Austin bands to watch in 2014.
By Sam Jackson
As the Oh Hello’s, Maggie and Tyler Heath initially recorded their music with only a few band members. But when it came time to put together their touring group, they seemingly cast out a dragnet and pulled all the unemployed musicians of San Marcos in to one powerhouse ensemble. The group is armed with a backing band that covers every conceivable instrument, from fiddle to banjo—even accordion—plus well-crafted folk songs and incredible vocal and guitar harmonies that call to mind the yearning of Willie Nelson mixed with the hipster spirit of Sufjan Stevens.
The sibling duo built up a major cult following, partially through word-of-mouth and some songs featured on TV, but also where it really counts for bands from Austin: live shows and on the road. During the summer of last year, they embarked on a well-received national tour to promote their debut album, Through The Deep Dark Valley, capped with two sold-out nights at Stubb’s. They’ll soon be returning to the road, gracing Houston’s Free Press Festival in May and the legendary Newport Folk Festival in July. Considering just how spirited and fun their live shows can be, it’s safe to say neither festival knows what’s going to hit them.
For more information, visit theohhellos.com.
In less than five years after forming in 2009, Not In The Face has turned in to one of Austin’s premier rock bands. And the whole project jumped off from a simple bit of attempted musical humor: making old school doo-wop songs that got a Pulp Fiction-style injection of rock ’n’ roll. From then on, the group landed a showcasing spot in South By Southwest that got them on bills touring the United States with the likes of ZZ Top and Black Lips before finally releasing the album Bikini in 2011, a record of supercharged ditties with fuzzed-out guitars and the bluesy soul singing of frontman Rick Fashion, aka Jonathan Terrell. All that work has given them some unique local treasure status throughout Austin.
Last year, the group joined the extensive lineup at Austin City Limits, and the year before that, they released the excellent Walk EP. This year looks to brighten up the group’s fortunes further since they just finished recording with legendary rock producer Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Alice Cooper, KISS), and they’re making a return to SXSW with several shows. In the meantime, you can check out their new self-titled EP that they dropped last December.
For more information, go to notinthefacerocks.com.
An America’s Got Talent audition isn’t exactly cause for inspiration most of the time. But when you’re Andrew De Leon, and you force the judges and the audience in to a standing ovation with a killer rendition of O Mio Babbino Caro, and then reveal you’re self-taught and that was your first live performance ever given, you can practically hear somebody writing a screenplay for a feel-good movie.
Obviously, De Leon made it to the America’s Got Talent main stage, and became so popular that after he was cut, the fans grandfathered him back in. While this didn’t result in a final victory, it enabled him to return back home to Austin with a strong fan base and some real-world experience. In September of last year, he parlayed this in to his debut album, Black Lights, an impressive mix of opera standards and genre-bending songs that mix electronic beats, symphonic flourishes and distorted guitars, combinations unheard anywhere else in the mainstream or the underground. He also released a Christmas EP, and is looking to put out his second album, which is as yet untitled, in 2014. Here’s to hoping he finally does some touring as well this year.
For more information, visit andrewleodeleon.com.