SXSW Picks & Sleepers



All showcases subject to change


7:30pm, Emo's Annex Ignoring the audacity of the redneck moniker – the trailer park vocalist George Hunter grew up in – Catfish Haven takes Southern rock & soul to the city. The Chicago trio's new release, Please Come Back (Secretly Canadian), is Hunter's response to the Kings of Leon and Motown. – Darcie Stevens


8pm, Karma Lounge Named for the local landmarks, Austin's Moonlight Towers is a straight-up insomnia- and alcohol-fueled rock & roll band. James Stevens' gruff southern voice over Jacob Schulze's "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" riffage is anathema to indie hipsterdom. Last year's Like You Were Never There (Spinster) was the quartet's second. – Michael Bertin


8pm, Nuno's Upstairs Fargo transplants to Minneapolis, the Deaths could petition for a spot in the Elephant 6 collective. 2005 debut Choir Invisible (GoJohnnyGo) runs the gamut of Sixties influences, from the obscure (Beau Brummels, Troggs) to the more omnipresent (Bowie). The psychedelia never gets too far out of control that it can't be wrapped up in a three-minute pop song. – Michael Bertin


8pm, B.D. Riley's After roughly a decade at the vocal helm of the Welsh band Catatonia (think Darling Buds or Letters to Cleo), Matthews split and moved to Nashville. There, with the help of Bucky Baxter (Bob Dylan, Ryan Adams), she cut the folksy Cockahoop. – Michael Bertin


8pm, Jackalope Anything moving this fast usually has a stewardess on it. And if you have the attention span of a 6-year-old on Ritalin or a 26-year-old on meth, these 90-second slices of punk rock are for you. With a couple of 7-inches on Douchemaster, the only thing missing is Joey Ramone counting off "1-2-3-4." – Michael Bertin


8pm, Opal Divine's For nigh on 20 years, this award-winning trio from Austin has been cross-breeding roots-rock with a little hillbilly gas and bluesy fuel. Last year's Songs Our Vinyl Taught Us was an unabashed valentine to record players and 45s, the spiritual home of the estimable local institution. Expect a little vocal levitation when frontman Rick Broussard gets going. – Margaret Moser


8pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Magic Surprise answers the question: How does a lap steel sound with a MIDI rig? Answer: damn straight. One of the bright spots rising last year from Austin's fertile pop scene, this quartet successfully brings together acoustic strumming and danceable beats. Debut Personal Computer features literate lyrics with street-wise rhythms. – David Lynch


8pm, Zero Degrees Fischer-Z vocalist Watts has been called "Billy Bragg turned up to 11," but we like to think of him as being more Tiny Tim dialed down to 9.5. "We are all porn queens," sings Watts on the title track of his self-released debut, Real Life Is Good Enough, a bracing, excitable medley of lovelorn, smarty-pants lyricism, and churning guitars. – Marc Savlov


8pm, Club One 15 Austinites Spinner T, Rodney, Crop Diggie, and Mista Ed form a collective of turntablists out to save an artform gradually becoming obsolete in the wake of digital upgrades. Their bimonthly Sqratch Karnival events attract all sorts of visiting throwback talent as the Superstar DJs provide the forum for any given record maven to show off their table manners and techniques. – Robert Gabriel


8pm, Emo's Main The best part about the Norwegian band's Web site name ( isn't the "rock." It's the ".org." Like this shit isn't for the money, it's for the community. You'd be deaf to miss the Jimmy Page influence, but there's a little more speed and a lot more cock in the rock. The quartet's last full release was 2004's Smugglers (Nun). – Michael Bertin


8pm, Velvet Spade If Xray Spex screecher Poly Styrene replaced Nick Cave in the Birthday Party, they might've sounded like Tsk Tsk. The charismatic, art-damaged punk quintet from Los Angeles exudes the lurid kick of a cryptic mash note found at the bus stop. – Greg Beets


8pm, Red 7 It's hard to figure out whether Decoder Ring might be better for the build up or the come down. Spacey, ethereal, lush, ambient, all of the standard terms apply. The Sydneysiders are creating interesting sonic textures, and their latest Fractions (No Records) sustains an efficiency and tension only the Brian Enos and Tangerine Dreams achieve when playing with the same aesthetics. – Michael Bertin


8:15pm, Emo's Jr. This might be your father's hardcore. Eschewing the more mainstream punk elements, New Mexican Disaster Squad goes straight for waving the black flag (or issuing a minor threat). It seems a logical reaction to growing up in the shadow of the Mouse around Orlando. The band's third album, Don't Believe (Jade Tree), hits the shelves in early May. – Michael Bertin


8:30pm, Habana Calle 6 Patio Opening an album with a song called "In Anticipation of Your Suicide" might mark a band for life, but when you're L.A. quartet Bedroom Walls, it's more of a promise. Sophomore release All Good Dreamers Pass This Way (Baria) is due in May. – Darcie Stevens


8:30pm, Caribbean Lights "Old school/new school need to know this": 19-year-old Rollie Pemperton is ready to roll out. The journalist/producer/rapper's sly mix of beats and samples plow him to the top of the heap with debut Breaking Kayfabe (Upper Class). Don't expect the Edmonton, Alberta rhymer to disappear anytime soon. Someone lock Cadence and Austin's D-Madness in a room together. – Darcie Stevens


9pm, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Hialeah, Fla., hasn't always been known for its burgeoning indie rock scene, more for its horse gambling and dilapidated warehouses. But Humbert is clearing the way with the anthemic sounds of their latest, Plant the Trees Closer Together (Sportatorium). The South Florida quartet produces polished indie pop gems, meaty hooks, and sonic goodness from the "High Prairie." – Audra Schroeder


9pm, La Zona Rosa NYC's Morningwood have arrived to save rock & roll from itself, and not a moment too soon. Their eponymous EMI debut is like a blast of fresh air straight out of CBGB's hallowed restroom. It's a little bit Runaways, a lotta bit Big Apple attitude. "Take Off Your Clothes" is the perfect summation, baby. – Marc Savlov


9pm, Bourbon Rocks This SoCal quartet is popular on their home turf for many reasons, not the least of which is their meaty sound. That guitarist John Hawkes stars on HBO's Deadwood is merely a plus; he played in Austin in Meat Joy decades before Swearengen uttered his first "cocksucker." Teamed with fellow actor Rodney Eastman and guitarist Brentley Gore, King Straggler's self-titled CD is rife with tongue-in-cheek roots-rock. – Margaret Moser


9:30pm, Oslo 2002 DMC World TEAM Champions, France's Birdy Nam Nam – four DJs – make music entirely from spinning turntables (ignoring the fact that someone else recorded what's on the vinyl on those turntables). The range on last year's debut goes from funk to trip-hop to jazz. Bonus points for the Peter Sellers reference in the name. – Michael Bertin


10pm, Nuno's Upstairs Louisville's Follow the Train says its okay to like pop. They're chorus-y, but not too wet. Dynamic in amplitude, but composed. The best late-Eighties melodies with next year's rhythms. REM from Kentucky. The quartet's debut LP, A Breath of Sigh, will be birthed by San Diego's Darla Records this month. – David Lynch


10pm, Emo's IV Portland's Clorox Girls aren't girls, and they won't keep your whites looking their whitest. False advertising aside, the trio's 2005 Kurt Bloch-produced album, This Dimension (Smart Guy), is a loaded raygun of bouncy, no-future punk rock. It's not hard to imagine the Clorox Girls playing alongside the Dickies or the Angry Samoans in L.A. circa 1981. – Greg Beets


10:30pm, Lava Lounge Patio San Francisco-based Boyskout serves up icy-tart pop tunes hinting at early-Eighties sci-fi dystopia with their synth flourishes and eerie hooks. Formed in 2001 by vocalist/guitarist Leslie Satterfield, the quartet's tilt toward New Wave revivalism has since spilled over into compelling music videos for "Back to Bed" and "Jesse James," both superlative cuts from their acclaimed 2004 debut, School of Etiquette (Alive). – Greg Beets


10:45pm, Emo's Jr. Although not particularly well-known in Texas, Abilene-bred 21st-century troubadour Micah P. Hinson has generated reams of critical acclaim in the UK. Recorded with fellow Tex-pats the Earlies in 2004, Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress (Storybook) is a forlorn, twang-laden soul crush that vaguely resembles a Lone Star version of Leonard Cohen. Its follow-up will be on Jade Tree. – Greg Beets


11pm, Karma Lounge The Blue Aeroplanes is an artsy rock group from Bristol, England, who has drawn comparisons to the Velvet Underground because of their eclectic style and poetic sensibilities of group leader Gerard Langley. They've just re-released their masterpiece from 1990, Swagger (EMI), as a 2-CD deluxe version while also announcing a new album, Altitude (EMI), due in the spring. – Jim Caligiuri


11pm, Spiros Patio Worthy practitioners in the Church of Santana, New Jersey's deSoL showed big in Austin recently, throwing down fine sets at last year's SXSW and Austin City Limits Music Festival. Curb released the Latin sevenpiece's eponymous debut last year as well, and their onstage conviction has earned them spots on Lollapalooza and with Los Lonely Boys, Widespread Panic, and REM in Mexico City. – David Lynch


11pm, Exodus Manchester's the Longcut owe more than a pint to the early-nineties shoegazing of Ride and the rhythmic poundings of the Catherine Wheel. Their hallmark, "A Quiet Life," off their eponymous Deltasonic debut EP is anything but, full of swirling guitars and fierce, staccato percussion. – Marc Savlov


11pm, Red Eyed Fly We do love the rock in Austin. Local fourpiece Lions plays relentless, heavy rock & roll. You know the type: long hair, tight jeans, attitude. Hot-off-the-presses is debut EP, Lions: Volume 1. – Darcie Stevens


11pm, Emo's IV It's 26 years on, but this blistering SoCal punk quartet, whose classic tracks "I've Got a Gun" and "Manzanar" remain hardcore staples, are back in action. With a new release on the horizon, the former Austin tour fixtures (and pals of the late, lamented Big Boys) remain more incendiary than a white phosphorus Twinkie, but just as fun. – Marc Savlov


11pm, Elysium Tokyo-based quartet Ellegarden play juiced-up SoCal pop-punk like they grew up in the smoggy shadow of the 405. Loud, emotive, and radio-ready like Blink-182 and Sum 41, their fourth album, Riot on the Grill (Denko Secca), sold over 200,000 copies in Japan alone. – Greg Beets


11pm, Flamingo Cantina Parallels between Landover, Md.'s Kev Brown and Pete Rock traverse traditional boom-bap productions peppered with jazz samples and self-styled rhymes. As Kev puts it, "I learn from the greats," so '05's I Do What I Do (Up Above) showcases source material most apt to be filtered and reassembled into fresh forms of hip-hop perfection. – Robert Gabriel


11:20pm, Lava Lounge Patio Either you'll like the deranged humor and train-wreck noise of the Happy Flowers, or you'll gag. Charlottesville duo Mr. Horribly-Charred-Infant (John Beers) and Mr. Anus (Charlie Kramer) have been MIA since 1995's Lasterday I Was Been Bad. If you missed the first time they tried working out childhood trauma through college radio, you can now find out on which pole you sit. – Michael Bertin


11:30pm, Caribbean Lights Vancouver's Moka Only operates from a modus operandi that steers his rap engine into dense forests of British Columbian bliss. The founding member of Swollen Members creates The Desired Effect (EMI) as a solo artist whose spacious self-production enhances his breezy lyricism. Dubbing himself the Durable Mammal, Moka rakes in Canadian accolades along with collaborators k-os and MF Doom. – Robert Gabriel


11:45pm, Flamingo Cantina Freestyle rap connoisseur Supernatural carries the reputation of an MC who fares better in a live setting than in the studio. His latest album, S.P.I.T. (Up Above), postulates that "Spiritual Poetry Ignites Thought" over beats produced by DJ Muggs, Vitamin D, and Jake One. – Robert Gabriel


12mid, Karma Lounge Scotland's Cayto have just released ÁBlunderbuss!, their first LP, which was funded, in part, by the Scottish Arts Council. Thankfully, the quartet's mystifyingly eclectic sound – delicate pianos overlaid with frontman Paul Henry's arcing, soulful lyrics, and bound together with ELO-finessed guitars – feels like a DIY gobsmack right in the eye of the Man. It's "Stupendium!" – Marc Savlov


12mid, Nuno's Upstairs Oh-five was a break-out year for these Charlotte, N.C., pop-rockers. Their single "N.Y.L.A.," off The Sinners of Daughters, was featured on The OC. Currently touring as a fourpiece, the Talk owes as much to Cheap Trick as it does to the latest batch of British Invaders. – Dan Oko


12mid, Blender Bar @ the Ritz The Black Keys get chained to Jesus and possibly Mary as well. Or maybe some proto-Sub Pop band takes a psychelicious Sixties detour. Either way, this Aussie fivepiece makes a SXSW return after a scalding set in '05 and its first proper LP due out later this year on Rainbow Quartz. – Michael Bertin


12mid, Emo's IV Austin's Applicators inject uncommon passion and pathos into the oft-rote confines of modern-day pop-punk. Taking vocal cues from Poly Styrene and Kathleen Hanna, vocalist Sabrina Applicator rages from the heart as her bandmates jam up jelly tight. Second album I Know the Truth leans popward and flirts with New Wave devices without abandoning punk's sneering essence. – Greg Beets


12mid, Oslo A former backpack rapper and producer from Philadelphia's Mountain Brothers, CHOPS has undergone a transformation of his image into that of a Dirty South mixtape king based out of Houston. Along with the aid of Paul Wall, CHOPS dropped It's Going Down in '05, which went on to be named "Best Mixtape of the Year" at the Southern Entertainment Awards. His latest effort is titled National Champs. – Robert Gabriel


12:45am, Cedar Street Courtyard As Beyoncé's father backs plans to reissue '03's classic.ghetto.soul, San Antonio's MoJoe anticipates widening their reach. With ties to both the Alamo City and New Orleans, the Sabine Boys Tre and Easy Lee are dynamic rappers/singers/poets who front a backwater funk band raised on sizable helpings of James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Roy Ayers, and Maze. – Robert Gabriel


12:45am, Habana Calle 6 Patio Formed in 1982, the Bats are perhaps the definitive New Zealand jangle rock band. Led by ex-Clean bassist Robert Scott, the quartet disbanded in 1995 but reappeared in 2003. Last year the Kiwi rockers released At the National Grid (Magic Marker), lauded as one of their best efforts for its diverse sound and uplifting melodies. – Jim Caligiuri


12:50am, Jackalope This geekward leaning synth-punk quartet from Seattle is all about the spaz factor. Though deeply grounded in the Johnny Ramone School of Buzzsaw Guitar, there's no pretense of cool in the Spits' take. Their pageantry-infused live sets are raging spectacles of mutation. – Greg Beets


1am, Lava Lounge Patio You'd lose all indie street cred if you missed the Shellac/Albini influence in this New Zealand punk outfit, but the trio also hints at Minor Threat and Joy Division. The self-titled debut, released last fall on Capital, is loud and fast. Best song title: "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Mikey." – Michael Bertin


1am, Velvet Spade Patio Bassist/trombonist Makenzie Place, guitarist/drummer/vox Brad Schnittger, and guitarist/drummer/vox Jeremy Springer draw from their 2003 debut, The Only Tourist in Town (Hooray! Records), for their third consecutive SXSW appearance. The Cincinnati-based trio's careening rock has opened for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, TV on the Radio, Unsane, the Heartless Bastards, and Six Parts Seven, and features midset guitarist and drummer switching. – David Lynch


1am, Continental Club Alaskan brothers Chris and Benji Lee lead this New Orleans quartet (add bassist Leif Robinson Swift and drummer Michael Brueggen) in Seventies cock 'n' roll, replete with AC/DC amplitude and Zep swagger. Jack Endino (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney) produced 2001's Rock & Roll Tried to Ruin My Life, and last year's Rules (Foodchain) continued the beer bong, roach-clipped party. – David Lynch


1am, Blender Balcony @ the Ritz Hey, Young Heart Attack, you've got company. UK quartet Black Moses could (and doubtless will) give Austin's premier retro-rockers a run for their Jamesons and roach clips. On their Rootbag Records debut, they kick up a Royal Stink that'd knock heaven's door to splinters. – Marc Savlov


1am, Beerland Austin's Red River strip is fertile breeding ground for Dead Boys-flavored trash rock. With 2003's One Night High, the Pink Swords solidified a leading role in this realm. Now signed to Gearhead, the Swords' latest, Shut Up and Take It, fits that label's hammer-down aesthetic perfectly. – Greg Beets


1am, Emo's IV The original sound of Chi-town punk, the Eff's '83 EP We're Da Machine blew minds and speakers with equal abandon. Follow-up career comp Remains Nonviewable summed up the short, sharp shock of this legendary outfit, complete with buzzsaw guitars and a take-zero-prisoners panache that continues to this day. – Marc Savlov


1am, Karma Lounge While history relegates the Magnolias as also-rans of Minneapolis circa 1988, for a time they were every bit as central to the scene as the more famous brethren. They cut a couple of LPs for Twin\\>Tone but never got the recognition of the Mats or Soul Asylum. They reunite for a SXSW gig on the heels of last year's Better Late Than Never, a collection of demos and outtakes. – Michael Bertin


1:15am, Emo's Annex Jason Molina has put out nearly a score of retro roots-rock records over the last decade, most prominently as Songs: Ohia and more recently as Magnolia Electric Co. This year, he's going for the trifecta: a Magnolia album, a solo LP, and a collaboration with Camper man David Lowery. The latest Magnolia outing, Nashville Moon (Secretly Canadian), was tracked with Steve Albini at the knobs. – Michael Bertin

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Wednesday Interview
Wednesday Interview
Delta Spirit

Jim Caligiuri, March 20, 2015

Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
Wednesday Picks & Sleepers
First night SXSW Music recommendations and hints

March 20, 2015

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle