Saturday Showcase Picks

SXSW Music Fest preview guide


Bella Union

Fionn Regan
Fionn Regan

8pm, Buffalo Billiards Scotland's Simon Raymonde knows the music business. His iconic Cocteau Twins went through the ringer in the Nineties, finally founding Bella Union Records. When the Twins dissolved in 1997, Raymonde dove into the label. Glaswegian experimental indie-pop quintet My Latest Novel is among the most recent signees with its 2006 debut, Wolves. The brothers Deveney write with the fog of the lowlands strewn with strings and sighs. A Wisconsin peacock farm is a long way from the hills of Scotland, but Stephanie Dosen's delicate voice meets the aura of the British Isles with her lovely upcoming sophomore LP, A Lily for the Spectre. Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan doesn't quite match Damien Rice's über-emotional prowess, but the lyrics on last summer's debut, The End of History, highlight minimalist candor. Denton, Texas, has become Bella Union's vacation home with Lift to Experience and Jetscreamer giving way to the debut LP from Robert Gomez. His upcoming Brand New Towns, due for a late-March U.S. release, measures pop rhythms with swirling vocals. Kindred spirits Midlake found a Scottish home with 2004's Bamnan and Slivercork, following their debut with last year's The Trials of Van Occupanther, a Fleetwood Mac-blessed dose of classic rock with emphasis on Tim Smith's lyricism. Pond-hopping yet again finds Danish fivepiece the Kissaway Trail and their upcoming, self-titled symphonic pop debut, to be released in April. What else did you expect from the European home of Austin's Explosions in the Sky? – Darcie Stevens


Arclight/Australian Cattle God

Cat Scientist
Cat Scientist

8pm, Red 7 Austin's Arclight Records, founded in 2003 by Mauro Arrambide and Hector Elizondo, normally resides at the smoke-clouded intersection of heavy and weird. NYC's Phonograph, however, is melodic and world-weary. Its four members have collectively logged time with Pere Ubu, Frank Black, Bill Laswell, and the Mekons, and February's self-titled LP resembles the Velvet Underground escorting the Bottle Rockets around lower Manhattan. Fraternal trio Amplified Heat is more Motörhead than Muddy Waters these days, but next month's remastered self-titled 2003 EP tacks on two songs from the transitional days when most Austinites still knew them as Blues Condition. The Ortiz brothers recently wrapped the follow-up to 2004 LP In for Sin, due in August. Tia Carrera is a popular Austin stoner-rock tsunami whose trance-inducing three-headed improvisations alternately accent and obscure their instrumental virtuosity. Selected copies of this month's self-titled EP come with a bonus 7-inch, featuring Tia's first-ever recorded vocal track on a Lungfish cover. Arclight's Austin neighbor and showcase partner, Australian Cattle God, takes things even further out to the fringe. With ex-members of beloved Austin bands Pocket FishRmen and Meat Purveyors, Cat Scientist folds harpsichord and indie rock into the delectable dance-pop of last year's Cicada. Local avant collective Attack Formation are equally adept at channeling Devo, Fugazi, and Mad Professor, sometimes all at once; no telling where next month's LP will land. ACG flagship band Gorch Fock closes out the night with foghorn blasts of trombone and wave upon wave of psychedelic vitriol, most recently heard on 2006's Thrilller. The extra "L" is for loud. – Christopher Gray


Bloodshot Records

Waco Brothers
Waco Brothers

8:30pm, Red Eyed Fly Bloodshot's latest self-commemoration, last fall's DVD compilation, Bloodied but Unbowed: Bloodshot Records' Life in the Trenches, offered footage chronicling the outfit's 12-year battle as the definitive purveyors of "insurgent country." Flanking alt.country standards with a raucous retro-punk attitude, Bloodshot's company of twangers and hellbillies has always stood out from the rank and file. With recruits like Detroit femme-punks Gore Gore Girls (playing separately Saturday at the Continental Club), the label seems to be setting up camp on decidedly rockier terrain lately. Most explosive in the new arsenal are 10-year veterans of Rock City's garage revival Detroit Cobras. Led by the leather-and-lace combination of Rachel Nagy and Mary Ramirez, the Cobras are a greaser's wet dream as they shoot scratchy riffs and dusky vocals through vintage R&B tunes on Tried and True, the group's second Bloodshot effort. Yet another Detroit export, the Deadstring Brothers are still riding out last year's Starving Winter Report, their excellent label debut of beer-soaked anthems taking aim at the Rolling Stones' best country-tinged moments. Less promising is the Silos' first Bloodshot release, Come on Like the Fast Lane, which stalls on the road to the group's 20th anniversary. Bookending the showcase are Jon Langford's cow-punks the Waco Brothers, filling their annual SXSW headlining slot, and steel-guitar maestro Jon Rauhouse, whose third solo disc, Steel Guitar Heart Attack, continues meshing country with Southwest Pacific tropical swing and again features cameos from Sally Timms, Kelly Hogan, Neko Case, and Calexico. Life in the trenches never sounded this damn good. – Doug Freeman


Memphis Industries/saddle creek/team love

Field Music
Field Music

8pm, Beauty Bar Patio Mixing it up with Saddle Creek and Team Love, this year's Memphis Industries showcase might just be the most packed house since Memphis Industries' 2005 Go! Team showcase, which took the British hypesters to the major label stage. Brothers Ollie and Matt Jacob have nurtured their Islington, England – not Tennessean – label from the ground up. Sunderland, England's Field Music repaints the modern image of indie rock with their second LP, Tones of Town, a time-changing, mind-boggling work of art pop. Their self-titled debut turned more than a few heads at last year's SXSW, and Tones accentuates the talent of brothers David and Peter Brewis, the latter a founding member of the Futureheads. Highly recommended. Brighton's Pipettes are holding down a good deal of hype on their own with last year's debut, We Are the Pipettes, landing the polka-dotted, all-girl trio right between the Shangri-Las and Austin's Voxtrot. Backed by the all-male Cassettes (which officially makes them of seven), the girls are attempting to "turn back the clock to a time before the Beatles ruined everything." Manufactured by Cassette guitarist and promoter Monster Bobby, the group has taken the States by storm with their Phil Spector pop. Ontario, Canada's Tokyo Police Club puts the dance back in punk with last year's EP, A Lesson in Crime, released stateside on Paper Bag. Omaha, Neb.'s Tilly & the Wall, Cursive, and Art in Manila represent the Midwest contingent. – Darcie Stevens


Ninja Tune

Kid Koala
Kid Koala

8pm, Parish Is there yet such a thing as post-hip-hop? When producers move past sampling from traditional sources such as records in favor of using found sounds accumulated with a remote recorder, does it really make the endeavor all that more artistic? These questions can be answered by delving into the Ninja Tune catalog, where artists including Amon Tobin, Kid Koala, and Yppah seek to turn static music convention on its ear hole. Download Tobin's latest song, "Bloodstone," from his Web site, and it will be apparent that the Montreal native has ambitious plans for his beat construction. In addition to mining common street sounds for gold, Tobin's latest, Foley Room, incorporates strings by the Kronos Quartet. Fellow Montreal visionary Kid Koala begins his quest as a crafty DJ and hopes he somehow ends up leaving an indelible mark on what it means to man wheels of steel. In light-hearted contrast to Tobin's H.R. Giger view of the world, Koala assembles kitschy cartoons of source material transformed by way of his quick reflexes and creativity. With an album titled You Are Beautiful at All Times in hand, Houston's Yppah puts his own spin on instrumental hip-hop run through a strainer of electro hipster-rock tendencies. Tune's quasi-futuristic theme further advances itself with opening sets from Montreal noodlers Plaster and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., smart-aleck rapper Bleubird. – Robert Gabriel


Park the Van

Capitol Years
Capitol Years

8pm, Habana Calle 6 After losing nearly everything in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including some much-coveted Of Montreal tour singles and the company car, Park the Van Records drove to the safe haven of Philadelphia, home of the label's biggest draw, Dr. Dog. The indie label gained national exposure last year with the soundtrack to Richard Linklater's Fast Food Nation, which was scored by Austin's Friends of Dean Martinez. The scorching and surreal instrumentals by Bill Elm and company, who headline the evening and release a new disc later this year, included "A Place in the Sun," originally composed for the Alamo Drafthouse's screening of Robert Weine's 1919 silent film, The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. The showcase kicks the acoustic pop of Brooklyn's White Christian Romance and Tulsa, which actually hails from Boston, a second act for singer-songwriter Carter Tanton. The quartet's upcoming EP, Hunting With Cats, fully expands upon the shimmers of brilliance found on Tanton's label debut, Birds and Rain. Philadelphia's the Capitol Years attempt to Dance Away the Terror on their sophomore outing, using the flower-power-pop template of the Sixties to craft modern indie rock gems. Led by twins, the biting and bouncy baroque pop of the Teeth, only hinted at with the EP Carry the Wood, is perfected with You're My Lover Now, the band's debut LP. Like-minded quirky trio the High Strung, of Detroit, shines on their upcoming third album, Get the Guests. Kick back, and enjoy the ride. – Austin Powell


Screwshop.com 10-year Anniversary

Basswood Lane
Basswood Lane (Photo By Todd V. Wolfson)

10pm, Zero Degrees For a decade, Tosin of

Screwshop.com has spread the gooooood wooooord on the Houston-based cult of promethazine-laden rap. With substantial pockets of Scandinavia and Australia hooked on the chopped-and-screwed formula, Texas hip-hop pays homage to its own user-friendly, online ticket to overseas acclaim. Hosted by Trae of Assholes by Nature, this most imperative celebration features rappers bred on unwavering exposure to Screw's legendary gray tapes. Houston's Grit Boys join San Angelo's Big Sid, Killeen's Spark Dawg, and an Austin-area cast of Carnival Beats, Basswood Lane, Ryno, Dok Holiday & Set 4 Life, Southbound, and DJ Grip for a communal kick upside the head of musical sobriety. As Salih and Tomar Williams of Carnival Beats conspire to hip the world to the lyrical talents of Nac, Swift, and LaTasha, Basswood Lane pull cuts from their 3-CD collaboration with DJ Grip titled Gettin' Rich in Progress (Dollaz N' Since). As genuine a Texas rap CD as you'll find, Ryno's solo debut, They Call Me 'No (On the Line), reads like a novel written on the brink of drastic ingenuity. With roots in Lake Charles, La., Big Sid worked the mixtape circuit like hobos do freight trains to the point that Kiotti jumped on to invest in Sid's forthcoming album, Straight Off the Porch (Young Ink). As Dok Holiday & Set 4 Life portray the Texas landscape from the perspective of veterans in the game, Spark Dawg and Southbound represent for those young enough to have had the entirety of their hip-hop affinity dictated by the DJ Screw aesthetic. – Robert Gabriel


Load Records

White Mice
White Mice

9:40pm, Room 710 Rusted Shut finally made it to Load Records. Now if that ain't fate right there, what is? The Providence, R.I., noise label, founded and run by Ben McOsker, grew out of the late-Nineties Providence noise scene, and released debuts from behemoths Lightning Bolt and the now-defunct van-traveling thrash maniacs Friends Forever. Others blown from Load's loving black hole include Prurient, Pink & Brown, Six Finger Satellite, and Khanate. Load's slogan should probably be "RIYL: Costumes, bright colors, tinnitus." Now here comes Rusted Shut, led by the, uh, inimitable Don Walsh. For Houston's roving noise maniacs, clearing a room is a good thing. L.A.'s bizarre male/female Silver Daggers stab you in the ear and call it music. If there's such thing as prog-wave, this is it. Monotract brings their Eighties Miami bass over Brooklyn's graffiti bridge, fusing techno, experimental, and noisy thrash on their latest, Xprmntl Lvrs. In what should promise to be at least visually entertaining, Providence's own White Mice tend to get way into characters live, mouse costumes and all. As Mouseferatu, Euronymouse, and Anonymouse, they thrash and scream like actual mice if they were trapped in one of those agonizing, slow-death traps. Late-night headliners Noxagt get some industrial in your metal. If someone could please bring a strobe light, some ketamine, and a piñata full of broken glass, that would be great. – Audra Schroeder


Alternative Tentacles

Blöödhag
Blöödhag

8pm, Parish II Alternative Tentacles Records might have traded its punk persona for that of a well-respected underground label, but that's not to suggest it's compromised its vision – not with Fish Karma kicking off their SXSW showcase. After Karma abandoned the world of higher education in 2004 for San Antonio, he pursued his eccentric vision of Americana with a madman's vengeance and released The Theory of Intelligent Design. Loopy lyrics never rocked so hard. Label founder Jello Biafra changes the rhythm track with spoken word, likely from his latest, In the Grip of Official Treason, but count on Seattle's Blöödhag to electrify the joint afterward with their "edu-core," as heard on Hell Bent for Letters. Akimbo pulls the pin out of the grenade with their guitar-fueled rock attack and tosses it with deadly accuracy on the recently re-released Harshing Your Mellow. Take that, Pantera! One of those earthquakes in San Francisco spit out Ludicra, whose nouveau metal-cum-avant rock disc, Fex Urbis Lex Orbis (Latin for "dregs of the city, law of the Earth"), measures off a nihilistic Richter scale. Good thing Dash Rip Rock is closing. The veteran SXSWsters have been twisting minds and kicking lazy asses for more than two decades with no end in sight. The Louisiana-based trio just released their umpteenth CD, Hee Haw Hell, and what a wicked slice of Southern-rock pie it is. Grease up, babies! – Margaret Moser


Kill Rock Stars

Mika Miko
Mika Miko

8pm, Emo's Lounge Once, Olympia was like Home Depot for all your leftist, feminist, politically correct needs. KRS, founded by musician/artist Slim Moon in 1991, was its hardware department, with Bikini Kill, Bratmobile, Sleater-Kinney, and many others laying down the foundation. While the label changed hands last year (Moon's wife Portia Sabin now runs), the vitriol hasn't been watered down, and, thankfully, the ladies still run the show. All-girl teen quintet Mika Miko cite Bad Brains and Red Kross as influences, and the Los Angelenos do a good job of cauterizing the two on last year's C.Y.S.L.A.B.F. Like Little Foxes if they read MRR. Australian MC Macromantics is Romy Hoffman's rap flip side. Her latest, Moments in Movement, moves some. In Advance of the Broken Arm could be Marnie Stern's new disc or her playing style. The NYC solo guitarist's lightning-fast finger-picking only adds to the fractured vocals and whiplashed dissonance. The album's collaboration with Hella drummer Zach Hill no doubt helped the cacophony. Olympia's Two Ton Boa are KRS vets, and latest Parasiticide is bass- and top-heavy, Sherry Fraser's vocals snaking and eyeing the jugular. Former Helium frontwoman Mary Timony's traded in her heavy, hazy pop for a sharper edge solo. This spring's Shapes We Make brings back the D.C. stomp. We've lost count of how many times we've seen Erase Errata; they're just that good. The San Francisco trio's latest, Nightlife, tackled everything from taxes to gender roles, and their killer rhythm section causes involuntary jerking of the hips. Get ready to dance, and please wear breathable fabrics. – Audra Schroeder

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