ACL Fest Saturday Picks

Kevin Devine

11:45am, AT&T Blue Room stage

After penning a poignant bit of post-9/11 paranoia in "Noose Dressed Like a Necklace" and summarizing the political indifference felt by millions at the ballot box in 2004 with "No Time Flat," former Miracle of '86 frontman Kevin Devine looked like a new Conor Oberst to Capitol Records. Last year's major label debut, Put Your Ghost to Rest, is a haunting and sparse album of growing pains and punch-drunk love. – Austin Powell

Willy Mason

11:45am, Dell stage

Mature beyond his 22 years, Martha's Vineyard native Willy Mason is a folkie in the same vein as Bright Eyes and Beth Orton. His second release, 2007's If the Ocean Gets Rough (Astralwerks), finds him exploring the American landscape with an eye for detail and a heart full of melancholy. A bit of seasoning will expand his reach, but Mason is already a top-notch melody maker. – Jim Caligiuri

Dr. Dog

12:30pm, AT&T stage

A pivotal part of the Philadelphia pop scene that birthed Park the Van Records, Dr. Dog trimmed down from 20 honorary members on their infectious, 2005 debut, Easy Beat, to a ragtag quintet for their latest, We All Belong. Recorded with a 24-track, 2-inch analog tape machine, the album is an oft-charming pastiche of Sixties’ peace and love, with three-part harmonies and choppy, carefree guitars. – Austin Powell

Mario Matteoli

12:40pm, BMI stage

As local favorites the Weary Boys ride into the sunset, Mario Matteoli continues his Hard Luck Hittin' solo route, trading the high-octane bluegrass and honky-tonk of his former outfit for an acoustic introspection that draws from early Dylan and Van Zandt rather than Hank Williams. Plying his familiar twang across straightforward melodies and rhythms, Matteoli's songwriting shone through the generally dark narrative focus of last year's debut. – Doug Freeman

Young Love

12:50pm, Austin Ventures stage

When Austin screamo kids Recover disbanded in 2005, a million teenagers were brokenhearted. Fear not, because Dan Keyes moved to New York City and formed electro-pop solo project Young Love. Fronting a rotating lineup, Keyes released debut Too Young to Fight It (Island) this year, a dizzying array of strobe-light beats led by infectious single "Discotech." It'll be hot at high noon, but prepare to dance. – Darcie Stevens

Back Door Slam

1:50pm, Austin Ventures stage

This powerhouse blues-rock trio from England's Isle of Man has been dazzling audiences stateside since launching its first international tour at South by Southwest 07 in support of impressive debut Roll Away. Taking the name from a Robert Cray song and sporting sleeve-worthy Hendrix/Cream/SRV influences, this young band captures the brash, fiery spirit of its predecessors. – Jay Trachtenberg

Paolo Nutini

2:30pm, AMD stage

One of the last investments made by late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, Paolo Nutini shows promise beyond his years. The 20-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter, like John Martyn before him, eases his sexual tension through American soul and bouncy pop, resulting in 2007's These Streets, a debut that went gold in England in less than two weeks. Considering his impressive sets at ACL 2006 and SXSW, the kid's definitely worth catching. – Austin Powell

Cold War Kids

3:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

A late edition to this year's festivities, Cold War Kids pen J.D. Salinger-esque pop songs bookmarked with choppy, discordant guitars and the soulful vocals of frontman Nathan Willett. After a string of buzz-worthy EPs, the Los Angeles-based quartet and current White Stripes' tourmates broke out of the blogosphere last year with their impressive Downtown Records debut, Robbers and Cowards. – Austin Powell

St. Vincent

4pm, Austin Ventures stage

Marry Me (Beggar’s Banquet), Texan Annie Clark’s debut LP as St. Vincent, is one of this year’s religious experiences. The trinity appears in her velvet soprano, simmering multi-instrumental clamor, and lovesick lyrics, which make for a perfect union of pop and noir. She also shreds on guitar, something showcased during her time in the Polyphonic Spree, but she speaks in tongues of her own. Get on your knees and say yes. – Audra Schroeder

Stephen Marley

4:30pm, AT&T stage

Son of Bob and brother of Ziggy and Damian, the second-oldest Marley already had garnered five Grammys – more than any other reggae artist – before releasing an album under his own name. Now with his debut, Mind Control, exciting the massive, it's an automatic Grammy contender and a true reflection of his mastery of both the roots tradition of his father and the cutting-edge dancehall stylings of his own generation. – Jay Trachtenberg

Ocote Soul Sounds

4:30pm, WaMu stage

The Vulcan mind meld between Antibalas' Martín Perna and Grupo Fantasma's Adrian Quesada, Ocote Soul Sounds shares the love of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Susana Baca, and Donald Byrd, among others. Typically engorged by a full backing band onstage, the duo is set to release The Alchemist Manifesto on Thievery Corporation's ESL imprint this fall. Nueva canción and digital folklore. – David Lynch

BeauSoleil

5:45pm, WaMu stage

Keeping Cajun music alive and vibrant for 31 years, fiddler extraordinaire Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil put on a tremendous live show that touches on zydeco, swamp pop, country, blues, jazz, and everything in between. 2006's Live in Louisiana was recorded in the heart of Acadia and featured several songs dedicated to the hurricane-ravaged Crescent City. This is as close as you'll get to Louisiana without a full tank of gas. – Greg Beets

Kelly Willis

6:30pm, Austin Ventures stage

With Translated From Love, her first album in almost five years, longtime Austin firebrand Kelly Willis puts her formidable pipes in the service of familiar material, from Damon Bramblett's "Nobody Wants to Go to the Moon Anymore" to less-likely candidates like Iggy Pop's "Success." Willis' ongoing reinvention may not always strike pay dirt, but it's interesting to hear a vocalist of her caliber try on new tangents. – Greg Beets

Aterciopelados

7:15pm, WaMu stage

In English, "the velvety ones" translate a visceral South American dovetail of Radiohead and Latin folk. The duo – vocalist/guitarist Andrea Echeverri and bassist/arranger Hector Buitrago – has released eight albums since banding in early-Eighties Bogotá, Colombia. Digital punk joins mariachi, bolero, flamenco, cumbia, and Colombian folk, earning the pair multiple Grammy nominations. Last year's Oye (Nacional) descended after the group's brief hiatus. – David Lynch

Indigo Girls

7:30pm, Dell stage

"Closer to Fine" brought them out of the coffeehouses and into the arenas, but 20 years hasn't dulled the compositional pen or political tongue of folk rockers Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. The duo's 10th studio album, last year's Despite Our Differences, is the first since signing with Hollywood Records. Recorded at knob-twiddler Mitchell Froom's home in Santa Monica, Calif., the recorded-while-everyone-plays-in-the-room album features Brandi Carlile and Pink. – David Lynch

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

7:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

Hyped as the new model for digital age DIY, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah braced for the backlash but surprised with a solid sophomore effort, Some Loud Thunder. Alec Ounsworth's nasally slurred lyrical contortions remain the familiar force of the Brooklyn/Philadelphia quintet, but their ragged rhythms and off-kilter harmonies get shot with moments of distortion and indie dance beats that keep listeners on their toes. – Doug Freeman

Arcade Fire

8:15pm, AMD stage

Among the best albums of 2004, Arcade Fire's debut, Funeral, was surpassed only by their extravagantly frenzied live performances. The Montreal septet's 2007 follow-up, Neon Bible, surged with equal power and expansive instrumentation yet still raged against their meteoric rise to indie stardom. Arcade Fire had better adapt; their deserved popularity can only swell from here. – Doug Freeman

Muse

8:30pm, AT&T stage

Still firmly ensconced in its "new prog" aesthetic, blending heart-bearing lyricism with the bombast of Queen, this Brit trio's fourth studio album, Black Holes & Revelations (Warner Bros.), was a bit scattershot, borrowing from surf rock, funk, and the black holes in between. Rumor has it a live DVD is in the works, so wear your best duds to this set. – Melanie Haupt

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