ACL Music Fest Saturday Picks

The blurbing of ACL 2009

Sarah Jaffe

11:20am, Austin Ventures stage

Denton's singer-songwriter scene found a rough diamond in young guitarist Sarah Jaffe. Her mountain woman spiritualism and heaving voice made perfect partners in crime on last year's John Congleton-produced EP, Even Born Again. No doubt her upcoming LP debut will sound wise beyond its years. – Audra Schroeder

Alberta Cross

12:30pm, LiveStrong stage

Swede (singer Petter Ericson Stakee) meets Brit (bassist Terry Wolfers) at the now Brooklyn-bound Alberta Cross-roads of 1990s glam (Gene Loves Jezebel) and new millennial roots psych (My Morning Jacket). 2007 EP The Thief & the Heartbreaker landed on Geffen, but LP debut Broken Side of Time comes sponsored by Dave Matthews' ATO and branded Austin in the slide-guitar avalanche of "ATX," knobbed locally by Spoon ladle Mike McCarthy. – Raoul Hernandez

The Felice Brothers

1:15pm, Dell stage

That the Felice Brothers spring from the same rooted sound as the Band may have something to do with being reared in upstate New York. Siblings Ian, Simone, and James were shadowed in the arch of Americana, traced along the ridges of the Catskill Mountains, and this year's fourth album and second for Team Love Records, Yonder Is the Clock, balances nostalgia with stomps of pent-up, back-holler fervor. – Doug Freeman

The Raveonettes

1:15pm, Xbox 360 stage

The name alone should tell you this Danish duo has a thing for the girl-group sound. Love, lust, and leather are the foundation of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo's 1950s rockabilly-meets-the-Jesus & Mary Chain jangle. Brand spanking new CD In and Out of Control is a strong cocktail of bang and whip. – Audra Schroeder

Cotton Jones

ACL Music Fest Saturday Picks

1:20pm, Austin Ventures stage

Maryland duo Michael Nau (guitar) and Whitney McGraw (keys) are keepers of the slow folk-blues flame, spinning 1970s AM radio gold on this year's Paranoid Cocoon (Suicide Squeeze). New five-song EP Rio Ranger follows up with Nau, formerly of Page France, and McGraw channeling the Carpenters via reverb. – Audra Schroeder

!!!

2pm, AMD stage

Sweating dance-punk since 1996, !!! has retained its viral energy even as the genre's capital has crashed. The Sacramento sextet delivers a constant advance in sound and intricacy, especially from 2004's politically-charged Louden Up Now to 2007's ferociously textured and rhythmic third LP Myth Takes. – Doug Freeman

Bell X1

2:20pm, Austin Ventures stage

Once, Bell X1 was a footnote in the career of Damien Rice, serving as his original backing in Juniper. That changed with the group's fourth album and Yep Roc debut, 2009's Blue Lights on the Runway. Behind frontman Dave Geraghty's mercurial croon, Bell X1 marries the fevered, ethereal textures of post-Kid A Radiohead to the pop grandeur of Irish forebears U2, whom the group opened for on its current world tour. – Austin Powell

Sam Roberts Band

2:30pm, Wildflower Center stage

A star in his native Canada – and to anyone who witnessed his ACL debut three years ago – Sam Roberts has two platinum albums and multiple Juno Awards under his belt. Likened to Bruce Springsteen for his anthemic roots-rock, the Montreal-based Roberts' most recent release, 2008's Love at the End of the World (Rounder), debuted at No. 1 on the Canadian album chart. – Jim Caligiuri

The Airborne Toxic Event

3pm, Xbox 360 stage

Named after and inspired by novelist Don DeLillo's post-modern masterpiece White Noise, Los Angeles' Airborne Toxic Event, led by writer Mikel Jollett, captures the sound of modern decay and paranoia. Though derivative, the band's eponymous 2007 debut featured "Sometime Around Midnight," easily one of this year's biggest alternative singles. – Austin Powell

Flogging Molly

Flogging Molly, Stubb's 2009
Flogging Molly, Stubb's 2009 (Photo by John Anderson)

4pm, AMD stage

The East Coast claims the Dropkick Murphys, but Flogging Molly rules the West. Led by Dublin-born Dave King, the California-based sevenpiece sets Irish rock afire. Best known for appropriately named LPs Swagger and Drunken Lullabies, the Mollys don't require whiskey as much as a willing dance partner after last year's Float on SideOneDummy. – Margaret Moser

Federico Aubele

4:45pm, Austin Ventures stage

Buenos Aires' Federico Aubele delivers "nuevo tango" with Old World charm. A contemporary of Thievery Corporation, who produced his 2004 debut, Gran Hotel Buenos Aires, this hopeless romantic dabbles in downtempo electronica, Spanish boleros, and dub reggae. This year's Amatoria pairs Pan-American grooves with his hushed croon, accented by the Brazilian Girls' Sabina Sciubba and Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto. – Austin Powell

... And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

5pm, Xbox 360 stage

Austin's veteran wrecking ball has gone through quite a few costume changes since 1999's Madonna LP. Once upon a time, the locals seemed intent on being banned from most clubs they bum-rushed, but maturity sneaks up on you sometimes. Latest The Century of Self finds them more composed and focused: less Pollock, more pen and ink. – Audra Schroeder

Bon Iver

5pm, Dell stage

Justin Vernon's 2008 debut LP, For Emma, Forever Ago (Jagjaguwar), burrows into the cold comfort of the Wisconsin songwriter's wintery moniker, his falsetto rising and falling with a timeless trill. This year's Blood Bank EP drifts more playfully, yet still retains the core intimacy that swooned Vernon into the verdant new indie folk scene. – Doug Freeman

Eek-a-Mouse

5:30pm, Wildflower Center stage

Rarely has anyone said so much without ever saying anything at all, but such is the genius of Jamaican dancehall pioneer Eek-a-Mouse. The toastmaster general fancies himself the world's first "sing-jay," a peculiar mix of singing, scatting, and downright silly squawking. Beloved on the isle since the early 1980s, reggae's rodent gets "biddy beng beng"! – Thomas Fawcett

Mos Def

ACL Music Fest Saturday Picks

6pm, AMD stage

Mos Def is the coolest person to grace any stage at this year's festival. June's transcendent The Ecstatic marks a return to form for the Brooklyn hip-hop do-it-all, an Afro-centric, politically charged throwdown over the kind of beats that made Rawkus the illest thing going 10 years ago. "B Boys Will B Boys," no doubt. – Chase Hoffberger

Devotchka

ACL Music Fest Saturday Picks

7pm, Wildflower Center stage

Denver gypsies Devotchka know what it's like to bake under an ACL sun. Nick Urata's vocal strip, Tom Hagerman's sawing violin and hammering accordion, and Jeanie Schroder's sousaphone are nothing if not hot-blooded. Last year's Anti- disc, A Mad & Faithful Telling, advanced them from Little Miss Sunshine to rose-in-teeth. – Raoul Hernandez

Sound Tribe Sector 9

7pm, Xbox 360 stage

STS9 is a jam band unlike any other. Dub- and psych-influenced, the Northern California quintet fuses acoustic instruments and electronic improvisations into the sound of space circa the 21st century. Sound Tribe's most recent release is a remix of last year's Peaceblaster, benefiting New Orleans' Make It Right Foundation. – Jim Caligiuri

Ghostland Observatory

8pm, AMD stage

The meteoric rise of Ghostland Observatory can be traced through the local duo's appearances at ACL. Plucked locally from relative obscurity as a last-minute addition in 2006, GLO broke an early afternoon sweat with a performance that took most by surprise, a feat topped the following year by a laser spectacular. Armed with the moody electro-clash of 2008's Robotique Majestique, caped crusader Thomas Turner and candy rider Aaron Behrens return once more to close out the evening on the biggest stage of all. – Austin Powell

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