The drum roll has long faded, the fireworks are gone, too. 2014 is well underway. Let’s invent a new phrase for time flies, shall we? It’s absurdly overused. Time sneaks by me on tip toes. Time goes right while I’m looking left. Time is like a delightful breeze racing across my skin – a quick stroke, a gentle caress, a little rustle through my hair… and as quickly as it comes it passes and leaves me wanting more. I sneeze, I blink, I spend one sleepless night and a whole year is GONE. Just gone. I don’t know how to explain 2013. A LOT happened this past year. I mean, I moved from Colorado to Texas; it’s not like I was standing still. But somehow I feel like my time was spent just going through the motions, doing what needs to be done to get from where I am to where I want to be. A brick laying year. A traveling year. Traveling as in — in transit. Not traveling as in — exploring the world. It wasn’t a time vortex type year, where the whole year passed in a hasty blur. Instead, 2013 just evaporated. Gone without a trace — almost as though it was never here. Truly bizarre and a first for me. Sure we may occasionally have a forgotten year, but forgotten when it’s barely even passed? That’s peculiar. Considering all this, I am immensely grateful to bring you 10 INCREDIBLE bands that increased my listening pleasure this year — bands that prior to 2013 I had no knowledge of. If I have no other proof that 2013 existed, at least I have this. (Check out 2012 and 2011‘s. favorite finds.)
MIGHTY OAKS Berlin indie-folk trio Might Oaks’ three members hail separately from the UK, US, and Italy, which may have something to do with their unique sound. ‘Just One Day’ is like a blissful journey through summers gone by, with a wonderful build up and intricately layered guitars throughout. I’ve previously featured that one HERE. Recently Mighty Oaks did a stunning session with TV Noir, which is how I discovered this beauty. It’s safe to say I am on pins and needles waiting for their LP due out by February’s end. Even more exciting, we’ll be having them stateside for SxSW. The brand new video for their new single, Brother, (out February 14th) hit the interwebs today. ALFRED HALL Synth pop duo Alfred Hall are the finest export to come out of Norway in recent years. Their exquisitely crafted songs are dreamy, uplifting, and insanely catchy. The dazzling ‘Foreign Coast’, with its sublime harmonies and beautiful guitar hook is a stand out tune, while the more up-tempo ‘Wild At Heart’ is a great candidate for a next single: both are featured HERE. The entire album is a daydream infused soundscape and one of my favorites releases of this past year. (*the birds chirping in the beginning of this makes me so happy) JOSH RECORD Folk-soul troubadour Josh Record released his debut ‘Bones EP’ back in February of ’13. Recorded in his bedroom on the rough South London estate he calls home, the title track showcases his angelic vocals, sweet harmonies, complex arrangements, and worldly lyrics. Josh has been previously featured HERE. He’s high on my must see live list. Stateside tour soon? Maybe?! A girl can hope. SLEEPY TEA Sleepy Tea are an Australian band, fronted by Tom Wearne, who produce dreamy acoustic pop infused with subtle electronics. Their lead single ‘Make Believe’ from their debut EP ‘The Place Where We Lay’ begins with a stripped down guitar over a filtered broken beat, with a delightful string section kicking in as the full beat drops, accompanied by some lovely synth lines sitting unobtrusively in the background to fill out the surreal soundscape. I featured Sleepy Tea’s ‘Make Believe’ this time last year when their debut EP hadn’t even been released, yet. I was anxious for new music then and the same holds true now — their 5-song EP was everything I’d hoped it would be and it went a long way to pacify me, but I’m ready for more. Patience has to be one of the hardest things about being such a avid fan. But hey, we can enjoy this tasty Tame Impala cover while we wait. LLOYD YATES The unique voice of Lloyd Yates projects a rare honesty and emotion, drawing inspiration from the unpredictable, occasionally chaotic natural beauty of his ocean home in Jersey. Prompting comparisons to Ben Howard and Bon Iver, he revels in the highs and lows of life, and this is evident in his songs. Lloyd found his way to me late in the year and I recently featured his, ‘Burn Baby Burn’ HERE. And don’t miss this treat by Bristol based, Loadstar [feat. Lloyd Yates]. EMMA LOUISE You’ve probably caught on that my listening tastes lean (strongly) in favor of a fella and his guitar, or some variation of… If you were to check my iTunes you’d see a mere 10% of my vast library is occupied by female fronted bands. But 21 year old Australian songstress Emma Louise was one of my listening highlights this year. The brilliant single ‘Boy’ from her sophisticated album ‘Vs Head Vs Heart’ reeled me in and solidified my undying admiration. Sadly I missed SxSW 2013, but I did catch Emma at The Hotel Cafe in LA, the week before — which I cover HERE. She was an absolute delight to experience live. NEULORE Neulore released their fantastic concept record ‘Apples & Eve’ back in 2010. In early 2013 they returned with ‘Shadow of a Man’, a spectacular single which brought this Nashville trio to the attention of the mainstream after appearing on the Grey’s Anatomy soundtrack. Neulore founds its way into these pages on my birthday last year — you can find that write-up HERE. I had hoped to catch them on the road with Andrew Belle this past fall, but I was in the midst of getting settled after my cross country move and couldn’t make my path connect with theirs. A SxSW rendezvous is in order! Mmmm. This one. JOSH HOKE After releasing his amazing album ‘Ghosts & Glory’ at the beginning of the year (including personal favorite ‘Love Me or Leave Me Alone’ with guest vocals from Hannah Glavor), Josh Hoke, who’s recently relocated from my beloved Portland, OR, to Nashville, TN, returned with another offering in June, in the form of a 3 track EP entitled ‘Wait for Me’. This beauty is from it. VANCE JOY Australian singer-songwriter Vance Joy’s debut EP ‘God Loves You More When You’re Dancing’ is the product of years of plying his trade at open mic nights around his home town of Melbourne. While the entire EP is sensational I have a soft spot for ‘Emmylou’, which I shared HERE. I’m a sucker for the gentle beginning which leads into a thrillingly energetic climax. I’m over the moon that he’ll be at SxSW (again) this year! SIVU Sivu, aka James Page, is another artist in this year’s line up representing for London. I discovered him via his Soundcloud page which is chalk full of goodness: two EPs, a few free downloads and some really great remixes. He’s been previously featured in these pages RIGHT HERE. He’s also making the trek to Austin, Texas, for SxSW! It’s gonna be a killer year for music, my friends. Stay tuned to these pages for some vicarious living. SxSW is my CHRISTMAS and I will give you the full scoop. BONUS: noteable one to watch this year. Elliot Maginot *I’d like to extend a HUGE thank you to Johnny, a musician and wordsmith based in London, for lending me a few of his words and offering me some inspiration to finish this post! Without his help I might have managed to procrastinate another month.
Cheers to 2014, dear kindreds. May you live each day intentionally. Remember to step out from behind your keyboard. Put your phone down when you have coffee with a friend. Support the artists you love and pay for the music that fuels your soul. Say thank you and pause to make sure those around you know you mean it. Make eye contact. Laugh often and at the expense of no one. Give the gift of your time — remembering that our days, hours and minutes are numbered; spend them with those who fill you up and inspire you to be the best version of yourself. Dream big and take leaps of faith. Failure, while no fun at all, pales in comparison to the adrenaline rush of living boldly and with courage. I challenge you to love more fully than you did last year — a heart that expands never goes back to its original size. You can always love MORE and it’s worth the effort. I promise. I’ve heard too many whisper, “Maybe this will be my year” — it IS your year, all you have to do is drop the ‘maybe’. Embrace these days. Every single one is a chance to start over, to make a friend, to right a wrong, to learn something new, to say grace before a meal (and then savor it), to write a love letter or a thank you note, to befriend your body, to discover new music, to expand your mind by reading more, to share your light, to go where you’ve never gone before – but always wanted to . . . someday. Never forget, tomorrow is promised to no one. — Namaste