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Visqueen: A Ferocious Song Of Devotion

Every weekday from March 8 to March 19, Song of the Day will showcase a track by an artist playing the South by Southwest music festival. For NPR Music's full coverage of SXSW — complete with full-length concerts, studio sessions, blogs, Twitter feeds, video and more — click here. And don't miss our continuous six-and-a-half-hour playlist, The Austin 100, which features much more of the best music the festival has to offer.

Seattle's Visqueen has long felt like a closely guarded regional secret, in part because singer Rachel Flotard spent the past few years caring for her terminally ill father. After his death, Flotard took time to regroup, do some overseas aid work, start her own record label and release a wonderfully ferocious new album, Message to Garcia.

Flotard's charismatic stage presence and fiery vocals have helped her pick up supporting roles with Neko Case and Jon Rauhouse, but she dominates the spotlight on Message to Garcia. The crunchy, urgent power-pop of "Hand Me Down" opens the album on a particularly auspicious note, as crunchy guitars and Flotard's incomparable voice simultaneously destroy and mesmerize. As its title suggests, "Hand Me Down" — like Message to Garcia and the enormously promising career that spawned it — is rooted in a singular bond that spans generations. As long as it keeps getting passed on in rock songs this fun and familiar, that bond will never fade.

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This story originally ran on Nov. 6, 2009.

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Barbara Mitchell