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Some more musical highlights from OEB from SXSW Music 2012

Operation Every Band is currently ahead of schedule, so the completion date looks to be March 1st, which should allow some extra time for some extra SXSW goodies, and let us concentrating on hooking up our donators with the OEB SXSW 2013 Gift Box (with our personal schedule grids).

It’ll be an extremely heavy schedule on the site until then, so stay tuned for an avalanche of new artist recommendations. With over half the expected 2000 bands reviewed, there have been some more trends that have worked their way to the forefront.  One of which this year is that I expect to see more artists trying to meld organic and electronic instrumentation into a single, coherent sound. From Flunk to Connor Youngblood to Indians, there’s something new at work here that should open up all sorts of musical opportunities.

In fact, it has gotten to a point that new pop music is expected to be complex and even challenging, best displayed by acts like Gotye and fun. breaking out last year.  Rarely are the great artists of 2013 throwing back to the past, rather they are trying to build their own niche to exist in the future.

And now, our recommendations this week cover the musical spectrum, from the dark, electronic grooves of Ms Mr to stunning beauty of Luke Sital-Singh.

Jonathan Boulet

Jonathan Boulet had big stages in mind when he put together 2012’s We Keep The Beat, Found The Sound, See The Need, Start The Heart. The epic title reflects perfectly on Boulet’s music, an over-the-top exploration of harmonies and percussion. In fact, the percussive elements may be the strongest element of the record, pulling influence from Latin, African and blues rhythms all to great success. While the elements could be deemed experimental in nature, put together Boulet has created a series of excellent pop songs. All in all, Boulet’s music is consistently engaging and danceable, setting the stage for an excellent set that I’m sure we’ll hear about after SXSW.

Kim Janssen

‘Minimal’ and ‘orchestral’ are normally two words that couldn’t be paired together, but Janssen accomplishes this hybrid throughout his excellent sophomore record Ancient Crime. I started at track one and couldn’t press stop until the epic choral finale (seriously, the way “Blythe Farjeon Choir” builds is outstanding). Janssen is adventurous and tender, progressive and classical. Overall, this record is stunningly gorgeous. Whatever room Janssen sublets at SXSW will surely be one of the most silent crowds of the conference (fingers crossed for a church set, obviously). Janssen really proves his strength on the quiet folk interludes throughout the record, which stand up right up against the orchestral works powered by Janssen’s subtle and smoky vocal delivery. Janssen has yet to really break out of his native Netherlands, so this trip to Austin could prove a valuable step in his career if the crowds are as mesmerized as I have been for the past forty minutes. I just hope that he brings as many musicians along as he can find on the trip…

Little Green Cars

Little Green Cars’ debut single “The John Wayne” is a killer track. Soaring harmonies, pounding percussion and building choruses all erupt into a musical statement right out of the gate. This is what Mumford & Sons could sound like if they plugged in their guitars and is a great evolution for such a burgeoning scene right now. The great thing with Little Green Cars is that just digging into “The John Wayne” doesn’t nearly show the scope of this band’s potential. A full KEXP performance from this year’s CMJ conference displays those other sides of the band, from the instrument-less wonder of “Red” to the jangly acoustic blues of “Harper Lee”. Their debut album is set to drop early next year and could be a big deal if this sound excites others the same way it has me for the past half-hour.

Luke Sital-Singh

There’s a moment in Luke Sital-Singh’s heart-wrenching track “Fail for You” when the young singer-songwriter sounds like he’s about to erupt. After minutes of harmonic bliss that sound like an outcropping of Bon Iver’s latest record, Sital-Singh’s voice builds with maximum tension, only to hold back at the last moment, like sucking in a breathe as you just avoid making a huge mistake. Moments like these throughout Sital-Singh’s debut EP Fail for You makes me feel that he will be an important name in burgeoning English folk movement next year. With minimal accompaniment, Luke Sital-Singh has moved me as much as any other artist through this project, purely on the unique, honest and patient tone of his voice. Do yourself a favor and spend twenty minutes with Fail For You and let the world drip away.

Ms Mr

For a pop introduction, Ms Mr’s four-song EP Candy Bar Creep Show displays more grey than sunshine. Drama, fear and confidence all take turns throughout the NYC duo’s debut. The standout here is the vocal work of Lizzy Plapinger. Her tone falls somewhere between Florence Welch and Polica, both in volume and inflection. It makes those big runs that much more powerful after taking most of a track from a perspective of restraint. Musically, the starting point is minimal electronic pop, but Ms Mr add all sorts of aural flourishes, from the snaps and harmonies of “Dark Doo Wop” and the sweeping strings of breakout track “Hurricane”. Even if Ms Mr don’t have a full-length in store for 2013 (news is scarce from their camp), expect a crowded showcase as these four excellent tracks gain traction on their own.

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