Best New Artists of 2013 (So Far)

Rated on the only criteria that matters – does it resonate with me? Do I enjoy this? And does it help me become the best version of myself?  Here is my list of best new artists so far. To be a new artist for me, you have to have either released your first EP or LP in 2013, or be very likely to “break through” to general intelligent-music-lover consciousness in 2013.

The Lone Bellow – I really think these guys are about to blow up. As much as it pains me to imagine that they may be headed to the same fate of radio ubiquity as the Lumineers and Mumford and Sons (seriously, “Ho Hey” on the hip hop station?), this does not take away from how soothing  and high-quality this music is.

Wake Owl –  I like how they solemnly plod through with a sound that echoes Amos Lee and Delta Spirit while maintaining their own integrity. And they’re Portland local, so that’s awesome. And if I hadn’t just seen the Gotye video for Somebody I Used to Know, this would be the most beautiful and interesting music video I have seen in months.

Atoms for Peace – In the age of boundless technological possibilities, it only makes sense that we now have an IDM supergroup: Front man Thom Yorke (Radiohead), bassist Flea (RHCP), synth man and keyboardist Nigel Godrich (longtime Radiohead producer), drummer Joey Waronker (Beck and REM) and Brazilian percussionist Mauro Refosco.  There has always been something otherworldly about Radiohead, and when you add in the influences of the others, you have three continents represented which adds both depth and eccentricity to the music. It is hard to describe what they do (they are post-modern to the nth degree), but they do it well.

The Mowglis – In some ways it feels strange to follow up with these guys after Atoms for Peace, because they are so different, yet they represent the same thing: unbridled emotional expression. A Thom Yorke project will always drip with jadedness, philosophical angst, and maybe some despair. And we love him for it. The Mowglis on the other hand are incredibly innocent, full of love and hope for humanity, in a very unfiltered, uncritical way. They haven’t thought it through, they just want to feel the love. And we love them for it. I will keep posting this video as often as I can. It just makes me happy. This kind of innocence and joy is just infectious.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – It’s bouncy, she’s playing a banjo, and there’s a synth layer in there. That is cool.  I guess this is more of a “new to me” artist since she’s had some albums before, but the new album We the Common  is really catchy and positive (yet a good degree more mellow than the Mowglis).  And the third installment of their 3 minute shorts  (on the website’s first page) is hilariously awkward and funny.

Shakey Graves

It’s a one-man country band. You hear tambourine, drums, electric guitar, vocals – and yes, it’s all him. It’s a full body experience. The only thing he can’t do is harmonize with himself, though at about 2:30 in the video below he seems to try. Hailing from Lubbock, TX, he is redefining everything I know to be true about Lubbock, TX. One would expect that he’s coming out of the creative vortex of Austin, but no, he is pioneering an intense way of providing excellent country/roots music from a decidedly bland town. The new Buddy Holly? Maybe. Whatever the case, once people catch on to him, he’ll be huge.


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