Wow, kindreds. We’ve come full circle. It’s been a year since I launched this blog (which I lovingly refer to as my “musical diary”) with my Favorite Finds of 2011. I hope you’ve spent some time with that list; there’s some SERIOUS talent on it. Every single band that entranced me in 2011 has continued to play a big role in my listening this year. In fact, discovering *new* bands this year was somewhat hampered because I’m still obsessed with the music that last year’s favorites are making. I know you can’t have too much of a good thing (in theory) but when it comes to music, I have to pace myself. I want to get to know a song, an album, in it’s entirety. I listen with devotion until I’ve sucked every last morsel of goodness from it — until it stops speaking to me. Only then can I move on. It’s a time consuming process. When too many good bands cross my path at once, I get overwhelmed. As strange as this may sound, it often causes me to stop listening. It’s too much pressure. I will give up on discovery and settle back in with an old friend, a band who has already earned a place in my heart. As Greg Laswell says, It Comes and Goes in Waves. And it always does. Feast or famine, my friends. 2011 was a FEAST of new music, and 2012 I felt a bit starved. That’s not to say I didn’t stumble across some AMAZING talent this year. I just found myself digging harder. Trust me, I still have a sensational list for you. These truly are the highlights of my 2012 new discoveries.
FYI — These are in no way numbered to rank their significance. They are ALL equally excellent. Also, this is not a “best of 2012” list. A lot of incredible albums were released this year, but I won’t go into that. These are simply my most cherished “finds” over the past 12-14 months. Cheers!
I can’t say enough about Midi Matilda. I’ve been accused more than once of only liking melancholic music, or music that some claim is “too deep” for the average Joe to comprehend. While yes, I’m a sucker for a sad song and I appreciate anything with lyrical depth that makes me think, I also positively adore feel good music. This is where the likes of Midi Matilda come in. They craft highly infectious electro-pop tunes. If they aren’t on your radar, get your head out of the sand! These fellas are on a rapid rise.
I think Love & the Movies may be my FAVORITE music video of the year.
Previously shared with commentary: HERE.
MY NAME IS YOU
Oh man. Where do I begin? Darling, I crave you. I can’t get enough of you. These are the opening lyrics from My Name is You’s song Everything That. This sentiment explains exactly how I feel about this band. Their EP release show was at The Hotel Cafe in December of last year and I snagged their glorious 6-song piece of art on iTunes shortly after. I’ve had the whole year to get sick of this album, but that’s not gonna happen. I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for these guys. I’m most anxious for a full length album and I WILL catch them live. They played SxSW on the day I had to fly home, and I had tickets to see them this summer in Aspen, but circumstances out of my control landed me 200+ miles away and I was unable to make the show. 😦
Listen and love, dear friends. Listen and love.
THE DAYDREAM CLUB
The best descriptor for The Daydream Club’s music lies in their name itself. They make music that is positively DREAMY. Folk, jazz, and pop influences combined with lush melodies, flawless harmonies, and thoughtful lyrics reminiscent of poetry in motion — their sound is almost too perfect. Put it all together and the result is an infectious, kaleidoscopic, aural explosion of beauty. Adam Pickering and Paula Walker are a musical match made in heaven.
I’ve written more, and shared my favorite song of theirs: HERE.
“I want to make this clear, I couldn’t care less. I prefer tea to beer. Maybe I’m square?”
I confess, this song makes me giddy like a girl. There they go speaking my heart again. 🙂 I have so much love for this band!
I don’t think it’s often that a band masters both “simple” and “majestic”. Foreign Fields does exactly that. Their music leaves me in a reflective state, causing me to feel reminiscent… reminiscent for something that I can’t quite put my finger on it. Déjà vu like. When I sat with the album and regarded the feelings that washed over me, I found myself meditating on an awakening that was occurring in my soul. I realized the unnamed, reminiscent longing was eluding me due to familiarity. I was looking for a profound truth, expecting an epiphany (yeah, I ask a lot of my music), and it was right in front of my face. HOME. Foreign Fields’ music makes me think of home. Safe. Warm. Loving. Steadfast.
I was slow seeing the light when it came to Tyler Lyle. I bemoaned this fact in a post I wrote a few months ago. He came highly recommended to me, by more than one reputable source, a few times last year. But my ears and heart were not in sync, and I gave him no more than an, Ah yes, that was nice, nod. I have since repented my wayward ways and I am now vehemently declaring him to be one of the finest singer-songwriters of our time.
And the one I find myself craving insatiably — also shared with commentary HERE.
I love how small the musical community is. I’m constantly meeting kindred spirits through the musicians I love. On a few occasions, after having established a friendship with one of these kindreds, it’s been discovered how close we came to meeting at various points in the past. We were at the same concerts, or we’ll find we actually know many of the same people and have been circling each other for years. I also love watching various musical entities meet and collaborate, or just become good friends. I’ve been instrumental in a few spectacular meetings. 😉 Similarly, I’ll stumble across a NEW band and find that it’s the current project of someone I’ve followed in years past. This was the case with Jamestown Revival. At the beginning of 2012 I assisted with weeding through entries for a summer music festival, among these entries was Jamestown Revival. This process of listening, and then putting bands in “YES”, “NO”, “MAYBE” categories was exhausting. There were days I thought my ears were going to bleed or stop working all together out of stubborn rebellion, but then came the sweet, sweet, southern harmonies of Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance. I can’t even put into words how CLEANSING it was to hear their music after some of the stuff I’d been sampling. Anyway, imagine my surprise when I looked into who made up this “Jamestown Revival” and found the name of a long lost singer-songwriter (Jonathan Clay) whose stuff I used to follow back in the Myspace days! I wrote some prettier words about these guys over HERE and I shared a few different songs in that post, as well.
And this one? This was filmed in Seattle, and while I did not take the video, I was in the room. It was a mind-blowing night. These fellas are incredible live.
THE OH HELLO’S
In actuality, The Oh Hello’s were a 2011 “find”, but they just squeaked in at the end of the year. I’ve spent the whole year getting cozy with their self-titled EP, and at the end of October they released their debut full-length album, Through the Deep, Dark Valley. Hooly spectacular goodness, I can’t sing the praises of this brother and sister duo loudly enough. I did an interview with them over a month ago and you can check that out HERE (my two very favorite songs of theirs are included with this post, too). I also wrote a piece on them for a magazine that I occasionally freelance for. Please forgive me for keeping this short, it’s just that I’m out of words to describe how truly phenomenal this band is. Do the homework and see for yourself. All their music is available for streaming and name-your-price download RIGHT HERE. Get it.
When I think of Bastille I immediately get flooded with adjectives: haunting, beautiful, melodic, stunning, climactic, ethereal, gripping, soothing, harmonious… and many more. They all come crashing down on me within the space of one song. Bastille is the kind of band whose music makes me FEEL things. Awake, alive, renewed. Confused, concerned, fearful. Curious, excited, intrigued. Peaceful, confident, hopeful. See what I mean? I can’t stop the words. Listen for yourself. What descriptive term comes to mind for you? These fellas are blazing trails across the UK. I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for US tour dates.
My word for this one: Powerful
And this one: Reverent — I also featured this song: HERE.
TO KILL A KING
I stumbled upon To Kill a King through Youtube and an incredible series called “Ralph’s Balcony”. I was looking for some live videos of We Were Evergreen — and found a collaboration between them and To Kill a King by happy accident. I exhausted all twenty “Ralph’s Balcony” episodes, which were filmed from January of this year up to the series final in September. I lost days (weeks?) turning the inter-webs inside out to hear everything ever made by To Kill a King. Their debut album will be out in a few months (Feb 24th, if you’d care to get it on your calendar), and these guys are everywhere. I love their energy and their propensity for musical collaborations. As you may know, I’m a sucker for camaraderie and collaboration! You don’t need me to convince you. Press play. To Kill a King will captivate and intrigue you while imprinting their stories, their melodies, on your heart. Spend an hour with them and you’ll wonder how you were ever satisfied with your musical catalog before they came along.
My original post on this one can be found: HERE.
I’m a wee compulsive (who me? yes, me) and this song has been on repeat.
It was over a year ago when I first heard Imagine Dragons, but somehow they got overlooked. I was probably in my nothing-compares-to-Ben-Howard phase. Geez, glad that’s over! 🙂 But seriously, have you heard his new EP, Burgh Island? Sweet Apollo! It’s incredible. That guy can do no wrong. Sorry, as I was saying — I was slow to warm to these guys. However, now that my head is in the right space, I’m entirely smitten with them. Their debut LP, Night Visions, was released this past September and it’s one of my most listened to albums OF THE YEAR. Meaning, I’ve listened to it EXCESSIVELY over the past four months. 9 times out of 10, if I don’t know what I’m in the mood for, I’ll opt for Imagine Dragons. I also thoroughly enjoy following them on twitter. I don’t spend a lot of time on twitter, but I keep an eye out for their tweets. They always have an uplifting word or two. I dig it when folks use their power for good, not evil. These fellas definitely meditate on the good.
This is my VERY favorite live video of theirs. I love the song and this version is just the best. Previous post HERE.
Also, because I can’t help myself, I have to share this one. I was BLOWN AWAY by the incredible placement of Imagine Dragon’s song Radioactive in this movie trailer for “The Host”.
Good stuff, yes? If you’ve found something that delights your senses, you can bet that someone else is going to dig it, too. Please feel free to SHARE. Also, each band name is linked to their facebook page — give them a “like” and tell them, Well done. You can “like” my facebook page, too!
Without music, life would be a mistake. ― Friedrich Nietzsche