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OEB’s Music Picks of the Week – 1/24/12

Hello SXSW Babies!  This is Kevin from over at Operation Every Band and I’m joining the SXSW Baby! team with my weekly SXSW Music recommendations.  My site has been reviewing every band that is playing SXSW (yep, that’s over 2000 artists over three months) and I’ll be highlighting the cream of the crop here at The Baby.

For some, SXSW is about networking and promotion, but for me it is all about the music. SXSW gives music fanatics a chance to build their own personal festival in any and all genres, making it the greatest yearly music experience on the globe.  To get a continuous stream of our reviews for the next few months, make sure to follow Operation Every Band on Tumblr, Twitter or Facebook.  Your new favorite band is lining up showcases and day parties as you’re reading this, so get in the know now.

For SXSW Baby!, I’ll be highlighting the acts alphabetically.  Here are the top picks for A-C:

Alabama Shakes – “You Ain’t Alone” (live)

In terms of band discovery, it doesn’t get more exciting than this.  Halfway through “Hold On”, the first track on Alabama Shakes’ debut LP released a few months back, I had the band pegged as a solid southern rock outfit with a good grasp on funky grooves.  The song draws as much from garage rock as Delta blues with just enough pop sensibility to pull it all together.  Then came the second track, “I Found You”, where the listener is truly invited into the home of frontwoman Brittany Howard, one of the most soulful voices to enter the music scene in recent years.  She’s that good.  There is so much emotion that bleeds off her mic during the 60’s pop inspired track that it sets the “like” meter all the way to 10.  The band is certainly at their best when they dig into Otis Redding style R&B grooves highlighting Howard’s vocal brilliance, but it’s the duality between rock and soul the band creates that really makes me excited for Alabama Shakes.  They’ve rippled into the music scene in recent months and have set themselves up for a booming introduction to the indie music world in 2012.  Best of all, the videos out on the web show a band putting their all out on the stage while playing live.  I’m convinced this band is something special and will be sure to be among many SXSW’ers highlights come March.

See more from Bliss N Eso, Cosmo Jarvis, Breton and Chappo after the break…

Bliss N Eso <- “Coastal Kids”

Australian rapper duo Bliss and Eso are a cross continental pair, MC Bliss spent his childhood in the states and met MC Eso at school in Sydney. The group is great for fans that may not listen to a ton of International hip hop. Bliss’ flow doesn’t sound out of place with many popular acts in American indie, or whatever you call it, hip hop and the beats are heavily influenced by 90’s hip hop. The group’s material has matured with each album and their newest, “Running on Air”, peaked at #1 on the ARIA charts and went Platinum in Australia and featured RZA and Xzibit.


Cosmo Jarvis – “Sure As Hell Not Jesus”

Since I first heard Cosmo Jarvis a few days ago, I haven’t been able to draw myself away from his music.  He reminds me of Ween, one of my favorite bands, in the way he hops from genre to genre while maintaining focus on strong and unique songwriting.  There’s a sense of humor that resides through Jarvis’ music expressed through his thoughtful and engaging storytelling.  Songs consistently crack the six-minute barrier with ever changing verses and musical deviations that keep my interest throughout.  Whether it is the tender folk love story of “Gay Pirates”, the self-reflection that is “Is the World Strange or Am I Strange?” or the garage punk/reggae hybrid “My Day”, Jarvis shows a depth unlike any act preceding him on the SXSW bill.  He’s truly an exciting new artist who has already built a decent fanbase overseas.  Do yourself a favor and get through a few songs instead of just one track to get a grasp of Jarvis’ music.  It pays off in spades once you get the angle this highly creative artist is coming from.


Breton – “December”

This multi-piece band gets it.  Breton lurks in the shadows of drizzly nights.  Their sound echoes off the moon back down to Earth.  The band imports music from London with possible influences from Ratatat and Massive Attack.  Don’t get caught up in who they may or may not sound like.  The point is, these boys have a knack for anthems that get under your skin in that uncomfortable, give me some more, sort of way.  Breton has produced enough music to provide listeners with tunes ranging from thumpy jive tracks to worn-thread couch loungers.  So many producers have the guts to release their stuff online.  Thing is, few understand how to present a full, warm, harmonic package of those sounds.  Breton gets it.  Drum beats keep their tracks on pace, modulated guitars drive tracks forward, and the distressed male vocals get us to chant along with the tunes.  One quarrel I have is with a few instance of abrupt, choppy bleeps and bloops—distractions from the otherwise grand presentation.  Beyond that minor complaint, I say, go on, Breton, and continue your good work.  Check out Breton’s “December” for a taste.


Chappo – “Come Home”

Brooklyn’s Chappo is kind of all over the place and that’s a good thing.  From the slick, hipster pop of “Come Home” (yep, you recognize this from the iPod commercial) to the psychedelic, hard rock riffs of “Space Shoes”, you get a little bit of, well, everything in just five songs with Chappo’s 2010 EP Plastique Universe.  There’s a “don’t give an f” attitude that comes across on record.  The thing is, all the genres they dip into, Chappo always finds a way to find a groove.  I hear a little Ween in their music, but with more of a focus on indie pop.  These experimenters show a ton of potential, so I’m curious what they’ll have up their sleeves for 2012.  For some reason I could see this band crafting a hit record and not even realize it until it breaks.  Keep an eye out for Chappo, indeed.

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