SXSW Thursday Picks & Sleepers

Thursday SXSW can't escape the blurbs!

All showcases subject to change

THURSDAY PICKS

Twin Shadow

7pm, Auditorium Shores Brooklyn's George Lewis Jr. no doubt listened to a lot of Morrissey growing up. On last year's fantastic 4AD debut, Forget, he took Moz's woe-is-me vocals and gave them a downtown makeover, stripping away the self-hate and applying romantic beats to smooth funk and slicked-back production. The result is a love song to music that makes you want to dance alone in a dark room. (Also: Thu., 12mid, Central Presbyterian Church; Fri., 11pm, Maggie Mae's Rooftop) – Audra Schroeder

Julianna Barwick

8pm, Central Presbyterian Church Louisiana-born, Brooklyn-based Barwick makes fairy music. Through her liberal deployment of loop functions, she churns out ethereal, spun-sugar hauntings that tap into a primal femininity. Her third album and first for Asthmatic Kitty, The Magic Place, was released last month and is 43 minutes of pure ambient architecture. – Melanie Haupt

Capsula

8pm, Nuvola Last SX, on the convention center day stage, Bilbao trio Capsula made the Raveonettes looks like puffs. Frontline Martin Guevara (guitar/vox) and Coni Duchess (bass/vox) rattled pure VU, while Ignacio Villarejo beat their hides. Their 2009 disc, Rising Mountains, hit No. 1 in Spain. Apply mascara and experience why. (Also: Fri., 9pm, Red Eyed Fly) – Raoul Hernandez

Carla Morrison

8pm, Flamingo Cantina Tecate isn't just cerveza; it's home to Mexican pixie-cum-Hope Sandoval seductress Carla Morrison, whose sterling EP last October on L.A. indie Cósmica, Mientras Tú Dormías, begged fuller vetting. Insatiably Latin slumber 'n' tumble. – Raoul Hernandez

Gabriel Prokofiev

8:15pm, Karma Lounge Composer, producer, and London rocker Prokofiev – grandson of Russian composer Sergei – comes by his string quartets as naturally as his mixtapes. Austin's Graham Reynolds, who actually plays Prokofiev (the elder), bridged a transcontinental connection at SXSW 2010. (Also: Fri., 7pm & 1am, the Velveeta Room) – Raoul Hernandez

Andreya Triana

10pm, Latitude 30 Picked up by Ninja Tune after three smoke-laced guest spots on Bonobo's Black Sands, South London's Andreya Triana returned the favor by tabbing the downtempo bassist and DJ to produce her debut, Lost Where I Belong. The result is ethereal, personal, and makes you like Triana more the longer you listen. – Chase Hoffberger

Mexicans with Guns

10pm, Mellow Johnny's When he pulls a lucha libre wrestling mask over his face and steps behind drum machines and turntables, San Antonio producer Ernest Gonzales morphs into Mexicans With Guns, with results deadlier than the war on Juárez traficantes. Forthcoming LP Ceremony is full of throbbing bass and brujería and features guests as diverse as rapper Freddie Gibbs and Afro-freestyle maestro Chico Mann. – Thomas Fawcett

Jad Fair

11pm, the Hideout Whether collaborating with Japanese noise artists, making paper cuts, or recording personalized songs, Manor's resident alien Jad Fair is always doing something to keep the hamster running the wheel. A few SXSWs ago, his band Half Japanese reunited to the delight of many a noise-rock nerd. This year, he spazzes solo. – Audra Schroeder

Tokyo Sex Destruction

11pm, Nuvola Garage-soul specialists Tokyo Sex Destruction fuse the frenzied showmanship of James Brown and the revolutionary fervor of the MC5 into potent live prowess. In a nod to the latter, all four members of the Madrid-based band have adopted the "Sinclair" surname. The Delta 72's Gregg Foreman produced The Neighbourhood in 2009, resulting in a slightly more refined, groove-oriented sound. – Greg Beets

Lord Huron

11pm, the Bat Bar Lord Huron is a Los Angeles act that emerged as one to watch at last fall's CMJ festival. Considered at the front lines of the current "tropicalia" movement in indie rock, the duo released mysterious frontman Benji Schneider's songs on two EPs, Into the Sun and Mighty. – Melanie Haupt

The Knux

11pm, Billboard Bungalow @ Buffalo Billiards Brothers Kentrell "Krispy" and Alvin "Joey" Lindsey were the anointed heirs to the OutKast throne in 2008 after "Cappuccino" and "Bang! Bang!" brought extra funk to summer barbecues, but the duo's full-length debut fizzled on the back end. This year's five-track Fuck You EP threw back to the first half of Remind Me in 3 Days ..., sticking to what works. – Chase Hoffberger

The Kills

11pm, Emo's Main Alison Mosshart spent the last few years leading the Dead Weather's witch trials, while Jamie Hince had his hands full with supermodel fiancée Kate Moss. They return to SXSW ahead of highly anticipated fourth album Blood Pressures (Domino), a natural extension of the duo's sexual confrontation and static minimalism. – Austin Powell

Susan Cowsill Band

11pm, 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn Somewhere along the way, New Orleans' Susan Cowsill turned into one of the sweethearts of SXSW, a perennial favorite among the vast sea of singer-songwriters. Blessed with an ability to charm audiences just as she did with 1960s family band the Cowsills, her 2010 CD, Lighthouse, was a beacon of hope. Double your listening pleasure: She's bringing her band. – Margaret Moser

FAM 420

11:15pm, Fuze The next wave of Swishahouse talent comes via this bleary-eyed foursome – Magnificent, Archie Lee, Coota Bang, and Konan – which is making bottoms drop in strip clubs all over north Houston. They're working on a debut LP, but last year's self-titled mixtape captured Fam 420's modus operandi in just one track name: "Let Me Beat Dem Cheeks!" – Chase Hoffberger

Papercranes

11:20pm, Malaia Proof that Joaquin and River (R.I.P.) weren't the only Phoenix spawn born with talent, Papercranes is singer/actress Rain Phoenix, with some help from friends. Her sophomore release, Let's Make Babies in the Woods (Manimal Vinyl), came out in January, nearly five years after 2006's Vidalia. The music is pensive and reflective in that carefully studied indie-artsy Phoenix way. – Melanie Haupt

Those Darlins

12mid, Swan Dive Tennessee country punkettes Those Darlins have all the right ingredients: lyrics about food and sex, an affinity for shit-startin', and an abiding love of the Carter Family and the Ramones. A new 7-inch featuring the song "Be Your Bro" (sample line: "I just wanna run and play in the dirt with you/You just wanna stick it in") will have to tide you over until sophomore LP Screws Get Loose drops at the end of this month. – Audra Schroeder

Boats

12mid, the Marq Sounding as if Nick Diamonds' Islands and John Ringhofer's Half-Handed Cloud spent the day at sea, Winnipeg's Boats row through waves of quirk-packed pop. Though their catchy, contorting sound would seem most familiarly anchored in Asthmatic Kitty's ports, it was Kill Rock Stars that jumped on the quintet's Cannonballs, Cannonballs. – Doug Freeman

Leatherbag

12mid, Velveeta Room The nom de plume of Houston transplant Randy Reynolds, Leatherbag is one of Austin's most eclectic young songwriters. Through a series of EPs and live performances, not to mention a gangly resemblance to Buddy Holly, Reynolds' dirty jangle and cogent melodies captured the ears of those looking for the next Elvis Costello or Paul Westerberg. A new full-length, Yellow TV, is expected later this year. – Jim Caligiuri

Retribution Gospel Choir

12:15am, Emo's Jr. What trio Retribution Gospel Choir lacks in church-fearing modesty it more than makes up for in melodic Sturm und Drang that pummels like a Minnesota winter. Sophomore effort 2 was released last year on Sub Pop with more sulfuric songcraft. Alan Sparhawk – whose other band, Low, returns this year – now fronts two acts for Robert Plant to cover. – Doug Freeman

My Education/Theta Naught

1am, the Hideout Austin's My Education and Utah's Theta Naught join forces for a showcase of spellbinding cinematic soundscapes in advance of a collaborative improv LP. 2010 was a banner year for both ensembles: My Education breathed new life into F.W. Murnau's silent classic Sunrise with its original score, while Theta Naught's scientific post-rock yielded the enthralling Omnium-Gatherum. – Greg Beets

Zoobombs

1am, Habana Bar Tokyo's Zoobombs started flailing appendages in hypnotic frenzies of funk-rock distortion in 1994. Guitarist/vocalist Don Matsuo holds sway like a mad prophet auctioneer, screaming gospel litanies like a hypercaffeinated Jon Spencer until psychic barriers turn to gelatinous ooze. The quartet's ear-splitting live show is something few sane bands would want to follow. – Greg Beets

The Strange Boys

1am, the Bat Bar The Strange Boys' slithering R&B rolled through the gutters of Austin's Red River behind 2009 debut And Girls Club (In the Red). With last year's follow-up, Be Brave, the local group brought the blaring sax and female harmonies of Mika Miko's Jenna Thornhill-DeWitt to bear, with Ryan Sambol torquing his slurry soul into rootsier territory. (Also: Sat., 10pm, Mohawk Patio) – Doug Freeman

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

1am, Beauty Bar/Palm Door Fifteen years into their odyssey of prog-punk demolition, Austin's ... Trail of Dead spiraled into its own universe with this year's conceptual behemoth Tao of the Dead. As driving as it is ambitious, and with Conrad Keely's artwork adding its own dimension, Tao transcends epic without being overwrought. – Doug Freeman


THURSDAY SLEEPERS

Hey Rosetta!

7:15pm, St. David's Historic Sanctuary This band of Newfoundlanders creates elaborate but totally earnest pop rock in the vein of New Orleans genre-benders MyNameIsJohnMichael ... or more overtly, Kings of Leon. Sigh. We hate to rely on forehead smackin' references, but if that's what it takes, we're willing to be perceived as obvious. – Kate X Messer

Simon Says No!

8pm, 512 A deadly guitar hook is all it takes to separate Simon Says No! from the pedal-happy pack of My Bloody Valentine aspirants. On "Solitary Rush," the Oslo, Norway, group fits MBV's warbling fuzz bath into an irresistible pop framework that's both familiar and unique. "Shiver" made the discerning playlist of the original British TV version of Skins. – Greg Beets

The New Mastersounds

8:30pm, ACL Live at the Moody Theater What few appreciate about the soul resurgence is that Europe is due as much credit as Brooklyn. Germany's Poets of Rhythm laid down vintage breakbeats before Desco begat Daptone, and the New Mastersounds are a branch of that Old World R&B tree. On sixth studio LP Ten Years On, the UK fourpiece melds Meters-inspired funk with modern soul-jazz. – Thomas Fawcett

Butcher Bear & Charlie

9pm, Mellow Johnny's Opposites clearly attract for Butcher Bear & Charlie. This duo pairs local beat wizard and Attack Formation leader Ben Webster (the one in the giant bear suit) with former Dallas Lyric Opera singer Maricela Mayo (Charlie). Depending on the mood, the two either churn out sultry electro-pop or chopped club bangers, and both get fair play on Carbomb, their debut EP, released on Webster's Insect Records. – Austin Powell

Las Robertas

9pm, Nuvola How many all-girl post-punk surf-fuzz bands from Costa Rica are there? How about one? Las Robertas is a trio of ambitious ladies, two of whom met via MySpace a few years ago. Their 2010 debut, Cry Out Loud (Art Fag Recordings), should be filed under Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls. – Melanie Haupt

Awesome Tapes from Africa

9pm, Momo's While not actually featuring any African bands from the titular mp3 blog, Brian Shimkovitz gives you the next best thing. The Brooklyn DJ/ethnomusicologist spent a year in Ghana studying hip-hop and has devoted much of his time since then acquiring and seeking out obscure African cassettes. He'll be spinning some of the best jams, from Senegalese hip-hop to Tanzanian psych. – Audra Schroeder

Noah & the Whale

9:30pm, Stubb's Noah & the Whale frontman Charlie Fink croons like Stephin Merritt meeting Lou Reed for drinks in a side-alley London pub. Lush but bittersweet, the UK quartet's third album, Last Night on Earth (Mercury), proves misery loves company. (Also: Fri., 9pm, Lustre Pearl) – Doug Freeman

Dan Brodie y Grieving Widows

10pm, the Velveeta Room Sometimes you wait decades for an international act to return. Brodie's 2002 Capital Australia disc with his Broken Arrows, Empty Arms Broken Hearts, prompted clobbering alt.country melodicism. With the Grieving Widows, the Melbourne roots rocker bashes even harder, this time with My Friend the Murderer. – Raoul Hernandez

Megafaun

10pm, Mohawk Patio Blame it on the mountains or the moonshine, but North Carolina has a way of breeding avant hillbillies, and Megafaun may be the most compelling group of them yet. The Durham trio brands cosmic California pop with rising harmonies bent by banjo licks, and they followed up the success of 2009's Gather, Form & Fly with last year's Heretofore (Hometapes). – Doug Freeman

Royal Thunder

10:15pm, Emo's Jr. Go ahead and let the label – metallurgists Relapse Records – fool you about this moody Atlanta trio fronted by bassist Miny Parsonz, whose "Sleeping Witch" vox finds the sweet spot between mature Runaways Joan Jett and Lita Ford. The label reissued the band's 2009 EP in December. – Raoul Hernandez

Muck & the Mires

10:15pm, Skinny's Ballroom In 2001, ex-Queers bassist Evan Shore cut some Merseyside-channeling demos and passed them off as the work of Muck & the Mires, a fictional "lost" 1960s band. A decade later, the Shore-led Boston quartet is one of garage rock's legitimate leading lights. Their last album, 2009's Kim Fowley-produced Hypnotic, hits like a top-notch barroom jukebox. – Greg Beets

Rayon Beach

10:20pm, Headhunters Featured on Gerard Cosloy's latest Red River sampler, Casual Victim Pile II (12XU), Rayon Beach scores high on any litmus test. The local trio's madcap psychedelia puts a grimy, Texas twist on early Pink Floyd, with descriptive song titles like "Wave Pool Ether" and "Jacuzzi Limo Explosion." The band's debut vinyl EP, The Memory Teeth, recently earned a second pressing from Hozac Records. – Austin Powell

The Lonely Forest

10:20pm, Maggie Mae's Rooftop This quartet of Anacortes, Wash., natives garnered attention last year following sophomore LP We Sing the Body Electric! by being chosen to inaugurate Chris Walla's new Trans imprint with an eponymous EP. This year they return with third full-length Arrows, delivering more driving, swirling Northwestern guitar anthems à la Built To Spill and Walla's own Death Cab for Cutie. – Doug Freeman

Kendel Carson & Chip Taylor

11pm, Paradise When the composer of "Wild Thing," Chip Taylor, pairs himself with a new talent, it's time to sit up. Kendel Carson's brand of Americana comes via her native Victoria, British Columbia, a homey, sexy style of Canadian roots music completely understood in the South and Southwest. Their debut, Alright Dynamite, says it all. – Margaret Moser

Adam Arcuragi & The Lupine Chorale Society

11pm, the Velveeta Room Adam Arcuragi has the goods to be one of this year's breakouts. Riding praise for his most recent recording, I Am Become Joy, Arcuragi drives his indie rock sound with elements of folk and blues. Plus, he's got Pat Spurgeon on the drums while Rogue Wave is on a brief hiatus. – Margaret Moser

The Rubber City Rebels

11:10pm, Skinny's Ballroom They claim Chapel Hill, N.C., as their turf these days instead of the self-named hometown that also spawned Devo, but the Rubber City Rebels still count. More than early survivors of a genre still venerated, RCR stayed busy touring and acquiring an international audience for their razor-sliced punk. The move has sharpened their sound. – Margaret Moser

Boy & Bear

12mid, Klub Krucial Like their stateside counterparts Fleet Foxes and UK brethren Mumford & Sons, Sydney quintet Boy & Bear specialize in a twangy amalgam of folk and chamber pop. The band, formed in 2009, signed with Universal that year and released its debut EP, With Emperor Antarctica, last year. (Also: Fri., 7:30pm, Billboard Bungalow @ Buffalo Billiards) – Melanie Haupt

Hector Ward & The Big Time

12:45am, Saxon Pub Being wheelchair-bound doesn't hinder Hector Ward from leading one of most dynamic new bands in Austin's musical universe. With his huge growl and a ninepiece horn-fueled ensemble, the Big Time utterly attacks an assortment of styles, from Southern soul to Latin pop. Their next effort, Sum of All, is due this spring. – Jim Caligiuri

Les Handclaps

1am, Spill A great party is always stocked with great essentials: Daft Punk, the B-52s, Gossip, Stereo Total, Blondie, the Ting Tings. Les Handclaps is hard-driving hard candy that keeps you throbbing until the sun pops and asks you what you want for breakfast. These Quebequacky Handclaps may be added to your list of party favors. – Kate X Messer

Human Eye

1:05am, Headhunters Detroit's proto-punk legacy is rebirthed as a squirming alien baby in Human Eye. Led by Timmy Vulgar, former frontman of Clone Defects, the group's synth/shred/sci-fi formula makes for a lose-your-mind good time, solidified on 2008's Fragments of the Universe Nurse. – Audra Schroeder

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