ACL Fest Sunday Picks

The Little Ones

11:45am, Dell stage

Preparing to launch an indie-pop parade on tour with Voxtrot this fall, L.A. quintet the Little Ones live up to the title of last year's debut EP, Sing Song, with a joyous cavalcade of hand claps, shouts, and catchy choruses that spin across everything from the Shins to the Spinto Band. – Doug Freeman

Amy Cook

Noon, Austin Ventures stage

Forget that Austin/Marfa's Amy Cook almost became the thinking emo girl's Joni Mitchell when TV shows such as Dawson's Creek, Veronica Mars, and Laguna Beach used her evocative compositions to illustrate youthful angst. Her Sky Observer's Guide gazes far past that realm and closer toward the environs of folk-informed rock. That she's an engaging performer live only adds to her myth-in-process. – Margaret Moser

Ryan Shaw

12:30pm, AT&T stage

Lovers of classic soul take note. Until very recently, this extraordinary, Decatur, Ga.-bred vocalist had spent his entire career singing in church. He exploded onto the scene earlier this year with a volcanic, soul-stirring debut, This Is Ryan Shaw, which erupts with the raw excitement of seminal R&B singers like Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Jackie Wilson. This young man delivers the goods. – Jay Trachtenberg

Yo La Tengo

12:30pm, AMD Stage

Yo La Tengo deserves a medal or something. The venerable Hoboken, N.J., trio – husband and wife Ira Kaplan (guitar) and Georgia Hubley (drums), plus bassist James McNew – has been murdering the indie-rock classics since 1984. Last year's I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (Matador) showed them as spirited as ever, culminating in a (secretly awesome) Gilmore Girls cameo. – Audra Schroeder

The Broken West

1:50pm, Austin Ventures stage

This artsy L.A. power-pop quintet has been everywhere lately, from National Public Radio to Grey's Anatomy. The group's Merge debut, I Can't Go On, I'll Go On, measured sweet brokenheartedness with equal parts twentysomething cocksure braggadocio. Don't kid yourself, ladies, the City of Angels always will be these boys' first love. You can hear it in the hooks.

Melanie Haupt

Robert Earl Keen

2:30pm, AMD stage

While the cult of Keen continues to expand, the songwriter remains the distinct voice of popular Texas country. His flair for marrying poignant ballads with absurdly comic barroom anthems continued with 2005's What I Really Mean (Koch), and last year brought yet another live album (his fourth), recorded at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium.

Doug Freeman

Ben Kweller

2:30pm, AT&T stage

A decade after fronting Dallas' Radish and endless "next Cobain" predictions, it was rumored that Ben Kweller would perform with Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic as a reunited Nirvana at SXSW 07. The irony is that with his self-titled third LP, on which he recorded every instrument, the mop-haired songsmith never has been closer to finding his voice as a songwriter for the MySpace generation. Let it bleed.

Austin Powell


3:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

This Denver quartet takes a pinch of Eastern European gypsy punk, a dash of mariachi, and a soupçon of American roots, mixes it up with bouzouki, theremin, and sousaphone (in addition to more "traditional" instruments), all to serve up a wicked masala of intoxicating tunes. You may know them from their scoring Little Miss Sunshine, but they released the critically acclaimed covers EP, Curse Your Little Heart (Ace Fu), last year, as well. – Melanie Haupt


4pm, Austin Ventures stage

Denton's Midlake is all about rolling melodies and Seventies sway. Behind Tim Smith's precise song-craft, the fivepiece has gone from hypnotic keys to Fleetwood Mac-tinged soft rock on 2006's sophomore LP, The Trials of Van Occupanter (Bella Union). Zilker Park is the perfect setting for songs like sunny storybook "Roscoe" and galloping tease "Young Bride." – Darcie Stevens

Lucinda Williams

4:30pm, AMD stage

Lucinda Williams' rough-hewn voice bristles in perfect complement to defiance and heartache. Both abound on 2007's West, her eighth studio album and third in six years, a productive streak for the meticulous songwriter. At times the album recalls the best of Williams' past work on Sweet Old World and World Without Tears, as well as masterpiece Car Wheels on a Gravel Road, and shows the former Austinite's blues-blazoned folk-rock only improving with time. – Doug Freeman

Patterson Hood

4:40pm, BMI stage

One of the co-leaders of the notorious Drive-by Truckers, Patterson Hood is comparatively laid-back as a solo artist but equally mesmerizing. Wielding songs that deal with life in the present-day American South, Hood creates moods that are stark, ragged, and lingering. He's putting finishing touches on his second solo disc, Murdering Oscar, which should hit the streets early in 2008. – Jim Caligiuri

Regina Spektor

5:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

According to Regina Spektor, "Summer in the city means cleavage, cleavage, cleavage." The Moscow-born singer-songwriter filters classical sensibilities through a modern perspective, with an attention to detail that's both profoundly poetic and utterly mundane. Her third LP, Begin to Hope, is a case study in contrasts, alternating between delicate piano odes and comical two-chord punk rock. The staccato-stringed lead single, "Fidelity," explores the middle ground. – Austin Powell


6:30pm, AMD stage

It may seem an improbable stretch from sampling the Conet Project to soundtracking sunny Volkswagen commercials, but a sober Jeff Tweedy and turmoil-free Wilco have traded distortion and drama for carefree reverie on this spring's Sky Blue Sky. With the addition of avant-guitar virtuoso Nels Cline, the Chicago outfit found its most coherent lineup and reinvigorated love for guitar solos, while returning to Tweedy's Americana roots in Seventies folk-rock fashion. – Doug Freeman

My Morning Jacket

6:30pm, AT&T stage

Last year's Okonokos, recorded at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, captures the Louisville, Ky., quintet at the peak of its career. The two-disc, 21-song set blazes trails like Neil Young & Crazy Horse did 30 years prior, moving seamlessly from 2005 cornerstone Z through the ethereal warmth of The Tennessee Fire and the twilight folk of At Dawn. – Austin Powell

Guy Forsyth

6:40pm, BMI stage

Able to entertain solo or with his band, Austin dynamo Guy Forsyth still pulls multiduty on saw, vox, guitar, and mouth organ. He's also a founding member of the Asylum Street Spankers, an Austin Music Award-winner many times over, and a touring vet who just put out the 2-CD Unrepentant Schizophrenic Americana, his sixth. His harmonica work is featured in the lauded new documentary Before the Music Dies. – David Lynch

Ziggy Marley

7pm, WaMu stage

After fronting the Melody Makers with his siblings for years and then venturing into the pop world, this scion to the Marley reggae dynasty returned to form – and to his Jamaican roots – last year with the Grammy-winning Love Is My Religion. He travels with one of the premier reggae bands on the planet, propelled by legendary drummer Carlton "Santa" Davis of Soul Syndicate/Peter Tosh fame. Stir it up!

Jay Trachtenberg

Ghostland Observatory

7:45pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

A late addition to last year's festivities, Ghostland Observatory appeared on the national radar after their revelatory noon performance, which has since been replicated at nearly every notable festival in the country, including two others this weekend alone. Maestro Thomas Turner transforms beats into raves, while frontman Aaron Behrens preaches the healing power of losing oneself in the groove.

Austin Powell

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