MOCK ON: Howdy folks! Welcome to this week's Soundbites. Our man with his ears to the ground and a Budweiser to his mouth, Stephen Seigel, is getting in gratis to many-a-venue at this year's SXSW (that's the South-By-Southwest music festival, for those of you keeping score at home) in good old Austin, Texas. As such, I've been asked to fill in and keep all of you avid SB readers (and dudes pretending to read this while sneaking glances at that cute girl across from them at Epic Café) up to date on all the music goings-on this week. So, without any further ado, let's take it to the stage, shall we?

A SORT OF HOMECOMING: Legend has it that longtime musical collaborators Mat Brooke and Jenn Ghetto left our friendly confines a few years back for the Great Northwest Territory of Seattle, but made a navigation error and ended up in the quaint little town of Olympia, Wash. Why? To get the word out about their band, Carissa's Wierd, of course. Since then, they've made it up to Seattle and put out some critically acclaimed material. Their latest, Songs About Leaving (an ode to Tucson and Olympia?) has even been called "The No. 1 Local Music Highlight of 2002" by the Seattle Times, as well as "One of the Top 5 Indie Albums of 2002" by Slate. Damn, heavy props for such a soft (and quiet) sound. CW could be compared to Low, Belle and Sebastian and Elliot Smith (i.e. "sadcore"), if those are sounds you dig. And if they are, then check them out. If you do, find out who this Carissa is, and what makes her so darn wierd. Personally, I think it's weird that Mat has one "t" and Jenn has two "n"s, and that they pull the old switcheroo with the "i" and "e," but that's just me.

Also on the bill, and sharing this tour with CW, is fellow-Seattle band The Prom. As their Web page states, "Guys with pianos are the new guys with guitars." And rock the piano they do, but in an emo sorta way. And, for what it's worth, their new record Under the Same Stars doesn't turn my stomach like most emo bands do, such as Death Cab For Cutie, whom they've toured with, incidentally.

Rounding out the show is Long Winters. I'm gonna assume they're from the same neck of the woods (pun intended) as the two aforementioned bands, but who knows? All I can say is that a recent review of their new record likened it to Bowie, Neil Young and Califone. But, in order to find out, you'll have to drag your tired ass outta bed to get to the Solar Culture Gallery, 31 E. Toole Ave., at 9 p.m. Thursday, March 20. It's $6 to get in, which comes out to $2 per band if you're gonna get all econo about it. Call 884-0874 for details.

COLOR ME BAD: I don't know what's going on in North Arlington, N.J., but it sure ain't the new millennium, that's for sure! I didn't listen to the radio in the early '90s for a reason (still don't, actually), namely Matchbox 20 and all the other mid-tempo rockin' ballads that permeated the airwaves. But, whatever. If you're into that sorta thing, then surely check out a quartet of grown men calling themselves The Crayons, who ask the question What Color Are You? (the name of their new CD). And that reminds me, why don't bands put question marks at the end of song/album titles that are in the form of a question? It really makes me boil! So I suppose The Crayons got that going for them. Anyway, get down to Plush, 340 E. Sixth St., Thursday, March 20, and find out if you're a red, blue, green, taupe or mauve. Call 798-1298 for more info.

WHAT HATH PHOENIX WROUGHT? It is said that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. I took this into consideration when I saw Pawn Shop Porno's three-ring binder of promotional material and actually listened to this Phoenix band's new CDEP Window Shopping (conveniently velcroed to the inside cover of aforementioned binder). The verdict: No amount of glossy photos, business cards, band member biographies (on "official" Pawn Shop Porno stationary, no less) and song explanations can sell a band's CD if that CD contains songs such as Small World, which is as blatant a rip-off of Smells Like Teen Spirit as one can get without just covering the song. Furthermore, Pumpkin Patch finds the singer doing his best to sound like the singer in the Offspring over metal-driven guitar chords. Sorry guys, but as A Tribe Called Quest once said, "You're gettin' E for effort and T for nice try." Pawn Shop Porno rock the Vaudeville Cabaret, 110 E. Congress St., this Sunday, March 23. Call 622-3535 for the showtime. Who knows, maybe they'll have fancy lighting or something.

BOOTY CALL! Oakland, Calif.'s The Lovemakers make a stop this week to promote their debut self-titled recording on their own Weird-Eye Records. As the name might suggest, there's plenty o' sex going on here, but with an '80s synth-pop twist. Describing themselves as Depeche Mode rearending My Bloody Valentine (ouch!), they incorporate violin and laptop into the drum machines, synthesizers and vibrators (!) that come off sounding a bit like Book of Love. Or, as the Seattle Tablet puts it, "like Blonde Redhead making sex with a typewriter before blasting off on a saucer with Herbie Hancock." (Double ouch!) One thing's for sure here: It sounds like you better go check out The Lovemakers for yourself when they get it on at Sharks, 256 E. Congress St., this Saturday, March 22. Call 791-9869 for showtime, and don't forget to bring protection.

FROM SMALL THINGS, BIG THINGS ONE DAY COME: When his punk/country band the smalls broke up just over a year ago, Corb Lund hung out in Austin to summon his country roots that he had since his ranching days growing up in rural southern Alberta, Canada. The pilgrimage to the live music mecca worked and soon Corb (on vocals and guitar), upright bassist Kurt Ciesla and drummer Ryan Vikedal (of Nickelback fame) made a pilgrimage to Nashville to record much of what appears on the Corb Lund Band's debut album Five Dollar Bill. In the spirit of honky-tonk recordings by greats such as Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker, the Corb Lund Band incorporates the story-telling style of Johnny Cash on the 13 original songs that make up FDB. Considering what a huge mountain of dung the contemporary country music scene has become, the Corb Lund Band should be nothing short of a breath of fresh air for fans of the real thing and those who enjoy genuine singer/songwriters. The CLB appear on Sunday, March 23, at Club Congress, 311 E. Congress St. Call 622-8848 for more info.

SWEET RELEASE: Tucson's own Cathy Rivers will be performing the songs from her latest CD Bleached at her official CD release party. Noting influences from the Harry Chapin and Willie Nelson end of the spectrum all the way to the punk energy of Nirvana and Social Distortion, Rivers is certainly no rookie to the game. She's been recording in bands since the sweet age of 16, and fortunately there seems no end in sight. Her songs are culled from interests such as "electric guitars, liquor, men and trouble," according to a recent interview posted on her website,

Take this golden opportunity to help Rivers, along with a backing band that features Eric Heywood of Son Volt and Richard Buckner fame, at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, March 26, at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Rodeo Queen will hit the stage followed by Jason Steed, Teddy Morgan and Rivers. Call 798-1298 for more info.