Showing posts with label lists. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lists. Show all posts

June 10, 2013

Sasquatch 2013: The Good and The Bad


Once Again, The Acoustic Tent
For the third year in a row, the intimate acoustic tent situated in the middle of the festival grounds, proved its worth. While large festivals rarely offer chances to see your favorite artists up close and personal, Sasquatch sets itself apart with the acoustic tent. If you spin a wheel and win day passes to the tent (you can spin it as many times as you want until tickets run out), you gain entrance into mini-sets performed by some awesome acts! This year, Vampire Weekend, The Tallest Man On Earth, Edward Sharpe, CHVRCHES, and Alt-J all stopped in to give their fans a special experience.

Shovels & Rope
These rambunctious South Carolinians wowed me instantly with their twangy sound that fits somewhere between The Civil Wars and Mumford & Sons, with a healthy dose of barnstorming fun thrown in. The duo sounded like helluva lot more than two people and provided fun for thousands who gathered at the tiny Yeti Stage to catch a peek of indie-twang's newest stars.

Vampire Weekend
I may be late to the party, but I was never particularly excited by the New York prepsters' first two albums. They were pleasant enough, but they didn't capture my attention like their third record has. With their new material, the Vamps mature their sound, leaning more towards rock 'n' roll as opposed to light prep-pop. Along with the recorded improvement in their sound, their live show is now a well-oiled machine of entertainment. They have now proven themselves as one of the premier indie acts of the decade and have a live show to back it up.

Father John Misty
I went into his performance not enthralled with his music, but simply interested. Seeing his hilarious on stage antics led me to believe that Mr. Tillman was truly born in the wrong decade. Aside from the people watching the show through their iPhones, there was nothing to say that this performance did not happen in the 70's. He had all the style and casual charm of a crooner from a bygone era and I couldn't stop smiling.

Robert DeLong
Mr. Delong got the dancing going early on Saturday, enthralling listeners as a truly one-man band. Switching between drum pads, singing, synths, and live drums, he simultaneously looped his own voice and manipulated it using a Wii controller. I was as amazed by the inventive use of technology as by the catchy melodies and infectious beats.

My latest musical crush: Lauren Mayberry. The lead singer of this up-and-coming Scottish trio sings honey-sweet tunes over hard-hitting grimy synths and has an adorable accent! She also has the ability to seamlessly transition between The Knife-style weirdness, 80's synth ballads, and Rage Against The Machine covers. What's not to love?

Going back a few years, P.O.S. was in fact the first act I ever saw at a music festival. And sadly, I was underwhelmed. But this past weekend, the Minnesota rapper earned back my devotion. Mostly running through tracks from his recent We Don't Even Live Here, he spent as much time in the crowd, interacting with the fans as he did on stage. Chatting with the audience (hilariously by the way) showed that Mr. Alexander is perhaps one of the most personable rappers out there. Not even a slippery wet stage and a painful-looking fall could stop everyone from having a great time.


Baths' debut album Cerulean caught me by surprise, exploring glitchy, ethereal soundscapes that were able to maintain my attention. Unfortunately, with his followup, Obsidian, Will Wiesenfeld, turned a corner and began to focus more on his vocals, often whiny and too straight-forward. At his Sasquatch show, thousands of beat junkies turned up to hopefully hear some of the soothing, intricate tunes he is known for. Little did we know, we would have to wait until about halfway through his set to hear a single track from his heyday. While he was trying hard to plug his new album, fans were streaming out towards something more interesting.

Four Color Zack
I'm not sure what the Sasquatch organizers were trying to do with this one. The Seattle DJ recently won a Red Bull DJ contest catapulting his fame upwards in a matter of days. Maybe it was a deal made with festival sponsor Red Bull, but giving this guy a 2.5 hour set in the Chupacabra tent was far too generous. Sure, maybe he did do well at the contest that he won, but he was clearly not prepared for this, sounding as if a random festival-goer won the chance to open the festival.

I'm a big fan of Rusko's music and was eager to hear him close out the weekend in style. Unfortunately, he would turn his bangin' beats down every 30 seconds or so to yell the always important "Let's Go Sasquatch!!" This could have helped pump up the crowd every 10 minutes or so. Instead, his constant commentary only interrupted his flow.

The Food
Other festivals have caught on. Why not you Sasquatch? $13 for a beer? $9 for a frozen chicken wrap? I understand the urge to jack up prices, but can't the food at least be good? Dozens of festivals invite local food trucks and restauranteurs to set up shop for a weekend, and I have no doubt that Seattle has tons of chefs who would be willing to trek out to The Gorge to feed 30,000 hungry fans. I appreciate the addition of the lone food truck: fish 'n' chips and tacos. Hopefully that was a test that proved successful.

May 20, 2013

6 Sasquatch Bands You Need To Hear

Fiendishly catchy Scottish electro-pop

Wake Owl
Raw Canadian twangy singer/songwriter

Luke Sital-Singh
Immersive, relaxing, British, Bon-Iver like beauty

Danish psychedelic, folky pop

Sunny, summery, smooth electro jams

And don't forget, Up-and-coming Hip-Hop Galore (Like Grieves) at the Cthulhu Stage!

Listen to more Sasquatch artists over at Songza!

May 08, 2013

5 Amazingly Epic Electronic Tracks

Anthony Gonzales is very familiar with epic soundscapes. On his latest work, the soundtrack for the Tom Cruise movie Oblivion, shit gets big.

Juno Reactor-"Navras"
This song plays over the final credits of the Matrix trilogy, a truly epic franchise. If the first few seconds of frighteningly intense chorus bursts wasn't enough for you, the trippy world beats will convince you.

Tiësto-"Kaleidoscope (feat Jónsi)"
Trance producing-titan, Tiësto has dozens of huge tracks, but this one takes the cake when it comes to epic-ness. With a buildup that lasts two-thirds of the song, and the ethereal vocals of Jonsí, this was the perfect choice for track #1 on Kaleidoscope, the last album released under his name.

These guys are the heaviest thing in music right now. This particular track is their simplest, and most effective in producing a bone-crushing wall of heaviness.

Infected Mushroom-"Vicious Delicious"
These psychedelic, Israeli techno dudes know how to mess with sound. This epic track of theirs has one of their largest builds and never lets up in seven minutes of heavy bass-thumpin'.

April 26, 2013

Macklemore's 11 Best Lines

Most of you may know Macklemore from his now-ubiquitous track "Thrift Shop," a song that perfectly captures one side of the rapper's personality. But anyone who knows the Mack knows that there is more too him than it may seem. His music covers a wide variety of styles, influences, and subject matter that always keeps you guessing.

"Swore I was gonna be someone,
And growing up everyone always does."
from "Otherside"
"Otherside (Ryan Lewis Remix)"
This song, the first one he wrote after becoming sober, was arguably the first track to gain Macklemore some online buzz. It's a tell all, intense story of addiction and the people it hurts. This line at the end always gives me shivers and really speaks to the fact that anyone can become an addict, but nobody expects to be one.

"I don't control life but I control how I react to it"
from "Vipassana"
"Vipassana (Ryan Lewis Remix)"
This track is all about faith, Macklemore's complex thoughts on the topic, and how it helped him get through his hardest times. This line helps sum up his thoughts, and explains that you have to pick your battles in life.

"So I stare into this paper instead of sitting at a cubicle
Take all ugly shit inside and try to make it beautiful"
from "Vipassana"
A common theme in Macklemore's music is the fact that he proudly chose his passion and love for music over a stable, dependable, cubicle job. His music is his valiant (and successful!) effort to turn his often ugly internal thoughts into beautiful music.

"A generation of kids choosing love over a desk"
from "Ten Thousand Hours"
"Ten Thousand Hours"
Again, Macklemore chose music over an office job. He thinks that more and more kids are doing that these days, resulting in a burgeoning, passionate music scene.

"They told me to just do it.
I listened to what that swoosh said"
from "Wings"
The most intense line from one of his most intense songs speaks to how huge corporations can capture young consumers and have large impacts on their lives, either positive or negative. Nike basketball shoes were his particular childhood obsession that led to an addiction to consumption.

"Thought it would be shiny and beautiful,
Thought it would be alive and like musical,
But it feels like someone died, it’s got the vibe of a funeral"
from "Jimmy Iovine"
"Jimmy Iovine"
This track deals with his lack of a record deal and decision to be a completely independent artist. The song tracks Macklemore as he breaks into a label's office to "steal" a record deal. Then, when finally offered one, he decides against it. This line describes the feeling of walking into the office, expecting an exciting vibrant culture, he sees the exact kind of office life he has spent his life trying to avoid.

"She said 'We have a flame, your fire's ignited with sound.
Are you building the empire up, or using your fire to burn it down?'"
from "Contradiction"
This song speaks to the contradictions in his music, his complex views on drugs and alcohol, sexism, and the like. After a run in with a fan who tells him that everyone has a little power (a flame) that they can either use to maintain the system of sexism, or help in bringing it down.

"I will moon walk to Pluto in honor of Michael Jackson.
In heaven he'll be saying that man is tight at dancing"
from "And We Danced"
"And We Danced"
Macklemore has many sides. And while he has some great, extremely serious songs, his goofy side is pretty awesome too. This track was his original party anthem and praises the great dance king, MJ. It's also one of the best set closers ever.

"But we still owe 'em 40 acres, now we've stolen their 16 bars"
from "White Privilege"
"White Privilege"
This song is gold. If you haven't heard this side of Macklemore, I urge you to now. This track explains his thoughts on being a white rapper in a culture that was invented by African-Americans. This is possibly the best song to ever sum up this constant controversy.

"I learned from my teachers but became through my music"
from "The Town"
"The Town"
Yeah, teachers can teach skills and valuable education, but Macklemore didn't become who is in school.

"I write to the beat and let life play the guitar strings"
from "The Town"
I couldn't not put this in here. About 2 years ago, this is the line that inspired the name of this very website! Because when it all boils down, isn't that what all music writers do? We're writing to the beat.

April 09, 2013

5 Artists You Can't Miss At Coachella

Coachella's huge lineup can be awfully overwhelming. And since it is jam packed with excellent live acts, it can be nearly impossible to decide who to see! If you are headed to the desert this weekend, regardless of what else you do, here are 5 artists that you better not miss.

TNGHT - Friday - 8:35 - 9:20, Gobi Tent

'Nuff said.

Dub Fx - Sunday - 10:25 - DoLab

This Australian loop-pedal master has been honing his skills on street corners around the world and is finally hitting the US with his purely vocally-created tracks.

C2C - Friday - 1:30 - 2:20, Sahara Tent

After conquering the French DJ scene and winning multiple DMC World Championships, these four disc jockeys are finally ready to conquer the States behind their infectious debut album, Tetra. They kick off their efforts at Coachella and a few select dates elsewhere.

Rodriguez - Sunday - 6:35 - 7:15, Gobi Tent

The subject of the Oscar-winning documentary Searching for Sugar Man, Rodriguez became an underground sensation in South Africa while he remained unknown and oblivious to his fame in the US. For the first time in 40 years, the Bob Dylan-esque revolutionary songwriter is traveling the states and making a sure-to-be-amazing stop in the Desert.

Vintage Trouble - Saturday - 12:15 - 12:55, Coachella Stage

While your chances of seeing James Brown live are shot, Vintage Trouble are the closest thing out there these days. The group's livey retro grooves have been lighting up stages all across the nation and prove that live music can have enough energy to rival the Sahara tent's dancey bleeps and bloops.

March 12, 2013

9 Boss / Baller / Badass Rap Songs

Sometimes, a huge, heavy, intense rap song is just what you need. Whether you need an uplifting underdog story, or somebody yelling just to rile you up, these tracks will help you when you're pissed, need an ego boost, or just need to feel like a boss/baller/badass.

B.o.B.-"Fuck Em We Ball"
Listen If: You just lost a game and you need a reminder who's boss
Best Line: "Gentleman and a scholar. Let me just pop my collar"
B.o.B. rarely gets riled up, but when he does he can make some of the funkiest, most intense stuff out there (See "Beast Mode"). And the title kind of says it all.

Eminem-"'Till I Collapse"
Listen If: People are telling you to give up on your dreams
Best line: "Till I collapse I’m spilling these raps long as you feel 'em, Till the day that I drop you'll never say that I'm not killing them"
Eminem is no doubt one of the kings of pump-up rap. While "Lose Yourself" is the obvious choice and could get anyone ready to battle their worst fears, "Till I Collapse" speaks to levels of long-term bravery and inner strength that most rappers can't even fathom.

Birdman feat. Lil Wayne-"Pop Bottles"
Listen If: You just got a promotion
Best Line: "Oh I'm sorry sweetheart, I thought you was my other woman"
When Wayne was on top of his game, he was overflowing with swag. While Birdman's verse is mediocre, Wayne kills his and the beat is just asking for a ridiculous rap-along celebration on your way home from work.

Tech N9ne-"Worldwide Choppers"
Listen If: You're ready to assume a throne
Best Line: "Bow down, I was crowned when they found me"
Tech N9ne is a rapper like no other. His flow is extremely fast and technical, and his beats are complex, crowded, and intense. While dozens of his songs could fit on this list, "Worldwide Choppers" is the pinnacle of his style. Tons of guests and some the fastest spittin' out there makes this track a unique one in the rap world.

Rick Ross-"Pirates"
Listen If: You have to go to work. As a drug kingpin.
Best line: "Fascination with fortune afford me mansion and Porsches, Panamera abortions, marijuana imported"
First of all, Rick Ross is THE Boss. His latest album is called God Forgives, I Don't. Does it get better than that? I don't think so. "Pirates" has the biggest beat on the record and is filled with Ross's signature 'wough' and a huge horn section.

Big Boi-"General Patton"
Listen If: You're getting disrespect and need to show someone who's boss.
Best Line: "Fuckin' up the game like ice, heroin, or speed"
A haunting chorus and horn stabs make this a truly scary beat. Combined with Big Boi's dominating flow, this song is just explosive.

Angel Haze-"Werkin' Girls"
Listen If: You're trying to move up in the ranks
Best Line: "I'm on top of my green like a motherfucking tractor"
Dubbed by many as the next great female rapper, Angel Haze knows how to bring the heat. This track proves that she can rap crazy fast, and isn't afraid to speak her mind, no matter how ugly it gets in there.

Jay-Z-"Oh My God"
Listen If: This is your life
Best Line: "I'm feeling like the world's against me Lord. Call me crazy but strangely I love the odds"
This is one of my favorite beats of all time, crafted by Just Blaze and twisting an obscure Genya Ravan sample into a crowded, fast, fiery jam. Jay's voice just oozes gangster and when the two join forces, out comes one of Hov's best tracks.

Lil' Jon-"Stop Fuckin' Wit Me"
Listen If: You really need to murder someone
Best Line: "Bitch back the fuck up and let me smoke my weed"
This song could make anyone angry for absolutely no reason. Lil' Jon's ridiculous gravelly screams over a sampled Slayer riff make this song straight up terrifying. Honestly, if you're not angry, this might freak you out a bit.

January 21, 2013

The Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Love Ben Gibbard

1. That voice. What is it about that voice that I love so much? If you think about it (and listen to it objectively), his crooning is not always all that easy on the ears. But it works, kind of like Bob Dylan (but not that extreme).

2. This music video, for his new solo single, “Teardrop Windows.” Let’s face it, if he tried to be a “bad boy” in real life, the end result would most likely be the same as in this clip.

3. The fact that he can poke fun at himself, as evidenced by reason #2.

4. Only Benjamin Gibbard could pull off a hairstyle I haven’t seen on a male since the fourth grade.

5. Saying his name out loud is enough to entertain you for at least five minutes. Test it out. It’s fun to say. I promise.

6. His witty and slightly awkward stage banter.

7. The fact that he is able to pull off a feat that not many other musicians in a band can pull off: a solo album that not only holds its own but could arguably rival selected works of the band’s discography.

8. I Will Follow You Into The Dark. Try to listen to that song without getting goosebumps and/or starting to cry. I dare you.

9. His penchant to always seem more or less oblivious to time and space.

10. Watching him clamber behind a piano on stage, basked in a blue-green half light, and serenade the crowd without missing a single chord.

11. This.

-Kaitlin Deveau
Read her blog here

December 14, 2012

The Best Albums of 2012

25. The Staves - Dead and Born and Grown

The Staves-"The Motherlode"
This album is a simple display of how far solid songwriting and three beautiful voices will get you. Quite far it turns out. The British gals have been opening up for Bon Iver in Europe and making waves with their gorgeous, stripped down live show. Their debut album fleshes their sound out, but doesn't over do it, maintaining focus on the pristine harmonies and the rustic, woodsy guitar lines. 

24. Nas - Life is Good

It is not often that a rapper mentions his own divorcee in a remotely positive light. Nas, however, confronts the subject head on, presenting his ex-wife's wedding dress on the cover of his new album and lyrically dedicating the record to her. In doing so, he weaves a deeply personal account of his life, touching on subjects from his daughter to his love life, but most of all, his thoughtful introspection. Plus, this might be one of the last albums to feature vocals from the late Amy Winehouse. 

23. Jack White - Blunderbuss

Jack White-"Sixteen Saltines"
Jack White has always kept his name shrouded behind the name of a group. Whether it was the White Stripes, the Dead Weather, or the Raconteurs, White was always in creative control. But now, with this album he boldly stepped out on his own, labeling it with only his name. Hey, if I made this album I would damn well want credit too! He somehow made an album that would not have fit with any of his previous projects, but still sounds undeniably like a Jack White record. His trademark wobbly voice and bluesy licks keep it familiar but there is a tenderness and openness here that was hidden on his previous work. 

22. Baroness - Yellow & Green

Baroness-"Take My Bones Away"
This enormous double album sounds even bigger than it is. The sludge metal band lightens things up a bit and continues to evade simple classification on their third full length. The heaviness is still there, arguably even more so, but so is a new variety and experimentation the group has only leaned towards until now. They dove right into a giant genre-less void and it brought them huge success, and the catchiest, most exciting metal album of the year. 

21. Grizzly Bear - Shields

Grizzly Bear-"Speak In Rounds"
After Veckatimest made me a fan, I always categorized Grizzly Bear as sleepy indie rock that to me, got a little tiresome. The the band read my mind and released Shields. Right off the bat, the pace is more lively and everything is louder. There isn't a standout 'single' kind of track like "Two Weeks" was, but that only helps this album feel cohesive. The group retains their slightly ambient bend, but they trade sleepy ambience for a more tense, excited tone. 

20. Delta Rae - Carry The Fire

Delta Rae-"Morning Comes"
"Gospel stomp". Those two words introduced me to Delta Rae and brought the huge "Bottom of the River" to my ears. While that classification does a pretty good job, there is a lot more to their sound. There is part Southern twang, four phenomenal voices (three of them are related), and even a little musical-like spectacle added to the original formula. The singers take turns and hit with enormous harmonies. The songs are frightfully catchy, and are written to be big. Luckily, on their debut album they really pull it off. 

19. First Aid Kit - The Lion's Roar

First Aid Kit-"King Of The World"
Considering the Söderberg sisters were born in Sweden, they sure know a lot about Americana. Over calm acoustic guitars with a touch of twang, the ladies pay homage to their idols and do so in spectacular fashion. Gorgeous Scandinavian space and minimalism entwined with rootsy campfire moods. Did I mention Conor Oberst makes a cameo?

18. Field Report - Field Report

Field Report-"Taking Alcatraz"
It seems as if Chris Porterfield had a lot riding on this album. The former bandmate of Justin Vernon does not want to be known as just that. Luckily with this collection of rustic tracks he sets himself apart while sounding just similar enough to attract some similar fans. He has managed to make his own brand of Midwestern folk, sounding equally new and familiar at the same time. All with beautiful melodies, harmonies, and arrangements. 

17. Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again

Michael Kiwanuka-"Home Again"
Named the BBC's Sound of 2013, Mr. Kiwanuka continues this year's trend for containing awesome new voices. His soulful croon caught the attention of Adele, who had him open for her on her British tour, and now it's popping up everywhere. This album is amazingly calming while remaining sophisticated and neither too poppy or tacky like many soul singers can be.

16. Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan

Dirty Projectors-"Gun Has No Trigger"
Dirty Projectors have always made sophisticated, complex, and challenging music. Not to say it isn't rewarding, but it often keeps many potential fans at arms length. With their latest, David Longstreath gave up on trying to make things difficult; he just pounded out some of the most straightforward and fantastic songs of his career. 

15. Frank Ocean - Channel Orange

Frank Ocean-"Thinkin Bout You"
Without a doubt, this album was the most publicized and controversial album on this list. With his coming out letter released only days before the album dropped, Ocean instantly became the poster boy for gay rights among the neo-R&B crowd. Good thing his music is awesome too! The amazing, poetic abilities displayed on this record are the same that are visible in his letter and are what made his admission of love touching and heartfelt as opposed to a publicity stunt. 

14. Ellie Goulding - Halcyon

Ellie Goulding-"My Blood"
Her first album catapulted her to the top of the pop world, and she didn't let it get to her head. Instead of a boring recycle of her first record, she really evolved as an artist, opening herself up more and creating a record that is darker, deeper, and more emotional than her last. All of this without sacrificing an ounce of catchy likability. Well done, Ellie. 

13. Kendrick Lamar - good kid, m.A.A.d city

Kendrick Lamar-"Backseat Freestyle"
When Dr. Dre tells you he found the next big thing in hip-hop, he's probably right. His latest protege, and his most publicized since Eminem, shattered everyone's already high expectation with this album. Critics are already debating whether or not they can call this a classic album yet. Sure ya can! Lamar, with his 'from the streets but not of the streets' attitude gives a previously unheard perspective from the sidelines of his home of Compton. This is an important record, and aside from all the analysis on its impact, it is the best soundtrack of the year for a chill hangout. Dr. Dre is right on the money. 

12. Town Hall - Roots & Bells

Town Hall-"Mary A. Longden"
While the best word to describe this New York trio's debut is charming, they are not simple like the word connotes. The instrumentation is creative, the lyrics are honest and touching, and the vocals are fresh (male/female harmonies again). This is one of those debuts that really makes you wonder why there guys aren't known around the country. I'm not sure, but I don't think I will have to wonder for too long. 

11. Milo Greene - Milo Greene

Milo Greene-"Cutty Love"
Milo Greene isn't a real person, but the beautiful indie folk that bears his name is as real as it gets. One of the most exciting debuts of the year is a cinematic experience that, while having powerful singles, feels like a cohesive work of art. One of the most surprising things about this group is their lack of a frontman. Instead, four of them share vocal duties and switch instruments all the time, creating an evolving focus that never weakens. 

10. Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls

Alabama Shakes-"I Ain't The Same"
Frontwoman Brittany Howard has been one of the hottest new things in the music world for a while now. After she wowed crowds with her enormous howl, this album was one of the most anticipated of the year. Thanks to a backing band that sound like it has been playing together for 20 years, Howard's vocals are in good hands, resulting in a killer set of tight, fun, bluesy tracks. 

9. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis-"Ten Thousand Hours"
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are sweeping the nation fast. Not only are they doing it completely independent of a record label, but they are also doing it with a powerful message of honesty, love, tolerance, and party. Macklemore, as much as any other MC is able to put all parts of his personality on display, from deal-hunting hipster ("Thrift Shop") to social activist ("Same Love") to recovering addict ("Starting Over"). The most important thing in his eyes is honesty and that is one of the reasons this was the best rap album of the year. Unfortunately Ryan Lewis's production often gets snubbed a mention in reviews because of Macklemore's incredible lyricism, but not here. Without the perfect musical half to complete the duo, I wouldn't be writing this here. Lewis is able to translate Macklemore's thoughts perfectly into music and he even goes farther, saying something of his own in the beats. 

8. Dry The River - Shallow Bed

Dry The River-"History Book"
This is my dark horse album of the year. At first I let it slip by after a few listens as being a fairly good folk album with interesting heavier influences. but after I saw them live at Sasquatch, I kept coming back to their album, realizing more and more every time how I had completely missed something awesome the first time around. They combine baroque and folk influences with heavier rock ones to create something quite powerful and a seriously great listen. 

7. Of Monsters And Men - My Head Is An Animal

Of Monsters And Men-"Dirty Paws"
Arcade Fire, whether they know about it or not, has a long lost cousin in Of Monsters and Men. The Icelandic group pops out cheery anthems like it's nothing and looks adorable the whole time. The sweet male/female harmonies (I can never resist those) and sing along choruses have captivated audiences all around the world led by the ridiculously perfect summer jam "Little Talks." This album is made of singles and could use a tad more variety, but I'm perfectly content to wait for album #2 for that. 

6. Bahamas - Barchords

Bahamas-"Lost In The Light"
I would not expect the songs on this record to be stuck in my head for weeks at a time, but alas, Afie Jurvanen has found a way to make sure it happens. The Canadian guitarist has one of the smoothest voices I've ever heard and his music (perhaps influenced by his Scandinavian heritage) is sparse, simple, and delightful. Accompanied by two wonderful backup singers, Jurvanen tells tales of love while showing off quick guitar licks but carefully not overusing his obvious skills. He has one of the most exciting new sounds in music and I would be surprised if people didn't start catching on more. 

5. Purity Ring - Shrines

Purity Ring's music is dark, trippy, and frighteningly catchy. On Shrines, the Canadian duo creates the sonic landscape of a new, unexplored world. The synths simultaneously hover high above you and punch you in the gut. Megan James's sweet voice adds a sense of childlike wonder to the strange alien world the music occupies. Her voice leads you down the rabbit hole and never lets you out, hypnotizing you until you are lost in an odd state of fright and amazement. 

Rarely does a band's name speak as perfectly to the sounds of the music as Cold Specks does. The voice of Al Spx paired with her minimalist instrumentation feels cold, but in a crisp, wintry way. Her songs chill your bones but keep you cozy at the same time with how peaceful they sound. Her voice sounds worn and wise enough to be able to teach some lessons. Luckily the songwriting is easily strong enough to back up the gem that is her voice. 

3. Bowerbirds - The Clearing

Bowerbirds-"In The Yard"
This is the album that finally realized every ounce of potential Bowerbirds had been accumulating for the last few years. From the start, "Tuck The Darkness In" reveals that the duo let loose this time, not being afraid to let things build into beautiful climactic chaos. They hunkered down and wrote this album while building themselves a cabin in the woods so it makes sense that every track feels full, lush, and very naturally grown. 

2. The Lumineers - The Lumineers

The Lumineers were born from pain and you sure can hear that in Wesley Schultz's voice. This year the  Denver, Colorado group rose to the top of the twangy, hoe-down inspiring, folky heap. But unlike so many of the others (I'm looking at you Mumford) they don't try and have a party in every track. The range of this record, along with incredible songwriting, heart-wrenching lyrics, and some good old-rollicking fun help set this one apart from the pack. "Ho Hey" was the track that really pushed these guys forward, but "The Dead Sea" had the line that stuck with me the most: "You told me I was like the Dead Sea / You'll never sink when you are with me." Listening to this album, I'm really starting to believe him. 

1. Delta Spirit - Delta Spirit

Dirty, fast, mean, and hell of a lot fun is what rock 'n' roll should be, and that is exactly what this album is. While this isn't the San Diego group's debut album, they opted to give it their own name because they claimed to have found the sound they had been striving towards as a band. They got our expectations really high from that statement and they still blew me away. Without a weak track, this record has just the right amount of twang, and a whole lot of Matt Vasquez's gritty howl. Pop this one in your car stereo and you'll never want to stop driving.