SXSW Picks and Sleepers

The Blurbing of SXSW 06


WEDNESDAY PICKS

All showcases subject to change

BIRDMAN RECORDS SHOWCASE

8pm, Club de Ville Founded by former Warner Bros. A&R VP David Katznelson. Birdman Records articulates what's possible when a music lover does the driving. Lou Lou & the Guitarfish are the teenage spawn of Hank Rank from San Francisco proto-punk pioneers Crime, and their sneering pedigree couldn't be more potent. Washington D.C.'s Apes let their freak flag fly with 2005's stoner rock epic, Baba's Mountain, while Portland's the Nice Boys mine a cross between Sixties Britpop and Seventies American power pop. Oakland's Cuts touch on pop, glam, and just a little bit of soul on the just-released From Here on Out. Filtering the Dolls through garage primitivism, Oakland glam-punks the Time Flys shine on their 2005 debut, Fly. Houston-bred Bay area transplant Greg Ashley leads Gris Gris down Psych-Out Lane in a giant Red Krayola on 2005's For the Season, while Pittsburgh's Midnite Snake destroys the night with heavy metal thunder that'll liquefy your kidney stones. – Greg Beets

MONTE WARDEN

8pm, Cedar Street Courtyard Just because the native Texan has been this close to a No. 1 hit (George Strait's "Desperately," written with Bruce Robison), doesn't mean he's slowing down. Warden broke out of Austin's early Eighties as a rockabilly king, then graduated to the Nashville routine as a songwriter (Patty Loveless, Martina McBride). His craft has never sounded better. – Margaret Moser

MARY LOU LORD

8pm, Soho Lounge Starting from the "busk anywhere anytime for anyone" ethic, Lord's managed to carve out a career almost by sheer force of will. Sounding like a cross between Juliana Hatfield and Shawn Colvin, the Salem, Mass., native took folk to the fringe of alternative. She's also got a knack for curveball covers like Pink Floyd's "Fearless" from her last full studio release, Baby Blue. – Michael Bertin

JOHN SCHOOLEY & HIS ONE MAN BAND

8pm, Jackalope From Austin to Australia, hardcore, whiskey-swilling Southern blues grit is in the capable hands of John Schooley & His One Man Band. And none of that woe-is-me crap either. Last year's self-titled disc on Voodoo Rhythm was a collection of distorted guitar, squealing harp, and ringing hi-hat that was true-blue American music with just two hands. – Darcie Stevens

THE ARM

8pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz This Austin rock fourpiece raised eyebrows with their 2004 self-titled debut on Last Gasp, full of jarring 21Ú2-minute blasts and whupass 'tude. April sees follow-up Call You Out (Indierect), and if we know frontman Sean O'Neal at all, it'll be more pissed-off cynicism. Score. – Darcie Stevens

SINGLE FRAME

9pm, Elysium A Single Frame show is like going to the circus on GHB: Everything's swirling, and you're positive that clown with the frowny face is staring at you. Static-tinged TV sets dot a hazard-coned stage while the Austin trio slips through decades and genres. Summed up as art-punk, the trio's sophomore LP, Body/End/Basement (Volcom), was all spastic noise and beat. – Darcie Stevens

THE YOUNG KNIVES

9pm, Parish Ever wonder what would have happened to Joy Division if Ian Curtis hadn't gone and tied one on? Oxford, England's Young Knives have gone Transgressive Records with their EP Junky Music Make My Heart Beat Faster, assaults with battering drum work and thick, Peter Hook-ish basslines, overlaid with punchy, upfront vocals that mine both London '79 and New York '80. Clearly, they've lost control. – Marc Savlov

CASTANETS

9pm, Emo's Annex As the love/brain-child of Raymond Raposa, San Diego's Castanets express their wanderlust in the form of dreamy, weirdo alt.country that would make Gram Parsons proud, especially if he jammed with the Velvet Underground. Castanets' sophomore release, First Light's Freeze (Asthmatic Kitty), blends that psychedelic cowboy sound with elements of free jazz and New Wave. It takes patience to listen, but rest assured it'll be rewarded. – Melanie Haupt

KATHY MCCARTY

9pm, Caribbean Lights After the 1993 breakup of beloved Austin avant-pop band Glass Eye (reuniting for SXSW), guitarist/vocalist Kathy McCarty furthered her national profile with 1994's amazing Dead Dog's Eyeball, a collection of Daniel Johnston songs. Last year, she returned with Another Day in the Sun (Rexy Rex), a far-reaching collection that alternates between lilting folk songs and uniquely twisted rockers girded by producer Brian Beattie's wiry basslines. – Greg Beets

GRETCHEN PHILLIPS

9pm, Molotov Lounge Hard to believe Austin's premier lesbian songstress has been stomping River City for a quarter century. Fueled by protean energy, Phillips' latest project is a mostly rock-fueled (with a shot of twang) collaboration with "straight guys," including Shearwater's Thor Harris. She hopes to shop I Was Just Comforting Her at this year's festival. – Melanie Haupt

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS

10pm, Stubb's It might be the primary outlet for singer A.C. Newman, but Neko Case is the not-so-secret sauciness that gives the New Pornographers its tang. Last year's Twin Cinema (Matador) made a slew of national Top 10s and rightfully so; at its best ("Use It" and "Sing Me Spanish Techno"), it's as catchy as the avian flu and probably just as lethal. – Michael Bertin

PETER CASE

10pm, Soho Lounge Although Peter Case first came to prominence as an L.A. power-pop icon in the Nerves and the Plimsouls (also playing SXSW), he's a folk troubadour at heart. Between his near-constant touring and a decadelong string of acclaimed albums on Vanguard, Case has established himself as one of music's most formidable writers. His 2004 best-of, Who's Gonna Go Your Crooked Mile?, is a grand primer. – Greg Beets

KNIFE IN THE WATER

10pm, Spiros Where the hell has this Austin quintet been for the past three years? They've been as elusive as Roman Polanski. It would appear, though, that lying low is history and we can now expect a follow-up to 2003's fine-tuned collection of delicate Americana that was Cut the Cord (Aspyr). – Melanie Haupt

STANDING WAVES

10pm, Friends Before the advent of terms like alt-rock, Austin's Standing Waves ruled the nascent punk/New Wave scene with sharp, punchy, imminently danceable songs. Their 2003 release, A Short History of the Standing Waves, neatly collected their garage-rock sound. Original members Larry Seaman (Violet Crown), Randy Franklin, Bob Murray, and Dave Cardwell prove that a few gray hairs never stopped the locomotion of rock & roll. – Margaret Moser

AMPLIFIED HEAT

10pm, Spiros Patio Amplified Heat's rough, full-volume blues, blown at terminal velocity through the Austin trio's vintage amps, is pitch-perfect brawling music, or was, until two of the three Ortiz brothers were stabbed in a Red River street fight last fall. Their recovery delayed work on the follow-up to 2004's brutal In for Sin (Arclight), but they're back with a vengeance. – Christopher Gray

GARY CLARK JR.

10pm, Continental Club That this young Austin guitarist won Best Blues Act at the Austin Music Awards while just out of his teens was astonishing – he inherited the title from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan and W.C. Clark. At 22, he's not only earned the respect of his elders, he stands at the helm of the New Blues scene with his latest release, the appropriately titled Tribute. – Margaret Moser

AMOS LEE

10pm, Exodus Philadelphia singer-songwriter Amos Lee turned a lot of heads last year with his self-titled Blue Note debut. Even before showcasing the newly released album at SXSW 05, he'd already opened shows for Bob Dylan, Merle Haggard, and Norah Jones. Lee's music, which he delivers with a stirring gospel-infused sensibility, blurs the lines between folk, neo-soul, alt.country, and funk. – Jay Trachtenberg

JEAN GRAE

10pm, La Zona Rosa The daughter of South African jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, Jean Grae accentuates the beauty of dissonant forces with raps that reveal life's myriad contradictions. Formerly known as What What!, the longtime Brooklynite juxtaposes her sweet side with a sharp tongue ever-ready to lash out at injustice. Her 2005 album This Week, (Babygrande), showcases Grae's prowess as both a firebrand poet and lively entertainer. – Robert Gabriel
Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers


TALIB KWELI

10:25pm, La Zona Rosa Splintering away from the backlash that comes from being pegged the figurehead of holier-than-thou backpack rap, Talib Kweli dutifully maintains his Brooklyn-esque dedication to higher standards for hip-hop. While 2004's The Beautiful Struggle (Rawkus) didn't see eye-to-eye with '98's Black Star LP, Kweli's track-record indicates that a rebound, if not an eventual Black Star reunion album with Mos Def, is in store. – Robert Gabriel

BLACK JOE LEWIS

11pm, Velvet Spade In the tradition of soul shouters like the late Wilson Pickett comes Black Joe Lewis, who's got a strut to match his fervent pipes. The 24-year-old Austinite has been honing his sound alongside folks like the Weary Boys and Walter Daniels to a nontraditional soul audience – the local Red River scene. His new, self-titled CD is a promise of great things to come. – Margaret Moser

CURT KIRKWOOD

11pm, 18th Floor @ Capitol Place Gone mostly is the speed, noise, and heavy psychedelia that made the Meat Puppets Curt Kirkwood's most famous creation, a college-radio touchstone back in the day. But the man's no casualty. Now living in Austin, his first-ever solo release Snow, (Little Dog), reflects a hard-won peace of mind, although there's room for the occasional 20th-century tweak-out amid the acoustic strains. – Dan Oko

HAYES CARLL

11pm, Soho Lounge Carll's 2005 CD, Little Rock, was his long-awaited follow-up, inspired and influenced in equal doses by the likes of Steve Earle and Ray Wylie Hubbard while deftly avoiding the sophomore slump. Even with those influences hand-stitched to his heartworn sleeve, Carll comes across with witty and brash originality. The estimable Dave Marsh calls it "folk rock as it existed around the time of Another Side of Bob Dylan." Now that's high praise indeed. – Margaret Moser

JULES SHEAR

11pm, Hilton 406 North Carolina's Jules Shear has been making creative pop music for nearly three decades, composing hit singles sung by Cyndi Lauper and the Bangles in the Eighties. His career remains fruitful as evinced by the recent release of his ninth album, Dreams Don't Count (Mad Dragon), which is filled with passion, wit, and melody. – Jim Caligiuri

WORLD PARTY

11pm, Exodus Karl Wallinger seems to be working in four-to-five-year cycles as far as releasing albums is concerned, which implies another World Party LP should be due, oh, right about now. Probably seems longer for fans over here as 2000's Dumbing Up was released in the UK and available elsewhere only as an import. The follow-up, numero six, should hit stores and streets sometime this spring. – Michael Bertin

THE GRATES

11pm, Parish Formed around a karaoke machine in Brisbane, Australia, the Grates' lo-fi pop flail is pure slumber-party fun. The trio's playfulness is underscored by a sixth sense for hooks, as heard on "Trampoline" from last year's The Ouch. The Touch (Dew Process). Vocalist Patience Hodgson projects Karen O-like magnetism from a more colorful place. The Grates' debut LP, recorded with Modest Mouse producer Brian Deck, is forthcoming. – Greg Beets
Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers


SERENA-MANEESH

11pm, Emo's Main Apparently, Norway's not just for death metal anymore. Oslo quintet Serena-Maneesh delivers the big sound treatment on their self-titled full-length, pairing arcing guitars with Loveless vocals. With European releases already floating around Oslo, the group's wall of sound is on a collision course with the States. Hard on the ears, but easy on the eyes. – Audra Schroeder

THE GOLDEN BOYS

11pm, Jackalope Deep in the Texas Hill Country, in Canyon Lake, the Golden Boys make sweaty, dirty garage rock. Clanging, twisted, and distorted, last year's debut, Scorpion Stomp #2 (Hook or Crook), was a drug binge gone fishing. Led by Matthew Hoopengardner, the rotating cast of characters slurs and purges through maniacal rock & roll. This is what happens when you live in the country. – Darcie Stevens

TIA CARRERA

11pm, Spiros Patio The power of three. Tia Carrera's improvisational noise jams lurch forth from the formidable fingers of Jason Morales, Andrew Duplantis, and Erik Conn, equal parts acid-fried Sixties psychedelia and radioactive Pacific Northwest sludge. Their Friday evening Room 710 sessions have launched many an Austin weekend into a pungent haze; a full-length is due this fall on local label Australian Cattle God. – Christopher Gray

WEIRD WEEDS

11pm, Karma Lounge Among its varying definitions, chaos theory can be described as "a dynamical system that has a sensitive dependence on its initial conditions." Austin's Weird Weeds embody that theory in their music. On their latest LP, Hold Me, the local trio pair Nick Hennies' off-balance drumming with Sandy Ewen's chalk-slide guitar and Aaron Russell's vibrato strumming. Where the song ends up is only a theory. – Audra Schroeder

LESBIANS ON ECSTASY

11pm, Elysium Lesbians on Ecstasy pilfer from familiar folksy lesbian offerings and turn it into dance music. The Montreal-based foursome doesn't rely on gadgets; they use live drum and bass to pull the covers off, and they aren't exactly samples or straight remixes, more like an electrobeat-inspired homage with a little humor. Their latest, Giggles in the Dark (Alien8), features remixes by Le Tigre and Tracy + the Plastics. – Michael Bertin
Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers


THE SECRET MACHINES

11:30pm, La Zona Rosa Our favorite Krautrock-loving, Zeppelin-idolizing, ex-Texan trio returns. After the success of '04's Now Here Is Nowhere (Reprise), the Secret Machines played every bar in the U.S. before England found them and pounced. "Alone, Jealous, and Stoned" off their upcoming sophomore release, Ten Silver Drops (Reprise), drops some of the kick drum in favor of gorgeous melody. – Darcie Stevens

THE PONYS

12mid, Parish Chicago's Ponys are the total package: Jared Gummere's anguished wail pitched between Richard Hell and Robert Smith, Melissa Elias' keys rubbing salt in his open(-mouthed) wounds, guitarist Brian Case scraping whatever he can off the floor of Wicker Park lofts and Lower East Side flophouses. 2005's Celebration Castle proved In the Red is much more than a record label, it's a damn manifesto. – Christopher Gray

CRUISERWEIGHT

12mid, Redrum Annex Multiple Austin Music Award winners for Best Punk Band, Cruiserweight tour constantly and have expanded their sizable fan base well beyond Austin. After four years and two successful self-released EPs, the songs on 2005's full-length debut, Sweet Weaponry (Doghouse), are poppy examinations of twentysomething life and relationships that highlight the quartet's growing maturity without sacrificing any youthful exuberance. – Christopher Gray

THE PLIMSOULS

12mid, Exodus The Plimsouls were singer-songwriter Peter Case's early brush with fame, the bubbling base for Southern California New Wave. They ruled the Eighties as kings of the wild south coast. Even as late as 1998, the band's Kool Trash was a reminder of how passion and punky aggression can drive music. And who can forget "A Million Miles Away," their unforgettable appearance in Valley Girl? – Margaret Moser

+/-

12mid, Friends After the dissolution of mid-Nineties rockers Versus, +/– (plus/minus) went from a side project for James Baluyut to, well a project. Modern reference points sit on a line somewhere between the Postal Service and New Order. Old schoolers might hear what happened if Ian Curtis had waited for laptops instead of offing himself. The upcoming Bloodthirsty Butchers vs. +/– is due this year. – Michael Bertin

THE GLASS FAMILY

12mid, Caribbean Lights Our local breakout band of 2005, the Glass Family secured their place in Austin's top indie-rock tier with the bedroom symphonies of Sleep Inside This Wheel (I Eat Records). Lushly orchestrated with piano, strings, and horns, songs like "Stop Dead in Your Tracks" and "Bad News" radiate sadness even as they glisten with hope, occasionally breaking through into peals of pure guitar bliss. – Christopher Gray

JULIE DOIRON

12mid, Copa Imagine Chan Marshall without the psychosis and with more soul. No stranger to the underground, Doiron has romped across Canada singing and songwriting since the Nineties, having played bass in the psych-folk Eric's Trip. Her seventh release, 2004's Goodnight Nobody (Jagjaguwar), added more rhythm to the gorgeous melancholy, creating a hopeful view of reality. – Darcie Stevens

OF MONTREAL

12mid, Emo's Main Of Montreal is from Georgia, which is kind of the opposite of Montreal if you think about it. They also aren't particularly reminiscent of the R.E.M.s, B-52s, or even the Love Tractors that also called Athens home. In fact, if you dug down deep into the genealogy of 2005's The Sunlandic Twins (Polyvinyl) you might find a copy of The Village Green Preservation Society. – Michael Bertin
Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers


LAURA VEIRS

11pm, Caribbean Lights "Sometimes we have a jump rope," says Seattle-based singer-songwriter Laura Veirs on the subject of travel. Veirs is traipsing across Europe in support of her second Nonesuch release, Year of Meteors, and in advance of her second SXSW appearance. "I didn't get one this time yet, but I'm starting to feel disgusting. So I think I might go ahead and get a jump rope soon."

Austere and subtle, Meteors 2004 predecessor, Carbon Glacier, garnered Veirs heaps of praise from both sides of the pond. It also put her on extended legs running about both the states and the continent. Subtle references to constant travel infected the post-Americana of Meteors, the results as much a Munch painting – implied kinesis in the lines; drab colors and haunting images, but still beautiful – as an album. Even without the rope, there's plenty of diversions to be had on the road.

"We're headed to Torino," she says. "So, yeah, on our day off we're going to the Olympics. It was funny, we watched about five minutes of the women's bobsledding. They would go down really fast and be so excited because they'd be in first place. They'd get up in the first place standing area and be so thrilled. Then they'd get completely crestfallen 30 seconds later when the next bobsledder comes down and they'd be faster. It's just so hilarious to me that it's so important, this first place thing.

"That's so far removed from me and my community. I don't even know what a [record] chart is to be honest," she chuckles as she avows almost complete ignorance. "I've heard about the charts, but I really don't know what that is. I've never looked at one." – Michael Bertin

Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers
Photo By Todd V. Wolfson


THE OCTOPUS PROJECT

12mid, Emo's Jr. Party! Balloons, streamers, piñatas, and groove. Austin post-rock/electronic quartet the Octopus Project has claimed 2006 as its own, including a gig at Coachella. As the Theremin squeals, OP paint blacktops a surrealist shade. Last year's explosive One Ten Hundred Thousand Million (Peek-a-Boo) burst with creepy goodness, but onstage is where it all hangs out. – Darcie Stevens

ANDY DICK

12mid, Molotov Lounge After emerging nationally on the critically-acclaimed Ben Stiller Show, actor/comedian Andy Dick pursued his twisted comic skew on Hollywood's margins while co-starring on NewsRadio and Suddenly Susan. In Austin for the premiere of his appropriately-titled directorial debut, Danny Roane: First Time Director, Dick will perform songs from the movie. With any luck, he'll also pull out the Crispin Glover-flavored "Little Brown Ring." – Greg Beets

WHY?

12mid, Emo's Annex Outlandish psychedelia drips from the folk-hop structure of Oakland-by-way-of-Cincinatti band Why? as the Anticon agents stray farther and farther into uncharted musical territory. Their latest, Elephant Eyelash, finds headman Yoni Wolf, utility man Doug McDiarmid, guitarist Matt Meldon, and drummer Josiah Wolf amassing quirkiness in hordes as their lo-fi explorations test the boundaries of tongue-in-cheek pop maneuvers. – Robert Gabriel

K-OS

12:30am, Antone's Injecting reggae, rock, and jazz into his hip-hop conversation, Toronto's K-os covers all bases when it comes to rapping, singing, and producing. Admitting "it's so hard to remain authentic," his Joyful Rebellion (Astralwerks) entails the soulful exercises of a B-boy soldier in perpetual motion. Trinidad-born, K-os reflects worldliness upon an American-bred genre caged in by its own xenophobic devices. – Robert Gabriel

Wolfmother

12:30am, Eternal For all the "like Sabbath on acid" comparisons this Australian power trio has attracted in the last year, it's thanks to the big guitar sound, the Hendrix/Kiss/Zeppelin trifecta on "The Earth's Rotation Around the Sun." From the recent Dimension EP, advancing May's domestic LP debut, there's also the funky "Love Train," which sounds like the White Stripes more than anything retro. They slayed live last SXSW, especially those "on acid." – Audra Schroeder

ART BRUT

1am, Parish Forget emo, if there's a franker rock diarist around than Art Brut's Eddie Argos, he or she is still slaving away in his or her bedroom. On the London quintet's 2005 debut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll, Argos' Fall-influenced tales of forming a band, reading NME, and chasing birds make the Kaiser Chiefs sound as cryptic as Thom Yorke. Solid contender for this year's Futureheads award. – Christopher Gray

Genitallica

1am, Opal Divine's On the verge of out of control, Monterrey's genre-bending version of rap rocksters use the term only as a starting point. Where the band ends up on 2004's ConSEXcuencias (The Box Records) sounds more like Ozomatli after an intravenous injection of liquid ska or Mick Mars after getting dusted up by a methed-out Manu Chao in Me-hee-ko. - Michael Bertin


ZYKOS

1am, Friends 2005 was a tough year for Zykos. The Austin quintet, specializing in mercurial indie rock, lost two members (drummer Jerod Cykoski and guitarist Jarod Harmeier) and there was no new album to follow up 2004's Zykos (Post-Parlo). That said, the band's writing new songs, while singer Mike Booher and keyboardist Catherine Davis have kept the momentum going with stripped-down Zykos shows here and abroad. – Melanie Haupt

THE GO! TEAM

1am, Exodus Originally a solo project for Welsh documentary filmmaker Ian Parton, the Go! Team eventually bloomed into the sixpiece responsible for Thunder, Lightning, Strike, 2005's best piece of indie spy theme meets old-skool funk-hop surf. The occasional cheerleader chant only adds to the sass. Expect lots of huddles and high-fives, and an upcoming Kevin Shields remix. – Michael Bertin

THE ARK

1am, Dirty Dog Bar Maybe the Scandinavians know something that we don't and that taxing the fuck out of people is the true path to societal bliss. Really, when the state takes care of everything, you're not getting a Cobain. And even when singing "One of us is gonna die young," the bubblegum glam Swedish fivepiece sounds unmistakably giddy on latest State of the Ark. – Michael Bertin


MICHAEL FRACASSO

1am, Hilton 406 Ohio-born Fracasso can probably be considered a native Texan by now. If he hasn't earned it by the calendar (15-plus years here), he's done it by songs. Once described "like Buddy Holly if he went to college," the singer-songwriter's last full-length, 2004's A Pocketful of Rain, is filled with tunes that leave lesser men thinking they wished they'd thought to say it like that. – Michael Bertin


THE CRACK PIPES

1am, Velvet Spade Blasting out an urgent mash of punk, blues, and soul, Austin's Crack Pipes flail about in ear-splitting spiritual fervor. Vocalist Rev. Ray Pride embodies his bestowed title with homilies on pain, injustice, and the endless quest for redemption in an imperfect world. The quartet's revelatory, testifying 2005 album, Beauty School (Emperor Jones), makes it hard to doubt their faith in the healing powers of hip-shakin'. – Greg Beets

MY EDUCATION

1am, Habana Calle 6 This one's worth the earplugs. Austin instrumental sixpiece My Education plays like all your loudest dreams and nightmares met onstage over a cold beer. Taking cues from Godspeed and Explosions in the Sky, ME continued an oath of roller-coaster melody on last year's debut full-length, Italian (Thirty Ghosts). Who knew beards and classical music could work so well together? – Darcie Stevens
Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers
Photo By Aubrey Edwards


... AND YOU WILL KNOW US BY THE TRAIL OF DEAD

1am, Emo's Main Last year's difficult, intense Worlds Apart didn't make ...Trail of Dead into the conquering heroes Interscope Records might have wanted, but no one in their hometown minded a bit. They're an Austin institution, one that continually refines their symphonic rock sound while maintaining their drum-tossing destructive edge. Lately they've shown a curious, yet entirely organic, affinity for Townes Van Zandt and the Band. – Christopher Gray
Wednesday SXSW Picks and Sleepers


CHAMILLIONAIRE

1:15am, Back Room Storming the airwaves with recent hits "Turn It Up" and "Ridin'," Houston's Chamillionaire continues to build momentum for his solo debut, The Sound of Revenge (Universal). A former rhyming partner of Paul Wall, the Mixtape Messiah combines double-timed Dirty South raps with sing-song hooks. Whether chopped and screwed or straight-up, Cham's voice electrifies tracks as it buzzes with confidence and composure. – Robert Gabriel

WEDNESDAY SLEEPERS


All showcases subject to change


TOOF

7:30pm, Spiros Patio Meet Toof, a one-man band of surprising diversity and imagination. Austin's Trey D'Amico is an electronic wizard, performing with scarcely more than an electric guitar, keyboard, and his God-given falsetto. With the recent Jennifer Love Handles (Propeller), Toof brings silliness to a new level: It's all chains, cannibalism, and hangovers. – Darcie Stevens

COLIN GILMORE

8pm, Pecan Street Ale House Following in the footstep's of his father, Jimmie Dale, Colin Gilmore has carved out his own niche due in the songwriter world. Matching jangle and clang with a hint of twang that reflects his West Texas upbringing, the Austinite's sound is wide-eyed and thoroughly listenable. He's recently worked with producer Scott Matthews in preparation for a new album. – Jim Caligiuri

THE CARROTS

8pm, Bourbon Rocks Matching outfits, sugar-high harmonies, and songs about kissing can only mean one thing: Austin sixpiece the Carrots is born of the Sixties girl group stew. Featuring members of Dumb Haircuts, Tigers, and two-thirds of the Old-Timerz, the Carrots are adorable, but will also challenge you to a game of Chicken at Dead Man's Curve. – Audra Schroeder

CUE

8pm, Buffalo Billiards It's said there are three perfect shapes in the world: the hull of a boat, a violin, and a woman's body. Two out of three ain't bad. Austin fourpiece Cue layers instrumental post-rock beneath Stacy Meshbane's climactic violin in ways that would make Mogwai shiver. Last year's debut, Bring Back My Love (Earth Gets Back), pulled in the tide with earthly swells and quakes. – Darcie Stevens

OH, BEAST!

8pm, Molotov Lounge One of Austin's most dependable purveyors of weirdo-rock, Oh, Beast! fuses Krautrock, prog, and good old-fashioned butt-rock with a twisted sense of humor straight from the nearest rubber room. They're fond of challenging other local bands to impromptu onstage showdowns. A follow-up to 2003's Makin' It in the Scene (Perverted Son) is in the works. – Christopher Gray

HYDROPONIC SOUND SYSTEM

8pm, Club One 15 Blunted on crisp drum-breaks and jazz loops, Skinny Fresh and Rube of Hydroponic Sound System produce hip-hop-oriented instrumentals guaranteed to make even a lardass want to move something. On their latest EP, Choice Cuts Vol. 2 (Alternate Take), regular MC collaborators Headkrack, Bavu Blakes, and MYK uplift Hydro's sparse tracks into hectic states of cerebral dance floor mania. – Robert Gabriel

BENKO

9pm, Buffalo Billiards Mars may need guitars, but we've got more than enough down here. That's why Benko's vibraphone-for-guitar take on indie-pop sounds so refreshing. While this might come off as novelty in the hands of dilettantes, vibraphonist Sarah Norris, bassist Erik "the Butcher" Grostic, and drummer Graham Reynolds all ooze voracious chops. The Austin trio's self-released debut EP, An International Affair, offers an intriguing first take. – Greg Beets

BALANCE

9pm, Back Room A decade past grinding home recordings on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley alongside peers Hobo Junction, Living Legends, and Kirby Dominant, Balance now seeks to transcend his current position as the Bay area's Mixtape King. His full-length debut, Young & Restless (SMC Recordings), features cameos by Chamillionaire, Keak da Sneak, and EA-Ski as it rides a wave of combustibility. – Robert Gabriel

ZOM ZOMS

9pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Polka dots, synthesizers, and some crazy hair. Austin fourpiece Zom Zoms pay homage to Devo in the simplest ways: jittery steps, spooky stares, and screeching beats. A second LP, Yellow Rainbow, is due out this spring, introducing dancers nationwide to a strange kind of love. – Darcie Stevens

THE REPUTATION

9pm, Velvet Spade Patio With the distinctively dulcet vocals of Elizabeth Elmore front and center, Chicago power-pop quartet the Reputation works both sides of the melodic crunch equation with aplomb. Their acclaimed second album, 2004's To Force a Fate (Lookout!), was recorded as Elmore rushed to complete her law degree at Northwestern. – Greg Beets

THE STRANGE BOYS

9pm, Velvet Spade Eccentric, whiny, punk blues played by three – ahem – young men from Dallas. And we're not talking Conor Oberst whiny. More Iggy than that, with a Texas accent. The Boys raised hackles over the past year playing local dive Beerland, and now they're ready to share it with the rest of the world: Welcome the States Newest Noise Makers. – Darcie Stevens

CARDINALE

9pm, Spiros Patio For the love of God, don't forget earplugs. Embryonic Austin fourpiece Cardinale absolutely fucking destroys. Nail double stacks on the floor behind former Sea of Thousand screamers and thrashers, and you can feel the metal across your face. Arclight debut 31:13 hits the streets in April. – Darcie Stevens

DIE PRINCESS DIE

9:30pm, Room 710 A Die Princess Die album might make coffee superfluous. Louder than highway construction and dirtier than Internet porn, the Southern California fourpiece blends thrashy and trashy. 2004's self-titled debut drives it like Jehu stuck in fifth gear. – Michael Bertin

ZEALE

9:30pm, Club One 15 At first, South Austin rapper Zeale comes across fairly unassuming. Upon further investigation, Zeale's got a whole lot of freakish aggression lurking beneath the veneer of your average skate-punk philosopher. A Travis Bickel Mohawk never looked so proper, as Zeale's battle-tested tongue lashings conjure fits of surrealistic surprise. – Robert Gabriel

PEELANDER-Z

10pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz This "Japanese action comic punk" trio from New York is the band your inner 7-year-old wants at his next birthday party. Originally from the Z section of Planet Peelander, these animé convention favorites show up festooned in primary-colored superhero costumes, give expert human bowling lessons, and exhort their audiences to sing along with punky paeans to pandas, rockets, and medium-rare steak. Resistance is futile. – Greg Beets

FIELD MUSIC

10pm, Emo's Main XTC's Andy Partridge hasn't been using his genius much lately so the cheeky lads in North England's Field Music up and "borrowed" it while recording their instantly memorable/hummable/toe-tapping/danceable self-titled pop-music masterpiece. Come to think of it, has anyone seen Julian Cope's masterful songwriting abilities of late? We thought not. That darn Field Music! – Marc Savlov

WILLY MASON

10pm, Antone's Singer-songwriter Willy Mason is 19 going on 80, or so one would think from his deep, gruff voice on debut, Where the Humans Eat (Astralwerks). The Martha's Vineyard native prefers acerbic, observational folk-rock to East Coast tween-friendly pop. Mason will spend March touring with Jenny Lewis and the Watson twins, then jump ship to support Beth Orton on the road. – Melanie Haupt

SETH KAUFFMAN

10pm, Tambaleo Formerly of North Carolina's Choosy Beggars, Durham's Seth Kauffman has just released his first solo disc on HighTone, Ting. With his tag of "lo-fi North Carolina funk," Kauffman fashions a Beck-meets-Motown-meets-the Wailers patchwork infused with soul. His backing band the Real Mothers includes Scott Sharpe of the Blue Rags and Bill Reynolds from Donna the Buffalo. – Jim Caligiuri

HURTS TO PURR

10pm, Caribbean Lights Austin trio Hurts to Purr specializes in exquisitely textured piano pop confessionals peppered with odd tweaks of Fiona Apple-flavored eccentricity. Quick-burning affectations aside, the most memorable element of pianist/vocalist Liz Pappademas' performance is autumnal subtlety. Though not quite fully realized, Hurts to Purr's self-titled debut displays that potential. – Greg Beets

ORANGER

10pm, Velvet Spade Patio San Francisco's Oranger achieved critical renown by crossing psych-pop with the Who's blast furnace ferocity. With the departure of drummer Jim Lindsey, the quintet reigns in the latter on their latest, New Comes and Goes (Eenie Meenie). "Make It With You" was a highlight of Badman's 2005 Bread tribute, Friends and Lovers. – Greg Beets

GRITBOYS

10:10pm, Back Room Treading heavy on the Texas rap mix CD circuit, Houston's GBs sit sideways and ride out the late-night vertigo created by "Drank in My Cup," their '05 collaboration with Paul Wall. Portraying Ghetto Reality in Texas, Pretty Todd, Scooby, Poppy, and Unique advance city traditions originated deep in the heart of Screwston by the likes of Scarface, Lil Keke, and HAWK. – Robert Gabriel

THE WINKS

10:30pm, Beerland This four-woman Austin punk rock collective mixes anger and allure in a manner that's only gotten tougher with time and touring. They're sort of like a foul-tempered, well-lit alternative to the Donnas. The Winks' 2005 album, Too Hot to Be This Cool (Super Secret), is a 20-minute maelstrom of Russ Meyer-style sex and violence. – Greg Beets

ANNIE

10:30pm, Eternal A Norwegian singer co-signed by every hipster from Pitchfork to Peoria, Annie scored an international hit in 2005 with the Stereolab sensuality of "Heartbeat." Sweet electronic candy slides down the chute of her debut album, Anniemal (Big Beat), as Annie resurrects the early-Eighties pop quirkiness put forth by Tom Tom Club and Human League. – Robert Gabriel

YOUNG BLEED

10:30pm, Back Room Baton Rouge native Young Bleed kicks up a torrent of gangsta rap signifiers as he builds on the past success of 1998's certified-gold No Limit album My Balls and My Word. Joining forces with notorious Scaramento thug C-Bo through the West Coast Mafia imprint, Bleed supplies '05's Rise Thru da Ranks with a Southern drawl aimed to muscle marks into full compliance. – Robert Gabriel

MR. BLAKES

11pm, Back Room Juxtaposing introspective lyrics with a socially engaging live show, Bavu Blakes continues to bubble up from the innermost reaches of the Austin rap scene. As at home with the studio concoctions of Hydroponic Sound System as he is with the spontaneous musings of the D-Madness band, Mr. Blakes crafts intelligent songs such as "Nobody Leavin" that tackle the dissonance of modern society head-on. – Robert Gabriel

WOODEN WAND

11pm, Emo's Annex The Tennessee singer known as Wooden Wand is mysterious and prolific all at once. Sometimes performing with the Vanishing Voice, a collective of willowy guys and gals who sing about floods, death, and nature, they just released Gipsy Freedom, their fifth album to come out in the last year, despite members living in different states. Call it the cult of wilderness rock. – Audra Schroeder

THE STANDARD

11pm, Nuno's Fragility is a beautiful trait. Tim Putnam, the voice and strum behind Portland, Ore., quartet the Standard, is at once childlike and wise. Last year's mammoth Albatross (Yep Roc) soared on the multiple layers and tempos of a weathered rock band. Not as rhythmic as 2004's Wire Post to Wire, Albatross insists that indie rock should be as complex as the emotion it represents. – Darcie Stevens

ALOHA

11pm, Emo's Jr. Aloha's 2001 debut, That's Your Fire, spun through melodic, free-falling soundscapes, gathering them in the post-rock cadre of the time. Yet, the Cleveland quartet has weathered the storm of "the next so-and-so," creating more beautiful noise on 2004's Here Comes Everyone, and putting the same melody-stoked fire into their upcoming Polyvinyl release Some Echoes. – Audra Schroeder

SUSAN GIBSON AND THE MOVING PARTS

11pm, Cedar Street Courtyard Susan Gibson's "Wide Open Spaces" was a massive hit for the Dixie Chicks and her platinum calling card to fame. Last year's Outer Space re-established the Austin area resident in the ranks of popular singer-songwriters and reaffirmed her determined direction down heartfelt highways. – Margaret Moser

RONNY ELLIOTT

11pm, B.D. Riley's Tampa's Ronny Elliott has drawn comparison's to Steve Earle and Guy Clark for his rugged brand of country flavored rock, and he's just released his sixth disc, Valentine Roadkill (Blue Heart). Filled with pointed commentaries on the state of America in the time of George W. Bush, it echoes, no doubt to Elliott's delight, rabble-rousers like Phil Ochs and Johhny Cash. – Jim Caligiuri

JEDI MIND TRICKS

11pm, Red Eyed Fly These aren't the beats you're looking for. You can go about your bass. Damn, talk about shakin' the subwoofer. The Philadelphia underground hip-hop duo of DJ Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind and MC Vinnie Paz kick out horrorcore rhymes on LPs like Legacy of Blood. JMT has been gigging with KRS-ONE in '06 and Paz is also part of the Army of the Pharaohs, a collective of underground rap notables. – Michael Bertin

BABOON

11pm, Spiros Now in their 15th year, Dallas/Fort Worth art-punk veterans Baboon have never stopped evolving. They were labelmates with Creed and guest stars on Walker, Texas Ranger during the Nineties, but 2002's Something Good Is Going to Happen to You (Last Beat) is the quintet's most definitive musical statement to date. – Greg Beets

AWESOME COOL DUDES

11pm, Molotov Lounge Between their playful late-night deconstruction of all things pop and a penchant for absurd lyrical tangents, the Awesome Cool Dudes have developed a uniquely slick-but-savage assault on convention that tastes different with every bite. 2005's Maxin and Relaxin (Furniture) found the Austin quartet channeling synth-pop, Eurodisco, punk, funk, and rap. – Greg Beets

1986

11pm, Red 7 Power pop is supposed to be fun, and half-Austin, half-NYC fivepiece 1986 was nothing less on last year's eponymous, self-released debut. Vocalist/guitarist Giorgio Angelini took off for the Big Apple last year in hopes of making it big, and with this much energy, who knows? – Darcie Stevens

THE SWEETHEARTS

11:20pm, Beerland With their second album, Looks Could Kill (Mortville), Austin's Sweethearts strike a swell balance between the Ramones' gut-bomb energy and boundless New Wave romance. Spunky frontwoman Linette Liendo sings like the younger sister of Gwen Stefani and Josie Cotton with hand-me-downs to match. – Greg Beets

ADULT RODEO

11:30am, Hideout Formed on the East Coast, this local quartet's oddball Shimmy-Disc reverberations shot in many different directions after they moved to Austin in 1998. Adult Rodeo's fourth album, 2004's Tough Titty, touches on everything from Spaghetti Westerns to arena rock. – Greg Beets

K-RINO AND THE SOUTH PARK COALITION

11:30pm, Back Room Founded in 1987, South Park Coalition supplies the cornerstone that connects the brunt of the Houston rap scene by either association or influence. K-Rino formed the union of artists after committing one of his city's first rap songs to wax in '86 with a group called Real Chill. Dozens of albums later, the Worst Rapper Alive maintains his cult-leader magnetism. – Robert Gabriel


THE JAI-ALAI SAVANT

11:45pm, Room 710 This Philly fourpiece was traded to Chicago, livening up their Fugazi-fitted punk outfit with a little shiny Police-influenced dub. On their debut EP, Thunderstatement (GSL), the Jai-Alai Savant could be the band most in tune with the average American male's psyche, asking the musical question "Scarlett Johansen Why Don't You Love Me". – Michael Bertin


THE BRILLIANT MISTAKES

12mid, Whisky Bar New York's Brilliant Mistakes take their name from an Elvis Costello song, and that's not just Dumb Luck. Led by the songwriting duo of singer/keyboardist Alan Walker and bassist Erik Philbrook, the quartet worships at the altar of Squeeze's Difford and Tillbrook, combining American rock sensibilities with a fresh-sounding brand of pop. Their latest recording is a contribution to a Nick Lowe tribute, Lowe Profile (Brewery). – Jim Caligiuri

RUMBLE STRIPS

12mid, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Brash, brassy, and hung up on love and lost lasses like Haircut 100 never cut and ran, UK's Rumble Strips borrow a bit of ska flavor, a pinch of last year's model Elvis Costello, and add the sorrowful, powerful pipes of frontman Charlie Waller, making their infectious Transgressive Records debut single, "Motorcycle," a bonefied anthem for the pedal-pushing pups everywhere. – Marc Savlov

THE INTERNATIONAL PLAYBOYS

12mid, Spiros Patio The Playboys crawled out of the underbelly of the left-for-dead punk scene in Missoula, Mont., and after five years of touring, this smart-dressing, riff-happy quintet leaves 'em satisfied. How else to explain "The International Playboys Get a Bottle of Wine, Go to the Beach and Get Fucked Up" from their album Sexiful? Upcoming Cobra Blood Hangover gets polish on local Australian Cattle God. – Dan Oko

BARFIELD

12mid, Continental Club "The Tyrant of Texas Funk" played a much different role while performing with Jo Carol Pierce last fall, but Mike Barfield rules Thursday night at the Continental Club with muscle and might. He trades the traditional trappings of soul singers for a down-home look, but make no mistake: As last year's The Tyrant proved, Barfield is one of the best singers in Texas today. – Margaret Moser

TALKDEMONIC

12mid, Latitude 30 Portland duo Talkdemonic have merged the old and the new: Kevin O'Connor lays out pretty, electronic beats that verge on hip-hop, viola player Lisa Molinaro chops them into pieces, and we eat it up. Their latest LP, Beat Romantic (Arena Rock), is stuffed to the gills with, well, romantic beats that encapsulate that dreary, dreamy, hazy Portland sound. – Audra Schroeder

MIDLAKE

12mid, Fox & Hound Denton quintet Midlake know about melody. As their sophomore album, Bamnan & Slivercork (Bella Union), rushed over revelry with waves of mood and echo, European entities took notice of our Texas indie rockers. With a third LP touching down in June, Midlake is poised for the national spotlight. – Darcie Stevens

THE ENDS

12:10am, Beerland More than just another band with a bad attitude, the Ends' frenzied take on punk fully embodies the rock & roll end of that equation, from Chuck Berry to Give 'em Enough Rope-era Clash and the Makers' turbocharged garage revisionism. The Austin quintet's jagged twin-guitar roar made 2004's Concrete Disappointment (Dirtnap) the perfect antidote to a bad day at the glue factory. – Greg Beets

IMMORTAL TECHNIQUE

12:30am, Red Eyed Fly Remember the days when even mainstream rap used to make it its business to take a stand against social injustice? Reminding us that a revolution necessitates much more than mere sloganeering, Harlem's Immortal Technique sinks his teeth into the hind leg of a gluttonous pig in dire need of an attitude adjustment. The Peruvian-born rapper's self-produced, anti-corporate style stays adamantly insurgent on his latest, Revolutionary 2. – Robert Gabriel

BIG TUCK OF DSR

12:30am, Back Room A force to be reckoned with out of South Dallas, DSR, aka Dirty South Rydaz, boasts selling more than 350,000 copies of their various mix tapes sans major distribution. Recently signed to a multi-artist deal by Universal, rappers Big Tuck, Tum-Tum, Fat Bastard, Double T, Lil Ronnie, Addiction, and Big Tite anticipate greener pastures. First up to bat, Big Tuck's The Absolute Truth knocks 'em out the park. – Robert Gabriel

GOBLIN COCK

12:45am, Habana Calle 6 Patio The cover of Goblin Cock's debut, Bagged and Boarded (Absolutely Kosher), can only elicit one response: Yikes. It's a skeevy illustration (think literal here), but the music is pure metal. And yes, it does throb. Fronted by Rob Crow of indie rockers Pinback, the hard-rocking Cocks go by names like Bane Ass-Pounder and Braindeath and emit gooey darkness on the epic "Winkey Dinky Donkey." Consider yourself warned. – Audra Schroeder

YOU SAY PARTY! WE SAY DIE!

1am, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Singer Becky Ninkovic's vocals in You Say Party! We Say Die! scream Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but Vancouver's New New Wavers and their Casio keys definitely have a Braniac bent. The math rockers overloaded last year's Hit the Floor! (Sound Document) with enough boy-girl harmonies to make their choir teachers proud. The perfect fix for locals missing Coco Candissi. – Michael Bertin

MANIKIN

1am, Beerland One of the few Austin bands that doesn't have a MySpace page, Manikin maintains a similar low profile on the local scene. Even so, their ramshackle mixture of punk, garage, and No Wave is one of the more original sounds in town. Still (Super Secret) was perhaps 2005's most unsung local album. – Christopher Gray

CHEATER SLICKS

1am, Jackalope This threesome from Ohio could have called it quits long ago, but as presidential politics have shown, you cannot take the heartland for granted. And so, Cheater Slicks march on, churning out stripped-down R&B after 19 years on the road. A forthcoming release remains under wraps, but the murky, mean sound of the Shannon brothers and their pal Dana Hatch still packs a punch. – Dan Oko

MARSHALL CHAPMAN

1am, B.D. Riley's A native of Spartanburg, S.C., Marshall Chapman has been playing and writing roots-rock since roots-rock wasn't cool. Her songs have been covered by an astonishing array of performers including Emmylou Harris, Conway Twitty, Irma Thomas, Jimmy Buffett, and Olivia Newton-John. Chapman's own recordings are equally acclaimed, her Southern sound by turns sweet, witty, and gritty, as her upcoming CD, Mellowicious, illustrates. – Margaret Moser

THE CAPITOL YEARS

1am, Soho Lounge Shai Halperin tried his hand at the solo game, recording quietly with only a four-track and a dream. His epiphany came in the form of the Capitol Years, a full rock band that mixes the Strokes with the Byrds without blinking an eye. The Philly fourpiece reached its goal with last year's Let Them Drink (Burn & Shiver). This is how it's done. – Darcie Stevens

THE BIRTHDAY MASSACRE

1am, Elysium Toronto retro-electronica outfit the Birthday Massacre is proof that goth died long ago. That doesn't mean the black-and-white-clad, female-fronted sixpiece is afraid to pull out the eyeliner and vinyl, however. Last year's horror-tronic second release, Violet (Metropolis), was half Dead Can Dance and half Evanescence. It's time to go beyond the pale. – Darcie Stevens

FRIENDS OF DEAN MARTINEZ

1am, Oslo An 108-degree night in Palm Springs is only one of the daydreamy hallucinations unleashed by the sounds of Friends of Dean Martinez. Last year's instrumental Lost Horizon found the Arizona/Texas now-trio wandering around arid, fluttery soundscapes weighted by Bill Elm's lovely pedal steel, paying homage to the desert as the sun sets against their backs. – Audra Schroeder

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