The 2012 Riverfront Times Music Showcase is two weeks away. And if that is our own St. Louis Music holiday, then consider this the season: Throughout May, we've been making our cases for all 125 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year, introducing the nominees from one or more of our 25 categories. For each artist you will find a photo, a streaming track to sample and a few words from the staff at RFT Music.
The Blind Eyes On the surface, it doesn't look like much has changed since we named Blind Eyes the best new band of 2008. The mod rockers still fit oddly shaped chords together to make gorgeous pop melodies. Guitarist Seth Porter still croons like a humble Rat Pack member, and bassist Kevin Schneider has retained his garage-rock bark. The band still sounds like it's having a blast whether it's unleashing a torrent of eighth-notes la the Strokes or laying down an easy swinging groove that you can swill your cocktail to. But the Blind Eyes has shown tremendous growth since its already impressive debut. Its new songs are catchier, its performances are tighter and its new lyrics cut deeper. And now that Andy White has joined as a second guitarist, Blind Eyes now has an electrifying soloist that can flesh out its material. It's only getting better with the Blind Eyes. --Bob McMahon
Bo and the Locomotive Don't judge a book by its cover, and don't judge an album by its title. If you picked up On My Way, the debut LP from Bo & the Locomotive, you'd be forgiven if the title had you fearing some navel-gazing introspection. (And really, the naked-lady swimmers on the cover should have been your first clue that another kind of navel-gazing was awaiting you.) Bo Bulawsky channeled years spent as a sideman and hours of bedroom recordings into his debut, and it sounds as fully formed and purposeful as the most seasoned bandleaders. He favors the hazy depths of reverb, and that obfuscation smears his words but makes the cumulative effect of his songs crash like muddy waves around your ears. Bo & the Locomotive is a band built from simple parts but constructed with an architect's vision. --Christian Schaeffer
Humdrum Humdrum hasn't skipped a beat since guitarist Gareth Schumacher left the mercurial Midwest weather for the sun-glazed coasts of California. It has been recording an album with Steve Albini and mixing it with Jay Pellicci at San Francisco's Tiny Telephone studios. Aside from polishing that, its third LP, the band is still an active live presence in St. Louis. Its second album, The Arrangement, is as loopy as a space cadet. The band can bounce from cloying piano parts and guitar riffs ("Reproduce") akin to the Hush Sound to sincere ("Hello Hello Hello") in two tracks' time. Dan Meehan's voice has the thin echo of a penny dropped on marble. Its tinlike sound is sharp, pleasant and achingly sweet. Bill Streeter's Lo-Fi Saint Louis series recently recorded a video for "I'll Find You." Stripped of galactic noises, the band becomes tender and all the more terrestrial. --Blair Stiles
Old Lights That we've yet to hear much more music from Old Lights since the 2011 release of the sparkling, accomplished Like Strangers ten-inch owes largely to leading light David Beeman's in-demand, diverse talents. As a producer and engineer at Native Sound studio and a member of synth-pop group Nee, Beeman seems to be as interested in contributing to his peers' music as he is in further illuminating his own via Old Lights. With a wiry voice that recalls Eric D. Johnson of the Fruit Bats, a thirst for melody that suggests Elvis Costello at his poppiest and a band that can rock, skip and stroll through the post-Fleetwood Mac landscape, Beeman may be taking his time with Old Lights, but whatever comes next will be essential listening. --Roy Kasten
Sleepy Kitty Where would we be without chemistry? Stuck in the primordial ooze, that's where Ñ or worse, in the black nothing out of which something, once upon a big bang, exploded. Sleepy Kitty, the duo of Paige Brubeck and Evan Sult, get chemistry; the sound that bursts from their drums, guitar and Brubeck's impassioned vocals, sometimes further catalyzed with looping effects and keyboards, has the force of an elemental reaction. Sleepy Kitty's noisy pop and noisier blues fuse with a cool and unpretentious style until the wildness of punk and post-punk becomes artful and tuneful and free as rock & roll should be. --Roy Kasten