SXSW Picks & Sleepers



All showcases subject to change


7:30pm, Emo's IV Everyone loves to dance and smile. Austin fourpiece Belaire is a collaboration between twin sisters Cari and Christa Palozzolo and Voxtrot's Jason Chronis, but this isn't dance punk. Caetano Veloso, Air, the Mosquitos, and Os Mutantes: melodic, bossa-nova indie pop. A 7-inch holdover, Haunted Castle (Indierect), preps an upcoming full-length. – Darcie Stevens


8pm, Habana Calle 6 Austin composer Graham Reynolds thinks big and keeps his fingers in lots of pies. He's composed symphonies, string quartets, operas, and film scores. The Golden Arm Trio is a revolving cast of musicians, with Reynolds alternating piano and drums. The Trio's grounded in jazz, but that's just a springboard for Reynolds' vast musical palate. – Greg Beets


8pm, Molotov Lounge One of the best bands to emerge from Austin's Red River strip, Cat Scientist combines art rock, techno, Afro-pop, and punk with mile-a-minute lyrical Dadaisms. The quintet's secret weapon is vocalist Miss Rae, whose seamless alternation between robotic chill and blues-belt is breathtaking. Cat Scientist's debut CD is due May 5. – Greg Beets


8pm, Soho Lounge New York post-punk trio Rahim blends shadows of militant D.C. noise with obtuse Gang of Four rhythms. Their debut LP, Ideal Lives (Frenchkiss), engenders actual sentimentality in place of easy stoicism: a real accomplishment. – Greg Beets


8:45pm, Room 710 Insect Sex Act's slithering slab of psychedelic noise rock fully befits their illustrious underground pedigree. Former Scratch Acid guitarist Brett Bradford joins Ministry drummer Max Brody and Pong guitarist-cum-bassist Jason Craig to build a perfect soundtrack for cocktail parties of the apocalypse. – Greg Beets


8pm, Elephant Room A longtime stalwart of the Austin jazz scene, Stern brings her warm and evocative voice to the stage whenever she performs. Whether putting her own words to a familiar instrumental, caressing a lovely ballad, infusing a new spin on an old favorite, or belting out a scat chorus, Stern's a seasoned veteran. Lament, on Austin's Aardvark label is her most recent release. – Jay Trachtenberg


8pm, Bourbon Rocks Former grunge drummer picks up a guitar and decides to lead his own band. Sound familiar? Well, Mark Pickerel, who used to slap skins for the Screaming Trees, can only hope that his band the Praying Hands match the airborne wizardry of the Foo Fighters. Pickerel pulled out an old trick by bringing in Steve Fisk to produce his forthcoming Bloodshot release. – Robert Gabriel


8pm, Oslo Thorir Georg Jónsson keeps pretty busy for a 21-year-old. A member of two Icelandic hardcore bands and a hip-hop act, he's also the entirety of My Summer as a Salvation Soldier, more lo-fi Elliott Smith or Sufjan Stevens than anything that might frighten parents. – Michael Bertin


9pm, 18th Floor @ Capitol Place Otherwise known as singer-songwriter Even Johansen, this fellow knows the laws of attraction, on display via his fourth full-length The Tourniquet (Filter). The tattooed Norwegian troubadour bleeds love, bitterness, and tenderness with his gentle electro-pop, exploring both the positive and negative poles of human relationships. – Melanie Haupt


9pm, Bourbon Rocks Cordero is a Brooklyn-based band equally at home among the New York art rock scene or the rock en Español movement. Led by the bilingual Ani Cordero, who's worked with Calexico and Giant Sand, their Southwestern atmospherics just appeared on En Este Momento, their first for Bloodshot Records. – Jim Caligiuri


9pm, Drink Neither as symphonic as Iceland's Sigur Rós nor as abstracted as Baltimore's Animal Collective, this folksy Swedish vehicle claims that to be a one-man band with nine members. The fact remains that chief weirdo Emil Svanängen is onto something magical. If you're suffering from urban malaise (and who isn't?), the soothing sounds of Sologne (Dear John) are a sure cure. – Dan Oko


9pm, Redrum You've gotta love a band that sings about "pink and silver nighties" and "chocolate-covered cherries/scary, scary berries." Charlemagne is Carl Johns (formerly of outfit Noahjohn) and a septet of players straight outta Omaha. Last year's Detour Allure (SideCho Records), Charlemagne's fourth, sports a distinctly Elephant 6 vibe, all brains and breeziness. – Melanie Haupt


9pm, Antone's A new-fangled string band out of Lyons, Colo., these five ladies blend infectious energy, undeniable charisma, sharp musicianship, and a repertoire of original and traditional songs. Kristin Andreassen, Rayna Gellert, Sharon Gilchrist, K.C. Groves, and Abigail Washburn each take a turn in the spotlight, trading instruments and lead vocals with ease. 2005's She Waits for Night (Rounder) was their first national release. – Jim Caligiuri


9pm, Elephant Room Dallas-born trumpeter and bandleader Ephraim Owens is a mandarin of the Austin jazz scene, able to blow chilled jazz as readily as enflamed post-bop. Classical training at age 8 has given this multiple Austin Music Award-winner buttery chops, showcased in the new film Before the Music Dies. – David Lynch


9pm, Habana Calle 6 The voice of L.A. songbird Becky Stark is simple, evocative, emotive – some real velvety Seventies pop to touch you in the morning and walk away. Backed by Jeff Rosenberg (Tarentel) and Ron Rege Jr., their 4-song EP Cavalry of Light shines on, songs rising and falling with Stark's operatic flow. The lovely tides of "You Broke My Heart" really will. Freak folk this is not. – Audra Schroeder


9pm, Cedar Street Courtyard Not really a jug band nor a bluegrass act either, SAJB has coalesced into a nearly peerless musical ensemble with chops to spare. The noodle factor is kept to a minimum, and by covering Bob Wills and Walter Hyatt, they stay true to their deep Texas roots. 2005's Dark and Weary World (Blue Corn) was their most accomplished work to date. – Jim Caligiuri


9pm, Emo's Annex From the carnival corral otherwise known as Kill Rock Stars come the Old Haunts. The Olympia, Wash., trio triumphantly confused and brilliantly destroyed surprisingly complex punk rock off last year's debut LP, Fallow Field (KRS), and with follow-up Fuel on Fire coming in April, the boys debut a fresh set of quick and vibrating originals. – Darcie Stevens


9pm, Oslo Iceland's Dr. Spock comes at you hard like protégés of Page Hamilton, but do it in a manner that's a little more modern, like a Eurofied System of a Down, complete with full Scandinavian aural theatrics. Not without a sense of humor, Dr. Spock's debut was titled Dr. Phil. – Michael Bertin


9:30pm, Redrum Annex Spawning from the same school of thought as lovable emo-heads Jimmy Eat World, Chicago fourpiece the Fold is all about the hook, but they really, really mean it. Frontman Daniel Castady's severe case of optimism is showcased on the band's debut, This Too Shall Pass (Tooth & Nail). – Darcie Stevens


10pm, Red Eyed Fly Austin's Dixie Witch specializes in southern-fried hard rock swimming in riffy syrup. Bassist/vocalist Curt Christenson, guitarist Clayton Mills, and drummer/lead singer Trinidad Leal offer up slow, grindy minor key meltdowns as easily as hair-parting power chord RPGs. Detroit hard rock indie Small Stone released their 2003 One Bird, Two Stones and will do the same with their third, Smoke and Mirrors, next month. – David Lynch


10pm, Habana Calle 6 Patio After several albums as the main songwriter for Chicago's roots pop band Dolly Varden, Steve Dawson released his first solo disc, Sweet Is the Anchor (Undertow), in 2005. A decidedly soulful affair that drew comparisons to Al Green and Van Morrison, it's filled with songs that are poetically smart and deliciously warm. – Jim Caligiuri


10pm, La Zona Rosa From the debris left by the demise of Slobberbone comes the Drams. The 'bone's principal singer-songwriter Brent Best has added keyboards and additional vocals to his arsenal, and the outcome will still satisfy those in need to rock, as well as provide unrelenting lyricism. The Denton, Texas-based quintet's debut is due this summer. – Jim Caligiuri


10pm, Fox & Hound Perhaps you've seen this Norwegian trio on the Internet. They're the men in loose-fitting track suits bashing out Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart" on old kitchen appliances. Sure it's schtick, but they do a surprisingly good job of coaxing big rock bombast out of all that dead metal. Hurra Torpedo is the subject of an appropriately titled documentary called The Crashing Blow. – Greg Beets


10pm, Buffalo Billiards Drone never sounded so sweet. Philadelphia psych-pop quartet Mazarin experimented with ooze & roll on 2005 burner, We're Already There (I and Ear), the band's first release in four years. Quentin Stolzfus' group takes cues from Sonic Youth and the Flaming Lips and adds more melody. It's cooling beauty. – Darcie Stevens


10pm, Elephant Room An up and comer on the Austin jazz scene who continues to grow musically, round-toned guitarist Vestre is currently working on new material for his next project, which will use a larger group than on his refreshing 2005 self-produced debut Jazz Camp. Enticing music Vestre calls "instrumental" rather than jazz, he favors open harmonies and rock-infused rhythms. – Jay Trachtenberg


10:30pm, Parish II This Seattle quartet is fronted by John Roderick, whose beard-growing prowess knows no equal, and whose peppery addict-in-recovery lyrics are lightened up by mostly cheery indie rock. Personnel changes have dogged the band since the 2003 release of When I Pretend to Fall (Barsuk), notably the departure of Harvey Danger vocalist Sean Nelson. Look for the Ultimatum EP in stores soon. – Melanie Haupt


10:30pm, Opal Divine's Toledo, Ohio's We Are the Fury deliver lurid, melodramatic post-punk with dynamic, high-energy panache. Vocalist Jeremy Lublin sings like a man unhinged, ping-ponging between youthful versions of David Bowie and Pete Shelley. Allusions to glam rock and New Wave abound on the quintet's Infinite Jest EP (Unborn Media/East West). – Greg Beets


10:45pm, Exodus End of Fashion is coarse but catchy volatile guitar pop, as heard on the band's single "O Yeah." Seeing how the quartet traveled from Perth, Australia, to Oxford, Miss., to record their Dennis Herring-produced (Elvis Costello, Modest Mouse) self-titled debut, they were probably waist-deep in it. – Michael Bertin


10:45pm, Room 710 Multitasking has found its way out of the office and into rock, as evinced by Austin juggernaut Daniel Francis Doyle. He plays drums. He plays guitar. He sweats. Doyle pulverizes his kit, screams nonsensical words through a sweet headset, and thrashes enough for a whole band, all of which can be heard on his debut Furniture Records release Who Are Your Customers? Audra Schroeder


11pm, Flamingo Cantina Not your run-of-the-mill indie rockers, this unpretentious fivesome of iconoclasts formed in Philadelphia in 1999. Their "official" debut from last year, Easy Beat, on the National Parking imprint, was recorded at home on quarter-inch eight-track tape and is a charming amalgam of Beatles-esque and other Sixties/Seventies pop references wedded to a rambunctious alt.rock disposition. – Jay Trachtenberg


11pm, Continental Club Raleigh quartet Chatham County Line fuse old-time, gather-round-the-microphone bluegrass with other styles of American music for a sound that's both youthful and traditional. Their sophomore release, Route 23 (Yep Roc), was produced by Chris Stamey (dB's, Whiskeytown, Yo La Tengo). – Jim Caligiuri


11pm, Whisky Bar One of the pivotal figures in the evolution of Southern indie rock, North Carolina-bred Chris Stamey co-founded the dB's, played bass for Alex Chilton, and released the late Chris Bell's I Am the Cosmos on his own Car Records. Stamey's 2005 LP, A Question of Temperature (Yep Roc), brings in Yo La Tengo as backing band for smashing covers of Television's "Venus" and Cream's "Politician." – Greg Beets


11pm, Nuno's Upstairs "Sometimes I close my eyes, and you're not very pretty." Please let Morrissey go to this show. It's important for him to realize the extent of his influence. Vancouver's the Organ is five ladies who like things dark and dreary. Their 2004 debut, Grab That Gun (Mint), is a morose collection of indie rock lead by Katie Sketch's gloom and, of course, an emotional organ. – Darcie Stevens


11pm, Emo's Jr. Seattle's Crystal Skulls aren't metal, although their name might hint otherwise. Instead, the fourpiece is blissful pop and prismatic simplicity. Last year's debut, Blocked Numbers (Suicide Squeeze), gleamed with an indie-rock sheen, and April's follow-up, Outgoing Behavior, dreams under the same tree, although this time the season's changed from fall to spring. – Darcie Stevens


11pm, Molotov Lounge Who decides when there's no room at the inn? Originally conceived as a rotating cast of players, this fun-loving Austin pop rock band has solidified into a cast of stalwarts/survivors of the city's fabled New Sincerity era of the 1980s and now includes Hunter Darby (Wannabees), Julie Lowery (Diamond Smugglers), and Robbie Araiza (Way Outs). Songs for Housework, their 2005 debut, was a hook-filled delight. – Jay Trachtenberg


11pm, Spiros How about some post-winter olympicseurometalcore? From Torino, Italy, Linea 77 throws a bit of everything into the mix but never colors too far outside the power chords. You want to make ice skating a sport? Have the little skater girls do a triple lutz to this shit. – Michael Bertin


11:15pm, Opal Divine's London's Captain stakes claims in cocktail pop and chamber rock, resulting in an oddly refreshing sound vaguely resembling the 5th Dimension backed by Arcade Fire. Their much-raved-about single "Frontline" boasts boy/girl vocals and plenty of hooks that keep the quintet's vim level high. – Greg Beets


11:15pm, Fox & Hound With a revamped lineup, L.A.'s Particle kicks off a 40-city cross-country tour at SXSW. While pigeonholed with the jam-band crowd, the all-instrumental quartet glides from psychedelia to techno to funk with remarkable ease. They recently shot their debut DVD for Shout! Factory, with special guest Robbie Krieger from the Doors, which is due out this summer. – Jim Caligiuri


11:30pm, Emo's Main What began as a rockabilly outfit à la the Stray Cats has morphed into something of a hybrid between the Reverend Horton Heat and Green Day, and they've got the stadium appeal of the latter. The Australian trio's fourth, State of Emergency, was released in February on EMI. – Michael Bertin


11:30pm, Parish II What happens when a 28-year-old finds himself married, with children and a day job, yet still longs to make music? From the folks who brought you Death Cab for Cutie comes Waxwing's Rocky Votolato, a Seattle singer-songwriter with heart to spare. The new Makers (Barsuk) is a beautiful poem tinged with Buckley brittleness and Drake-ian cautious optimism. – Darcie Stevens


11:30pm, Club One 15 Once an Austin MC, Ross Hogg reinvents himself as a versatile San Francisco DJ. Through his partnership with DJ Neta as Ital Selection HiFi, Ross delivers blazing reggae cocktails served for lovers and revolutionaries alike. Away from the dance hall, Ross contributes to the Slump & Grind mixtape series that centers itself around the Bay area's reinvigorated turf-rap scene. – Robert Gabriel


12mid, Flamingo Cantina Unlike any rapper you've ever heard, AWOL One spits at his own relaxed pace in a voice that sounds like sandpaper against sandpaper. A member of the Shape Shifters with ties to Abstract Rude's Mass Men collective, Awolrus claims to "write his rhymes in blood" as a further sign of his deadpan orientation. His most recent EP, produced by Daddy Kev, is titled Killafornia (Alpha Pop). – Robert Gabriel


12mid, Molotov Lounge It's tough to say whether the Hidden Cameras are a porny, gay activist choir or a group of singers who just happen to be gay and sing songs about it. Suffice it to say this Toronto indie-pop choir (complete with go-go dancers!), the brainchild of singer Joel Gibb, is taking pop performance art to new heights. Their sophomore release, Mississauga Goddam (Rough Trade), came out in 2004. – Melanie Haupt


12mid, Emo's Jr. Prog-pop. Has anyone coined that one yet? Shifty and nifty, whatever sub-genre the Chicagoans fall into might be pretty lonely as there isn't likely to be anyone else in there with them. The band recently relocated to label Suicide Squeeze and is working with producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine), aiming for a fall release of its second LP. – Michael Bertin


12mid, Red 7 This Lawrence, Kan., quartet is back from hiatus after beloved indie label Tiger Style bit the dust. They've found new home with the Militia Group, which is releasing the band's fourth album, Peregrine, in April. By turns haunting, dreamy, and angsty, Peregrine is a nice cocktail for certain moods. – Melanie Haupt


12mid, Jackalope Hard not to like Bris Vegas' Shifter. In the vein of the "the" bands (Hives, Vines, Strokes) Shifter throws back straight-ahead frenetic, anthemic guitars with an updated Teenage Fanclub twist. The Aussies' lyrics – "I got some butter, baby. Where you want it?" – are perfectly rock to boot. – Michael Bertin


12mid, Red Eyed Fly Lumbering, hairy, and taller than Yao Ming, L.A.'s Sasquatch places the leaden big foot upon your pleasure center. Drawing equally from metal, rock, and psychedelia, the trio looks back for inspiration and forward for conviction. Metallic indie Small Stone is prepping the follow-up to their 2004 eponymous debut. – David Lynch


12mid, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Formerly members of Houston noiseniks NTX+Electric and the Corpes of Waco, Erica Thrasher and Tex Kerschen make Suicide-esque beats that cause aneurisms. Currently based in L.A. and Screwston, the trio (with Rodney Rodriguez on drums/percussion) recently released their Sangles Redux CD (Girlgang), a collection of previous 7-inches armed to the teeth with ammo beats. – Audra Schroeder


12:30am, Zero Degrees Absurd rap flows jettison from Busdriver's pie-hole as the Project Blowed graduate shuttles his caravan of theatrics across districts of new-school influence. Raised on '05's Fear of a Black Tangent (Mush), Busdriver now finds himself manning the wheel for Epitaph as producers Nobody and Boom Bip fill out his pit crew. – Robert Gabriel


12:30am, Club One 15 Throwing outrageous dance parties in their adopted home of Brooklyn, DJ Eleven, DJ Ayres, and Cosmo Baker blend genres mash-up style as their takes on hip-hop, soul, and funk cover bases galore. Able to bring men, women, gays, hipsters, and thugs together peacefully under the same roof, the Rub DJs transform expansive club spaces into unruly saunas of unbridled pleasure. – Robert Gabriel


1am, Spiros Patio Most Americans missed the first coming of this Antwerp-based band of Belgian alt-rockers. After a hiatus, dEUS is back with a mild vengeance. The new Pocket Revolution (V2) finds Tom Barman singing sweetly (in English) over ambient keyboards and strumming guitars. – Dan Oko


1am, Flamingo Cantina Sporting crew affiliations clear across L.A. by way of Project Blowed, Of Mexican Descent, Songodsuns, and the Visionaries, 2Mex dignifies Chicano rap with the rarefied air of a traveling shaman. Joining forces with Shape Shifters producer and part-time MC Life Rexall, the pair gears up for the release of their collaborative debut, Money Symbol Martyrs (Cornerstone Recording Arts Society). – Robert Gabriel


1am, Nuno's Upstairs Recently signed to One Little Indian, this NYC quartet has been laboring in relative obscurity on the Lower East Side for a few years before garnering hometown notice last year. Debut Rotten Love, released in September, fits singer James Levy nicely into this year's festival, which is populated so heavily by Eighties New Wave acts, especially Morrissey, an obvious influence. – Melanie Haupt


1am, Elephant Room Jazz for aficionados and novices alike, Drop Trio is the three-pronged rhythm section of bassist Patrick Flanagan, drummer Nuje, and keymaster Ian Varley. Though Varley's Guaraldi-like chromatic fantasias dominate, the Houston-Austin group's advance-and-retreat style isn't far from funk and even prog rock. Cezanne (Invisible Dog), recorded last May at the eponymous H-town cafe, is an ideal introduction. – Christopher Gray


1am, Eternal A fivepiece from Brooklyn with members in Philly, Clap self-released their self-titled debut, found fame in the blogosphere, emerged as critical darlings everywhere, played Conan O'Brien, and elected to re-release their first album on wax. Heavy debts to Talking Heads, VU, and Tom Waits belie the originality of this feat. – Dan Oko


1am, Latitude 30 Like a hot cup of coffee on a sub-zero Lower East Side street corner, Black Lipstick's exquisite mesh of Verlaine/Lloyd guitar interplay and Mo Tucker-style percussion fosters just enough buzz to keep you from freezing to death. The ATX/NYC quartet's 2005 LP, Sincerely, Black Lipstick (Peek-A-Boo), is a well-realized slice of familiar bliss. – Greg Beets


1am, Creekside @ Capitol Place Some try mixing blues, country, jazz, and folk, but few do so as warmly as Po' Girl. Hailing from Vancouver, multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Trish Klein, Allison Russell, and Diona Davies offer up behind-the-beat, acoustically couched songs of love and loss. Nettwork released their second, 2004's Vagabond Lullabies, and will also put out their imminent sophomore. – David Lynch


1am, Friends Lawrence, Kan.'s the New Amsterdams are a former side project of the Get Up Kids' Matt Pryor. The Amsterdams take a rootsy, laid-back pop approach that worked well on 2003's Worse for the Wear (Vagrant) and can also be heard on the free online EP Killed or Cured from last year. The quintet continues its tour of festivals with an appearance at Coachella in April. – Melanie Haupt


1am, Habana Calle 6 Patio So the split with Jeff Twedy and Wilco has long since flowed under the bridge, and after putting out a couple of albums in '04, Bennett went to work in the studio in a quasi-unlikely paring, producing the last Blues Traveler effort. He then holed up in his own studio and recently emerged with some 70 songs. His SXSW appearance kicks off his next bout with touring. – Michael Bertin

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