Spanish as a Second Language
Bomba Estéreo (Wed., 11pm, Antone's)
Pump, pump, pump goes this cumbia-centric Bogota act with arresting singer Liliana Saumet, whose malleable voice goes from petulant to sultry with a flick of her neck.
Guadalupe Plata (Thu., 11pm, Spill)
Swamp blues and John Lee Hooker plus Screamin' Jay Hawkins will make you forget this foursome that hails from Spain. You almost smell the gumbo simmering ... or maybe it's the paella.
Systema Solar (Thu., 11pm, Flamingo Cantina)
Blends old-timey musical traditions from its native Colombia with a modern sense of humor and techno beats.
Huecco (Fri., 1am, Flamingo Cantina)
Say it again. Huecco. Not Juanes. No me quiero Ricky Martin or even Santana; bring me Madrid's Huecco, singing in that unmistakably male voice on a bed of down pillows, por fa'.
– Belinda Acosta
Adam Tensta (Wed., 12mid, Speakeasy)
Swedish synth hopper proves with style, It's a Tensta Thing.
LidoLido (Thu., 10pm, Club 115)
At 16, Norse wordsmith is The Fresh Breath.
La Melodia (Thu., 12:10am, Club 115)
Dutch duo vibing high on A Tribe Called Quest and Illadelph Halflife.
Movits! (Thu., 1am, Club 115)
Swedish dudes in suits dropping hip-hop, swing, Äppelknycharjazz.
Timbuktu & Chords (Fri., 12mid, Club 115)
Swedish reggae rapper not afraid to switch orders on En High 5 & 1 Falafel.
Looptroop Rockers (Fri., 1am, Club 115)
Swedish stoners are Scandinavia's Beastie Boys.
Tone (Sat., 10pm, Spill)
Danish fem floats electric on 2008's Small Arm of Sea. – Chase Hoffberger
British, DJs, Spinning
MRK1 (Wed., 11:15pm, Barcelona)
Drum & bass, grime, fuzz.
N-Type (Wed., 12:30am, Barcelona)
Dubplate, jungle, ominous voices.
Plastician (Sat., 1am, Barcelona)
Atmospheric, trip-hop, scary shit.
Jack Beats (Sat., 1am, Beauty Bar)
Riddim, dance, Passion Pit remixes.
– Chase Hoffberger
Eins, Zwei, Drei Experimenters
Niobe (Wed., 10pm, Beauty Bar)
If Cologne, Germany, had invented experimental jazz, Niobe would be its Marlene Dietrich. Equal parts Dadaism, Euro disco, and Diamanda Galás.
Oy (Sat., 12mid, Prague)
Tough to say if Joy Frempong, aka Oy, is being metaphorical about snakes under her bed and not disturbing sleeping trolls. Think Björk without the paparazzi-punching.
Tobias Thomas (Sat., 9pm, Cedar Street Courtyard)
Former Spex magazine editor-turned-Cologne's trance king occasionally drifts on more ambient waters in his collaborations with Forever Sweet. – Richard Whittaker
Five Danish Cherries
Oh No Ono (Fri., 12mid, Lamberts)
The love children of Air and Yoko Ono.
Choir of Young Believers (Wed., 9pm, Galaxy Room Backyard)
Baroque, operatic chamber pop. Fleet Foxes with a funny accent and no beards.
The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (Wed., 10pm, Emo's Annex; Fri., 8pm, Billboard.com Bungalow)
Betty Boop meets Lady GaGa.
The Kissaway Trail (Thu. 12:15am, Friends)
Big fat indie emo deal with a yen for tweaking English.
The Good the Bad (Sat., 10pm, Momo's)
Nothing ugly about this instrumental surf-rock by a group of hotties. – Melanie Haupt
Onili (Wed., 11pm, Club 115)
Raised in Paris on Justice and Ed Banger Records, she's the reigning queen of electro/hip-hop in her native Tel Aviv.
Terry Poison (Fri., 11pm, Spill)
"We're girls, and we like to have fun, and it's cool. But we're really excited and hope there are going to be a lot of good-looking boys – or boys in general. We don't really care what they look like." – TP frontwoman Louise Kahn, Israeli rock star
Balkan Beat Box (Fri., 12mid, Spill)
Gogol Bordello emigrant Ori Kaplan's brainchild mixes gypsy punk with Tomer Yosef's flows on this year's Blue Eyed Black Boy.
Soulico (Sat., 10pm, Beauty Bar)
Quartet of mad decent DJs featured Ghostface Killah, Rye Rye, MC Zulu, and Del the Funky Homosapien on last year's Exotic on the Speaker. – Chase Hoffberger
Yellow Dogs (Wed., 8pm, Wave)
"Yellow Dog is brother of jackal." Hometown: Tehran. Detail: English lyrics/sex machines.
TarantisT (Wed., 1:25am, Headhunters)
SXSW 2009, finally. Hometown: Tehran. Surprise: Self-produced full-length Distorted Brains is only a little scarier and weirder than the Butthole Surfers.
The Plastic Wave (Sat., 8pm, Karma Lounge)
Gray bar hotel meet-up. Hometown: Tehran. Surprise, not: Fronted by a woman, the 2-year-old electronic outfit was booked for SXSW 2009 but couldn't get visas. – Dan Oko
Local Latin Fusion, Three Degrees
Brownout (Thu., Scoot Inn, 8:20pm)
With the noted exception of vocalists Kino Rodriguez and Jose Galeano, Brownout is essentially the chopped & screwed version of Grupo, the Funkadelic to Fantasma's Parliament mothership. The afterparty specialists' 2009 stunner, Aguilas and Cobras (Six Degrees), is pure Latin-funk fusion, melding Nigerian highlife and Chicano soul into psychedelic instrumentals carved from wax, with help from White Denim's James Petralli and Hacienda.
Ocote Soul Sounds (Thu., Scoot Inn, 12mid)
Side project of Antibalas founder Martin Perna and Grupo Fantasma/Brownout guitarist Adrian Quesada, Ocote Soul Sounds embodies the best of both worlds: sedated Afrobeat and Latin funk. The ever-evolving outfit coined its own genre last year on third LP Coconut Rock (ESL Music), with spirit possession ceremonies on par with the Vodoun effect of the Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou.
Grupo Fantasma (Fri., Copa, 12mid)
Formerly known as the artists that backed Prince, Grupo Fantasma is a 10-piece Latin enterprise with a cauldron of influences that boils over into cumbia, bolero, salsa, and New York bebop. El Existential (Nat Geo Music), the band's highly anticipated follow-up to 2008's Grammy-nominated Sonidos Gold, nods toward Spanish Harlem and the Afro-Caribbean psychedelia of the Fania Records canon.
– Austin Powell
African World Cup
Playing for the home team, South Africa, are two Jo'burg bands. Bringing a bright, piano-based rock sound to the field is Watershed (Thu., 9pm, the Hideout), a 10-year-old fivepiece sure to be heard from as the tournament continues. A flautist looking to jazz and world styles, Wouter Kellerman (Fri., 9pm, the Copa) shouldn't be counted out either. His sponsorship includes Denmark's WOMEX. The soulful Maurice Kirya (Wed., 8pm, the 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn) of Zimbabwe should be able to make headway; as he did in 2009, Kirya's expected to bring his swinging Al Green-like talents to the pitch. Last, young but skilled beyond their age, Uganda's fleet-footed 22-member Mwangaza Children's Choir (Fri., 8pm, Carver Museum) performs traditional melodies. In the midst of a six-month U.S. tour, they had their first taste of snow in Texas this February! Game time. – Dan Oko