The Top 10 Bands We Discovered in 2013December 4, 2013
This is probably my favourite post every year.
I love looking back at the road indie music has travelled in just a year. There were a lot of bands I had to go back and double check on to see if we’d really only written about them this year – it seems like some of these rockstars have been around for way longer.
With the advent of a lot of new writers here at ATG, it became a lot harder to pick just ten bands who stood out. Let’s keep it going and have a ‘Top 50 Bands’ post for 2014!
So to the point – here, in a rough ascending order, are the biggest gems we discovered this year:
When listening to their debut album, Forest Eyes, the exciting strums of acoustic guitar strings and pacey vocal melodies creates an enthusiastic delivery that’s hard to turn away from. And while handclaps, thumps, shakes and jingles sweep you up, the lyrics ensure authentic imagery and tangible feelings. They are good at knowing when and how to play their instruments and, even more importantly, they know when not to. The arrangements are balanced, and the focus of every song is in the right place.
Here was a band who spoke directly to my soul through all the joyful sadness that comes with letting go and moving on. Their music is as familiar and nostalgic as they come. It is a little sombre, but still, somehow, entirely exuberant. I was propelled in to a world of dreams and contentment with every track. The band brands their sound as “uplifting tribal pop”, and I think this connection to an earthier source of music is what makes their final products a little more spiritual and nobler than your standard poppy tune.
8. Von Shakes
The energy on VS’ forthcoming debut full-length album, Bohemia is rampant – they’ve got all the bounce of an angry punk band, but none of the anger. Instead, they embody the sound of youth, angst and chaos, wrapped in a blanket of hooks and melodies.
From the moment they started playing, I knew I was listening to something a little bit special. Their riffs and melodies aren’t overly complicated and soon had the crowd tapping along with their feet. Their lyrics contain meaning without needing to spend hours poring over them like some ridiculous matric poem just to find the meaning of one line.
I think comparisons to Shadowclub will be unavoidable (the first time I ever saw Shadowclub, they were actually opening for Son) as the two bands are definitely miles ahead of anything else I’ve heard recently in the world of local popular rock. But I feel like where Shadowclub mixes blues influence with pop hooks, Son channels an ardent mix of Delta blues and Seattle grunge, making their music sound more like personal expression than music for the sake of making a song. The comparison you draw should be something closer to Pearl Jam, in fact; if Pearl Jam had a penchant for going off on searing blues guitar solos, that is.
It’s wandering and pensive without being depressing , like on “Alibi”. It’s not too invasive, but it’s well-crafted enough to stick in your mind. It’s got pop sensibilities in its lightness (“All The Way Down”), and it’s got love and emotions abounding on “Over Yonder” – I particularly enjoy Anna Beth Carson’s lap-steel guitar* showing through on this one.
4. We Are Twin
They describe themselves as International Power Pop, and that is too fabulous a description to ever beat. Every song is a soaring, symphonic feast to the ears. Gabi’s raw, husky voice gets under your skin without outshining the instrumental festival accompanying her. “Keep on Lovin’ You” showcases this perfect marriage beautifully, while “Cold Stone Lips” reminds us that they can do groovy just as well as moody.
A lot of listening later (remember that 3 day repeat?), I think I’ve found why I like this album so much – it doesn’t take anything from you. Pop tunes often leave you with a mental sugar crash, heavier music can leave you feeling drained and tired, but this album — it comes to where you are and sways you in a hammock of mellow beauty.
You know how you like Vampire Weekend because they sing fun, almost flirty, but largely light-hearted rock that feels like a good mojito on a hot summer day? Yeah? Well I’ve found a new band that does all that and will get you dancing with youthful exuberance too. Meet The Griswolds, a five-piece Australian band who have quickly become one of my favourite discoveries of all time, and the reason I love working on the internet so much.
Tyler Bryant understands rock and roll.
He understands that sometimes it needs to be loud, sometimes it needs to be urgent, sometimes it needs to be tentative and teasing, and sometimes it just needs to be fun. It needs to be cocksure, and it needs to entice its listeners. Because the rock and roll that lies somewhere between the heavy ’70s, the excessive ’80s and the grungy ’90s, is beautifully sexy, no matter how fast it’s being played.
Tyler Bryant understands all these things, and he’s just 21 years old.
Who were your favourite new bands this year?Tags: lists, looking back, rock, south african