In retrospect

I know that this is an incredibly late reflection on the music of 2013, but I figure: still January (barely), still relevant. So many fantastic albums came out last year with an equal number of “best of” lists having been made about them, so I thought I’d spare you the trouble of reading yet another one. Instead, how about some of the musical discoveries of 2013? Here are five artists that weren’t on my radar in 2012 but are definitely staples in my music library now…

#5 – Kishi Bashi

If I had to pinpoint one artist whose music sounds like a big magical party, where zoo animals can talk and everything is painted in colors that you didn’t even know existed, Kishi Bashi would be at the top of my list for sure. Kishi Bashi, the name under which the multi-instrumentalist Kaoru Ishibashi releases his music, is a spirited and ambitious one-man show. I’m surprised that it’s taken me this long to listen to his music, given that he’s worked with the likes of Regina Spektor and of Montreal previously, but here we are.


#4 – The Lone Bellow

So you say you like The Lumineers and Mumford & Sons but you’re looking for something fresh and a bit different? Look no further than this Brooklyn-based trio. If The Lone Bellow has anything it’s a lot of soul, and maybe a collective sound much bigger than the sum of its parts. I’ve heard talk about their live shows, so I’ve got to say that I’m pretty thrilled that they’ll be playing a show here in March.


#3 – Indians

I don’t know what exactly it is about the music, but upon hearing Indians for the first time, I remember feeling an inner calm. Maybe it’s because it sometimes sounds as if the music is being played underneath the surface of a beautifully chilly mountain lake somewhere. Regardless, if you’re into echoey, reverb-laden kind of stuff, then take a listen to my new favorite Danish export.


#2 – Daughter

The British group Daughter is another band that made me stop in my tracks when I first heard them. I was listening to the song “Youth” off of their debut album and—even though I tend not to listen too closely to lyrics when I first hear something—I was yanked in by the heartbreakingly honest interpretation of love that’s gone sour. Initially, their music can sound very bare, but then it builds into something that you wouldn’t necessarily expect; they do both well.


#1 – Rhye

Normally I wouldn’t be too keen on a Sade soundalike, but for some reason, Rhye just works for me (and tons of other people too, it seems). Don’t let the singer fool you: he is 100% male. Their debut album, Woman, is a sensuous yet tasteful foray into the worlds of love and sex. Definitely keep this tucked away for Valentine’s Day. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.


I’m sure you’d already heard of some of these artists, but maybe not all of them. And hopefully you also made some really earth-shattering discoveries of your own in 2013. Cheers to the year to come!


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