In the era of Spotify, Noisetrade and YouTube, there are thousands of emerging bands and artists competing for your attention. Perhaps too many. Just because anyone with an iPad can record a song and post it on online doesn’t mean they should. But when the truly talented emerge, the heart still races and suddenly, a new favorite song is on constant iPod repeat.
Now we get it, the holidays are over and you’re strapped for cash. Here are a few new artists who just might rock your world — and their music won’t cost you a dime. Now I hope 2014 isn’t all downhill from here, but I think it’s gonna be a challenge for me to top this post in terms of back to back to back great music. Enjoy!
“It ain’t easy being beautiful,” Sal Boyd, aka: Boyd USA, sings on the first single from his debut album, 7:AM. While he looks like a former member of 98 Degrees, his sound lingers in the airspace between Jeff Buckley, Smokey Robinson and Mumford & Sons. If you’re deep freezing in the Midwest or Northeast (or Atlanta) and longing for those lazy summer days, watching the sunset from your wrap-around porch; put this on, close your eyes and you’re there. Producer Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, Gedeon Luke & The People) herded Boyd and an eclectic mix of musicians into Shorefire Recording Studios for two separate day-long jam sessions. Drummer Steve Holley (Paul McCartney & Wings), guitarist Thad Debrock (Aimee Mann), pianist Todd Caldwell (Crosby, Stills & Nash) and a gospel choir including Gedeon Luke are just a few of the all-star contributors to the joyous, melodic affair.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127772556″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
My religious views align closer to Bill Maher than Bill O’Reilly, but gospel rave-ups like this make me want to beeline for the nearest Baptist church like Jake Blues did in The Blues Brothers:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/121074314″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
The rest of the album is a fantastic journey through Americana, gospel, alt folk, indie rock and lovely, wandering sounds I just can’t describe. Swersky and recording engineer Joseph Demaio deliver a mix that breathes easy and wraps around you like a favorite sweater. Brielle Brown, a lovely singer/songwriter I’ve been following for years, shadows and comforts Boyd’s lovelorn voice on several tracks. Having a bad day? Put on ‘Mountain of Joy’ and chase those clouds away.
Download the entire Boyd USA album, 7:am, for free on Bandcamp. Naturally, tips are welcome. Support independent music!
Tampere, Finland via London
This Scandinavian quartet released a double A-side single last year but is truly finding its sound and vision now that they’ve relocated to London. This new self-titled EP, available for free on Soundcloud for a limited time, touches upon a wide variety of influences (Editors, Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Chameleons, Stone Roses) while melding a fresh and invigorating sound.
‘Cold Feet’ starts off sinister and cool, steadily gains momentum and winds up a sonic white knuckle thrill ride:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127609434″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Just when you think the proceedings couldn’t get any better, comes the best song Oasis never recorded (and 100% less pretentious):[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127608667″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
This track would have fit in nicely on the recently reviewed Scared to Be Happy: The Story of Indie Pop box set:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127607682″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
This exquisitely produced track (showcasing how drums are supposed to sound) would make a great bridge between The Ocean Blue and the Arctic Monkeys on a mixtape. The final guitar and keyboard crescendo just might be the best minute and a half I’ve enjoyed this year:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127607187″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons
I just discovered this band today and I’m already hooked, lined and sinkered. As a former Buckeye State citizen, I was happy to listen to any pretty little ditty about an itty bitty Ohio city, but this one saunters up slow and then hits you like a ton of bricks. Holy crap, holy crap, HOLY CRAP: at the 1:23 mark the band SOARS straight from the good Earth to the high heavens. Lone Justice* meets the Mynabirds? Guess we’ll find out together when their latest long-player, Hey Kid, goes on sale January 21, 2014.
*Believe it or not, Lone Justice has a NEW, previously unreleased music out next week. Get This is Lone Justice: The Vaught Tapes 1983 here on January 14, 2014.
… and finally, as an added bonus:
Daniele Di Martino
Sure everyone loves Sufjan Stevens, but can you dance to him? Martino, one of Germany’s best non-automotive exports, is once again is here to save the day with another one of his winning left-field remixes:[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/127979350″ params=”color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=true” width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]