The 411 Music Top Five 01.06.14: Top 5 New Acts of 2013
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 01.06.2014
From Atoms for Peace and Lorde to Bastille, Civil War, Haim and more, the 411 staff counts down their top 5 new acts of 2013!
THE TOP 5 NEW ACTS OF 2013
Criteria: With 2013 officially behind us, we're looking at the best new acts that popped up in the past twelve months. The criteria was simple: we were looking for acts that broke out this year and made their name, They didn't have to have first produced an album in the calendar year but should have had their breakthrough release.
Honorable Mention: Chance the Rapper, Charlie XCX, Palma Violets, Peace, Savages, Lorde, Parquet Courts, London Grammar, Swim Deep, Action Bronson
Who the hell doesn't love Haim? Everyone knew 2013 would be a big year for them as soon as they won the BBC Sound of 2013 poll and they proved everyone right. Much marauded by respectable publications and artists, Haim were always the one to watch in 2013 and their debut album Days Gone By certainly lived up to the hype, scoring highly on many year-end lists as well reaching the summit of the UK Albums Chart ahead of Justin motherfucking Timberlake no less. They attracted large audiences all summer long at festivals worldwide and perhaps more importantly, they have a reputation for being really down to earth and totally flipping cool chicks. Gotta love that.
Oh yeah, Disclosure. I'm not typically a fan of house music. I'd be lying if I said I wanted to see them at Reading Festival last summer, but dragged along I did get and I'm glad I did because it was fucking awesome. Rarely does a group pay homage to their influences so honestly whilst spear-heading a movement in mainstream British pop. Disclosure are right at home in any club, in any muddy field, at the top of any chart and at any time of the day. Singles such as "White Noise" and "Latch" tore shit up in 2013 and with good reason. Settle was released in the summer to pretty much universal acclaim and now it's nominated for a Grammy. Not bad for a couple of blokes from Surrey called Guy and Howard.
3. The 1975
i don't think it's particularly cool to like the 1975, but you wouldn't have said that six months ago. As is so often the case, their EPs were praised among the hipsters, then they get a couple of mildly successful singles, the album tops charts and all of a sudden it's no longer cool to be a fan. But hey, most of the critics liked The 1975 and with good reasons. It's a fantastic indie record with great pop sensibilities and more depth that the majority of indie records you may have heard all year. Furthermore the group have managed to achieve success on both sides of the Atlantic and their star continues to rise. Drop a few more hits like "Sex" and "Chocolate" and I have no doubt that these guys are going to go on to bigger and better things.
i cannot say enough good things about Chvrches and their debut album The Bones of What You Believe. The group first came to my attention when supporting Two Door Cinema Club earlier this year. I'd heard their name batted around sites like Pitchfork and NME butter never gave them a chance. They had this quirky indie pop sound that resonated instantly though, and their debut record became one of my anticipated of the year. their performances over the summer at various festivals were all met with high praise and then in September the record dropped, and quite frankly it was phenomenal. All of a sudden they're playing longer tours in bigger venues to more people. The record features anthem after anthem after anthem. "The Mother We Share," "Night Sky," "Gun" and "Recover" all rank among my favourite tunes of the year and you need to check these guys out.
I've covered just about all that needs saying about this band their debut album right here so I'll just quickly reiterate. Best new band this year. Awesome live shows. Great songs, massive tunes. Genuinely nice guys. One of the year's best records. Buy it. Download it. Call your friends, send an email, shoot a video. Listen to Bastille.
Honorable Mention: Hatriot, Ashes of Ares, Avatarium
5. Church of Void
Doom metal is one of my favorite metal genres, I see it as the perfect mirror to thrash, and I love them for reasons that are opposite yet equal. This album here came at a time when there was no real good doom coming out, so I threw it on my Spotify playlist expecting something decent. I got something that was much better than those meager expectations, I got some hard rocking doom that had bits of everything that I love about the genre sprinkled throughout it. There are incredibly simple, yet catchy riffs and vocals that are entrancing in their sound an delivery. It also had those sections where they'd let some hard rock influences play out before going to something melodic and soft to help build a gloomy atmosphere. This album was one that I would keep coming back to throughout the rest of the year and I am putting this band on my to watch/to plug list so that everyone else finds out about them.
This is one of those bands that I had forgotten about until right before I started writing my Top 50 Metal albums for this year (which will finish next week, so stay tuned for this weeks' before the finale hits the week after), so I sat down and listened to their new album and was immediately reminded of one of my favorite bands, Woods of Ypres. There is a good reason for that, of course, because the band served as the session band for their final album Woods 5, and I can immediately hear hour similar they are of a band to Woods. Though not all is the same, they sound much more like the early Woods of Ypres material when they were a predominately black metal oriented band, and the vocals are not as good as David Gold's, but they are hard to beat. Putting aside the Woods of Ypres comparisons, they have a lot of folk metal in them, which immediately makes me love them even more. I think their folk stylings come out the most in "Goose River (Mourners' March), which is a wonderful and beautiful song about sorrow and loss, which are themes that we can all relate to. This is a black metal album that has a lot more to it than the label, it's got a lot of folk sounds to them and a lot more clean vocals than I expected, and they are probably my favorite songs on the album, to be honest, the more folk inspired ones. So have an open mind, and give these guys a listen if you will!
3. Æther Realm
This is the only band on this list that have actually been around for a few years, seeing as they had released an EP in 2011. But this year was the first I heard them. I was lucky that this album came out in January, which is generally a dead time for music releases, because I'd have overlooked these guys had it been a REALLY busy week. But I decided to give these guys a listen because their EP had a few good reviews and they're from North Carolina, so why not support them a little? I gave their new album a spin and was absolutely blown away by what I had heard. I know in the Church of Void entry I had mentioned low expectations when coming into an album, and I'll admit that I wasn't super enthused coming into this album, because I've listened to lots of metal and learned that smaller time bands can be hit and miss, but I quickly became enthused as soon as the first note hit my ears. THIS is the album that Ensiferum should have released last year, the melodies are thick and dipped in the pen of death metal greatness. This album honestly felt like it came out of Sweden rather than North Carolina. The guys in this band really understand what make a good melodic death metal song and they exploit that understanding to perfection. I actually was quite lucky in finding their album from this past year at a used book store that I frequent and I jumped on that thing like Ton Acero on a picture of AJ. They're a band that show GREAT loads of promise, so PLEASE support them, if you have to support one band on my list, go support them!
2. Civil War
I knew these guys would be on my list as soon as I heard they had formed at the beginning of the year (I missed the announcement in 2012), mainly because the band featured the four members of Sabaton that had left the band in 2012. They joined up with the drummer from Hell Patrol and the singer from Astral Doors and made some magic. Their debut album, 'The Killer Angels' was about two things, which are great things to write about, by the way, history and wars! I felt that it made the lyrics in this album instantly interesting, because if Iron Maiden have taught me anything in life, it's that history is best told through metal! This band really clicks really well, they deliver memorable and catchy riffs that are matched with a singer who has a really good voice to him, I almost compare him to what we would get if you took Dio and Udo and blended them together, because there are bits of the both of them in terms of tone and delivery throughout the album. If you enjoy bands like Sabaton or have an interest in hearing a DAMN fine song about Napoleon, check this band out, you wont be sorry!
Talk about a band that showed up, stole my heart, and left. That is what this band did as soon as I heard their second single, "Dead for a Day". I heard it and had to go listen to it abut 10 more times. That is really what the whole album did for me, it was Dan Swano and Ragnar Widerberg laying down a combination of progressive metal and death metal. That was originally why I was drawn to this band, because Dan Swano was working in it, and if Dan Swano is in it, it will be good, there is no other option with a Dan Swano album. That is why I am putting so much faith in this band, because their debut album showed so many different possibilities for their future. The band has great solos, clean vocals, harsh vocals, death metal passages, some hints of doom, so great prog sections, just SO many possibilities that are available, and if they just make their latest album for the next 10 years, I'd be totally fine with that, as well. This is another great Dan Swano band and I are more than stoked to see where they're going next!
Honorable Mention: Chance The Rapper, Chvrches, Bastille
5. The Weeknd
R&B has seen a revival of soul in the last year or two, moving away from urban dance-pop into something with real substance and depth. Frank Ocean did wonders with that last year and this year we had The Weeknd following in his steps. Kiss Land was a fantastic LP, bridging the more soulful work of Ocean and the radio-friendly R&B of Usher and R. Kelly. Great production and an amazing voice fit the stylistic choices well, giving us an album that poised Weeknd to become a major, major force in the coming months and years.
I have a lot of appreciation for electronica; the genre has seen elements in some of my favorite groups over the last several years. That being said, like Daniel I don't always love house music because it can miss the point of EDM. Yes, EDM should give you a good beat but it should also be emotionally evocative. That's what Disclosure gives us. Settle didn't quite make the splash in the US that it did in the UK, but it definitely primed the duo for greater success going forward and I'm absolutely looking forward to what they give us next.
A lot of people feel like pop music is a banal genre which offers nothing of substance or emotion. While that is true for a lot of mainstream pop, Haim transcended a lot of those complaints to deliver one of the most pleasant surprises of the year. Days Are Gone is loved by both critics and fans and it has deservedly launched this pop-rock band into the public eye. I didn't get on this particular train until December somehow; they missed my radar. But once I found it I was enthralled. Excellent stuff that reminds us what pop music can do when its done really well.
2. Atoms For Peace
You could say I'm cheating here, because by no means are the members of this supergroup ones whom we've never heard of before. Thom Yorke, Nigel Goodrich, Flea, Joey Waronker and Mauro Refosco have all been working in the business for some time and the former three are all very well-known. But they had never worked together as a group and when Amok was released in February I loved it. The group's various influences came together exceptionally well into one singular alternative electro-rock sound. A lot of people aren't big fans of the growing influence of electronica on mainstream music but when it is done well the results can be sublime. Atoms for Peace did it well.
This was a pretty easy #1 for me. No new artist captured my attention and love for their music more than Lorde did. Yes, everyone has heard "Royals" but for my money that's not even one of the better songs on Pure Heroine. I enjoy it, don't get me wrong. But when you compare it to "Glory and Gore," "Team," "Tennis Court" and the rest of the tracks it just pales. Lorde is a stunningly good artist for any age, and it is even more surprising when you realize that she's sixteen years old. The backlash against her has already begun but I'm having none of it; for my money she was the best new act to come out of 2013.
As always, the last thoughts come from you, the reader. We're merely unpaid monkeys with typewriters and Wikipedia. Here's what you need to do: List your Top Five for this week's topic on the comment section using the following format:
5. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
4. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
3. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
2. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it
1. Artist - "Song": Why you chose it