The 2013 Riverfront Times Music Showcase is this weekend! Think of it as St. Louis music's own official holiday and consider this the season. Throughout May we at RFT Music have been working hard to make our cases for all 130 bands and artists nominated for an RFT Music Award this year in 26 categories. Read on and get yourself acquainted, and we'll see you at the showcase (check out this post for the full schedule)!
Led by the husband-and-wife team of Sunyatta and Kevin McDermott, CaveofswordS has garnered attention for the past year or so for its elegant, chilly minimal synth sound. Silverwalks, the duo's debut CD, was full of goth-tinged vocals, droning loops and trip-hoppy rhythms. One could imagine the McDermotts contributing to a This Mortal Coil record in the 1980s, or perhaps opening for Portishead in the 1990s. On their Skillwavers remix CD, the McDermotts draw from a variety of like-minded local friends, including Ou Où, Spectator and Adult Fur. The pair plans to spend the next few months recording a second album, so be sure to catch one of the few live shows they'll have time for this summer. -Mike Appelstein
Middle Class Fashion
Middle Class Fashion has spent most of 2013 recording and mixing Jungle, the band's second CD. Judging from what we've heard at live shows and through a couple of rough mixes, it promises to be a worthy successor to 2012's Girl Talk, with plenty of rich, piano-based songs that hit a sweet spot between Elvis Costello and Ben Folds Five. On tracks like "Stuck" and "Kingdoms," lead singer/pianist Jenn Malzone sings about awkwardness and unwanted situations in a way that's simultaneously cutting and sympathetic, complete with a heavy dose of self-aware humor and irony. There may not be a local band that seems happier or more excited to be onstage, so do not miss. -Mike Appelstein
The Blind Eyes
At this point in its career, the Blind Eyes has locked into a good consistency. The quartet continues to churn out song after song of pop-rock gold with hooks that stick. It is especially skilled at finding that sweet mid-tempo, swinging groove that you can actually dance to. The quick and dirty Strokes-with-Sinatra-singing descriptor remains fairly accurate, but it doesn't do justice to the depth of the group's arrangements, nor Andy White's bitchin' soloing, which cuts more loose and "wild" than either Strokes guitarist would. And Sinatra would never display the vulnerability that Seth Porter does in his songs, which often hide relatable themes of heartbreak and pain underneath his jubilant music. Based on what we've heard live, Blind Eyes' upcoming EP will sound familiar — the good kind of familiar, like a favorite shirt. Never change, Blind Eyes. -Bob McMahon
Justin Johnson and Sarah Ross understand the value of simplicity. Jump Starts proves this via the duo's stripped-down setup, lovely harmonies and catchy songs that need no more chords than you can count on one hand. Johnson brings the same lyrical directness and clean acoustic-guitar folk-pop strumming to Jump Starts that he does to Pretty Little Empire, but he comes off more carefree here. Ross propels this lighter mood with straightforward drumming on a kit loaded with fun knickknacks: maracas, splash and Chinese cymbals. The simplified approach lets the strong songwriting and engaging performances shine through with clarity. Jump Starts is lots of fun and the perfect pick-me-up for any fan who has accidentally overdosed on overwrought music. -Bob McMahon
Tight Pants Syndrome
Unlike, well, tight pants, power pop never goes out of style — in part because it was never really in style in the first place. It inhabits its own alternate universe of chiming guitars and yearning harmonies. Here in St. Louis, Tight Pants Syndrome has kept the power-pop flame burning brightly for years now. On its newest release, the four-song All Alive EP, the band provides lethal doses of catchy melodies, harmonized hooks and reverb-laden guitar licks. Fans of the first few New Pornographers albums should find much to admire here. If four songs ain't enough for you, sit tight: A full-length CD is expected later in 2013. -Mike Appelstein
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