Coming out of post-Katrina New Orleans, The Honorable South does its city proud by honoring the Big Easy’s tradition of melding different styles of music to create a sound that is distinctly New Orleans. The five member band plays a blend of Rock & Roll with electric soul, but aren’t afraid to explore the genres of electro-funk, blues, and hip-hop. First formed in 2008, the band consists of Ms. (vocals), Matthew Rosenbeck (guitar), Jamal Batiste (percussion) Jarred Savwoir (bass) and Danny Kartel (guitar, production). They released their first EP Dirty In The Light in 2009 which had elements of electro-rock meets jazzy soul. The Honorable South is touring in 2012 in support of their most recent record, I Love My Tribe.
New Orleans is one of the most eclectic cities in the United States—where else is it normal to walk down a Parisian-style street, sipping on a rum-heavy Hurricane cocktail, while passing by voodoo shops that are situated next to peep shows? Perhaps inspired by their surroundings, NOLA's The Honorable South also mix things that don't naturally fit together. In their case, the quintet stirs together elements of soul, rock, electro, and hip hop into a musical concoction for the adventurous palate. Take the song “Last Time,” from their 2009 debut EP Dirty In The Light. The first half of the song is an experimental fusion of electro and hip hop, with lead singer Charm Taylor (who goes by the stage name Ms.) sounding almost like an American, female version of UK hip hop artist Ghostpoet. Then, a hard rock guitar riff creeps into the song like fog rolling through a swampy bayou. While Dirty In The Light showcases The Honorable South's more experimental side, their 2012 debut album I Love My Tribe is more accessible. Combining upbeat guitar riffs with persistent handclaps, alongside Taylor's fierce vocals, “Beast” sounds like the musical lovechild of Cee Lo Green and The Noisettes' Shingai Shoniwa. Taylor plays with stretching one-syllable words like “beast” into three-syllable vocalizations, as if trying to mimic the howl of the very same beast she's singing about (“Said there's a beast among us/A beast among us!”). Landing closer to the soul/R&B end of The Honorable South's music spectrum is “Gong A.D.” Taylor's tone is pure, unfiltered sass as she sings lines like, “I've got no time for your guilty-eyed stares/Got better things I can do with my life/I think I'll paint my nails.” When you think you might have a grasp on The Honorable South's sound, they go and pull out songs like “Summertime.” It seems to honor (no pun intended) the jazz roots of their native New Orleans. Touches of a saxophone sound like it could have been recorded from a lone musician playing underneath a flickering gaslight, the notes fading into empty, cobblestoned streets. Just when you're lulled into a mellower mood, The Honorable South ramps it up with heavy bass, guitars, and drums, as Taylor gives a languishing cry of, “And I'll be everything you need for your summer!” By breaking through so many genre constraints, The Honorable South are a band that commands attention, and deservedly so.