Thursday Picks

All showcases subject to change


Billy Bragg

1am, Cedar Street Courtyard
Thursday Picks

In the 25 years since his opening agit-folk cri de coeur "A New England," lovesick balladeer Billy Bragg's risen to "national treasure" status in his native UK, penned a book (The Progressive Patriot: A Search for Belonging), and released his first studio album in six years, the disarmingly brilliant Mr. Love & Justice, which he's proclaimed his "career-defining statement."

Where does the time go? He was 21 when he wrote that song, and he's 50 now. He didn't want to change the world, and he wasn't looking for a new England. He was just looking for another girl. In June, he found her:

"They were reopening the refurbished Royal Festival Hall last year with a performance by 1,500 amateur choristers and the London Symphonia performing Beethoven's Ode to Joy," recalls Bragg. "Well, they wanted someone to write a new lyric, so they called upon me!"

That Bragg, a confirmed socialist and vehement anti-Tory whose resurrection of Woody Guthrie via his Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Wilco redefined modern folk, would be chosen for such a momentous undertaking says everything about the former "one-man Clash"s current status in his beloved Britannia. This is, after all, the man who sang, "Take down the Union Jack; it clashes with the sunset."

"We performed it once for the reopening ceremony, which, let me tell you, was a trip. ... But then they told me they were going to do it again, for the queen, and that's when it all started getting a bit 'through the looking glass.'

"The queen and I don't often cross paths," Bragg dryly notes. "But we actually met in the lineup after the show, and she gave me a look like: 'What the bloody hell are you doing here? Of all people, you, Braggy?'

"The really weird thing was that an hour or two later, they got a call at the South Bank from Buckingham Palace: 'Could the queen possibly have a copy of the score ... signed by Mr. Bragg?'

"If I'd've known she was coming for that, I'd've brought a T-shirt!" – Marc Savlov


Body of War

7pm, Stubb's Co-written and co-directed by Austin's Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue, SXSW Film documentary Body of War is a postwar portrait of Tomas Young, paralyzed from the chest down on his fifth day of service in Iraq. Kimya Dawson, System of a Down's Serj Tankian, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, Brett Dennen, Brendan James, and RX Bandits are all featured on the Young-curated soundtrack, whose proceeds benefit Iraq Veterans Against the War. – Austin Powell

Horse + Donkey

8pm, B.D. Riley's Somewhere in the fourth dimension, where space and time intersect (aka El Paso), local trio Horse + Donkey erupted with reverb and darkness, as delicious as Echo & the Bunnymen without Ian McCulloch's ego. The desert setting nurtured H+D's psych, but the energy onstage is all city lights. Three years after the initial tease, H+D's killer sophomore disc revs up eponymously. – Darcie Stevens

The Black

8pm, Dirty Dog Bar Fortunately for Alan Schaefer and Dave Longoria, the World's Greatest Record Collection hasn't yet sold. Come to think of it, Austin quartet the Black, anchored by those two, probably doesn't need any more vinyl, seeing as 2005 debut Tanglewood and 2007's Donna 12-inch pull from their already-astounding collection of country, Delta blues, and classic rock, blending them into a Texas-sky hue. – Darcie Stevens

Eleni Mandell

8pm, Ale House 2007 was a career-making year for singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell. The Los Angeleno's Miracle of Five (Zedtone), her sixth disc, won over audiences and critics alike with its after-hours ambience, lush lyrics, and melodies that drew comparisons to P.J. Harvey and Tom Waits. She's recently been studying French, which might manifest itself in an album planned for later this year. – Jim Caligiuri

Li'l Cap'n Travis

8pm, Bourbon Rocks It's too easy to wrap Austin's Li'l Cap'n Travis up in a tidy little package. They're the perfect hybrid of the Beach Boys' "Don't Worry Baby" and the Rolling Stones' "Far Away Eyes." When a cosmic cowboy lap-steel lead from Gary Newcomb flashes by, you start hearing Tom T. Hall as much as the Flaming Lips. By then, you've stopped dissecting and just surrendered. – Michael Bertin

Spoon

8pm, Auditorium Shores When Austin hometown heroes Spoon's sixth LP, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (Merge), debuted at No. 10 on Billboard last year, it proved triumph at last. Britt Daniel & Co. perfected the new face of indie rock, dipping into R&B, classic rock, and New Wave. Route for "The Underdog," always. – Darcie Stevens

Islands

8pm, Cedar Street Courtyard The arm is coming for you. Montreal sixpiece Islands spawned from art-punks the Unicorns but danced to a different waltz on 2006's calypso surprise, Return to the Sea. Employing that Canadian insouciance that shot Arcade Fire to the top, Islands preview Arm's Way, centered, solidified, and orchestral North American Britpop. Anti- just picked up Islands for the May release of disc two. (Also: 12mid @ Emo's Main.) – Darcie Stevens

Boss Martians

8:55pm, Emo's Jr. Seattle's Boss Martians keep the Pacific Northwest garage rock tradition alive with a full-bore sound that crosses the twisted crunch of the Sonics with the transistor-radio hooks of Paul Revere & the Raiders. The quartet has earned accolades from Underground Garage-master Little Steven and Iggy Pop, who takes a guest vocal shot on their forthcoming, Jack Endino-mixed sixth album, Pressure in the SODO (MuSick). – Greg Beets

The Cowsills

9pm, Central Presbyterian Church Often cited as the real-life inspiration for the Partridge Family, the Cowsills sprouted to national prominence in 1967 with the flower-pop smash "The Rain, the Park and Other Things." Tragically, Barry Cowsill was among those lost in Hurricane Katrina's aftermath, and Bill Cowsill died in early 2006. Bob, Paul, and Susan continue to perform together and individually. – Greg Beets

The Heavenly States

9pm, Ale House Garnering international attention as the first American rock band to play in Libya in 2005, Oakland, Calif., power-poppers the Heavenly States seem an unlikely diplomacy, but the quartet's virtuosity, darted with violin and keys, already eschews borders. This year's third LP, Delayer (the Rebel Group), kicks with Ted Nesseth's skuzzy, backward-wielded guitar and rants accentuated by wife Genevieve Gagon's shouted harmonies. – Doug Freeman

Tia Carrera

9pm, Light Bar Like a psychedelic version of a Choose Your Own Adventure book, no trip is ever the same for Austin's Tia Carrera. The telepathic trio, led by guitar guru Jason Morales, embarks on exploratory and improvised jams that usually end up somewhere between Cream and Hendrix. Last year's Heaven/Hell EP (Arclight) is their strongest work to date. – Austin Powell

Lucy & the Popsonics

9pm, Flamingo Cantina It's always surprising when two people can make so much damn noise. This Brazilian guitar duo (with the aid of a drum machine) pounds out lo-fi electro-rock with live shows that recall baile funkeros Bonde do Role. Their 2007 Tratore release, A Fábula (Ou a Farsa?) de Dois Eletropandas, proves these electro-pandas, whatever the hell that means, can rock in any language. – Thomas Fawcett

LZ Love

9pm, Opal Divine's Freehouse Raised in Berkeley and now living in Austin, Love possesses a soul-shaking voice. Steeped in the gospel tradition, she fuses R&B, funk, soul, blues, and rock powerfully and effortlessly. Last year's acoustic collaboration with Lightning Red, Gut Bucket Blues: Stumpdown Acoustic, is a testament to her potential as a truly great singer. – Jay Trachtenberg

Phranchyze

9:05pm, Volume South Austin's Phranchyze flows nothing like you'd expect from a Texas rapper. The 23-year-old MC, often flanked by buddy Zeale 32, samples Curtis Mayfield and brings an OutKast energy to his stage theatrics. 2007's ErryBody Hates Me (HHIE) trades croons over pretty girls and Nike Dunks. – Chase Hoffberger

Zeale 32

9:30pm, Volume Zeale 32 earned his freestyle stripes chopping up MCs at Scribble Jam and the World Rap Championships, but he's more than just a battle rapper. The self-proclaimed sneaker freak spits heady rhymes matched with murderous, laser-sharp flow over next-level beats. The Austinite has a confident and hungry stage presence, zipping around like he's rapping on hot coals. – Thomas Fawcett

Fucked Up

9:30pm, Vice Toronto hardcore punks Fucked Up are like Minor Threat with tallboys: political, overt, inciting. Rarely putting out LPs, preferring instead a barrage of 7-inch singles, the fivepiece hit Jade Tree in 2006 with Hidden World, replete with Pink Eye's roaring commentary and old-school bating. A second album is forthcoming. There will be blood. (Also: Friday, March 14, 10:30pm @ Scoot Inn.) – Darcie Stevens

Eli 'Paperboy' Reed

9:45pm, Club de Ville If Brookline, Mass., native Eli "Paperboy" Reed used to deliver The Boston Globe, he now dishes out a rollicking dose of blue-eyed soul. This Yankee does a fine impression of Southern soul giants like Otis Redding, O.V. Wright, and occasionally Wilson Pickett, a 24-year-old Jewish kid's take on classic R&B. His new Roll With You (Q Division) is a winner. – Thomas Fawcett

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

10pm, Wave Rooftop Thou shalt always reinvent hip-hop. So says this unsigned UK duo, whose alarmingly breathless raps veer wildly from the dead-serious ("Angles") to the deadly danceable ("The Beat That My Heart Skipped"). Call them nerd-hop or just two guys with a lot of facial hair, Beastie Boys with sarcasm to spare. (Also: Friday, March 14, 1am @ Ninety Proof Lounge.) – Marc Savlov

Man Man

10pm, Cedar Street Courtyard After unloading a Six Demon Bag of gypsy punk and carnivalesque cacophony on Ace Fu in 2006, Man Man makes its Anti- debut in April with Rabbit Habits. Behind Honus Honus' Waitsian howl, the Philly quintet's sophomore LP captures the energy and dexterity of their live shows, which romp breathlessly in a fervor of synthesizer, horns, and percussion employed ubiquitously on anything that proves even briefly beatable. (Also: Friday, March 14, 12:10am @ Scoot Inn.) – Doug Freeman

Boys in a Band

10pm, Habana Calle 6 Annex Despite not having a single recording to their name, the currently unsigned Boys in a Band are the most exciting musical prospect to emerge from the Faroe Islands. And not just by default. The Boys surf heavily on the Hives' streamlined garage rock and Jack White's delivery, with one exception – the Hammond organ that thickens the stew. – Austin Powell

The Steps

10pm, Dirty Dog Bar You can take this garage band to the bar, but you cannot buy them a drink. Still, these kids are sounding better than all right. Straight out of high school right here in Austin, the punky foursome released a killer single, "Outlaw," on UK imprint Young and Lost Club and blitzed London. – Dan Oko

The Mother Truckers

10pm, Continental Club Josh Zee and Teal Collins, the core songwriting and harmonizing tandem of the Mother Truckers, teamed up in San Francisco before uprooting their country chemistry to Austin on the advice of Asleep at the Wheel's Ray Benson. Recently signed to Funzalo Records, the quartet is preparing their bar stompin' follow-up to 2006 debut Broke, Not Broken. – Doug Freeman

Joe Ely

10pm, Antone's No one captures the freewheeling spirit of Austin music better than Joe Ely. Most recently the West Texas native has been teaming with accordionist Joel Guzman, performing stunning renditions of the heartfelt songs that span the breadth of his career. A new disc cut live at the fabled Cactus Cafe here in Austin is due out this month. – Jay Trachtenberg

Alejandro Escovedo

10:45pm, Stubb's More than 15 years after the release of his solo debut, Gravity, Austin icon Alejandro Escovedo goes meta with his ninth solo release, Real Animal (Back Porch), over which Escovedo retraces his own career from local punk to revered songwriter. Escovedo is also the subject of an upcoming Jonathan Demme concert-film doc. – Michael Bertin

C-Rayz Walz & Kosha Dillz

10:45pm, Volume This year's Freestyle vs. Written pits Edison, N.J., Jewish MC Kosha Dillz against Raekwon prodigy C-Rayz Walz. Kosha brings a résumé with the Pharcyde and Jurassic 5, while C-Rayz, who's collaborated with Murs and MF Doom, is coming off 2007's Monster Maker (Babygrande). – Chase Hoffberger

MGMT

10:45pm, the Rio Few bands dare to sound platinum anymore. Not MGMT. The duo of former art students Ben Goldwasser and Andrew Vanwyngarden aced their major label debut Oracular Spectacular, a tantalizing hit parade dancing between the Bee Gee's Saturday Night Fever and David Bowie's Life on Mars with three-part harmonies and huge synthetic beats. (Also: Friday, March 14, 10pm @ Stubb's.) – Austin Powell

New Monsoon

11pm, Club 115 San Francisco rock quintet New Monsoon has impressed audiences across the country with their marriage of acoustic and electric instruments and an irresistible blend of sophisticated songcraft and inventive musical exploration. Their 2007 disc, the self-released V, was produced by John Cutler, best known for his work with the like-minded Grateful Dead. – Jim Caligiuri

Grupo Fantasma

11pm, Momo's This horn- and percussion-powered Latin music juggernaut is one of Austin's crown jewels. They so impressed Prince that he hired them to play Thursday nights at his 3121 club in Las Vegas. Grupo's self-produced third album, Comes Alive, was recorded in Austin and captures the intensity of their live set. (Also: 6pm @ Auditorium Shores.) – Jay Trachtenberg

Guitar Shorty

11pm, Opal Divine's Freehouse Texas blues legend Guitar Shorty has been thrilling audiences with unmatched stage theatrics for more than half a century, playing with Ray Charles at age 16 and Sam Cooke at 19. Closing in on his seventh decade, this bluesman's still got it, as heard on 2006's award-winning We the People (Alligator). – Thomas Fawcett

Patricia Vonne

11pm, Bourbon Rocks With her third album, 2007's Firebird (Bandolera), Patricia Vonne reached the potential exhibited in her previous work. The Austin resident's potent mix of Latino roots and Texas rock with a social conscience burns with unbridled passion and sturdy guitar jangle. – Jim Caligiuri

Monahans

11:15pm, Habana Calle 6 Patio While Greg Vanderpool and company haven't abandoned the lonesome country pull of Milton Mapes, the Austin quartet has devoted the past two years to the more sonically ambitious sweep of Monahans. Last year's debut, Low Pining (Undertow), coupled Califone's dusty roots with U2's ringing guitar, adding a touch of the subdued slo-core folk from frequent tourmates Cowboy Junkies. – Doug Freeman

Marked Men

11:20pm, Emo's Jr. Three albums in, and it's still hard to tell if the Marked Men are punk or if they just have no regard for fidelity. In any case, the quartet owes as much to Shindig!-era Brits as Never Mind the Bollocks. Hailing from the fertile North Texas burg of Denton, their live sets are pure SST. – Michael Bertin

Psychic Ills

11:20pm, Room 710 2006's outstanding double dose, Early Violence and Dins, both on NYC label the Social Registry, was the last we heard from Brooklyn reverb doctors Psychic Ills. The quartet's live shows are always an exercise in building up and skuzzing out. – Audra Schroeder

Curumin

11:45pm, Buffalo Billiards From São Paulo, Brazil, Curumin bastes traditional samba in splashes of soul, reggae, funk, and hip-hop. Signed to San Francisco's Quannum Projects, this modern sambista stands out on a label full of left coast lyricists, yet the mix of breezy melodies and boom-bap beats on his 2005 release, Achados e Perdidos, perfectly fit the Bay Area vibe. – Thomas Fawcett

Geno Delafose & French Rockin' Boogie

12mid, Momo's Born into a family of zydeco musicians, Delafose played alongside his father, the famed accordionist John Delafose, from an early age and eventually took over the band. Based outside of Eunice in South Louisiana, Delafose is now a standard-bearer of one of America's richest and most unique musical genres. – Jay Trachtenberg

Abigail Washburn & the Spar-row Quartet with BÉla Fleck

12mid, St. David's Church Banjo player Abigail Washburn is a bluegrass music ambassador to China. Her Sparrow Quartet, Béla Fleck on banjo, Casey Driessen on fiddle, and Ben Sollee on cello, has toured there regularly, and she's even composed tunes in Chinese. Also a member of the all-woman Uncle Earl, the Nashville resident's solo work is rustic yet adventurous. Expect a Sparrow Quartet disc later this year. – Jim Caligiuri

Mark Kozelek

12mid, Central Presbyterian Church Mark Kozelek's first offering of original material since 2002, Sun Kil Moon's upcoming April on his own Caldo Verde imprint, warms through melodically understated epics. Strings and a trifecta of guitars swell in waves against the former Red House Painter's low, somnambulant voice and acoustic ballads, with guest vocals from Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Ben Gibbard, and Eric Pollard. – Doug Freeman

Ray Bonneville

12mid, Victorian Room @ the Driskill A dual citizen of the U.S. and Canada, Ray Bonneville's a bluesman in the same vein as J.J. Cale and a master storyteller in the mold of John Hiatt. His latest, Goin' by Feel (Red House), was released in January. – Jim Caligiuri

Birthday Suits

12mid, Molotov Lounge Minneapolis' answer to Flat Duo Jets, the guitar and drum duo of Hideo Takahashi and Matthew Kazama has one gear (fast) and one volume (loud). Think the Black Keys after a few 12-packs and a set of jumper cables to the nipples. (Also: Saturday, March 15, 9:40pm @ Blind Pig Rooftop.) – Michael Bertin

Scott H. Biram

12mid, Ale House One-man Austin juggernaut Scott H. Biram stomps and blows his way through chicken-scratch, honky-tonk blues with contagious spiritual fervor. His pickled, gravelly growl has garnered the punk designation solely by virtue of its iconoclastic rawness. Biram's fifth album, 2006's Graveyard Shift (Bloodshot), is a singularly accomplished roots riot, but the visceral frenzy of his live shows can be downright intimidating at times. – Greg Beets

Indian Jewelry

12mid, Emo's Lounge They're Houstonites again, and their screwed cosmic gunk is a welcome salve in the Bayou City. The trio's latest, Free Gold (We Are Free), drops in April, follow-up to 2006's rousing, pounding pleasure, Invasive Exotics. Live, expect hypnosis or something close. – Audra Schroeder

The People's Revolutionary Choir

12mid, Creekside @ Hilton Garden Do you feel like they do? Yes, you do. The London-based Choir's post-punk, neo-psychedelic happening recalls the Jesus & Mary Chain's early hours while mining the likes of Jason Spaceman's subconsious and Bobby Gillespie's wardrobe. New single "The Breeze That Blows" doesn't blow but instead restores your Spiritualized-side. – Marc Savlov

Zion-I

12:15am, Volume An underground force on the Bay Area scene for the past decade, Oakland's Zion-I climbed to new heights with 2006's Heroes in the City of Dope, made with the Grouch for Om Records. Incorporating a heavy dose of drum 'n' bass beats, Amplive and MC Zion hit 'em hyphy. – Chase Hoffberger

The Night Marchers

12:50am, Emo's Jr. The new project from John Reis has more bluesy hip-shake to it than the ominous stop/start gutter chug of previous bands like Drive Like Jehu and Rocket From the Crypt. Debut See You in Magic, out on Reis' San Diego-based Swami Records, bulks up with his bandmates from the sorely missed Hot Snakes and raises hell. – Audra Schroeder

Jenny Hoyston's Paradise Island

1am, Habana Calle 6 SF's favorite daughters Erase Errata may be on hiatus, but singer Jenny Hoyston has stories to tell, as heard on last year's bedroom recordings and demos collection, Isle Of (Southern). Live, it's usually her, a guitar, and a drum machine, but like EE, she makes it sound urgent and danceable. – Audra Schroeder

Marcia Ball

1am, Antone's Born and raised on the Texas/Louisiana border where she absorbed blues and swamp pop, Ball has been a pillar of the Austin scene for decades. Her rollicking, blues 'n' boogie piano-playing, soulful voice, and rockin' band were most recently archived on Live! Down the Road (Alligator). – Jay Trachtenberg

The Octopus Project

1am, Emo's Main The Austin group released its infectious third LP, Hello, Avalanche, on Austin's Peek-a-Boo Records last year, rife with bleepy goodness, grumbly bass, and Yvonne Lambert's otherworldly theremin, winner of multiple Austin Music Awards. The Oct Proj wrapped up 2007 with a monumental 76-date tour; look for a 7-inch this month as part of Too Pure's singles series. – Melanie Haupt

Marcelo D2

1am, Momo's Brazilian hip-hop legend Marcelo D2 spits rapid-fire Portuguese rhymes over beats laced with samba and 1970s funk samples. The ex-Planet Hemp frontman recently collaborated with Sergio Mendes and traded verses with Will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas and Charlie 2na of Jurassic 5. His 2006 release, Meu Samba É Assim (Sony BMG), solidified his place as one of Brazil's most important young artists. – Thomas Fawcett

Living Legends

1am, Volume The various members of Living Legends will be fanning out with solo sets over the course of SXSW, but the Grouch, Murs, Luckyiam, and the rest of the eight-man cipher form like Voltron tonight. The Los Angeles-based underground legends have released dozens of albums between them and drop the collaborative Living Legends album The Gathering in April. Many mics will be rocked. – Thomas Fawcett

Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds

1am, Maggie Mae's Gibson Room Kid Congo's work has probably come across your turntable at some point. Kid Congo Powers (né Brian Tristan) was a founding member of the Gun Club, as well as sideman to the Cramps and Nick Cave. Philosophy and Underwear (New York Night Train) was his solo debut as Kid Congo & the Pink Monkey Birds. – Michael Bertin

Mala Rodriguez

1am, Flamingo Cantina Bad girl Mala Rodriguez has been making waves since she exploded onto the Spanish hip-hop scene in 2000. The video for "La Niña," from her 2003 album, Alevosía, which featured a drug-slanging preteen girl, was banned from Spanish TV. The MC sprinkles her flamenco-inspired beats with a reggaeton flavor on 2007's Malamarismo (Universal), which includes the red-hot "Toca Toca." – Thomas Fawcett

The Wombats

1am, Maggie Mae's Rooftop If their chart-topping single "Let's Dance to Joy Division" was the only thing these Liverpool lads ever recorded, it would be enough. Lucky for us, guitar-heavy, Britpoppy comedics are just beginning: They're up for no fewer than three NME Awards. Latest LP, The Wombats Proudly Present: A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation (14th Floor), is simply brilliant. – Marc Savlov

Back Door Slam

1am, Opal Divine's Freehouse Hailing from the UK's Isle of Man, this scrappy, young blues-rock trio made its American debut at last year's SXSW. Since then, they've toured virtually nonstop behind their potent debut, Roll Away (Blix Street). Getting inspiration from late-1960s blues rockers like Cream and Hendrix, with hints of SRV, they leave their mark with incendiary live shows. – Jay Trachtenberg

Ocelot

1am, Beauty Bar Did you hear the news? Two guys from hardcore icons Rise rose to the challenge posed by their geographic dislocation (Jimmy Welsh calls Leeds home; Cory Kilduff's right here in the River City), traded tracks Web-wise, remixed Robyn, and are expecting their trance-inflected full-length debut on Iheartcomix any day now. – Marc Savlov

Blood on the Wall

1am, Room 710 Kansas-born siblings Brad and Courtney Shanks no doubt listened to the same albums growing up. The proof's their Brooklyn-based Blood on the Wall. With drummer Miggy Littleton, the Shanks' guitar/bass overdrive channels Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, the Pixies, and a whole mess of early-1990s scratch on latest Liferz, the follow-up to 2006's Awesomer. Grammar schmammar. – Audra Schroeder

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