El Oso

"The biggest surprises come from the smallest armies," sings El Oso front man Jim Hanke on "Country Radio," one of several insightful cuts on the band's complicated but catchy debut. The Milwaukee quintet channels diverse influences such as the Minutemen and (prime) Buffalo Tom into a heady, driving and demanding brew of new rock. Odd and affecting, tracks like "Mt. Iceburg" and "Tonight's Now Tomorrow" present a band adept at juggling divergent personalities and styles while keeping a keen eye on the final product. Refreshingly, it's all about the songs--and they're damn good.

Hanke gets special credit for distinguishing himself as a recognizable (and powerful) voice among the grand anonymity of today's vocalists. Neither aping Eddie Vedder nor Jack White, he and the rest of El Oso create music that is challenging and approachable, a rare combination at a time when most seem content to gravitate to one side or the other.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers