I was listening to old yearly Top 100 playlists on Construx today at work and was marveling at the one-hit wonders on the lists. Bands like Cosmo Jarvis, Depford Goth, Papa, ROME, These New Puritans, and Gobble Gobble all created music that I enjoyed at one point and I've never heard from them again.
From going back to my first "best of year"playlist in 2008 I saw something else. I saw my gradual love for a band grow exponentially year over year. Some faded away into obscurity (which will be other post) but there have been some acts that within the passed 5 years or so went from nothing to my personal shower concert playlist.
When you have time, check out these artists and I hope you enjoy them as much as me.
This band came out of nowhere (for me) with the single "Could Have Been Me". It was an old-school rock ballad with the arrogance to sound like they've played arenas all over the world and the artillery of a one-dimensional Freddy Mercury tribute band. The best way to describe them is "new-classic rock?" with a glam sound just saccharine enough to be a fun hit and proficient enough to not be a parody.
Exemplary Song: Could Have Been Me
When reading old lists,I couldn't put my finger on any of their songs. I went back and listened to "Silver Car Crash" and immediately remembered why I held them in such high regard. Not since Morrisey has an artist captured the morbid and desperate depression of love. It's easy to write about the bright side of enjoying someone in your life but Majical Cloudz encapsulates this dark and almost scary side of human emotion and how a person operates a life with and without some. Fucking beautifully dreadful.
Exemplary Song: Silver Car Crash
I can't even classify what King Charles sounds like. Imagine if Vampire Weekend went back in time to the 18th century and rocked the wigs off some dandy men. King Charles writes some of catchiest songs I've heard in a long time. Once my son's favorite band, Charles writes about bicycle rides with ladies, traveling across rivers, and Victorian style romance. This artist uses dozens of antiquated instruments and pastes it together into outstanding sing-a-long pop song.
Exemplary Song: Lady Percy
I once wrote these guy off as one of hundreds of uninspired syth-indie bands. God, was I wrong. So, so, so wrong. Sam Herring's emotions very literally pour out of every pore in his body. Each syllable delivered with deliberance and meaning. I discovered them after a jaw-dropping performance on Letterman that inspire such praise from a man who has seen every major musical act in the world on his stage. The rest of FI's songs are beautiful tributes to real life packaged with sincerity and passion.
Exemplary Song: Seasons (Waiting On You)
"Fastest Finger Drummer in the World" Araabmuzik is the "King of the MPC" and dozen of other accolades in quotations. He is undoubtedly one of the best hip-hop instrumentalists I've ever heard. Putting his brand on the typical trap beat, house banger, or hostile bass takeover, Araab takes what's typical and shoves it through a chrome-plated haunted house. Watching him work live is a spectacle. Seeing him build a song brick by brick gives you a new respect for the genre his is redefining.
Exemplary Song: Streets Tonight ( but including a live track)
The Vaccines are just a fun band. No gimmicks, no angst, the just put out fun music infused with energy and catchy lyrics. Their sound is very typical English post-punk who embedded several ranks on the UK charts. Every song I've heard from this band has been direct and in-your-face. The Vaccines are the guys at the party who smash an LCD Soundsystem album from a hipster party and put on Outkast. It's all about a good time with this band.
Exemplary Song: If You Wanna
I remember the first time I heard Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, and now HEALTH. HEALTH punched me in the face with sound, the kicked me the in stomach with intensity, and Hadouken'd me with raw power. HEALTH's Death Magic is the closest thing we are going to get to Downward Spiral until Trent falls off the wagon. The harsh industrial brutality mixed with a frail mist of defeatist lyrics makes this band one of my favorites in the past decade.
Exemplary Song: New Coke
RUN THE JEWELS
Run the Jewels is the best hip-hop group on the planet today. There is no argument, debate, or persuasive newsletter than will convince me otherwise. EL-P and Killer Mike have joined together to form the penultimate Voltron of rap music. Flawless flow, innovative beats, and razor-sharp lyrics make RTJ the best in the game by a large margin. Even their cat album is better than anything Kanye ever farted out.
Exemplary Song: Meowpuurdy
This is another artist that I can't really package together and name it anything. Blake's style is a minimalist electronic soundscape and his pristine voice guides you through this world after being infected with a computer virus. James Blake writes beautiful off-tempo compositions that just refuse to follow any typical music rule. The journey his music takes you through is full of emotional calls for help, candid introspection and terrifying nightmares. Modern soul run through digital garbage in the most endearing way.
Exemplary Song: Wilhelm's Scream
Ghost is a Swedish metal band who in this modern day has stayed unknown throughout their young career. Ghost's stage shows have turned from concerns to "Rituals". The mystique, the gimmick, and the spectacle of Ghost is matched by actual music talent. Instead of guttural growls and machine gun drums, Ghost melds chamber music with classic metal into incredible songs of doom and mythology.
Exemplary Song: Year Zero