Alabama Shakes, Electric Brixton, review
04 May 2012
“Come on, Brittany!” is the cry that galvanises the room, coming from the stage not the audience. Brittany Howard’s soulful holler to herself inspires everyone present to join in, exhorting 1,700 people to tell her to “ho-o-o-o-o-ld on!” On this evidence, the 23-year-old rip-roaring, foot-stomping, soul-baring talisman of the hottest band on the planet is holding on just fine.
Alabama Shakes are experiencing one of those meteoric rises that takes the music business by surprise yet seems paradoxically inevitable, when everyone suddenly agrees that something is utterly fantastic, usually because it is.
Last year, they were just a rumour on hipster blogs, slogging around the American circuit. This year, their debut album is top ten on both sides of the Atlantic,
read more via Telegraph.
18 Mar 2012
It is impossible to really describe the chaotic, cacophonic spirit of South By Southwest (SXSW), the music business festival in Austin Texas. Thousands of bands, singer-songwriters, hip-hop crews dreaming of pop stardom colonise every car lot, bar, tattoo parlour and vacant space in the city to ply their wares for managers, record companies, agents, PRS, hustlers, journalists and fans, all searching for that something special, pop’s holy grail, the very future of music.
Bruce Springsteen, visiting for the first time, described it as “a teenage music junkie’s wet dream.” A man once himself heralded as rock and roll’s future declared his amazement at being in “a town with ten thousand bands. Back in ’64 when I picked up a the guitar it would have seemed an insane pipe dream. There wouldn’t be enough guitars to go around. We’d have to be sharing.”
Springsteen delivered the festival’s keynote speech, an inspiring address aimed at encouraging a new generation to reach for the highest artistic levels. Later that night, he put his own advice into action, with a masterclass in performance that may well be the greatest show this festival has ever seen. His expanding 17-piece line up of the E Street Band brought out the folk, gospel, funk, soul and blues roots of his trademark epic rock. Listening to Springsteen is like hearing the beating heart of of America.
While established stars like Norah Jones, Keane and The Shins use the festival to showcase new material, the emphasis is on the up-and-coming. This is the place where a buzz begins that can be heard through the whole music world. Pick of the festival, for me and many others, were Minneapolis quartet Polica. Featuring two drummers and a high-powered bassist, they sound like the future: understated, ethereal space age pop that explodes into furious groove, all brought into focus by the effects laden vocals and mesmerising moves of frontwoman Channy Leaneagh. With the poised, self-contained beauty of a young Jean Seberg, her understated yet electrifying sensuality is set to make her the new hipster pin up.