Wednesday SXSW Picks


Matthew Logan Vasquez

Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

7:30pm, Stubb's
On his second Daptone Records LP, 2013's Victim of Love, Charles Bradley transcended the club of forgotten black soul men (Lee Fields) and women (Bettye LaVette) of the Seventies to crown contemporary old-school R&B. Florida native, the Screaming Eagle, 67, drops follow-up Changes on April 1, lead-off cover of Black Sabbath's title track no joke given Bradley's ubiquitous comparison to Otis Redding. – Raoul Hernandez

BoomBaptist

8pm, North Door
Austin resident and DJ/producer scene staple BoomBaptist (Andrew Thaggard) does his wonky hip-hop and bit-driven electronica with all the machines possible. At the heart of his projects and live performances lies a unique and upfront soulfulness, thickened with slick (sampled) vocals and earthy basslines. His catalog, including 2010's off-kilter/8-bit 28-track opus BoomBaptism Beat Tape and his Lost Files series, are criminally slept-on. – Kahron Spearman

Matthew Logan Vasquez

8:20pm, Bungalow
For the past decade, Matthew Logan Vasquez fronted Delta Spirit, which mixed indie rock and Americana to critical acclaim. Late last year, Vasquez, who grew up locally, released his solo debut, The Austin EP, followed this year by full-length provocateur Solicitor Returns. Rocks hard in spots, tender in others, it's among the Spirited singer's finest work. (Also: Sat., 11pm, Parish) – Jim Caligiuri

Chicano Batman

8:30pm, Stubb's
Penchant for frilly, powder-blue tuxedo shirts and a logo that fuses Batman's distress signal with the iconic aguila of Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers, L.A. quartet Chicano Batman was an unlikely hand-picked choice to tour with Jack White. Sophomore LP Cycles of Existential Rhyme charms with warbly, organ-baked psychedelia, acid-laced cumbia, and the off-kilter funk of stoned low-rider ballads. (Also: Sat., 1am, Maggie Mae's) – Thomas Fawcett

The Last Bandoleros

9pm, the Majestic
The Tex-Mex flag flies high in the hands of these San Antonio rockeros. Laced into the threesome's rock & roll is the native Tejano with which its members grew up, in particular bassist/singer Diego Navaira, son of Grammy-winning conjunto artist Emilio Navaira Jr. If Los Lobos worshipped the Beatles instead of the Grateful Dead, they'd sound like the Last Bandoleros. – Michael Toland

White Lung

9:45pm, Mohawk Indoor
Sans fanfare, pretense, and maybe even self-recognition, White Lung traces femme power from Sixties girls groups to Sleater-Kinney. As fine a journalist as songwriter, Mish Way's lyrical deadpan and barbs ride Kenneth William's circular-saw axe grind, while petite storm Anne-Marie Vassiliou powers exhilarating speed pop/punk like a turbine engine. Fourth album Paradise drops in May on Domino. – Raoul Hernandez

Flatbush Zombies

10pm, Austin Music Hall
Flatbush Zombies have laid a foundation over the course of two mixtapes and an EP that makes it easy to theorize about album debut LP 3001: A Laced Odyssey later this month. Rappers Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice, and MC/producer Erick Arc Elliott spit grimy, acid-inspired rhymes over throwback horrorcore production: "Triple 6 on my coffin, I dance with the devil/ Came back with a vengeance, Christ off the hinges." – Thomas Fawcett

Poliça

10pm, Banger's
Three full-lengths into their career, Minneapolis-born Poliça refuse to get comfortable. Confrontational new disc United Crushers retains the band's tension but is a departure thematically, overtly focused on the political rather than the personal, delving into the prickly American underbelly via the band's dark synth-pop. The combination of two live drummers and founder Channy Leaneagh's effects-distorted voice makes their sets peculiar and arresting. (Also: Thu., 11pm, Parish) – Libby Webster

Kelela

10:05pm, Mohawk Outdoor
Bursting on the scene in 2013 with the acclaimed Cut 4 Me, L.A. by way of D.C. singer Kelela recalled familiar aural markers juxtaposed against one another: Atlanta-specific quiet storm/trap-ish sounds and an Aaliyah-like vocal register. In 2015, Hallucinogen – an extended play of similar quality and sonic heft – enlisted darker-edged producers (and past co-conspirators) Kingdom, Acra, and Kendrick Lamar cohort DJ Dahi. – Kahron Spearman

Little Simz

10:10pm, Scoot Inn
"Woman or not, Simz the blood clot king," says a man with a Jamaican patois about arguably the best femcee of present day. She's capable of emotive, personal flows and nuance, yet she's equally proficient blacking out and revving up the engine. The 21-year-old North London rapper Simbi Ajikawo released a refined and focused concept album, one of 2015's best, as a defiant full-length debut, A Curious Tale of Trials + Persons. – Kahron Spearman

Twin Peaks

10:20pm, Bud Light Factory
2013 debut Sunken ushered in these Chicagoans as masterly rock revivalists. 2014's Wild Onion trailed, fleshing out the band's youthful indie-punk spin on classic genres. Forthcoming follow-up, May-slated Down in Heaven, previews "Walk to the One You Love," Sixties garage-pop that's jangly and neat, but sloppy in spirit. Next month, the South By vets return for Levitation. – Neph Basedow

Future

10:45pm, YouTube@Coppertank
Simply put, haters of the usually drugged-out sound be damned. Trap MC Future has become a living legend through prolific output, dedication to his Atlanta upbringing, and an uncanny ear for what pops. He released two of the biggest albums of 2015 in solo release DS2, and Drake collaboration/mixtape What a Time to Be Alive. Like clockwork, the rapper already came back this year with Evol, a fresher, less-foggy affair, still loaded with flashy brag trap. – Kahron Spearman

Fear of Men

11pm, Valhalla
England trio Fear of Men's slow-burn 2014 debut is appropriately titled Loom; its 14 effervescent tracks hover dreamy but never quite tangible. In the vein of Real Estate or early La Sera, Jessica Weiss layers her gentle croon on top of itself as songs with plucky guitar lines yield bright, clean indie-pop. New drum-heavy single "Island" just dropped. (Also: Fri., 11pm, Sidewinder Outside). – Libby Webster

David Wax Museum

11pm, Swan Dive
A wild ride precedes prolific multi-instrumentalists David Wax and Suz Slezak. The duo's colorful mix of Mexican and Appalachian folk with hip-beckoning hints of Afro-Caribbean rhythm is perfectly calibrated for big tent revivals. Six years after their breakout performance at Newport Folk Festival, Wax and Slezak have married and started a family. They embrace electricity and synthesizers to pleasantly tweezed effect on fifth LP Guesthouse. – Greg Beets

Givers

11pm, Clive Bar
The five ragin' Cajuns in Givers fully embrace elements of zydeco courtesy of Lafayette, La., their hometown, then dash it all into colorful ear-worm pop licks. They quietly released the follow-up to their 2011 debut in November, giving us a whole new chance to try and brand its sound. Island pop? Worldbeat? – Abby Johnston

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

11pm, Parish
Although these San Franciscans' third folk-pop LP We the Common experienced immense success upon its 2013 release, this month's follow-up, A Man Alive, arrives more beat- and bass-driven. Part of that loop-centricity can be attributed to Thao Nguyen's collaboration with Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus.– María Núñez

Baio

11pm, Banger's
Solo project of Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio, his eponymous vehicle allows the flexing of producer, DJ, and everything-in-between skills. On last fall's debut The Names, the New Yorker embellishes electronic backbeats with bass, his deep vocals, and dubsmart, techno melodies. Reminiscent of his ex-band's approaches, Baio manages electro rabbit holes all his own. – María Núñez

Neon Indian

11:15pm, Mohawk Outdoor
Monterrey, Mexico-born and Denton-bred, Alan Palomo lives locally, but splits time in Brooklyn. The nomad's danceable debut, 2009's Psychic Chasms, supplied quick hipster anthem "Deadbeat Summer." Washed Out meets old-school Nintendo, Era Extraña followed, and the 28-year-old's third LP, Vega Intl. Night School, trailed last October. The chill-wave singer presumably scores songwriting sensibility from his former Mexican pop star padre. – Neph Basedow

Leon Russell

11:30pm, Antone's
Last year, long-awaited Leon Russell documentary A Poem Is a Naked Person made its official premiere at SXSW Film after a 40-year wait. Now 73, the iconic Oklahoma songwriter doesn't move with the verve of the raucous young piano man in the film, but once the Rock & Roll HoFer sits behind the keys, Russell still unleashes a barrage of history marked on recent retrospective LP Life Journey. – Doug Freeman

Cody Chestnutt

12mid, the Majestic
Cody Chestnutt was supposed to be a superstar, in capital letters. The soul/rock/blues talisman found himself on the verge via 2002's self-recorded, 36-track, lo-fi standout The Headphone Masterpiece. The Atlantan actually got his start writing for Death Row before reaching the mainstream on the Roots' "The Seed (2.0)," a remake of his own track. The Marvin Gaye-like Landing on a Hundred landed in 2012.– Kahron Spearman

Adia Victoria

12mid, Parish
Raised in South Carolina, this promising Nashville songstress recharges well-trodden Southern folk and blues with arresting vocal presence, foreboding narratives, and full-bodied arrangements. The lilt in Victoria's voice and her strategic lyrical opacity allow tunes like "Dead Eyes" and "Stuck in the South" to convey distinct sensations without getting boxed in by specifics. Debut album Beyond the Bloodhounds arrives in May. – Greg Beets

Cocofunka

12mid, Sledge Hammer
Eclectic and energetic, Cocofunka has risen up the ranks of Costa Rica's most popular acts. The San José sextet cheerfully plays mix 'n' match dreamy rock, rubbery funk, skittering Latin music, and even reggae for a sound equally booty-shaking and headphones. The band's latest LP Chúcaro sets them up for international attention. – Michael Toland

Miike Snow

12mid, Banger's
Indietronica sensation Miike Snow make a big comeback after their 2009 self-titled debut charted the Swedes' ever-so-sticky "Animal." On their trek back up the charts, the trio ditches some of the electronics in favor of more funk-pop on iii, featuring the irresistibly dancey "Genghis Khan." – María Núñez

Big Thief

12mid, Sidewinder Inside
Fresh Saddle Creek contract in hand, Brooklyn's Big Thief finesses a debut due later this year. Lead-off single "Masterpiece" intimates grunge-lite guitars, lax percussion, plus flickers of folk. Adrianne Lenker prevails as frontwoman, the 25-year-old's style and lyrics wording idiosyncratic and tender, respectively. SXSW readies the quartet's tour with Londoners Yuck. – Neph Basedow

Ra Ra Riot

12mid, 3ten ACL Live
One of indie pop's original leaders of the pack, New Yorkers Ra Ra Riot switch their synth-heavy mannerisms for minimalist major-chord instrumentation and orchestrated choruses on their latest, Need Your Light. Rebecca Zeller's violin, Wes Miles' pop falsetto, and the rest of the group's syncopated grooves harmonize on juicy tunes that bring indie pop back into the mainstream. – María Núñez

Erykah Badu

12:40am, Mohawk Outside
Eighteen years after her classic neo-soul debut, Erykah Badu penned a brilliant phone-themed mixtape that saw Lo Down Loretta Brown reconnect with parenting partner Andre 3000, flip Drake's "Hotline Bling" on its head, and drop the perfect pick-up line for our narcissistic attention-deficient world: "I can make you put your phone down, leave it at the crib guarantee you wouldn't miss it." – Thomas Fawcett

Rooney

1am, Soho Lounge
Their name a nod to hard-luck principal Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Smith) in John Hughes hit Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this L.A. pop quintet's laid low since 2010 LP Eureka. Fronted by Jason Schwartzman's brother and fellow actor Robert, the group's currently recording new material, with teaser single "Come on, Baby" dropping last month. Come Wednesday, the one-time Strokes and Weezer openers debut a fresh lineup. – Neph Basedow

Quiet Company

1am, Palm Door on Sabine
Quiet Company hauling off an armload of trophies at the Austin Music Awards for 2011's fourth LP We Are All Where We Belong made for a Santana/Grammys moment and established the local troupe as local headliners. That year's Chronicle cover act stomped lyrical rock like no less than Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, frontman Taylor Muse then a tortured literate. Last year's Trangressor ceded angst for pop exuberance. – Raoul Hernandez

Shannon & The Clams

1am, Barracuda Backyard
Centered on the husky vocals and bass work of Hunx & His Punx member Shannon Shaw, these Clams drop demented sock-hop rock à la Ed Wood's never-lensed worst film. Fragments of Fifties rock, Sixties girl groups, and Seventies punk rock blend the Shangri-Las, 13th Floor Elevators, Jimmy Clanton, Dusty Springfield, and the Ramones. They're both innocent and pornographically sexy. – Tim Stegall

Still Corners

1am, Central Presbyterian Church
Signed to Sub Pop, Still Corners is the collaboration of songwriter Greg Hughes and singer Tessa Murray. The Londoners' sophomore album, 2013's Strange Pleasures, offered dreamy electronica frequenting TV shows like Gossip Girl and You're the Worst. New cut "Horses at Night" adds dark, Gary Numan-esque synth atop their established dream-pop. – Neph Basedow

AlunaGeorge

1am, Hype Hotel
Vocalist Aluna Francis and producer George Reid – English electronic/future-pop duo – got a global introduction through Disclosure's "White Noise." Other collaborations ride the line between the über famous (Skrillex) and indie darlings (DJ Snake) as the pair readies second full-length I Remember for April release. Lead single "I'm in Control" taps Beyoncé levels of empowerment and danceability. – Abby Johnston & Kahron Spearman

The Big Pink

1am, Lucille
Epic, sprawling soundscapes and darkly romantic lyrics have been this London quartet's stock in trade for going on a decade. Early masterpieces of lovelorn malaise, "Dominos" and "Velvet" showcased the twin vocal prowess of Mary Charteris and Robbie Furze, and their new EP Empire Underground (4AD) continues to layer on the band's glistening night passions with ultra-sexy panache. – Marc Savlov

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

2016 Picks, SXSW Music 2016

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