My goal with this blog is to post sporadically, but life keeps getting in my way. I had a minute to come up for air and thought I'd talk about this great band here in Oklahoma City. They are called Honeylark and they have a new(ish) record called Heavy and it is definitely that. They released their first LP back in December. If you like Eastern European folk, then this is the album for you. Think Beirut and Brown Bird, they even invoke some Squirrel Nut Zippers on a couple tracks. The blend of Eastern European folk with Appalachian folk with rock make for an irresistible listen. It is currently my number one LP in rotation and I find myself singing their songs as I'm driving down the road. I had the good fortune to have them come on the show for our birthday party and they just killed it, in addition to getting to watch the band play along with a mandolin and guitar to Noah & the Whale's Yacht Remix of Blue Skies. They will be playing the Bluebonnet stage at Norman Music Festival this Saturday night at 8:00PM before the main event. This is the sunset show and is always magical, plus it gives you plenty of time to make the main event. If you haven't had a chance to check this band out yet, get their new LP and catch their live show at either NMF or Schwartzstock. You will not be disappointed. You can pick up their album at their website linked below.
This is without a doubt my favorite section of this blog that I do. Mostly, because these are the albums I need to be listening to right now before 2014 begins in full swing. Fifty albums is a lot to evaluate and I listen to a lot more. These albums below made an impact on me this year, but, for whatever reason, didn't make it into the top 50. They are in no particular order and I hope you find something you like.
1. Joy Kills Sorrow - Wide Awake
This Boston based Bluegrass band actually just put out an EP this year, but it's seven songs long, so I'm throwing it in here. They are a delightful band and if you haven't heard them before, you should check out their other offerings. I've played them on the show a few times this year. The fact that they do a bluegrass cover of a Postal Service song is just a bonus.
These guys are out of Glasgow, Scotland and produce electronic pop. The band consists of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty. This has probably been my favorite electronic band of the year and falls into the, "why wasn't I listening to this earlier this year?" category.
Hanni is a skateboarder by trade, but his music, obviously drew me to him. Sort of a blues, garage rock sound with punk and psychedelia thrown in. I just love this album. He grew up in San Francisco, but now resides in LA. Dan Auerbach produced this album and you can hear the influence.
This is this Melbourne, Australia band's first full length and if this is any indication of what is to come from them, I am excited. An indie folk band, they formed in 2009 and have released two EP's prior to this year. I look forward to seeing them live.
Brian Harding and Amalie Bruun comprise this Brooklyn based outfit. This is their debut as well and I would classify them as dream pop, but there is a lot more going on in this record. It's a great debut and shows that the band has a lot of promise in the future.
This band has reached worldwide acclaim in a very short time. Part of them reside in Portland, Oregon and the other part in Auckland, New Zealand. The lineup is singer, guitarist and songwriter Ruban Nielson, bassist Jake Portrait and drummer Riley Geare. Uniquely haunting and utterly just brilliant, these guys produce music that borrows from 60's psychedelia.
Australia is putting out some great electronic pop bands and this one is no exception. This is the third attempt at producing a full length album for this quintet and I'm glad it was a charm as opposed to a strike. Lots of new wave influence on this album, just try to sit still. These guys are like The Naked and Famous, Fiery Furnaces and Empire of the Sun.
9. The White Buffalo - Shadows, Greys, and Evil Ways
The White Buffalo is Jake Smith. Oregon born and southern California raised, his influences are punk,(seriously, why is this a thing?), Tom Waits and Waylon Jennings. His lyrics hit home just like Frank Turner and the string instruments with his smoky voice are just heaven. And he has an animated video, so it's all win.
Part psych, part folk, part pop, these Seattle rockers have quite an extensive lineup. The band consists of: Chris Cheveyo – lead guitar/composer, Rabia Shaheen Qazi – lead vocalist, Richie Rekow – bass/ 1st male vocalist, Nils Petersen – rhythm guitar/2nd male vocalist, Pat Schowe – drums, David Davila – piano/organ, Veronica Dye – flute. They were in Norman this year and did a Vdub session.
I have been raving about this album all year long. The brain child of Winston Yellen, originally from Colorado Springs. He wrote this album predominately in bed late at night while renting out Johnny & June Cash's former home in Nashville (hence the name of the album and band). This album is gut-wrenching in its beauty. He performed this live with his band at Opolis earlier this year and it was just as incredible as I imagined. He started the show the same way the album starts out and it just got better from there. I haven't had an album move me this way in a long time. I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I have listened to this album. Please buy this album, you will not be disappointed and I want this young man to continue writing music.
I remember when this band started about 7 years ago, and then I put them on a shelf and never got them down. This album came out earlier this year and what an album. It made me sad I had missed everything before, for what reason, I do not know. I think this is the best album they've done, by far, but really listened to this album and #1 an obscene amount of times. This is just good rock and roll. These guys totally have the talent and sound for some arena rock, I believe. They were at Cain's Ballroom earlier this year and put on an amazing show. Andrew Mears was the founder of the band, but quit to work on another band before they even released an album, and boy is he kicking himself. The band have achieved quite a bit of commercial success in the UK, where they are from. The lineup now consists of: Yannis Philippakis (lead vocalist), Jack Bevan, Jimmy Smith, Walter Gervers, and Edwin Congreave.
I'm a sucker for a concept album. They remind me of symphonies (which is the point) and return to the same theme, whether lyrically or musically or both. Laura Marling is the only, or should I say, the first artist to have multiple appearances in the top 50 to date, both here and here. She is one of the most amazing singers I have ever witnessed. Getting to see her live in a tiny venue this year was more than I could ever hope. I'm sure I've said it before, but her lyrics for her age are insane. She reminds me of Joni Mitchell and has a depth that few others possess. I recommend listening to this album all the way through multiple times, especially driving around the Wichita Mountains, just sayin'. Check out the short film below, titled "When Brave Bird Saved", which has her suite uninterrupted, it's beautiful.
The National strikes a chord with me. This is evidenced by them coming in at #3 in 2010 here. Their live show is second to none. Matt Beringer typically takes to the audience for one song at the end of a show, which resulted in nearly being knocked down by him this fall. Deep, soulful lyrics of pain and awakening, their songs have a way of working themselves inside you and not coming out. This would have been higher in my charts, but I had to stop listening to its awesomeness several times due to it making me entirely too sad.
This five piece is out of Dublin, Ireland. These guys have put out an amazing first album, obviously, if they're #5 on this list. They appeared in Opolis a few months ago to a crowd of only 20, sadly. I really wish Okies would support live music better than they do. However, I'm secretly grateful, because I know I'll never see them in that close of circumstances, ever. The band consists of: Stevie Appleby, Dylan Lynch, Donagh Seaver O'Leary, Adam O'Regan, Faye O'Rourke. Faye's voice is immaculate. I think once she gets some self confidence, you will probably see her doing some solo work. Stevie's voice is also awesome, and the harmonies the group puts out are insane. They are an extremely energetic band. Give this album a listen and see why it's in the top 5.
If this album had come out earlier in the year, it would certainly have fared as well as their last album did here. Husband/wife team, Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, along with Richard Reed Parry, William Butler, Tim Kingsbury and Jeremy Gara form the band. Owen Pallett sometimes tours with them. These Canadians brought art rock to a contemporary mainstage. I'm still baffled by how they've done it. This new 14 song double album is a stunning 86 minutes long and while it drifts off in places, the core songs are brilliant. This has been a new direction for Arcade Fire, but I feel they haven't mis-stepped yet, and are still pushing the boundaries of music, while paying much credence to legends of old. Their videos are always works of art, check out the ones below and the interactive one here.
Yo La Tengo is probably one of my favorite bands of all time. Their last album, waaayyyy back in 2009 got #11 and you can see it here. These guys are probably the oldest indie band still putting out spectacular music, and this album is no exception. They are husband/wife team Ira Kaplan - lead vocals, guitar, keyboard and Georgia Hubley - drums, percussion, backing vocals, guitar, keyboard, drum machine with their good friend, James McNew - bass, backing vocals, guitar. They have been crafting lo-fi/shoegaze for twenty years and have one of the best live shows I've ever seen. I saw them back in March for a two-set experience. They have some of the sweetest love songs out there. The video below is all kinds of awesome.
Oh this album. This may have been the album of the summer. Infectious dance grooves, meticulous production, with a disco/funk back beat. These boys really know their music. Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are from France and craft house music, but it has such a tremendously more melodic base, that I have a difficult time throwing it in with most house music. Maybe that's why this album reached such a level of popularity this year. Regardless, get your dancing shoes on and give this album a spin.
Over the years, I have loved this band, but their albums have never been enough to grab me for that addictive listening. I think they have finally found their sound which lends itself to some new wave. This is definitely the best album they have put out to date. They are from Stockholm, Sweden and include members; Adam Olenius - vocals, guitar, Ted Malmros - bass, percussion, backing vocals, Carl von Arbin - guitar, backing vocals, Eric Edman - drums, and Bebban Stenborg - keyboards, accordion, glockenspiel, moog, backing vocals.
This album came out in October and quickly shot up to the number 10 spot in this list. If it had come out earlier this year, there is no doubt that it would've been in the top five. Another band out of Brooklyn, Lucius reminds me of Santogold a bit, but with a lot more melody and pizzazz. The band consists of: Jess Wolfe (voice), Holly Laessig (voice), Dan Molad (drums), Peter Lalish (guitar), Andrew Burri (guitar). I think they've made about every year end list I've seen so far this year and for very good reason.
These guys are from Brooklyn and the band was started as a result of lead singer, Zach Williams' wife suffering temporary paralysis from a horseback riding accident. These guys have played here in Oklahoma at least twice this last year and put on a stunning show. Beautiful harmonies, catchy lyrics, instant hooks comprise the bulk of this folk based outfit. The band also includes; Kanene Donehey Pipkin - mandolin, vocals and Brian Elmquist - guitar, vocals
There was a large part of 2013 spent on listening to this album. Telekinesis is solely Michael Benjamin Lerner, who currently lives in Seattle. It's pretty incredible that one man can put out such incredible music. He used Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie as the producer of his last two albums, but for this one, chose Jim Eno of Spoon. I think the difference is immediately noticeable.
Thanks for stopping by. I listen to entirely too much music and love sharing music almost as much as I love listening to it. The purpose of this blog is to do just that and perhaps introduce you to bands you've never heard. If you happen to be one of those bands and do not like the fact that I have given a sample of your music in an effort to promote your band, please email me and I will gladly remove the link.