The overall number of Houston artists performing at SXSW may be a little down compared to the past few years — for official showcases, anyway; many, many more will be playing various parties and pirate events around Austin next week — but when it comes to sheer talent, this may be the best crop we've ever sent. Not a single one of the following artists — about half of the total; apologies to those we couldn't squeeze in — is at all easy to pigeonhole into one existing genre, but they're all chomping at the bit to show Austin and the rest of the world what a weird, wild, wonderful scene we've got going on down here these days. C.G.
Balaclavas: Balaclavas' freezing post-punk will give anyone who thinks Ian Curtis is still dead the heebie-jeebies; the trio is that close to vintage Joy Division. Last year's Inferno concealed oceans of white-hot anger in its minimalist soundscapes. C.G.
B L A C K I E: La Porte native B L A C K I E is a one-man noise maven. His live sets are sweaty chest-rattling rituals with homemade speakers and his own harsh beats served as communion. Last year's Wilderness of North America is a screamy, menacing slice of life and death in the Chemical City, not to mention a helluva way to start a recording career. C.H.
South by Southwest 2009
Future Blondes: Strange as shit and ridiculously innovative, the metallic and divisive Future Blondes are another outgrowth of noise legends Rusted Shut. FB can be best described as New Order being beaten with a cat-o-nine-tails in a Berlin dungeon while Ian Curtis hangs himself in the corner. It doesn't hurt that Tyler Morris from Balaclavas handles live tape manipulations, only adding to FBs' cool cachet. C.H.
Roy Head: Author of "Treat Her Right," one of the signature blue-eyed soul songs of the '60s — from Texas or anywhere else — Roy Head continues doing just that with his audiences. And even in his sixties, his hyperkinetic performances can wear you out just watching them. C.G.
The Homopolice: Continuing Houston's time-honored noise tradition (Richard Ramirez, Rusted Shut) with a heavy dose of fetish imagery and a handful of homoerotic "Tom of Finland" prints under each leather-encased arm, The Homopolice have been wrecking the ears and minds of Houston for close to a year now. Remember: Only Noise Is Real. C.H.
Solange Knowles: Understandably, Solange Knowles has a chip on her shoulder about being known as "Beyoncé's younger sister" — just ask the Arizona morning-show news crew that saw her walk off the set after they asked her about it. (Better yet, don't.) Luckily, last year's Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams is a quirky, fun hybrid of pop, R&B and dance that leaves little chance she'll be typecast as a clone of her big sis. Put a ring on that. C.G.
Brett Koshkin: Armed with a crate of dusty 45s, DJ Brett Koshkin began spinning hot slabs of soul and R&B around Houston just a few years back. He currently holds down the first Saturday of each month at Boondocks with his own "Dirty Honey" night, and he can be seen playing all that sweet baby-making music at parties all around Texas. C.H.
News on the March: One of Houston's most buzzworthy local bands of the past 12 months, News on the March wasted no time in vaulting straight to the top of the local roots-pop scene. Its EP Glory Be!, combining sunny California harmonies and down-home Texas twang, is hopefully only a tantalizing hint of what's to come. C.G.
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Rusted Shut: We're running out of new adjectives to describe Rusted Shut's avalanche of noise, so old favorites "face-melting" and "ear-bleeding" will have to suffice. Besides, Don Walsh's infrequently appearing crew's cacophony is so unique, at this point it's more descriptive to call other bands that send fainthearted folks streaming for the exits "Rusted Shut-like." C.G.
The Tontons: Imagine if Billie Holiday and the Mars Volta somehow teamed up in the musical ether and started a band. That's how we describe the Tontons to folks who haven't experienced these kids' live show. Fiery lead singer Asli Omar sings like a woman scorned, and the Martinez brothers and guitarist Tom Nguyen play behind her with an almost scary virtuosity. C.H.
Tre9: Not many rappers espouse the joys of driving busted Honda Civics and living for Christ, but that's been Tre9's modus operandi for over ten years. The devout Christian just dropped The Farmer LP, which features Lil' Keke and Big Pokey on a remix of the single "Suburbs." He tours overseas regularly and even owns his own production company — pretty slick for a married white guy who reps area 'burbs like Copperfield and Pearland like Biggie used to rep Brooklyn. C.H.
Your Mistake: Named after a song off of Agnostic Front's seminal Cause for Alarm album, Your Mistake has been throwing down for Houston hardcore kids since 2001. After a few failed breakups over the years, they are now booked to play a showcase in Austin with fellow Houstonians the Jonbenét and Iron Age. C.H.