T Bird & the Breaks

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by John Anderson

T Bird & the Breaks

Momo's, Friday, March 20

National Public Radio has established itself as an indie tastemaker, a reputation brought to fruition this year with its blowout Wednesday night Stubb's showcase and virtual nonstop championing of the Decemberists. The hype machine extends locally as well, with Austin's KUT helping break new bands. T Bird & the Breaks are among the latest local playlist highlights, with their recent debut, Learn About It, laying out soul grooves smooth enough for the All Things Considered set but cut with a youthful grit worthy of indie admiration. Kicking off the Austin frequency's showcase and live radio broadcast, T Bird broke hard with the wicked bassline and horn blast of "Stand Up" to open. A trio of female backup singers shadowing frontman Tim Crane's suave shuffle and strut through "Take Time" before "Esmerelda" jumped the funk and set the crowd dancing. While the band has yet to carve its own originality into classic R&B grooves, few new soul shouters flare with such tight retro precision and infectious abandon. The crowd's singing along to "Blackberry Brandy" proved that there's something that speaks to the spirit of South by Southwest in Crane's growling chorus: "I know I should be looking for a job, but it sounds too much like work to me."

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