Statements and opinions that follow are entirely my own
One thing I’m excited about lately are the brand new music discovery features we’re working on at Spotify. If you haven’t heard, here’s a sneak peek:
Discovering new music is brilliant, even if it’s just new to you and everyone else heard it years ago. As part of a generation that largely didn’t experience it, I finally have some understanding of what people loved about the “sifting through albums at the record store” experience of yesteryear. Personalized music discovery is awesome.
In that vein, I thought I’d share some of the new music that I’ve discovered over the past month or so. These artists and tracks aren’t specifically new, but they were all new to me. If you just want the TL;DR, here is the Discovered: Winter 2013 playlist that I put together. It’s a shorter list that I’ve found works excellently for seeding a radio station.
Now let me talk a bit about these artists, from a Portland outfit that did a literal bicycle tour of the Pacific Coast, to an indie band who used Kickstarter to make their next album possible, to a socially conscious rapper from Nova Scotia.
Bronze Radio Return (Hartford, CT)
This indie rock band hails from Connecticut, and performed for Barack Obama in 2010. This album, Shake! Shake! Shake!, is actually from 2011, but Bronze Radio Return is still alive and kicking.
There’s a good chance you heard the eponymous “Shake, Shake, Shake” when it was featured in a Nissan Leaf commercial. I first heard it as I was running to the subway through a snowstorm in Stockholm, and it fit perfectly.
It’s one of those songs that has a slower start but then suddenly turns into an entirely different beast. When I arrived at the bar where I met my friends, the first thing I did was to take off my headphones and foist them upon my unsuspecting companions, making them listen to “Shake, Shake, Shake” before I even got around to ordering a beer.
Another of my favorite tracks is “Down There”, which brings back all my memories of hanging out by the river during the summer after high school. While I realize that Bronze Radio Return is probably thinking of a river in New England while I’m thinking of a very specific river in the Pacific Northwest, the whole experience is still very Americana.
Overall, the whole album served as an excellent for snowboarding in the northwest over the holidays, including for the drives to and from the slopes. And if you’re heading to SXSW this year, you’re in luck. Bronze Radio Return will be playing on March 11.
Great Lake Swimmers (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
If there was a band that I could say characterizes what I think of when I think of Canadian indie folk, this would be it.
Great Lake Swimmers is a folk rock group from Toronto, and you can almost hear the geography of Ontario in their music. At the core, communicating about their environment is what these guys are about. Tony Dekker, the lead vocalist, actually contributed a short piece on this to the WWF.
Overall, I’d say that my favorite Great Lake Swimmers album is Ongiara, their 2008 release. Definitely worth a listen.
As for the latest album, New Wild Everywhere, I haven’t gotten around to it yet but there’s actually a version with track-by-track commentary from the band available.
Blind Pilot (Portland, OR)
From the other side of the continent, we have Blind Pilot. These folks started small, and I got a kick reading about their 2008 bicycle tour.
Apparently they built some trailers, tossed their instruments in, and proceeded to bicycle to gigs all the way from Bellingham to San Diego (incidentally, two of my favorite towns).
That’s definitely one way to earn some West Coast cred. I’ve driven the Pacific Coast Highway a couple times, and it is nearly a spiritual experience. I regret not joining friends who have bicycled it.
As it is, the whole 3 Rounds and a Sound album from 2008 makes for some very chill listening. I took an immediate liking to the folksy lead-in of “One Red Thread”. For some reason it really reminds me of “Yankee Bayonet” from The Decemberists.
Wild Child (Austin, TX)
Between Kelsey Wilson and Alex Beggins, Pillow Talk features the same back-and-forth vocals that make Edward Sharpe so compelling. And it makes you want to sing along in the same way that “Little Talks” does.
I did some searching and thought that Wild Child had dropped off the face of the planet after their first album, but the truth is much better. They’re recording their sophomore effort, The Runaround, with funds they raised on Kickstarter. So cool.
Quiet Company, Boy & Bear, Urban Cone & more
Here’s what else made it into my Discovered: Winter 2013 playlist:
Quiet Company is another indie band from Austin. Very reminiscient of Death Cab, but with a more upbeat touch.
Asaf Avidan, hailing from Jerusalem, is an artist I probably should have heard about by now. In my defense, his earlier releases never made it to the USA. The album of One Day (Reckoning Song) remixes is great music to work and crank out some code to.
Well, here’s to a year that I’m sure is going to be filled with excellent music.