Thursday Picks

SXSW picks & sleepers


Picks for March 17

All showcase times subject to change

THE GOURDS

8pm, Town Lake @ Auditorium Shores Austin's beloved bad-boy roots-rock quintet produced one of their best albums last year, Blood of the Ram, featuring the rustic genius of Kevin Russell's "Lower 48." It's not what the Gourds record that makes their shows so joyous and communal, though. It's the cockeyed covers. – Margaret Moser

TWO HIGH STRING BAND

8pm, Opal Divine's Freehouse Austin bluegrass trio Two High String Band – mandolinist Billy Bright, who works with Peter Rowan & Tony Rice; guitarists Brian Smith and Geoff Union – mix originals with Neil Young, John Hartford, and, of course, Bill Monroe. They're working on a follow-up to 2003's critically lauded Insofarasmuch. – Jim Caligiuri

NICKNACK

8pm, Zero Degrees This local DJ/beatsmith keeps his octopus hands busy as a member of the Blaze jazz quintet, the progenitor of an impressive 2004 solo release titled Improving Silence, and the creator of a production tool cut to vinyl called Soundcraftsman. – Robert Gabriel

MARBLES

8pm, Exodus Robert Schneider's Marbles precedes the Apples in Stereo's 1992 inception by a few months. Where the Apples are Schneider's outlet for Beach Boys, Marbles is all about Eighties electro-pop. New Expo (SpinArt), is forward-looking Eighties nostalgia. – Melanie Haupt

GUIDED BY VOICES HOOT NIGHT

8pm-2am, Emo's Main This annual covers blowout has built up its own mythology to the point that its subject is playing its own hoot night. With 29 bands doing two-cover, 10-minute sets, here's a glimpse at the menagerie of local and national talent gathering to raise their whiskey bottles to Bob Pollard & Co. New local Cocker Spaniels (aka Sean Padilla) opens at 8pm, followed by Canadian ambient rockers Boy (8:30pm), Philly Beatle-philes Dr. Dog (8:40pm), and reformed Athens, Ga., indie poppers Magnapop (8:50pm). Local Big Stars Moonlight Towers go at 9:30pm, followed by Brooklyn Spoon-men Robbers on High Street (10pm), and Centro-matic man Will Johnson (10:10pm). Carrie Clark (10:20pm) of Sixteen Deluxe fame and now the Pretty Please and ATX college rockers Subset (10:30pm) are chased by Tucson's mariachi rockers Calexico (10:50pm). Recent ATX transplants Sally Crewe & Sudden Moves (11:40pm) pop out a couple, just before Steve Wynn (12mid), Swearing at Motorists (12:20am), and Austin bar band extraordinaire Prescott Curlywolf (12:30am). Hoot night sponsors Fivehead (12:40am), who by that hour will likely be as soused as their mentor, bust out with a Malkmus-Mould punch. Pollard, brother Jim, Chris Slusarenko, and Kevin March close out the night, with gruesome epithets, long-winded jokes, inappropriate oration, and rock & roll. See www.sxsw.com for full cast. – Darcie Stevens

SEYI SOLAGBADE & THE BLACKFACE BAND

8:45pm, Austin Music Hall Solagbade is a singer, multi-instrumentalist, and bandleader in the mold of Fela Kuti, the famed afrobeat pioneer. Black Face, Solagbade and his 13-piece band's debut, tackles tough issues on original compositions, but fuels dancing with juju, funk, highlife, and jazz. Music for your brain and your butt. – David Lynch

JON CLEARY

9pm, Fox & Hound Easily identifiable in his broad-rimmed hat, this British-born, New Orleans-based pianist has mastered the keyboard stylings of the Crescent City, from Professor Longhair to Art Neville. His most recent Basin Street LP, Pin Your Spin, will lubricate any party. – Jay Trachtenberg

JIM LAUDERDALE

9pm, Antone's Nashville-based singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale boasts a 2003 Grammy for his second recording with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and has a second collaboration with Robert Hunter due in May. – Margaret Moser

SLAID CLEAVES

9pm, Caribbean Lights Slaid Cleaves' past two releases, 2000's Broke Down and 2004's Wishbones (Rounder), brought the Austin singer-songwriter international acclaim for his ability to craft stories and songs that sound fresh, while being firmly rooted in tradition. – Jim Caligiuri

RADIO 4

9pm, Stubb's Brooklyn's Radio 4 is all bright, dancey beats, driving catchy lyrics, and chunky riffs. And, yes, they wear lots of black and rarely smile. New Stealing of a Nation marries pop, punk, and techno into hip hits that aren't too cool for radio. – Darcie Stevens

VOXTROT

9pm, Habana Calle 6 Dashing through the decades like a groupie on speed, longtime Austin fivepiece Voxtrot takes elements from Gang of Four, Joy Division, the Smiths, and R.E.M., rubs them up in a tight little ball, and bounces it on the hi-hat in rhythm. – Darcie Stevens

ST 37

9pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz You'll be somewhere near the edge of the stage when the drugs take hold. There might not be a swarm of reptilian grandmothers waving razor-sharp knives, but Austin's ST 37 is the soundtrack to the rising vibes of an acid frenzy. – Audra Schroeder

MISSY HIGGINS

9:15pm, Maggie Mae's Two years ago, Gavin DeGraw. Last year, Jamie Cullum. Meet Missy Higgins, a 23-year-old Australian pianist who's already a chart-topping superstar back home and a huge radio priority here for Warner Bros. All for Believing EP preps a full-length in May. – Andy Langer

FRENCH KICKS

10pm, Buffalo Billiards New York quartet the French Kicks aren't French, but they fit in with Canadians Arcade Fire and Stars. Their heavily melodic, energetic, and poetic sophomore album, Trial of the Century, pricked up ears to the indie pop jabs of the Kicks. – Darcie Stevens

THE HONORARY TITLE

10pm, Eternal This Brooklyn outfit hit SXSW 04 with a preview of Anything Else but the Truth, a cross section of pop, emo, and a whole lotta self-loathing. A batch of great press and a year of nonstop touring later, their shows reek of confidence. – Andy Langer

RAY WYLIE HUBBARD

10pm, Antone's As if 30-odd years of being a legendary cosmic cowboy wasn't enough, Ray Wylie Hubbard is one of Texas' indisputable songwriting masters. His new Delirium Tremelos pays homage to classic fellow songwriters and contemporary ones. RWH is a Lone Star treasure. – Margaret Moser

JEFF KLEIN

10pm, Nuno's Austinite Jeff Klein is a star in the UK, where his songs of heartbreak and the darker side of life cut to the bone. Here too. His third disc, The Hustler, is due this summer, featuring Dave Pirner and Ani DiFranco. – Jim Caligiuri

RADAR BROS.

10pm, Parish It's been three tumultuous years since the Radar Bros. took us to that warm, breezy beach front with the immaculate harmonies and picture-perfect Floydian illuminations of … And the Surrounding Mountains. Their latest on Merge, The Fallen Leaf Pages, is their fourth. – Michael Chamy

RATATAT

10pm, Elysium Ratatat is Evan Mast and Mike Stroud, two Brooklyn apartment-mates who make loud, instrumental, duel-guitar anthems. Their 2004 debut on XL Recordings is now followed with Ratatat Remixes Mixtape featuring Missy Elliott and Method Man songs, moving the duo from Hummer ads to worldwide domination. – Darcie Stevens

LOUIS XIV

10pm, La Zona Rosa Swagger and songwriting rarely collide as naturally as they do on this San Diego quartet's debut EP, Illegal Tender. Part Killers, part Rocky Horror Picture Show, their "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" is this year's first great single. Debut LP, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, is forthcoming. – Andy Langer

VHS OR BETA

10pm, Stubb's VHS or Beta's searing guitars and thundering drums are stunning. The Louisville, Ky., electro-punk quartet released their major label debut, Night on Fire (Astralwerks), last year. A Cure for wot ails ya. – Melanie Haupt

THE DEATHRAY DAVIES

10pm, Room 710 Dallas' Deathray Davies perfected the art of assimilating Britpop trappings into a jangly, indie rock universe. Originally a project of songwriter John Dufilho, DRD employs kazoos, xylophones, and trumpets. Their new disc, The Kick and the Snare, is their best. – Jim Caligiuri

THE MORNING AFTER GIRLS

10pm, Habana Calle 6 Two SXSWs ago it was the Raveonettes. This year it could be the driving, oftimes whispering VU/Jesus & Mary Chain shake of Melbourne quintet the Morning After Girls, whose Love of Sixties groove also produces periodic vertigo. Watch the swirls, man. – Raoul Hernandez

DIRTY ON PURPOSE

10pm, Co-op Bar It's the perky basslines and minor chords, not to mention some Edge-y guitar, that made this Brooklyn quintet's dreamy EP, 2004's Sleep Late for a Better Tomorrow, the Belly-full that it is. Feed the tree. – Raoul Hernandez

MARTHA WAINWRIGHT

10pm, Caribbean Lights Emerging from her showboat big brother's shadow, Martha Wainwright follows EP Bloody Mother Fucking Bastard (Rounder) with an LP this April (finally!). She recently appeared in The Aviator, and her rendition of "I'll Be Seeing You" is on the soundtrack. – Melanie Haupt

EARLIMART

11pm, Buffalo Billiards Despite the 10-year-old L.A. band's Elliott Smith leanings, Earlimart isn't nearly as maudlin. Last year's Treble & Tremble (Palm) is an impressionist painting, both quieting and inspiring. – Melanie Haupt

THE PAPER CHASE

11pm, Beerland After stellar production work with Explosions in the Sky and Baboon, John Congleton's spastic Dallas institution dropped their fourth LP, God Bless Your Black Heart, last year on Kill Rock Stars. Broken, dissonant squeals, off-kilter rhythms, and Congleton's paranoid monologues, plus cowpoke acid rock are the result. – Michael Chamy

THE FUTUREHEADS

11pm, La Zona Rosa Need a recipe for success? Head Stateside with Franz Ferdinand after putting out a pitch-perfect album that sounds like 1984. The FH are the next big thing from the UK, and with their eponymous LP in hand, the Sunderland fourpiece is posed to take over dance floors from Tokyo to New York. – Darcie Stevens

TRASHCAN SINATRAS

11pm, Exodus The Sinatras' lovely, contemplative SpinArt Weightlifting CD breaks new ground for the band when it comes to turning broken hearts into perfect pop lullabies. There's no better UK single this year than that album's title track, which gives the Red House Painters a new yardstick to measure their angst by. – Marc Savlov

GRAND CHAMPEEN

11pm, Room 710 Grand Champeen shows nearly always climax in a glorious chaos that stems from the quartet's abundant rock energy spilling over into the audience. They recently retired to Louisiana to hammer out disc four. – Christopher Gray

IAN MOORE

11pm, Continental Club Former Joe Ely guitarist and Austinite Ian Moore now lives in Seattle. His seventh album, Luminaria (Yep Roc), shows the former blues-rock guitarist finding his textural singer-songwriter muse. – David Lynch

LOS HOMBRES CALIENTES

11pm, Fox & Hound Trumpeter Irvin Mayfield and master percussionist Bill Summers lead this hot aggregation that views its Crescent City home as the northernmost point of the Caribbean. Their new Basin Street release, Vol. 5: Carnaval, celebrates pre-Lent festivities from around the Caribbean. – Jay Trachtenberg

ROBERT EARL KEEN BAND

11pm, Antone's Robert Earl Keen balances earthy story songs with rowdy barroom classics. A true road warrior, he recently released two DVDs: a companion to his Live No. 2 Dinner, and Live From Austin, TX, an Austin City Limits taping from 2001. – Jim Caligiuri

MICHELLE SHOCKED

11pm, Cactus Cafe The venerable folkie will be all over the Festival this year, from Taco Xpress to Roky Erickson's ice-cream social. Shocked has come a long way from the campfire jam sessions at the Kerrville Folk Festival; June welcomes a rock LP, and other projects. – Melanie Haupt

M. WARD

11pm, Parish This Portland, Ore. singer-songwriter transcends constraints of era and genre. 2003's Transfiguration of Vincent (Matador) is a spooky slice of heaven, and this spring's Transistor Radio (Matador Europe) is likely to be just as gorgeous. – Melanie Haupt

GRAHAM COXON

11:15pm, Stubb's The former Blur guitarist's fifth solo album, Happiness in Magazines, kicks out the Jam in high-style: It's blissfully fuzzy pop less concerned with Blur than with forging a thoroughly modern wall of sound. – Andy Langer

The CHINESE STARS

11:45pm, Emo's Jr. The Chinese Stars features members of Arab on Radar and Six-Finger Satellite, which should be warning for anyone who can't handle nonsensical lyrics and large amounts of feedback. Where AOR and SFS cooked up danceable nightmares, Chinese Stars take a simpler approach on A Rare Sensation, a solid dance-floor clearer. – Audra Schroeder

GOLD CHAINS & SUE CIE

11:45pm, Beerland San Francisco's Gold Chains & Sue Cie combine laptop rock with old-school rap on 2004's When the World Was Our Friend (Kill Rock Stars). Funky as hell. – Darcie Stevens

NINI CAMPS

12mid, Lounge @ Crowne Plaza With a magical black box and quick toes, NYC's Nini Camps mixes on-the-fly sampled song segments, creating overlapping layers of powerful harmony. Her third release, the Driving You Out EP, comes from Camps' Love Pie label. – David Lynch

COMMUNIQUÉ

12mid, Friends Oakland's Communiqué takes the Lookout! pop-punk paradigm in a New Wave direction on 2004 debut LP Poison Arrows, channeling Echo & the Bunnymen and the Smiths without giving up the grit. With guitarist/vocalist Rory Henderson at the helm, the quintet's stage presence is wholly compelling. – Greg Beets

CROOKED FINGERS

12mid, Parish From the Archers of Loaf rose Eric Bachmann's Crooked Fingers, which showcases this giant's gentle side with earthy, melancholy rock. The Seattle trio's fourth LP, Dignity and Shame (Merge), is a thing of beauty, experimenting with Spanish trumpet and pedal steel. – Melanie Haupt

THE HEATSEEKERS

12mid, Chuggin' Monkey From the air-conditioned playground known as Fort Lauderdale comes the gussied-up stomp of the Heatseekers. Their debut, In Praise Of, mixed the Sonics with the Stooges, and their countless live shows earned the group a spot in Little Steven's Underground Garage battle of the bands in NYC last year. – Audra Schroeder

HOT HOT HEAT

12mid, La Zona Rosa Two years is a long time for a buzz band like this Victoria, British Columbia, quartet to drop off the radar. HHH torched the Red Eyed Fly at their 2003 Sub Pop showcase with Oingo Boingo-esque boppers. They're major label debut, Elevator, on Warner Bros. is finally due in April. – Melanie Haupt

YOUNG HEART ATTACK

12mid, Momos Austin's hard rock revivalists are preparing a follow-up to '04's sleazy, underrated Mouthful of Love (XL). A few recent hometown gigs suggest bluesier sing-alongs and plenty of Jennifer Stephen, the sassy wild card, to separate YHA from the Darkness-wannabe pack. – Andy Langer

COWBOY MOUTH

12mid, Fox & Hound New Orleans quartet Cowboy Mouth got its first big press at SXSW 14 years ago and now showcases periodically. The nexus of the band is singer-songwriter Paul Sanchez, guitarist John Thomas Griffith, and drummer/singer Fred Le Blanc, a volatile combination of songwriter rock seldom seen. – Margaret Moser

SOUND TEAM

12mid, Buffalo Billiards The Austinites in Sound Team make indie rockers dance. An LP has been in the works for a while now, with Spoon/Trail of Dead producer Mike McCarthy at the helm, and here's hoping their bop pop translates as well on disc as it does on stage. Capitol Records thinks it will. Highly recommended. – Darcie Stevens

CLEM SNIDE

12mid, Exodus Fronted by songwriter Eef Barzelay, Clem Snide straddles the line between alt.country and pure pop. The Nashville-based quintet has just released End of Love, their fifth full-length on SpinArt, which features passionate wit, rock, and country. – Jim Caligiuri

LI'L CAP'N TRAVIS

12mid, Room 710 Austin sweethearts Li'l Cap'n Travis play a boozy brand of twang incorporating the Flaming Lips' off-kilter humor, the innocent charm of the Beach Boys, and Crazy Horse's ragged glory. This fun quintet released … In All Their Splendor on Glurp in 2004, a disc that landed on many local critics' best-of lists. – Jim Caligiuri

LOVE TRACTOR

12mid, Lava Lounge Patio Part of the Athens, Ga., scene that gave the world R.E.M., B-52's, and Pylon, Love Tractor's earliest material was instrumental if for no other reason than they couldn't afford a PA. Love Tractor reunited in 2001, and Black Hole was just released on Fundamental. – Jim Caligiuri

TONY JOE WHITE

12mid, Antone's While he's still best known for 1969 swamp-pop hit "Polk Salad Annie," Tony Joe White continues to write dark, blues-flavored roots music. His latest, 2004's The Heroines (Sanctuary), featured duets with Jessi Colter, Emmylou Harris, Shelby Lynne, and Lucinda Williams. – Jim Caligiuri

THE GREENCARDS

12mid, Opal Divine's Freehouse This newgrass trio of two Brits and an Aussie stormed through Austin in 2003, snagging Best New Band at the Austin Music Awards before packing up and heading to Nashville last year. Their CD Movin' On blended traditional bluegrass and rustic country with a distinctly modern edge. – Margaret Moser

DAMON & NAOMI

12mid, Copa Galaxie 500 expats Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang's latest, The Earth Is Blue, delivers more of their somnambulant twee pop and quiet acoustics, much like 2002's Song to the Siren and their 2000 collaboration with Japanese psych rockers Ghost. – Audra Schroeder

ROBERT PLANT & THE STRANGE SENSATION

12:15am, Austin Music Hall

Every Robert Plant solo effort since 1982 debut Pictures at Eleven has been blindly hailed as the New Yardbirds. May 10, Mighty Rearranger (Sanctuary) becomes the eighth, thanks to outbursts like "Tin Pan Valley" and "The Enchanter" beat. 2002's Dreamland band Strange Sensations ended its American tour by melting an Austin City Limits taping. Raoul Hernandez

NUMBERS

12:30am, Beerland Numbers is music for robots to dance to. This San Fran trio composes jerky punk that rattles with simple, repetitive drumbeats, call-and-response vocals, and a "Buzzerk" Moog. They perfected their Kraftwerk-jams on 2003's In My Mind All the Time. – Audra Schroeder

DIPLO OF HOLLERTRONIX

1am, Zero Degrees Evidenced by his 2004 debut, Florida, this Everglades native produces original concoctions that flip techno, Southern bounce, and bhangra on their respective ears. Diplo's recent collaboration with London vocalist MIA exemplifies his rhythmic tenacity. – Robert Gabriel

BAVU BLAKES

1am, Vibe Austin's Bavu Blakes treats hip-hop like serious business. Best witnessed live, the seasoned MC builds upon recent collaborations with Strange Fruit Project and Hydroponic Sound System. – Robert Gabriel

THE DEARS

1am, Exodus This Montreal sextet's No Cities Left is the most satisfyingly gloomy record never to have been actually graced by Morrissey. As anyone at last year's jaw-dropping SXSW set can testify, they're twice as volatile onstage. – Andy Langer

TEGAN & SARA

1am, Eternal These Canadian twin sisters and band of swarthy back-ups specialize in nongrating folk punk. The ladies, barely in their 20s, released third LP, So Jealous (Vapor), last year. – Melanie Haupt

MAGNAPOP

1am, Lava Lounge Patio Magnapop never got the attention they deserved. The Athens, Ga., quartet employed muscular pop and thoughtful lyrics, with lead tandem Linda Hopper and Ruthie Morris being endlessly engaging. Their brand new CD, Mouthfeel, cements the reunion. – Margaret Moser

LUCERO

1am, Club de Ville Led by Ben Nichols, this explosive, Memphis-based roots quartet counts three albums to its credit. Upcomer Nobody's Darlings, produced by Jim Dickenson, ensures more critical acclaim and comparisons to Drive-by Truckers and Whiskeytown. – Jim Caligiuri

GUY FORSYTH

1am, Hard Rock Cafe Austin's Guy Forsyth makes deep blue music with any tool you throw at him: guitar, microphone, harmonica, saw, etc. Forsyth's fifth LP, the self-released Love Songs: For and Against, finds this founding member of the Asylum Street Spankers doing what he does live: holding an audience captive. – David Lynch

JOHN DOE

1am, Continental Club Founder of L.A.'s seminal X, John Doe stands as a primary force of roots punk. Doe's kept busy with choice acting roles over the years, including Great Balls of Fire and Sling Blade. His new CD, Forever Hasn't Happened Yet, is due this month. – Margaret Moser

THE FLAMETRICK SUBS & SATAN'S CHEERLEADERS

1am, Jackalope The Flametrick Subs are bad acorns off the Cramps tree. The Austin institution is at work on following up to their third and best LP, Something in Japanese (Kranzke). Plus, the quartet is backed by the ever-lovely and enticingly evil Satan's Cheerleaders. – David Lynch

GOGOL BORDELLO

1am, Emo's Annex Gogol Bordello is an Eastern European collective fronted by Ukraine-born singer/performer/raconteur Eugene Hutz. The Bordello is a sampling of tastes, from dub to bhangra to punk to classic rock. Their latest, Gogol Bordello vs. Tamir Muskrat, is more like Nick Cave if he were a gypsy. – Audra Schroeder

METAL URBAIN

1am, Tambaleo These Parisian punk rock pioneers haven't lost a synthesizer body rock in 30 years, still powered by chainsaw guitar and grim-faced aggression at SXSW 04. Their 1,000 watt in-store at Thirty Three Degrees left the owners no choice but to close up shop. – Raoul Hernandez

RUSTED SHUT

1am, Velvet Spade Patio It's nigh impossible to exaggerate just how skuzzy, out-of-control, and ear-bludgeoningly distorted these four middle-aged Houston lunatics are. Rusted Shut's long-awaited Emperor Jones disc, Rehab, their second since 1987, was off the Richter scale. – Michael Chamy

SINGLE FRAME

1am, Co-op Bar As the philosopher once said, Austin's Single Frame is a mystery wrapped in a riddle wrapped in an enigma; their heady brew of post-punk, art-rock, and found sounds is much easier to appreciate than explain. SoCal label Volcom's re-release of 2002's Wetheads Come Running landed the trio on last year's Warped Tour, and Body/End/Basement, due in May, should vault them further still. – Christopher Gray

I AM KLOOT

1am, Habana Calle 6 Talk to Jane Fonda about being Klute, and Johnny Bramwell about bearing an uncanny vocal resemblance to Robyn Hitchcock (with a twist of Clinic's Ade Blackburn). The Manchester trio's singer-songwriter-guitarist says that April's Gods and Monsters reminds him of Richard III, though it's Kloot's eponymously titled sophomore album finding domestic release on the eve of the band's first world tour. – Raoul Hernandez

GOSSIP

1:15am, Beerland Like P.J. Harvey after a bottle of Maker's, Olympia, Wash., trio Gossip play the garage blues splashed with a bath of John Waters musical. Beth Ditto's vocals singed their 2003 LP, Movement (Kill Rock Stars). – Darcie Stevens

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