For those who don't subscribe to BPM or religiously read Pitchfork, the lineup is a bit overwhelming, but here are New Times's picks for best in show:
Fischerspooner's cheekily titled #1 was one of the big commercial disappointments of 2003, but the art-school-skinned duo of Casey Spooner and Warren Fischer was unfazed. The video for the single "Emerge" cut footage of a bloody-nosed, black-eyed Fischer with frames of Spooner encased in bondage wrapping, feathers, and tulle as a frighteningly beautiful black swan. It didn't exactly set TRL hearts aflutter, but it connected with the Nam June Paik crowd, and the follow-up film, backed by an eerie cover of Wire's "The 15th," channeled Stephen Malkmus as a cardiganed rent boy. This is an act best experienced three-dimensionally. A mashup of Matthew Barney's Cremaster Cycle and Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera, Fischerspooner's current live act, ostensibly in support of its new disc Odyssey, is a whirling electronic circus of costume changes, choreography, makeup, gender-bending, and electronica, and is not to be missed. -- Jean Carey
The Brazilian Girls' self-titled album was 2004's premium roast for the latte-swilling music intelligentsia contingent, but don't let that put you off. The foursome's unique combination of Euro-cool and steamy Latin and dancehall grooves, which organically developed during the band's residency at NYC's ultrahip pan-ethnic Nublu club, is guaranteed to get booties quaking as the band's sultry, multilingual songstress, Sabina Sciubba, leads you through choruses of "Pussy, pussy, pussy, marijuana...." What more could you ask for?
-- Nicole Powers
Not just another Eighties band on the money train, Belgian's Front 242 has consistently updated, reinvented, and reinforced the urban electro sound it pioneered. Discover from where the likes of Nine Inch Nails and Helmet got their industrial mojo during this rare Florida performance. Expect underground classics such as "Body to Body," "Im Rhythmus Bleiben," "First in First Out," "Moldavia," and the 1988 club anthem "Headhunter." -- Nicole Powers
Chicks on Speed
What began as a fake band in art school has evolved into a fully integrated media movement. Besides creating music, the Berlin-based trio of New Yorker Melissa Logan, Aussie Alex Murray-Leslie, and Munich-born Kiki Moorse designs fashion, runs a record label, and makes gallery art. The group's dynamic Will Save Us All (2000) was a wildly diverse debut, dripping in keyboard-and-drum-machine kitsch that included succulent covers of Grace Jones's "Warm Leatherette" and the B52s' "Give Me Back My Man." Enriched with feminist moxie cameos from techno budsters (Miss Kittin, Le Tigre, Peaches, Christian Vogel...) and a concurrent DIY book (It's a Project!) 2004's quirky 99 explored the alluring/revolting tension of consumer culture. COS's frenetic live spectacle, sure to induce electro-punk apoplexy, is a must-see. -- Kelly Shindler
The ultimate Situationist artist, Spain's José Padilla created music that evoked a shack-cum-bar-with-a-view on a small Mediterranean island called Ibiza. Lazy days born of hedonistic nights, balmy breezes, and lush sunsets blended together on Padilla's Café del Mar decks to define the chill-out sound of a generation. Count on Padilla's laid-back grooves to provide a welcome respite from the otherwise energetic sounds of the Bang! festival. -- Nicole Powers