SXSW Picks & Sleepers



All showcases subject to change


7:30pm, Emo's Main A founding member of Mystik Journeymen, LuckYiam.PSC introduced himself as an MC to contend with in '95 with "fuck a record deal, I'll get a job and go to school and still rip the place." Along with his clan of Living Legends, the L.A. rapper persists in landing high-profile gigs overseas and has recently added a third installment to his Extra Credit series. – Robert Gabriel


7:30pm, Red 7 Former Denali vocalist Maura Davis hooked up with this trio of Chicagoans last year, and while the band is more than adequate at creating moody backdrops, the star here is definitely Davis' glass-cracking voice. Look for debut EP The Lottery on Astralwerks soon. – Michael Bertin


8pm, Cedar Street Courtyard Self-proclaimed "Jews with horns," this jazzy, New York-based sextet has found many ways to transcend the Yiddish ghetto, recently working with the Woody Guthrie Foundation to write accompaniments for the father of American folk music's lost Jewish lyrics. Surprisingly danceable, innovative, and inspiring, the Klezmatics delivered 2005's Brother Moses Smote the Water (Piranha), the world's first Jewish gospel album. – Dan Oko


8pm, Habana Calle 6 Patio Another genre-busting act on Trey Spruance's (Mr. Bungle) Web of Mimicry imprint, Austin's TunaHelpers are sisters Adrienne and Bethany, and sister-in-spirit Khattie. Last year's Spruance-produced I'll Have What She's Having collects short, sharp blasts of future renaissance-melodic ecstasy, with orchestral strings, harpsichords, clavinets, and chimey vox. – David Lynch


8pm, Spiros Brooklyn (now) fourpiece Dirty on Purpose is putting the finishing touches on album art to complement the swirling guitars and vocals of upcoming LP Hallelujah Sirens (North Street). The only foreseeable problem is that the lacking member is former vocalist/keyboardist Erika Forster, otherwise known as the charm in the soothing pop band. – Darcie Stevens


8pm, Antone's Hyper-eclectic Brooklyn bard Tim Fite merges laptop agitprop folk with cut-and-paste snippets drawn from hip-hop, R&B, indie rock, and country death songs. Primarily built from samples of dollar-bin CDs, Fite's 2005 album, Gone Ain't Gone (Anti-), jumps from revolutionary Black Panther manifestos to slurred stabs at down-and-out Americana and back again. – Greg Beets


8pm, Elysium They must dance a lot in Toronto. The four blades of Uncut bounced and streamed through beat-inflected jams on 2004's Those Who Were Hung Hang Here (Paper Bag), and the party continues on their upcoming follow-up. It's amazing what a guitar can do for your hips. – Darcie Stevens


8pm, Drink File rootsy and eclectic Swedish songstress Ane Brun alongside Jane Siberry and Ani DiFranco. On last year's A Temporary Dive (V2), she hooked up for a duet with Canada's Ron Sexsmith, and despite the unfortunate punning on "Where Friend Rhymes With End," her evocative songwriting stands up well. – Dan Oko


8pm, Pecan St. Ale House French-born actress, painter, and chanteuse Maylin Pultar now calls L.A. home. Fluent in four languages, she sings in three. The classically trained musician's fresh debut, On My Way to See You, draws from Nina Simone ("Lili Marlene"), Edith Piaf ("La Vie En Rose"), and her mother's native Madagascar. – David Lynch


8pm, Eternal Although the comparisons to Dylan and Springsteen continue, this Sacramento, Calif. troubadour is definitely his own man. A resourceful songwriter who blends the most compatible elements of folk, country, and roots rock into an inviting and personal sound, Greene made significant headway into the Americana market with 2004's Sweet Somewhere Bound. His new American Myth (Verve) was released last month. – Jay Trachtenberg


8pm, Tambaleo The one-time fiddler for Austin's bluegrass-punk icons the Bad Livers kept a low profile after leaving the band, but his music is still in a world of its own. Often performing as an OMB (one-man band), White's more than capable of filling the atmosphere with his bluesy, rootsy, hardscrabble music best heard on his solo album, Trash Fish. Quirk never sounded so good. – Margaret Moser


8pm, 18th Floor @ Capitol Place Austin-based singer-songwriter Robyn Ludwick quietly put out one of last year's best local recordings with For So Long, produced by ex-Bad Livers Danny Barnes. Ludwick stitches together Southern grit and folky soul with Texas twang, and as the younger sister of Bruce and Charlie Robison, she uses her married name but isn't hiding her light under any bushel. – Margaret Moser


8:30pm, Momos Daughter of Grammy nominated folk singer Greg Brown, Pieta Brown has carved out an ethereal sound that's drawn comparisons to Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies. The Iowa City native released In the Cool (Valley Entertainment) late in 2005, a gritty collection of down bound roots rock produced by Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Joan Baez) that also featured her stepmother, Iris DeMent. – Jim Caligiuri


9pm, Red Eyed Fly With an HBO One Night Stand already to their credit, Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie look kinda like New Zealand's Tenacious D. Same formula, but there's enough variation to distinguish the two, including a most spot-on Bowie impersonation. Sock puppet aficionados might actually find some of the material more eerily similar to Sifl & Olly. – Michael Bertin


9pm, Habana Calle 6 Patio Devil In the Woodpile has been jamming the unamplified stage at Chicago's famed Hideout every Tuesday night for the last decade. A natural match for Bloodshot, who've released all three of the trio's albums, including last year's In Your Lonesome Town, the Devil's also taken its medicine show of acoustic blues, country jazz, and ragtime on tour with Son Volt. – David Lynch


9pm, Buffalo Billiards Enough with the indie rock already! New York quartet Diamond Nights is bringing back the old-school. Imagine the Darkness without the shtick. It's difficult, we know. Diamond Nights' debut, Popsicle (Kemado), is late-Seventies rock & roll, from ZZ Top to the Heartbreakers. Thank God for power riffs. – Darcie Stevens


9:30pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Heavy-rock bongloaders might recognize the name of Utrillo Kushner as the drummer for Sub Pop's Comets on Fire. Those same folks would have a hard time guessing he's the piano-playing force behind left turn Colossal Yes. Debut Acapulco Roughs (Ba Da Bing!) hit the shelves in February and, with a full band backing, Kushner veers into something more K-Tel than Keraang. – Michael Bertin


9:30pm, Momos Originally from Florida, but currently a resident of Nashville, Adrienne Young won the Chris Austin songwriter's contest at Merlefest in 2003. With ardent vocals, strong claw-hammer banjo skills, and deft songwriting she leads her backing quartet through tunes with old-timey string band sensibilities and modern pop overtones. Tour stops following the release of 2005's The Art of Virtue (Addiebelle) included A Prairie Home Companion and Mountain Stage. – Jim Caligiuri


10pm, Habana Calle 6 Led by native Houstonian guitarist/vocalist Sam Cohen, Boston-bred Apollo Sunshine takes a crazy-quilt approach to psych-pop that retains just enough discipline to avoid getting lost in space. The quartet's self-titled 2005 album on Heavy Rotation/SpinART is festooned with bells, whistles, and instrumental eccentricities that swirl toward cohesion, creating a carnival of the senses. Their grueling tour schedule fosters a formidable live presence, too. – Greg Beets


10pm, Antone's Last year's recorded-in-their-living-room Drunkard's Prayer (Virgin/Back Porch) was the 13th LP by this Cincinnati band, named after a historic neighborhood in the Queen City. Led by married co-leaders bassist/pianist Linford Detweiler and classically trained lead singer Karin Bergquist, OTR draws from both minor key atmospheric rock and Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot. – David Lynch


10pm, Blender Bar @ the Ritz With its music-box melody and glossy, summertime sheen, Noir's breakout single "Key of C" is as memorable as your first true love. The Byrds, indeed, are soaring on the war-hearted thermals above Noir's My Dad Recordings debut Tower of Love, alongside the Beatles, and what sounds like a hyena but is more likely you, blissfully laughing your cares away, courtesy of Mancunian Noir. – Marc Savlov


10pm, Elysium In a year that saw plenty of naive pop float over, the Brit boys in the Boy Least Likely To find themselves most likely remembered for combining childlike harmonies with haunting imagery of loss. The Syd Barrett jangle of last year's Best Party Ever (Too Young to Die) startles in its lyrical originality, splitting the difference between Brian Wilson and Morrissey. – Dan Oko


10pm, Whisky Bar Half in a small town outside of Houston called Alvin and half in Austin, instrumental quartet By the End of Tonight took what Explosions in the Sky make and threw it against the windshield while road-tripping. Last year's sophomore LP, A Tribute to Tigers (Temporary Residence), was a testament that the geographically challenged belong on TRL. – Darcie Stevens


10pm, La Zona Rosa Do they even have garages in Germany? German fourpiece the Beautiful New Born Children thrash and spit through two-minute spazz-outs that Iggy would love. Fronted by laptop maestro Michael Beckett, last year's debut, Hey People! (Domino), was all sticky, lo-fi, punk rock goodness. – Darcie Stevens


10:40pm, Oslo Surrounded by the high-rising art of New York City, Blockhead immersed himself in hip-hop production and gained fame orchestrating the climate of Aesop Rock's Labor Days and Daylight. Falling back on the stand-alone potential of his instrumentals, Ninja Tune unleashes Blockhead in the raw by way of the mood-hop of 2004's Music by Cavelight and 2005's Downtown Science. – Robert Gabriel


11pm, Back Room Supplying beats for Devin the Dude and South Park Mexican served as the genesis for Austin's Dat Boy Mikee. Through his Southern Life Entertainment, the producer-turned-promoter recently hosted Scarface recording a live album at Antone's. Meanwhile, Mikee continues to busy himself on the boards with his latest instrumentals being devoured by the likes of ESG, Basswood Lane, and Zeale. – Robert Gabriel


11pm, 18th Floor @ Capitol Place One of New England's finest new singer-songwriters, Sarah Borges mixes the swagger of Chrissie Hynde with the passion of Hank Williams for a sound that's truly unique. Her 2005 debut, Silver City (Blue Corn), produced by Paul Q. Kolderie (Morphine, Uncle Tupelo, Lemonheads), won raves nationwide for its dynamite combination of country, soul, and punk. – Jim Caligiuri


11pm, Club de Ville Fresh off a tour with the Wedding Present, London-to-Austin transplant Sally Crewe continues to amass converts with her smart, sparsely adorned pop confessionals. Her second album, 2005's Shortly After Take-Off (12XU), is all about hook-ups and break-ups, but instead of passionate drama, Crewe imbues her tales with spry, slightly melancholy resignation. Sonic assistance from Spoon drummer Jim Eno perfectly compliments Crewe's wizened songwriting. – Greg Beets


11:45pm, Club One 15 Scoring the rap download of 2005 with "George Bush Doesn't Care About Black People," Damien and Big Mon of the Legendary KO resituated themselves as political commentators within the current phase of the K-Otix legacy. The longtime Houston rap institution unleashes 48 Seasons (Ethos) upon a wicked society in desperate need of heroes willing to stand up against its brutal folly. Bill Bennett beware. – Robert Gabriel


12mid, Hideout An heir to guitarists like John Fahey and member of experimental droners Pelt, Philly acoustic axeman Jack Rose takes to sweet 12-string ragtime and trad-blues on his latest disc Kensington Blues (VHF). Apparently mentored by the mysterious Dr. Chattanooga Red, who told him to carry on the ragtime tradition, Rose incorporates experimental eloquence into Americana's roots. – Audra Schroeder


12mid, Habana Calle 6 One of Motown's favorite bands since they formed in 1988, the Volebeats have finally put to rest the tag that's dogged them with their 2005 release, Like Her (Turquoise Mountain). The fivesome retains a Byrds-y jangle and lush, Everly Brothers style harmonies, but their sound steers toward a more classic pop direction. They recently appeared in Steve Martin's Shopgirl. – Jim Caligiuri


12mid, Tambaleo This Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter possesses a rich, dusky, soulful voice that's impossible to forget. Kurtz's third release, the deliciously noirish Beautiful Yesterday, renders fresh, brooding interpretations of Leonard Cohen, Billie Holiday, and Prince, as well as some impressive originals. Her new one, Another Black Feather, drops in April. – Jay Trachtenberg


12mid, Back Room Emerging from Austin's infamous 2-3 ZIP code, Basswood Lane puts a little extra muscle into their Dirty South rap hustle. Jamie Lee, Tony Wayne, Razi, and Ice B are not only known for lacing mixtape material as they do on The Lane Vol. 1 (Dollaz N' Since), but also for original cuts such as "You in Austin," which practically defines Eastside life in Cap City. – Robert Gabriel


12:30am, Club One 15 With fierce punch lines in tow, Headkrack shuttles battle raps through obstacle courses of Bronx-inspired instrumentals. The Dallas MC likes to characterize his music as "the feeling you get when you first realize that you've lost your wallet." Having worked with Texas producers including Hydroponic Sound System and the Are, Headkrack's live performances deliver on the imposing promise of his latest mix disc, One Man Army. – Robert Gabriel


12:30am, Back Room The ambassador of Austin MCs bolsters his résumé daily with recent conquests, including a spot on an episode of A&E's Rollergirls, a rousing year fronting the Boombox weekly, and an extended walkabout as part of 2004's Cali Com tour. Add to that Tee Double's 11th and most refreshing album, The Growth (Kinetic), and behold magnanimous rapping matched by much-improved production. – Robert Gabriel


1am, Friends Named after Lockheed's final passenger jetliner, instrumental post-rock duo El Ten Eleven weave hypnotic, wee-hour aural tapestries that are all the more remarkable coming from just two musicians playing only drums and (treated) bass. On the heels of steadfast acclaim, El Ten Eleven's self-titled 2004 debut was re-released last fall on indie stalwart Bar/None. – Greg Beets


1am, Drink The matching tracksuits hint that this triple-threat from the industrial Swedish city of Landskrona is not your parents' surf band. Sharing sonic qualities with the B-52's and the DKs, QYD's Sweden We Got a Problem (Bad Taste), they sing about piss, germs, and naked nuns – all in good fun. – Dan Oko


1:15am, Club de Ville Ending their decade-long recording hiatus with 2004's Victory Park (Carrot Top), Antietam's hypnotically woven blend of Southern jangle and East Coast indie rock still retains its place-out-of-time allure. Perhaps that's why the New York by-way-of Louisville, Ky. trio gets compared to the Feelies and Jefferson Airplane in the same breath. – Greg Beets


1:15am, Emo's Jr. Born in suburban London, Mohair's tragicomic big top rock & roll recalls the elegantly frayed storybook sound of early Seventies Kinks along with the anthem-minded bluster of Slade. You can also pick out postcard traces of the Beach Boys' Southern California and Springsteen's Asbury Park on the quartet's action-packed 10-song debut, Small Talk (Ear Candy). – Greg Beets

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Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

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First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

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