SXSW Picks & Sleepers

Picks & Sleepers

Thursday Picks

All showcase times subject to change. Please check


8pm-2am, Emo's Annex, advises Philly's Relapse Records (, and three more suitable commandments never existed for metal in the nü millennium. Leavening the indie's now annual SXSW showcase with the Euro ambience of its Release imprint is Boston's 27, whose sample sorcerer Ayal Naor burns with the witchy cry of Maria Christopher. Ontario fivepiece the End ushers in more traditional Relapse fare with extreme, screamin'-meemie metal, splattered on the group's sophomore massacre Within Dividia. Dysrhythmia pours instrumental math metal, and as anyone who witnessed last year's liquid Pretest tour can attest, comparisons to the Priests of Syrinx are inevitable. Far more insane is NY's Unsane, whose CD/DVD career exhumation Lambhouse brought slaughter to the holidays. Seattle's Zeke are back with punk-cut NASCAR metal, their maiden disc for Relapse, first since '01's flaming Death Alley, due this spring. Crowning the pyre is Oakland's High on Fire, who must be on the verge of following up '02's thundering battle call Surrounded by Thieves. The operative word here is metal. – Raoul Hernandez


8pm-2am, Beerland
That winged L.A. indie Birdman released John Frusciante's whacked-out-of-print second solo disc, '97's Smile From the Streets You Hold, helps rationalize PFFR's spazztastic United We Doth, which wigs out somewhere between the Moldy Peaches and South Park. You expect something this demented from Brooklyn, and particularly out of Birdman, whose digital droppings generally kill. Oakland's Sixties-loving witch doctors the Gris-Gris are leaking dirty water garage nuggets sometime this spring, following singer Greg Ashley's solo turn last year, the Theraflu Medicine Fuck Dream. Bay area mates, Berkeley's Cuts, got some of their own juju go-going on '03's 2 Over Ten, and appropriately, a Cure was found. Along with the Gris-Gris, Pittsburgh's the Modey Lemon and D.C.'s Apes are currently on Birdman's Carnivorous Rampage Tour, the former a vintage two-man rock squeeze, the latter a three-man/one-woman cage rattler. King Kong. Coup to Jim Dickinson, Otha Turner, and Greg Dulli's Twilight Singers, big Birdman knows ya gotta break eggs to make a showcase. – Raoul Hernandez


8pm, Emo's Main
Chicago's Diverse speaks for a nation of millions when he cites that, "We simmer pots of malcontent with no way to let off steam." Last year's One A.M. presents his hip-hop credo with guest appearances by fellow SXSW'ers Vast Aire and Jean Grae bolstered by the production efforts of Rjd2, Madlib, and Prefuse 73. – Robert Gabriel

Primordial Undermind

8pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz
Darlings of the local Emperor Jones label with Thin Shells of Revolution, Primordial Undermind wins this year's hyphenation competition. Guitar maestro Eric Arn's trippy-airy-droney-avant-garde troupe fuses the Dillards, hints at Traffic, and conjures BÖC. – Margaret Moser

El Tri

8pm, Town Lake Stage @ Auditorium Shores
Crowning NARAS' annual Latin fiesta on the shores of Austin's best venue are Mexico City's musical Teotihuacan – El Tri – a roc monument marketed in our half of the Americas as Mexico's Rolling Stones. The revelatory 2-CD Los Numero Uno Exitos 1968/2003 unearths a familiar 35-year arc, stripped-down Sixties freneticism muscling into hard body rock evoking everyone from the Stones and Springsteen to ZZ Top. – Raoul Hernandez


8pm-2am, Opal Divine's Freehouse
In this, one of two showcases feting the Chicago indie's 10th birthday, Bloodshot displays its depth and breadth. Austin's own bluegrass powerhouse the Meat Purveyors rattles off tunes grabbed from both Ralph Stanley and Ratt. Kansas City's Rex Hobart & the Misery Boys follow with their bona fide take on the honky-tonk life. Rearing their ominous head from the deep piney woods outside Chapel Hill,
Trailer Bride creates a Southern noir dream of loss, uncertainty, salvation, and sheer delight, propelled by melodically detached vocals and spine-scratching arrangements. Led by Waco Brother Deano Schlabowske, Chicago's brand new Dollar Store puts bluegrass, rock, and country in a blender, turns up the volume, and presents it on a beer-soaked platter. Drawing from the Georgia Satellites, Del-Lords, Steve Earle's Dukes, the Backsliders, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Nashville/NYC supagroup the Yayhoos blast their with a distinctly Southern rock strut. Here's to another successful decade, Bloodshot. – David Lynch


9pm-1am, La Zona Rosa
Annexing more eminent domain after 2002's merger with Beggars Banquet, indie rock's standard bearer is building on Interpol's momentum. In their wake, Gerard Cosloy & Co. added Nottingham, England's Seachange to their roster. Their Glitterball EP is like a dark and moody Blur or early Hood with a cello. The always-fun Preston School of Industry follows, featuring the talented Scott Kannberg, Pavement's better songwriting half. The latest in a line of indie luminaries from the Northwest, Pretty Girls Make Graves drew rave notices for The New Romance, a female-fronted fireball combining elements of Fugazi, Built to Spill, and their forebears, the Murder City Devils. Needless to say, the headliner of the evening and the entire festival is Mission of Burma, the seminal Boston outfit who dissolved in 1983 after guitarist Roger Miller's stifling bout with tinnitus. Readying their sophomore release for Matador, Miller, bassist Clint Conley, and drummer Peter Prescott demonstrate in their first Texas appearance ever why they're the missing link between Joy Division's post-punk urgency and Sonic Youth's screeching avant-rock. – Michael Chamy


9pm, Exodus
Those who love Grandaddy like Earlimart, which is why these four SoCal kids got rave reviews with last year's Everyone Down Here. Their brand of fuzz pop, sentimental lyrics, and sweet vocals, on the way in a fourth full-length, always pleases. – Darcie Stevens

The Sounds

9pm, Rockstars
Sweden's the Sounds inherited their look – ice-queen goddess backed by four downtown dudes – from Blondie, and their propensity for pop from ABBA. Last year's Living in America (New Line) is a saucy smattering of New Wave and disco filtered through singer Maja Ivarsson's snarl, summed up in the title track's "We're not living in America, and we're not sorry." We are. – Christopher Gray

Scissor Sisters

9pm, Stubb's
Brits are declaring hipper-than-hip New Yorkers the Scissor Sisters either the Best New Band of 2004, the new Bee Gees, or Roxy Music redux. While their Right Said Fred getups and a funky falsetto run through "Comfortably Numb" are scary, their self-titled debut is chock-full of guilty pleasures, their stageshow making Fischerspooner's look like kid's play. – Andy Langer


9pm, Emo's Main
A New York native and former member of Antipop Consortium, Beans electrifies analog rap with futuristic swipes of poetic conjecture. The self-proclaimed "new wave vandal" veers into a Warp Records-like labyrinth of laptop mechanics on the new Now Soon Someday. – Robert Gabriel

Jack Ingram

9pm, Austin Music Hall
As successful as he is regionally, this Dallas-based "Texas Music" pioneer is still due more acclaim: He's a songwriter's songwriter and a charismatic entertainer who'll have zero trouble handling this roomy stage. – Andy Langer

Runner & the Thermodynamics

9pm, Caucus Patio
Flagged as one of the Top 5 unsigned artists of 2003 by CMJ, Runner & the Thermodynamics are emerging fast out of Boston. Drumming like the late Seventies, plus a killer guitar/bass combo, Runner's self-titled full-length is speeding around the corner, so take note. – Darcie Stevens

Robbie Hardkiss

9pm, Copa
San Francisco-by-way-of-Austin electronica legend Hardkiss spins deep house and techno like it was still the freshest thing on the block. New disc Everything Is Changing, on Classic, is silky house madness guaranteed to melt your booty, or at least make it twitch. – Marc Savlov

Henry Butler

9pm, Cedar Street
As New Orleans as 'Fess Longhair, ivory poacher Henry Butler is both talented and intrepid, adept at R&B, jazz, rock, gospel, and nearly everything else. Butler released The Game Has Just Begun on Basin Street in 2002, but the legend doesn't play much outside his hometown, so experience his Crescent City sonics while you can. – David Lynch

Telefon Tel Aviv

9pm, Elysium
Pioneers of "laptop soul," these New Orleans studio geeks' Map of What Is Effortless fused gorgeous orchestration, slippery textures, and meaty beats. – Andy Langer

Tish Hinojosa

9pm, Texas Union Theatre
Tex-Mex queen Tish Hinojosa is one of the most visible bilingual singer-songwriters north of the Rio Grande. Her 15-year catalog is full of heartfelt melodies, regional sabrosa, acoustic grace, and personal lyrics. – David Lynch

Eenie Meenie

9pm-2am, Caucus
This L.A. label's mission is to sate the nation's jones for twee-infused pop and bedroom electronica. The latter is well executed by Japan's PINE*am, whose Playing Intense Neutral Electronica ad nauseAM sounds like a bunch of Kraftwerk lovers reconfiguring the Chuck E. Cheese animatronic band catalog. L.A.'s Blue-Eyed Son is punk-schooled songwriter Andrew Heilprin. His forthcoming LP, West of Lincoln, is a melodic summer paean to falling in and out of befuddled love, constantly vacillating between romance and regret. With Apples in Stereo drummer Hilarie Sidney on guitar and Oranger's amazing Jim Lindsay on drums, Lexington, Kentucky's the High Water Marks is something of an indie-pop supergroup, their debut, Songs About the Ocean, an effervescent, guitar-driven, fuzz-packed joyride down the sunny side of the street. L.A.'s Irving, though informed by the New Wave synth renaissance, shuffles bursts of feedback and trumpet. Last year's excellent EP, I Hope You're Feeling Better Now, features the Andy Paley-produced "White Hot," sensual sentiment driven by a neo-Motown backbeat. Mario Hernandez, aka From Bubblegum to Sky, was born in Texas, but grew up in Japan, which sort of explains his predilection for psych-tinged pop, retro synth flourishes, and love of Pink Lady. The S.F.-based Hernandez just released his second full-length, Nothing Sadder Than Lonely Queen. – Greg Beets

Jean Grae

9:30pm, Emo's Main
As a guest columnist for, Jean Grae recently lashed out at the rap industry for overlooking real feminine talent in favor of smut. If her 2003 EP The Bootleg of the Bootleg is any indication, the NYC gifted MC is all about the former and not the latter. – Robert Gabriel

Definitive Jux

10pm-midnight, Emo's Main
Funneling the "independent as fuck" attitude of El-P's original outfit Company Flow into a working NYC label with a stable of thoroughbreds, Definitive Jux pushes the envelope as rap's most belligerent roster of iconoclasts. The politically charged banter of
Mr. Lif reunites with its Boston origins by way of collaboration with Akrobatik and DJ Fakts One. The outspoken trio performs under the name of the Perceptionists as they challenge the beliefs of every American from Joe Conservative to Willie Crunk. Utilizing the same sort of literary approach that helped make Mr. Lif's I Phantom an underground sensation, Aesop Rock spits gravelly, monotone tales of the most incongruent poetic design. Proclaiming on 2003's Bazooka Tooth that the "revolution will not be apologized," his post-apocalyptic agenda depends on abnormality becoming the standard as corporate conformity dwells 6 feet below the ground he covers. The most straightforward of the bunch, hotshot producer Rjd2 has been riding the buzz from his much-celebrated 2002 release Deadringer like a first-time joneser who's yet to realize it's ecstasy making him so enigmatic. – Robert Gabriel

Mary Lou Lord

10pm, Club DeVille
Mary Lou Lord has gone from busker (catch her on Sixth Street!) to major-label songbird and back again. Blending folk and indie influences has landed her tours with Shawn Colvin and Guided by Voices, her new Baby Blue just hitting stores. For this appearance the Bostonian will be backed by Rubric labelmates Gingersol. – Jim Caligiuri

Susan Cowsill & the Midcity Ministers

10pm, Vibe
A poster girl for rock & roll mommy, New Orleans-based Susan Cowsill was a member of the Cowsills, Continental Drifters, and a veteran of numerous sessions and notable marriages (Dwight Twilley, then Peter Holsapple). Her musical heritage is as strong as her deft pop. – Margaret Moser


10pm, Back Room
Slim Shady once declared "I'm a cross between Manson, Esham, and Ozzy." Esham returned the favor by getting himself and Shady protégés D12 kicked off the Warped Tour for backstage brawling, but this underground Detroit legend channels his venom on record, too; last year's Repentance featured no shortage of fire and brimstone. – Andy Langer

I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness

10pm, Elysium
When Windsor for the Derby crossed paths with Paul Newman and Glorium, a beautiful Austinite was born. Mixing a dance beat with the emotional sensibilities of Bright Eyes, the clash rockers have gathered quite the fan base while opening for local bigwigs Spoon and Explosions in the Sky, as well as Wire. – Darcie Stevens


10pm, Agave
This Dallas quintet has amassed a literal "Chomsky Army" of fans with its bounty of quirk-laden, New Wave pop. They signed with Phoenix's Aezra Records in 2002, recording with Steely Dan producer Gary Katz and mixing with ex-Talking Head Jerry Harrison. The result is Let's Get to Second, Chomsky's fourth album. – Greg Beets


10pm, Room 710
The Lee brothers don't fuck around. Supagroup also doesn't veer much off the track of AC/DC and Van Halen, but with a new self-titled release on Foodchain Records, their mean-street back-seat rhythms rock your ass whether you like it or not. – Darcie Stevens

Ruthie Foster

10pm, Mother Egan's
College Station's Ruthie Foster sings a remarkable hybrid of blues, gospel, roots, and folk music filled with honest spirituality and emotion. Foster's vocal abilities have critics justly comparing her to Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin. She's preparing a live album, due this spring on Blue Corn Music. – Jim Caligiuri

Kermit Ruffins

10pm, Cedar Street
Evoking the spirit of Louis Armstrong as an accomplished trumpeter and a scatting singer, Kermit Ruffins is nothing short of an institution in his hometown of New Orleans. "When I Die (You Better Second Line)" is much more than a song, it's Crescent City culture. – Robert Gabriel

C.C. Adcock

10pm, Continental Club
This Lafayette, La., guitarist was a founding member of Lil' Band O' Gold. His raucous Gulf Coast blend of swamp rock, Cajun, rockabilly, and Zydeco is guaranteed to ignite any party. Better yet, his boogie king Island debut of the mid-Nineties is finally getting a follow-up on Yep Roc. – Jay Trachtenberg

The Subdudes

10pm, Antone's
One of the great live acts of the Nineties, the Subdudes, has reunited after five years apart. This incarnation features three original members, Tommy Malone, Steve Amedée, and John Magnie. Their first album in eight years, Miracle Mule, is due in April on Back Porch. – Jim Caligiuri

The B-52's

11pm, Stubb's
Although the B-52's have become an unlikely institution in the 28 years since their Athens, Ga., birth, their singularly kooky brand of retro-futuristic dance music ultimately belongs to the odd eggs. It's almost impossible to imagine midcentury kitsch becoming venerated as art without the B's cultural influence. – Greg Beets

French Kicks

11pm, Red Eyed Fly
Brooklyn quartet French Kicks spent their formative years in D.C.'s hardcore scene before sharing tours with the likes of the Walkmen and Hot Hot Heat. Surprisingly, an advance of their forthcoming StarTime CD Trial of the Century reveals a penchant for placid, pleasant pop songs that linger instead of detonate. – Christopher Gray


11pm, Elysium
After their beginnings as the Bauhaus-influenced Factory Press, these three Texans moved to NYC, perfecting a smoky brand of musique concrète-infused slocore that got the attention of the Swans' Young God label. A tour with Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds ensued, as did a deal with the Arena Rock Recording Co., who put out last year's more conventionally rocking Televise as well as a reissue of Calla's amazing 1999 debut. – Michael Chamy

The Derailers

11pm, Antone's
When Tony Villanueva retired from the band at the beginning of 2004, Austin's Derailers took a big hit. Brian Hofeldt, the band's other primary force, and bassist Ed Adkins are in preparation for a new album, and they promise a live show that lives up to the honky-tonk institution's name. – Jim Caligiuri

Bruce Robison

11pm, Texas Union Theatre
It's been entirely too long since the crisp melodies and vivid narratives of 2001's Country Sunshine, but Austin's most successful songwriter has some great laurels to rest on: This year alone, he's posted a chart-topping Dixie Chicks tune and a George Strait single. – Andy Langer

Two High String Band

11pm, Mother Egan's
The Two High String Band from Wimberley, Texas, start with bluegrass, but may end up just about anywhere. Mandolin player Billy Bright, stand-up bass player and his wife Bryn Bright, and guitarists Brian Smith and Geoff Union put out their Blue Corn Music debut last year, featuring guest turns from Vassar Clements and David Grisman. – Jim Caligiuri

Erin McKeown

11pm, Tambaleo
There weren't many albums last year as stylistically challenging yet wholly gorgeous and fulfilling as this singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist's Nettwerk debut, Grand. The "Django Reinhardt & G. Love" tag that trails her doesn't do her justice, and it's unlikely anyone else this week will mix pop, swing, jazz, and cabaret as gracefully. – Andy Langer

Josh Rouse

11pm, Bigsby's
Rouse, a Nashville-based singer-songwriter, earned kudos for last year's 1972 (Rykodisc), a song cycle that reimagines the year of his birth (a fine year, that one). Whether nostalgia or innovation, it's a great idea, and Rouse's cheekiness is a sure pleaser. – Melanie Haupt

Ron Sexsmith

Midnight, Tambaleo
Little blue boy, come sing your song. Like you did at Waterloo Records with that wistful reading of the Clash's "Bank Robber." Said cover isn't on the Canadian songwriter's seventh album, Nettwerk's imminent Retriever, which is overflowing with the comfort A.A. Milne might've made as a musician rather than an author. – Raoul Hernandez

Charlie Robison

Midnight, Austin Music Hall
One half of the now-infamous Robison brothers from Bandera, Texas, Charlie Robison is gearing up for a new Lucky Dog disc that will be produced by Lloyd Maines. His 2003 live LP captured a gritty performance at Gruene Hall, showing off his ability to entertain with finely drawn stories of the everyday mixed with laconic wit. – Jim Caligiuri

The Greencards

Midnight, Mother Egan's
The Austin trio's 2003 debut, Movin' On, crossed American bluegrass with winds gusting from both oceans. Not bad for a couple of Australians and an Englishman. Showcasing at the venue where they made their name, the keening vocals of bassist Carol Young set the Greencards apart. – Margaret Moser

Allison Moorer

Midnight, Coyote Ugly Saloon
After three studio efforts and a live set for MCA Nashville, Allison Moorer has moved to Sugar Hill, her next disc, The Duel, due in mid-April. With a classic vocal style and knack for writing songs that range from hard-hitting to sultry, Moorer's music veers from soul to country to folk with a master's touch. – Jim Caligiuri

Van Hunt

Midnight, Cedar Street
The pen behind Dionne Farris' "Hopeless" and a management client of American Idol's Randy Jackson, this Atlantan is more than your average flavor-of-the month neo-soulman. His self-titled Capitol debut oozes depth and vulnerability. – Andy Langer

Thee Shams

Midnight, Vibe
Cincinnati's Thee Shams offer a white-hot take on first-wave garage punk underscored with R&B reverence. Guitarist/vocalist Zach Gabbard is a convincing blues belter, and drummer Keith Fox's Keith Moon-style attack is a thrill to witness. Their new You Want It is out this month on Fat Possum. – Greg Beets

The Walkmen

Midnight, Exodus
There's plenty else to like about a band with three former Jonathan Fire*Eaters and voice as rock solid as Hamilton Leithauser's, but this could well wind up year of "The Rat." It's 41/2 minutes of reverb-rocking bliss that ought to all but guarantee the Walkmen's tightly spun Bows and Arrows a spot on your best of 2004 list. – Andy Langer

50 Foot Wave

Midnight, Momos
You're gonna wanna head for higher ground as Kristin Hersh's new punk rock band hits the mainland. While says not to expect the Throwing Muses (the trio includes drummer Rob Ahlers and recent Muse Bernard Georges), Hersh's thick chord complexities and patented yowl promise to keep the faithful moondoggies ridin' the wild surf. – Kate X Messer


Midnight, Fox & Hound
These East Londoners are doing bang-up overseas business with the shamelessly sing-along pop of last year's Vehicles & Animals. While NME has described them as both "Pavement-esque pop mavericks" and "kind of Cockney Pulp who conduct their business in woozy waltz-time," they're a lot more fun and less filling than Radiohead or Coldplay. – Andy Langer


Midnight, Bigsby's
After a platinum brush with fame and at least one side trip to Nashville, Fastball is back in Austin and back on track. In the tradition of the best power pop, Tony Scalzo, Miles Zuniga, and Joey Shuffield continue to make melodic, crunchy rock, their new album due in May on Rykodisc. – Jim Caligiuri

Junior Senior

12:30am, Stubb's
Denmark's dynamic duo made quite a splash at SXSW 03. Then came the stateside release of D-D-Don't Stop the Beat (Crunchy Frog/Atlantic) and the Atari-inspired video for their Wham!/ Michael Jackson rave-up, "Move Your Feet." Mining techno, disco, punk, and pop for all their kitsch value, Junior Senior is high-fructose bubblegum fun for the 21st century. – Greg Beets

Brian Jonestown Massacre

1am, Club DeVille
Their 2003 CD And This Is Our Music (Tee Pee) mixed horns, psychedelic guitars, and the unending madness of guiding light Anton Newcombe into one of the best psycho-rock dustups since Primal Scream's Give Out but Don't Give Up. Even then, it can't compare to the new BJM/Dandy Warhols doc Dig! – the single best incarnation of indie nation since Emo's. – Marc Savlov

Black Lips

1am, Jackalope
Emerging from suburban Atlanta, Black Lips embody the outsider rage of artists from Hasil Adkins and Iggy Pop to Blag Jesus. Their 2003 self-titled debut LP on Bomp came out right after vocalist/guitarist Ben Eberbaugh was killed in a car accident. The Black Lips kept going in honor of Eberbaugh, recruiting Jack Hines. – Greg Beets

Reckless Kelly

1am, Antone's
The Reckless Kelly boys have come a long way, with a whole new level of maturity on their Sugar Hill release Under the Table & Above the Sun. These Austinites bang out some good, unpretentious twangy rock, less concerned with gloss and fashion than with honest songwriting and solid playing. – Jerry Renshaw


1am, Broken Spoke
There are country bands, and then there's Chaparral. Jeff Hughes and company were at the front of Austin's herd in the early Nineties, wooing audiences with whip-smart lyrics and irresistible tunes (alumni include Charlie Robison). They're a favorite Thursdays at the Broken Spoke, where the dance floor is packed, the sawdust spread thin, and their stamina is as good as their two-step. – Margaret Moser

Southern Culture on the Skids

1am, Continental Club
Adjust your overalls, wipe that fried chicken grease off your face, and grab a jar of corn likker – the prodigal kids from Chapel Hill are back with Mojo Box (Yep Roc), more songs about trailer park haute couture. Their wild and warm eighth album may be more refined, but it's still surfy guitars, a cinder-block garage sound, and harmony vocals as sweet as a country mile. – David Lynch

South Austin Jug Band

1am, Mother Egan's
Gigging nearly every night for a year or more has turned the SAJB into one of the tightest and most innovative bands in Texas. But they're not a "jug band," and, though they won the new band contest at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2002, they're not a bluegrass band either. They combine tunes from Bob Wills, Walter Hyatt, and Jimi Hendrix with spirited originals. Their self-titled debut was released mid-2003. – Jim Caligiuri

Juliana Hatfield

1am, Caribbean Lights
Blake Babies founder and indie-pop goddess Hatfield is noted for her early Nineties effervescent solo rockers, but she's also known for being a sexy feminist prototype for everyone from Puffy AmiYumi to the Joan Jett flavor of the week. Her 2002 career retrospective, Gold Stars 1992-2002 (Zoe), features seven new tracks. – Marc Savlov

The Stills

1am, Emo's Main

A set of hip post-punk influences have them too often dismissed as Strokes-come-latelies, but this Montreal quartet shows off an impressive songs-over-style approach on last year's dream-poppy Logic Will Break Your Heart. – Andy Langer

The Wrens

1am, Friends
This New Jersey quartet fell victim to label nightmares in 1996, leaving them high and dry after the release of their acclaimed second album, Secaucus. They trucked on with their beautiful, powerful indie rock, resurfacing in 2003 with the staggering Meadowlands (Absolutely Kosher). – Melanie Haupt

My Education

1am, Hideout
Imagine if John Cage, J. Spaceman, John Bonham, and Ray Manzarek had banded and put Kevin Shields in control of the soundboard. Austin's string-sectioned My Education is as close to sonic perfection as any sane man dare tread minus some sort of aural flak jacket. Two CDs, two tours, and now this. – Marc Savlov

Experimental Aircraft

1am, Pyramids
The beautiful fuzz of Experimental Aircraft has lulled Austinites since the millennium's dawn, but 2002's Love for the Last Time (Rollerderby) mixed Rachel Staggs' haunting vocals with T.J. O'Leary's melodic riffs to create something bigger and more complex. ExAir is in the studio tracking a new full-length now, so expect more airy lullabies from this spacey foursome. – Darcie Stevens

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