Kevin’s Operation “A Few Bands Every Week”
Happy New Years, SXSW Baby‘ers!
Each week, I’ll be sharing a few top shelf picks for SXSW Baby! as well as sharing general insight on the project itself. To kick things off, it is worth mentioning that the overall quality of the acts so far for 2013 is by far the best it has ever been. I imagine the cuts have gotten tougher with the growing importance of SXSW for burgeoning artists, but it just makes the Conference that much more special for everyone given the opportunity to perform.
We rate on a scale of one to ten at Operation Every Band, and consistently there are more bands worth mentioning (those that score ‘five’ or above) than not. We’re about ten weeks away from SXSW, so get your listening in early by following OEB at Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook or the old fashioned way for multi-day posts up until the conference.
And if that’s too much music in your busy life, we’ll bring you the weekly highlights here on The Baby!
Every once in a while, I’ll listen to a SXSW band and am flabbergasted that they haven’t ‘broken out’ yet. Conveyor’s debut LP was quietly released this summer and it’s one of the strongest front-to-back listens I’ve heard this year. Conveyor are risk takers, jumping in head first into all sorts of different styles. Their execution is precise and impressively complex. Rhythms, melodies and electronic flourishes journey in the most unexpected ways. Conveyor define pop in a similar fashion as Dirty Projectors, taking familiar tones such as Beach Boys harmonies, jumpy handclaps, gentle folk melodies, but use them all in ways that surprise and inspire. I hope this track leads listeners to the full record to experience one of my favorite new acts this year. Conveyor are a must-listen.
Jamie N Commons
Upon first hearing Jamie N Commons, it really is hard not to be drawn into the sincerity embedded within his vocal tone. There is a grittiness that sounds as if Commons is about to break into tears, years of toiled experience in every note. The only catch is that Commons is in his early twenties. Commons’ English take on American blues is unique, drawing in traditional influences from his homeland as well. The whole package is full of soul, be it a gentle folk ballad of a funky R&B number. It seems like Commons has gained a little steam in the UK over 2012 based just off a four-song EP, so US audiences will get a great introduction at next year’s SXSW. This could definitely be one to watch.
I know I’m only a few days in, but a listen to Cave Painting’s debut LP Votive Life has me genuinely excited about a new discovery for the first time this go around. Pastoral harmonies, driving rock and meditative electronic pop all converge throughout the album, creating a unique sound that somehow comes across as welcomingly familiar. The three-track run of “Leaf”, “Gator” and “So Calm” are such a strong statement for a burgeoning band. For pop songwriters, Cave Painting have an incredible amount of depth to their music, building waves of atmosphere over perfect little melodies. All of that is combined with frontman Adam Kane’s airy vocals, really excelling when Kane spends time patiently in his upper register. Cave Painting have built a decent following in their native UK, setting up for a US introduction at next year’s SXSW.
Buck 65 has been active in indie hip hop for 20 plus years and over that time his style has evolved from Hip Hop minimalism to a sound that layers electronic, folk, and rock elements. He’s been compared to Tom Waits and the comparison fits in the regard that with every album he brings something new to his style and develops as an artist. On his newest album, 20 Odd Years, he often raps in his familiar spoken blues style flow though the album is more musically melodic than his dissonant sounding earlier albums. Buck is currently mixing songs for his upcoming album so expect at least a few new tracks at SXSW.
Syd Arthur (a band, not a person) pulls off an incredibly mature sound on their debut LP On an On. The most impressive aspect of Syd Arthur’s music is the complexity found throughout every track, from the dark, jazzy melodies of “Dorothy” to the tense orchestral plucking of “First Difference”. Their rhythm section is willing to explore all sorts of territory. Seriously, don’t just stop at one track with Syd Arthur. The sonic interplay between the music and brooding vocals is pretty much perfect throughout the record. This is a great new discovery because Syd Arthur is really exploring new territory and this is just the beginning for the young quartet.
We’ll have more next week from Kevin and his team next week, or you can head over to Operation Every Band.