Depression Arkansas, Cedell Davis' right hand was crippled by polio at a young age. Davis adapted, playing with his left hand and using a butter knife. The result has been decades of bustin'-at-the-seams blues. Notable fans: Tuatera's Peter Buck and Barrett Martin, who contributed to last year's When Lightnin' Struck the Pine on Fast Horse. (Speakeasy, 1am) -- David Lynch

PALAXY TRACKS: In the year since they've set foot on their former Austin home turf, Palaxy Tracks holed up in their Chicago studio and emerged with Cedarland, the follow-up to 2001's brilliant The Long Wind Down. Cedarland, out next month on Peek-A-Boo Records, scales back the effects and sonic layers, emphasizing instead Brandon Durham's deep, affecting vocals that recall Leonard Cohen, Joy Division, and Slowdive all at the same time. (BD Riley's, 1am) -- Michael Chamy

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