The Soul Rebels could not be more aptly named. Formed in the '90s, the band originated within the New Orleans brass-band scene. Lumar LeBlanc and Derrick Moss gathered jazz musicians from around New Orleans to create a sound based in soul and specific performance styles, but with the capacity to evolve. The result rebels against the rules of soul while paying homage to the genre.
Katie Herzig was born and raised in Colorado. While attending CU in 1997, she and three friends formed the band Newcomers Home which quickly took the state and country by storm. After five albums and nine years of national touring, the band dispersed, each pursuing a solo career.
Laura Gibson's new album, La Grande, is built around a surprising musical contrast: Her hushed voice remains as quiet as ever, but her songs are louder and more complex. Although simplicity and lack of volume characterize Gibson's earlier work, her music today feels bigger without sacrificing intimacy: It meditates on mortality, carrying a weight of seriousness without being heavy. It's dark, but dispensed with a light touch.
It's true that you can still get by in rock 'n' roll on the strength of a unique voice. But it helps if said voice has something interesting to work with.
On the first three records by Heartless Bastards, that wasn't always the case. The Mountain, from 2008, had some terrific songs about a breakup, and a few that got bogged down in a rut. But on the band's latest release, Arrow, every song has a powerful, almost magnetic melody.