Breaking & Entering

A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the Gotan Project, Garage A Trois, and Howie Day.

A look at the latest acts that are breaking at radio and retail and entering the Billboard charts.

SAY YEAH: Art-punk trio the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has been caught in a maelstrom of hype in recent years. The success of fellow New Yorkers the Strokes made young garage rockers all the rage, and in the wake of this excitement, the media pegged the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as future stars. The group anticipated a backlash. "It's our time to be hated," lead singer Karen O quipped on the group's self-titled debut EP, released in 2001 on Chicago-based indie Touch & Go.

That has not been the case. Not yet, anyway. The EP went on to sell more than 31,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs became darlings of the U.K. press, scoring cover features on multiple publications there.

The Yeah, Yeah, YeahsWith its minimalist guitars, manic rhythms, and Karen O's attention-grabbing yelps, yells, and moans, the band became a must-see live act on the underground rock circuit. Club gigs on the East Coast routinely sold out, and audiences left drenched in booze, as Karen O insisted on spitting beer as she screamed her vocals.

The trio recorded its first full-length, "Fever to Tell," last year. After months of major-label courting, Interscope snared the band and finally released the set two weeks ago. It arrived on The Billboard 200 at an impressive No. 67, giving the group its first appearance on any of Billboard's tallies. In its first week, U.S. sales fell just short of 15,000 units.

A major North American tour last year supporting the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion got fans talking about the new songs, and as early as March, the band was peddling a vinyl edition of "Fever to Tell" at its shows. The set was widely available on peer-to-peer networks prior to its official release, but the online availability seems only to have strengthened the band's buzz. With a video for "Date With the Night" in heavy-rotation on MTV2, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have taken a giant first step in transcending the album's pre-release hype.


The Gotan ProjectGO-GO GOTAN!: The Gotan Project takes the sultry sounds of Argentine dance and transfers them to a chic Paris nightclub. Debut album "La Revancha del Tango" is an elegant mix of organic South American rhythms and European electronica, and is finally available in the U.S. after being released overseas two years ago.

The Paris-based trio has a respectable reputation for creating jazzy, sensual beats that are equally fit for a romantic dinner or an upscale fashion show. Using graceful tango rhythms as a starting point, the Gotan Project injects the songs with subtle dub and house textures, and puts the emphasis on melody. The album's "Triptico" became an international dance hit as the song's enticing accordion, coy acoustics, and accessible groove brought tango to the masses.

"La Revancha del Tango" has been released by a handful of independent labels since 2000, and has sold more than 10,000 units in the U.S. as an import. The album has found a stable stateside home with XL Recordings, and its official U.S. release three weeks ago saw it land at No. 22 on Billboard's Top Electronic Albums tally. The album was up to No. 19 last week.


Garage A TroisOUT OF THE GARAGE: The members of funky jam band Garage A Trois are no strangers to the jazz community. Drummer Stanton Moore is the anchor of groovy fusion act Galactic, saxophonist Skerik hails from Seattle experimentalist act Critters Buggin', and eight-string guitar whiz Charlie Hunter is a minor celebrity in the contemporary jazz world. Recent addition Mike Dillon, who brings percussive depth to the four-piece, also performed with Critters Buggin'.

Garage A Trois' debut album, "Emphasizer," was released three weeks ago, and arrived at No. 11 on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums tally. Last week, the set dipped to No. 15. The Tone-Cool/Artemis CD is enhanced with video footage, and features clips of the album's recording sessions in New Orleans.

The future of Garage A Trois rests on the group's ability to appeal to both jazz and rock fans. Galactic is a regular on the jam band circuit, and has been known to cover Black Sabbath. Critters Buggin' recorded for Seattle's Loosegroove, the label founded by Pearl Jam's Stone Gossard. And Charlie Hunter's expansive guitar work taps into funk, blues, and Cuban influences, all with a fluidity that keeps Garage A Trois' neo-hippie following shaking in its sandals.

Elsewhere on the jazz chart, Galactic's "Vintage Reserve" (Volcano) rests at No. 24, and "Right Now Move" (Ropadope/Atlantic), from the Charlie Hunter Quintet, is at No. 17 in its sixth week on the tally.


Howie DayHAPPY DAY: Singer/songwriter Howie Day has gone from Boston coffeehouses to The Billboard 200 in a span of three years. His debut album, "Australia," was released in 2000 on indie label Daze, but critical accolades and comparisons to Jeff Buckley inspired Epic Records to sign Day and re-release the album last year. To date, it has racked up U.S. sales of 102,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Australia" went as high as No. 18 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart, and tour dates with the likes of Tori Amos and David Gray helped expand Day's fanbase. The album's single, "Sorry So Sorry," recently made it into MTV's rotation.

To tide fans over until Day releases his sophomore effort, Epic just put out "{The Madrigals E.P.}." The five-song set became Day's first release to reach The Billboard 200, piercing the chart last week at No. 135.

"{The Madrigals E.P.}" features a pair of newly recorded acoustic demos, one remix, and two live cuts, but the real appeal is a bonus DVD. The video footage includes more than 30 minutes of a performance last December at New York's Bowery Ballroom. Day is planning to head into the studio this month to record his second album.