December 12, 2012

The Best Songs of 2012

I have never made a 'Best Songs of the Year' list before. They always seemed a bit too specific and arbitrary, putting a grade on something that wasn't even meant to be ingested alone. But this year I gave in. I felt that there were too many tracks that deserved individual attention for me not to. So here it is: The 25 songs that really sunk in, gave me chills, and ran around in my head for weeks. Enjoy.

1. Milo Greene-"1957"
The first song released by the indie-folkers turned out to be the best on the album, and the best of the year. Lush vocal harmonies, huge crescendos, and a lively catchy chorus combine to form the perfect indie jam that just takes you away.

2. Tyler Lyle-"When I Say That I Love You"
There are a few songs in the world that give me shivers every time I hear them. This bittersweet ode to the changing nature of love is one of them.

3. Bowerbirds-"Tuck The Darkness In"
On their new album, Bowerbirds hit their stride and let things get heavy. The first track demonstrates the change perfectly and is surprisingly infectious.

4. The Lumineers-"Flowers In Your Hair"
This brief jangling intro to one of the best rookies of the year has some killer lines like "It takes a boy to live. It takes a man to pretend he was there."

5. Yellow Ostrich-"Marathon Runner"
The music of Yellow Ostrich is filled with childlike wonder and simplicity. This standout track tells quite a tale of giving up on dreams and running without knowing why.

6. First Ait Kit-"Emmylou"
While the two sisters in First Aid Kit were born in Sweden, they were clearly raised on Americana. They harmonize flawlessly about their American musical heroes while forging a path into the music scene they revere.

7. Field Report-"Fergus Falls"
The former bandmate of Justin Vernon has been trying to come into his own and be seen as a great songwriter in his own right. This poetic track will show you how he succeeded.

8. Haim-"Forever"
Three L.A. sisters have revived the old folk scene of their hometown with influences like Fleetwood Mac and the joy of summer. Yet they infuse a modern, R&B style into it all, keeping things awfully interesting.

9. C2C-"Down The Road"
If you can listen to this track without feeling the urge to move, there has got to be something wrong. The four French world-champion DJ's that make up C2C have begun releasing original music, and they gave us the funkiest track of the year.

10. The Shins-"Simple Song"
Over the years, The Shins have released quite a few catchy indie-pop anthems. While most of their recent album left me underwhelmed, this first single is one of their most fun, energizing and anthemic songs yet.

December 10, 2012

Bands To Watch In 2013

Like every year of my life, I paid closer attention to the music world this year than the last. Through work with CMJ and Songza, more up and coming bands than ever before have caught my attention. These are the groups that I believe will really make an impact in 2013. If you want to stay on top of your game, I highly suggest checking these groups out.

Hey Marseilles

Hey Marseilles-"To Travels & Trunks"
Their first album, To Travels and Trunks, demonstrated their unique brand of orchestral folk-pop that could make anyone smile. They will be releasing their new album, Lines We Trace in March and I'm betting on a hit. Download their recent Fuel/Friends Chapel Session here.

Two Trees

Two Trees-"Lay Me Down"
This Swedish couple has been a recent hit on SoundCloud with their soothing and stunning harmonies, paired with beautiful guitar work and memorable songwriting. 

Different Sleep

Different Sleep-"Next Time I See You"
The strongest link in the Svengali group of chill producers, this Chicago/San Diego based youngster is making waves. Really relaxing, envelope your body in a blanket of calm kind of waves. He recently had a remix released by Hundred Waters and is a frequent collaborator with Mister Lies. This whole movement is getting a lot of buzz and Different Sleep is first in line. Download his INFINITE EP here.

James Egbert

James Egbert-"Blackhawk"
His unique melodic, yet huge dubstep sound has already been making waves on the Beatport charts, and soon enough, Mr. Egbert will be moving up the ranks on festival lineups. Check out his Blackhawk EP here.

Town Hall

Town Hall-"The Strongest Of Hands"
These three NYU students are among the most charming musicians I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and their music is just as quaint. Sweet harmonies, inventive guitar work, hilarious covers, and a seriously great album. Download their free EP of covers here.


These four French DJ's are already huge in their home country. They have now started to release original music and it is absolutely infectious, leading me to expect their imminent worldwide takeover. Check out their tracks here.

Conner Youngblood

Conner Youngblood-"Proportions"
This Texas-based singer/songwriter has been one of my favorite new artists this year with his hypnotic voice, genre-bending experimentation and ponder-worthy lyrics. Lots of solid stuff. Download his latest Sketches Pt. 2 here.


Haim-"Don't Save Me"
These three L.A. sisters have already been making huge waves with their mix of R&B, folk, and soul. They've already opened for Mumford & Sons and Florence & The Machine and will release their debut album next year. I can safely say I'm not the only one who's eager for it.

Seattle Hip-Hop

With Macklemore's popularity skyrocketing this year, attention will paid to his hometown and the door is open wide for more MCs from the Northwest to start making inroads nationwide. Who will be next? Grynch? Sol? Finally Blue Scholars? I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Angel Haze

Angel Haze-"Werkin' Girls"
She has already been hailed as the next big female rapper and I believe it. Her tough attitude and lightning-fast wordplay separate her from the pack instantly. She recently signed with Universal and will be dropping her debut full-length in 2013. Until then, download her stellar mixtapes Reservation and Classick

Miriam Bryant

Miriam Bryant-"Finders, Keepers"
The Swedish singer has already been compared to Adele and has a huge radio hit in Scandinavia. She is slowly prepping more material for a debut album and is looking to conquer the rest of Europe and the States with her huge, sultry voice.

December 07, 2012

The Best Remixes of 2012

A good remix not only puts an interesting spin on another's work; it also is a solid song in its own right.  With remixes as plentiful as ever, it is impossible to ignore them. Therefore we have decided to let you in on our favorite remixes of the year. Here are the remixed tracks that stuck in our heads for days, and made something good into something great. These aren't just songs with dubstep womps thrown in; they are tasteful renditions done thoughtfully. Don't worry, there are still some huge drops! Up and comer James Egbert had a phenomenal year, being thrust into the spotlight with some of the best remixes we have heard in a while. For more, check out the Remixers of the Year. Give these tracks a spin.

Draper-"Eskimo Boy (Draper Remix)"
James Egbert–“In The Beginning (Instrumental Dubstep Remix)"
Avicii–“Next Levels (The FatRat Remix)”
Foxes–“White Coats (Xaphoon Jones In The Zone Remix)”
JMSN–“Alone (Different Sleep Remix)”
Haim–“Forever (The Knocks Remix)"
Eva Simmons–“Renegade (James Egbert Remix)”

December 05, 2012

The Best Live Shows of 2012

I went to more concerts in 2012 than in any year before. I attended a show on average every 11 days and had a hell of a lot of fun in the process. I saw acts ranging from Andy Grammer to Tech N9ne to Bassnectar in venues from The Gorge in Washington to Vega Music Hall in Denmark. I saw some of the best shows of my life. Here are my favorites. 

Bon Iver (Sasquatch Music Festival)
This show, Bon Iver's headlining spot at The Gorge, and my first time seeing the group live, changed how I see live music. The level to which the enormous band built upon the already beautiful songs was unparalleled. From the opening notes of "Perth" to the last chord of "For Emma," the entire crowd was completely enveloped in the music. Mr. Vernon's words were genuine, proclaiming his awe at the loving crowd and jaw-dropping landscape. I cannot imagine a better show. 

Glen Hansard (Le Poisson Rouge, NY)
After being a fan for years, this summer I finally caught up with Hansard's travels in New York. Instead of attending his show at the Beacon Theater, I was lucky enough to opt for the intimate 3-hour warm up the previous night. The night felt more like a casual jam session as the Irishman invited Lisa Hannigan, John Smith, K'naan, and some new friends from the audience to join him for select cuts. A barrage of delightful covers and relaxed banter helped every audience member feel like a VIP.

Delta Spirit (Paradise Rock Club, Boston)
Delta Spirit is gritty. Their brand of rock isn't clean cut and prides itself on being awesomely messy. They got wild on stage and put on the best rock show I've seen in a while. The show was timed nicely at the peak of my excitement about their brilliant new album, and they proved that their new sound worked even better live.
Read the original review here

The Lumineers (Cafe 939, Boston)
I got really lucky on this one. The tour that took The Lumineers to the intimate Cafe 939 was booked long before they blew up. The young group got the crowd stomping their feet in no time with their lively brand of folk rock. I had as much fun at this show as any before despite the fact that I was there by myself. On their next visit to Boston, they will be playing a venue 12 times as big: House of Blues.
Read the original review here

Death Cab with Magik*Magik Orchestra (Wang Theatre, Boston)
You know you've been to a great show if the performance makes you a bigger fan than you were before. When I caught Death Cab For Cutie performing with an eight person string orchestra, that is exactly what happened. The strings were arranged tastefully and while they didn't take a leading role, they enhanced every song and took the performance to a new level. Only their most recent album was recorded with the strings but even their old tracks received an added punch from their presence.

Delta Rae (Bowery Ballroom, NY)
When I heard Delta Rae's debut album, I had no idea they had four amazing singers. The voices sounded similar enough that I wrote them off as having two vocalists. But when I witnessed them live their four-part harmonies took my breath away and each member held their own as they traded off lead duties. Just plain awesome.
Read original review here

Purity Ring (Le Poisson Rouge, NY)
It is rare that I attend a show that is like no other I have been to. Purity Ring's album release show in NYC was one of those nights. They performed in the round, on a circular stage in the middle of the venue. Hanging all over the place were colored orbs that pulsated to the beat of the music. Instead of just playing their music, the duo grabbed the audience and dragged them in.
Read original review here

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (Vega, Copenhagen, Denmark)
On this list two years in a row, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis are definitely some of the most consistently brilliant performers in hip-hop today. I have now seen them four times in a variety of settings and they never fail to get the crowd going. Now with a complete album to perform, they have more ways than ever to work the audience. These guys always give 110% and are more dedicated than any other act I know. Luckily, they tour like crazy so you will probably have a chance to catch them soon.

December 03, 2012

Remixers Of The Year: Adventure Club

This year, not surprisingly, was rife with remixes. And with the end of the year comes awards. So for the first time, along with our typical year-end lists, we include this award for Remixers of the Year. The Canadian duo Adventure Club blew up this year and produced the finest remixes out there for artists ranging from Thrice to Foxes while maintaining their trademark laidback dubstep sound. Their wobble enhances songs' low end punch as opposed to destroying it.

They were brought to my attention when they took James Vincent McMorrow's "We Don't Eat" to a whole new level while maintaining the singer's astounding voice and place at the forefront of the track. Since then, they have perfected their art and will continue to melt faces (in the mellowest way possible) for years to come. The best part? All their tracks are free.

Foxes - Youth (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix)
Thrice - Broken Lungs (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix)
Lullabies - Yuna (Adventure Club Remix)
James Vincent McMorrow - We Don't Eat (Adventure Club Dubstep Remix)

November 29, 2012

Interview with Infantree

Infantree, an indie rock group from Southern California, just released their second studio album, Hero's Dose, to great reception and praise. Not only are these four guys the nicest crew around, their sound together is just so entrancing, with poetic lyrics, beautiful harmonies, and excellent musicianship by all members. The band has since then toured with Neil Young & Crazy Horse, and will continue promote their new album at shows in Los Angeles the rest of this year.

(From left) Donald, Matt, Jordan, and Alex of Infantree at Outside Lands
We were lucky enough to kick back with the band after their awesome set at Outside Lands, where we chatted about their new album, embarassing moments, how they got their name, and more! Read below to see what these four killer musicians had to say, and while you're at it, listen to the soothing sounds and lovely harmonies in one of my favorite Infantree tunes, "Forgive Me First." Also, click "read more"  to see Infantree on Conan performing "Fibber"!

Infantree - "Forgive Me First"
Your second album was just put out a couple months ago, how do you feel the reception has been so far?

Alex: Pretty awesome, definitely better than the first one!

Donald: That’s all you can hope for.

Alex: We’ve been getting a kick out of it, for sure.

Matt: Yeah, we’ve been getting a lot more college radio play.

Do you approach festival playing any differently than small, intimate settings?

Alex: Oh heck yeah, definitely. We secretly hate the sound at festivals [laughs]. It’s never as full as a small room, because the sound just goes, there’s no walls. A lot of times, especially because festivals are fewer and far between, we’re not used to that sound once we get there, so we kind of have to acclimate as we go. We don’t have a sound guy, so we just kind of do it. But it’s been fun. The main thing is that if people are there or not. And luckily, at festivals, people show up, or at least that’s been happening now.

Donald: Yeah, and it’s tougher when you have the first slot. So the fact that as many people showed up today was great.

Jordan: I feel like I try to keep the beat simpler at festivals, cause the little things kind of get lost. It’s just a different sound.

November 28, 2012

New Music Wrap-Up: November

November by the numbers:

New songs added to my library: 332

Most listened to track:  Mikky Ekko-"Pull Me Down"

Best albums added:

Crystal Castles - III

P.O.S. - We Don't Even Live Here

The Staves - Dead and Born and Grown

Stuck In My Head All Month:  Rihanna-"Diamond Remix feat. Kanye West"

Best Remix: Eva Simmons-"Renegade (James Egbert Remix)"

Catchiest Danish Song Added: Shaka Loveless-"Tomgang"