One I found a little late, one that’s just coming around.
The Weather Station, All of It Was Mine
FOR FANS OF: Laura Marling, First Aid Kit, Phox
One of the most conflicting feelings I get discovering music on Spotify or other services is that I often stumble on things that are years old. And every time, almost without exception, I get a feeling akin to, “How the hell did I not hear this?” Such is the case with The Weather Station’s 2011 song “Everything I Saw,” a pretty, folky ray of sunshine with breadth and personality. I talk a lot about folk music, partly because folk went through something of a boom in the last decade or so, only to be muddied by cookie-cutter hipsters whose soulless and repetitive love ballads do nothing to differentiate themselves from countless other imitators of an otherwise great art form. Pro-tip: If the guitars are only chugging chords, it doesn’t matter if those guitars are acoustic, they clearly can’t play them very well. Look for some solid picking, like “Know It To See It,” or some sense of fragility or risk, like the tender high notes on “Chip on My Shoulder.” Great folk music can be as intimate as a whisper or as wide as a valley, but no matter its tone, at its best, it captivates and freezes a listener cold in place until it’s done.
FOR FANS OF: Gnarls Barkley, Mayer Hawthorne, Raphael Saadiq
Curtain back, this is breaking the format a bit, because Daniel Wilson doesn’t have a full-fledged album available yet to showcase. What Daniel Wilson has, however, is a voice that slapped me awake the first time I heard it. On the extraordinarily catchy “Wedding Daze” and his newest single “Sinner of the Week,” he sings with dramatic vigor in a register few can match. He puts an amiable and potent spin on funk, soul, and R&B all within the context of neon-soaked, dancefloor-ready beats. Simply put, he’s a musician of high caliber on the very cusp of stardom, poised to be the next big thing in pop music. Get in on the ground floor while the doors are still open, because there’s a very good chance that soon enough, everyone will be screaming to get a piece of Daniel Wilson.