One of the unsung heroes of SXSW for me is friend of The Baby! Kevin McStravick. Operation Every Band is a fantastic site, and of course helps to create the long list we use to make the SXSW Baby! Sampler. So I’m glad to see people picking up on Kevin’s work. Here’s the Houston Press on the ‘why?’ his mad idea:
I’ve always been the “music guy” amongst my circle of friends and wanted to find a way to spread my wings a bit. I discovered SXSW my first year in Texas in 2009, but was completely overwhelmed and ended just bouncing around catching random bands. It was wonderful, but I learned that coming in with a plan helped. The next year, I took the task of building my own spreadsheet of ratings to catch the best of the best and plan out what showcases I wanted to hit up.
Telling folks “I listened to all of them” yielded some dropped jaws and I knew I was onto something. Leading up to last year’s SXSW, I made my first Tumblr account and just started writing. A year later, I feel like I have a second full-time job!
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…
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