Picked to Click 2013: #8. Southwire
#8. Southwire: 43 points
Southwire have emerged out of the fertile music scene in Duluth with a blend of plaintive folk and a vibrant backbeat rooted in hip-hop. Songs that were born modestly around the elegiac strains of frontwoman Jerree Small's piano blossomed in the studio under the deft, gritty touch of Crew Jones bandmates Sean Elmquist and Ben Larson. Along with bassist Matt Mobley, the group gives the gospel-tinged numbers a stylish, pulsating rhythm.
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Originally a side project, Southwire truly began to blossom once it got the members' full attention, and they set their sights on the concert stages in the Twin Cities area and beyond. In a live setting, Small's soaring, weathered vocals mix elegantly with Larson's gravelly spoken word, and the band's rhythmic churn swells far beyond the diminutive, piano-laden studio versions of this year's self-titled debut.
"It's been a good test to see how the songs live outside of a familiar environment," Small explains. "I think it's made our songs stronger and tighter. Playing more regularly has also allowed us to relax more and let the songs change and expand with the mood of each show."
That exploratory nature within the music of Southwire is due to the different band members searching for new ways to express themselves. So the shift from hip-hop to a Southern spiritual type of folk music for Elmquist and Larson is less drastic than it seems.
"After doing hip-hop for six or seven years, you're naturally searching for different kinds of music," explains drummer/producer Elmquist. "And for us, that meant getting into the music that forms the underpinings of rap music, the history of it -- which led us towards the deeper roots of American music, which includes folk music. And we began exploring actually playing that type of music."