ACL Fest Preview: Suckers and Henry Butler - Brainy Bicoastal Indie-Pop vs. Earthy New Orleans Gospel R&B

Suckers: Rocks Off is going to avoid making a rather obvious joke here, but don't look for us front and center at the XBox 360 stage Sunday morning either. To us, the four-piece sounds pretty much like every other echo-laden Brooklyn art-pop band who probably records (and lives) in a deconsecrated church or abandoned foundry - Yeasayer's Anand Wilder produced this year's self-titled debut EP - but then, those sorts of groups don't exactly take up a whole lot of gigs on our iPod. Rocks Off recommends Suckers try a little less multi-tracking, a little more songwriting, but that's probably why we don't tackle a lot of writing assignments for Pitchfork. We will give them credit for scheduling a Houston date - October 1 at Mango's with Titus Andronicus and the So So Glos - on their way to the festival, though. (11:45 a.m. Sunday, October 4, XBox 360 stage.)

(Yes, it's long, but stick with it... skip ahead to about 6:50 if you really want to see him cook.)
Henry Butler:

Every year when the ACL talent buyers are looking to offset all that brainy bicoastal indie-rock with some bona fide Gulf Coast regionalism, they always seem to overlook Houston in favor of New Orleans. Rocks Off would like to see Little Joe Washington tear up an ACL PA system just once before we die (or he does), but it's hard to complain too much when they scoop up talents like Henry Butler. Blind since birth and endorsed by no less than Dr. John himself, Butler - who turned 50 Monday - fits squarely in the Crescent City piano tradition of Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint, blending ragtime, jazz, blues, funk, R&B and gospel into something that will always get your toes tapping, spirits soaring and just might save your soul in the process.

(4 p.m. Saturday, October 2, The Wildflower Center stage.)

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