Operation Every Band’s SXSW Baby! Music Picks – 3 Weeks To Go
Kevin from Operation Every Band here. It’s a busy weekend of listening, but as always, I wanted to toss out the cream of the crop of SXSW artists this week for the Baby! crowd. Today I’ve got the blues/beat-boxing combo Heymoonshaker, space-pop rockers Highasakite, urgent Scottish rock band Honeyblood and a pair of indie crooners in Josef Salvat and Hozier. Schedule is out – get listening!
Heymoonshaker – “Ten Letter Word”
Pairs Well With…Jack White, Rahzel, Dub FX
At first glance, Heymoonshaker is a dirty blues, guitar/percussion duo that gives off an immediately grabbing sound – punk-infused roots as an outpouring of emotions. The later realization (admission: it took a few tracks tracks…) that those weren’t drums and percussive doo-daps. Heymoonshaker is grounded by beatboxer Dave Crowe, a remarkable musician with an impressive range and ten-out-of-ten live presence. Crowe’s skills are jaw dropping (check “Crowe Solo” from their debut Shakerism). The melodic half of Heymoonshaker comes from Andy Balcon, an equally impassioned performer in his own right, digging deep into the soul of Delta blues. Of course, the band labels Paris as their hometown, another twist from a band that is a completely unexpected breath of inventive air.
Highasakite – “Since Last Wednesday”
Pairs Well With…Beach House, Of Monsters and Men, Arcade Fire
Highasakite’s debut LP ended up being one of my favorites of 2013 (it was released a year earlier), so it’s exciting to spin the first single from their upcoming sophomore effort Silent Treatment. “Since Last Wednesday” is an uplifting, orchestral number, full of sound, percussion and a hopeful disposition. The build throughout the track is remarkable, moving from gripping guitar line to an explosion of an anthem. This band is criminally underrated for the level of music they are creating, so hopefully Silent Treatment proves to be a well-deserved breakout for this exciting indie pop band.
Honeyblood – “Bud”
Pairs Well With…Heartless Bastards, She & Him, Best Coast
Scottish newcomers Honeyblood, an electric female rock duo, deliver a nice mix of breezy, alt country-esque soundscapes along with aggressive, loose alternative rock. “Kissing on You” even digs into punk licks, a great tone for the band’s informally airy nature. An elastic passion guides Honeyblood’s sound, somehow keeping laid-back and urgent at the same time. It’s relatively lo fi, which should yield a raucous set especially given how Honeyblood is able to come up with so much sound with only four hands. Lastly, the vocals are immediately engaging, whimsical yet demanding. Honeyblood are relatively unknown in the States, so SXSW should be a storming introduction.
Josef Salvat – “Every Night”
Pairs Well With…James Blake, Gotye, Rhye
Quality over quantity: since coming out of the music woodwork about a year ago, Josef Salvat has produced just three tracks. While it’s hard to determine the true breadth of an artist on twelve minutes of music, there is definitely something to be said for Salvat’s delicate touch throughout “This Life”, “Hustler” and his latest, “Every Night”. At the heart of this music is soul, whether it’s through a breezy melody pulled from a Motown record (“Every Night”) or the starkness of an empty bedroom (“Hustler”). Combine that with synthesized waves of sonic majestry and a amazing vocal range from baritone to falsetto – you get to start to understand why Salvat should be an artist-to-watch in 2014. It’s amazing to see these artists who’ve grown up on Dr. Dre and Oasis at the same time (or even younger than that) and can let opposing forces blend seamlessly into something boldly new.
Hozier – “Take Me To Church”
Pairs Well With…James Vincent McMorrow, James Blake, Jeff Buckley
Hozier’s epic “Take Me To Church” has been buzzing for months now and it’s easy to figure out why. Seconds into the track, Irish singer-songwriter Hozier pulls off a sick vocal run over dark, shaded piano chords. It’s R&B from a singer-songwriter angle, roots from a sexy future. Hozier incorporates a lot of gospel into sound in unexpected ways, best shown in the stomping “Angel of Small Death & The Codeine Scene”. In fact, the three studio tracks on Hozier’s debut EP are coming from three very distinct places (add the soft folk ballad “Like Real People Do”), but the whole is grounded with Hozier’s weapon of a voice. Mostly soft-spoken, but able to wow with emotional melodies (I get a little Elton John in my ears), Hozier is the real deal and deserves the expected trajectory leading right through SXSW this year.