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Top 10 Musical Discoveries of 2014
10 Musicians That Broke Through in 2014
The joy of discovery, as a music fan there is few greater joy. Each passing year presents new opportunities for hardcore music fans to take great delight in uncovering undiscovered gems.
Right now I am going to shed the spotlight on 10 musical artists that I have discovered in 2014. Some of them may have first started recording prior to 2014, but they were yet to register on my personal radar. Each of these artists has released new music in 2014.
#10: Motel Raphaël
Motel Raphaël is an indie folk pop band hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are a 7 piece, but the focal point of the group is 3 females who handle the vocal and song writing duties.
In 2014 they released their debut album Cable TV. The songs on the album feature infectious melodies and tight vocal harmonies. The songs are definitely more refined and sophisticated than standard pop fare. I just can't resist the album's considerable charm.
Ghosts by Motel Raphaël (Video)
#9: Lydia Ainsworth
This is the 2nd consecutive entry on this list from a Canadian artist. Lydia Ainsworth first got her start in music by composing the score of the 2011 indie film The Woods. From there she released her 2014 debut album Right From Real.
Ainsworth's music features a compelling blend of classical and modern. It features impeccable string arrangements married effortlessly with electronic elements. Considering her background with film scoring it should be no surprise that the sound of her debut album is very cinematic in nature. It is definitely a hauntingly beautiful masterpiece.
Malachite by Lydia Ainsworth (Video)
Chronixx is a discovery I owe to The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. He performed "Here Comes Trouble" live on the show back on July 22nd, 2014. The infectious old school reggae vibe intrigued me enough to search out more of his music.
I ended up learning that he started under the name Little Chronicle as a tribute to his father who was a reggae singer who went by Chronicle. He is also one of the young Jamaican artists who are being referred to as part of a reggae revival. Back in 2011 he released his first EP Hooked on Chronixx as a free download. In 2014 he released Dread and Terrible. Even though I am far from being an aficionado, I do have a soft spot for classic roots reggae. Chronixx has that throwback style. Even though I may not fully comprehend the Rasta elements or politics of many of his songs, I am drawn by the passion and sincerity of his message. Even if you completely ignore the message, the music possesses a powerful beat that you can groove to.
Capture Land by Chronixx (Video)
#7: Great Caesar
Great Caesar is one of those discoveries that I owe to Noisetrade (one of my favorite sites for discovering new music). The band offered a free (but you had an option of leaving a tip) 6 songs EP entitled Scattered Air. In 2014 they also released a 4 track self titled EP (which features 2 songs that are not on Scattered Air).
The band is an indie rock band which features horns. It is a truly majestic sound which also features thought provoking lyrical narratives. They are also responsible for one of my favorite songs of 2014, "Don't Ask Me Why".
Don't Ask Me Why by Great Caesar (Video)
Alvvays (it is pronounced always) is a Canadian indie pop band fronted by Molly Rankin (daughter of John Morris Rankin of The Rankin Family). The band also includes former and current members of Canadian indie rock bands Two Hours Traffic and The Danks.
Their critically acclaimed self titled debut was released in 2014. The songs are nostalgic and melodic. It is a totally blissful listening experience.
Archie, Marry Me by Alvvays (Video)
Temples is a discovery that I owe to NPR. Their debut album (they released a number of singles prior to 2014) Sun Structures was streaming, so I gave it a listen. I was immediately drawn to the retro psychedelic vibe of this UK rock band.
They already received some positive attention in the UK prior to the release of their debut, but 2014 saw them make their US TV debut on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, along with a somewhat unlikely appearance on Ellen. The trippy throwback sound strikes the right balance between retro and relevant.
Shelter Song by Temples (Video)
#4: FKA twigs
FKA twigs is a former dancer who had a breakthrough year in 2014. Hailing from the UK she has released her debut full length (she previously released 2 EPs) LP1. It ended up making numerous year end best of lists.
FKA twigs music is compelling for its genre defying blend of experimental R&B, trip hop, industrial and 80s dream pop. It is futuristic but still contains accessible grooves which successfully build upon her past influences. Her videos and live performances are artistic and cinematic masterpieces.
Pendulum by FKA twigs (Video)
#3: Sturgill Simpson
Sturgill Simpson released his first solo album in 2013, but didn't show up on my radar until 2014. His 2014 sophomore album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is a widely acclaimed album which received positive attention outside of the country music scene.
Simpson possesses an authentic 70s outlaw country vibe. Part of what is so striking about Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is how he blends the traditional with new age ideologies that are not traditionally dealt with in country music. It has the potential to be totally odd ball, but it works perfectly because of his sincerity and commitment. One of my favorite moments of the year is his cover of “The Promise” by one hit wonders, When In Rome. He transforms the 80s tune into a haunting country ballad.
The Promise by Sturgill Simpson (Video)
#2: St. Paul and The Broken Bones
On TV I was watching highlights from the 2014 Americana Music Festival. One of the feature performers was a 7 piece southern soul band called St. Paul and The Broken Bones. I was immediately impacted by the emotional intensity of their lead vocalist Paul Janeway. This led me to search out more of their music.
They released a couple of EPs in 2013, but their full length debut, Half The City was released in 2014. The album was produced by Ben Tanner of the Alabama Shakes. Listening to the album resulted in an immediate impact. It is the type of music that is hard to listen to without feeling something.
Broken Bones and Pocket Change by St. Paul and The Broken Bones (Video)
#1: Royal Blood
During my teenage years I listened to a lot of alternative rock, along with other forms of rock music. But over the past number of years I haven't really been listening to a whole lot of rock music. To a certain extent this could be due to evolving musical taste. It could be an indicator that I am mellowing in my old age. The main factor is that much of rock music has become bland and generic. That being said, from time to time comes a new act that makes me excited about rock music again. Royal Blood is one of those bands.
Royal Blood is a UK power duo who in 2014 released their self titled debut album. Even though the band only features bass and drums, the music packs a powerful wallop. Maybe Royal Blood will be the band to resurrect rock and roll.
Loose Change (Live) - Royal Blood (Video)
Favorite Musical Discovery of 2014 Poll
Of the 10 artists mention, who is your favorite?
© 2014 CJ Baker