Favorite NEw Artist of 2014
More Than The Melody's year in review continues with our favorite new artists of 2014. There are always a lot of new bands with debut albums or EPs, and a couple of them always stand out. Here are the 4 we fell in love with.
Ben Lowden - Glass Animals
Glass Animals formed in 2012 but didn’t release their debut album, Zaba, until this past June. Hailing from Oxford, England, their indie rock and psychedelic pop sound has made an immediate mark on the album charts and the playlists of many. They often use a minimalist concept, similar to that of the XX, layering beats and melodies on top of each other in a way that let’s everything be heard individually, as well as part of the greater melody. They also pair a lot of instruments with the synthesizer, similar to what Alt-J does. These guys were my favorite new band for the way these two concepts come together on each of their tracks. With a unique vocal sound as well, their creative music adds a new flavor to indie music. I also don’t know many bands that can get away with the lyric “peanut butter vibes” like they do on “Gooey”. Their early success will hopefully lead to a lot of festival sets for Glass Animals this summer, as they are already rumored to be playing Bonnaroo in June.
Gabi Schwartz - CHVRCHES
If I really like an artist I can listen to them over and over again for weeks, and this past year one of those artists was CHVRCHES. The Scottish electro/synthpop group is made up of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty. The group formed in 2011, but really only started to garner success in 2013. Since 2011 they have released a debut album The Bones of What You Believe in 2012, 4 EPS between 2013 and 2014, have played at a number of major musical festivals, and they won the 2014 NME (New Musical Express, U.K.) award for Best New Band.
There is a lot I like about CHVRCHES—Mayberry’s high voice, their fun beats, and their layered synths—but in particular I appreciate their use of lyrics. Sometimes “synthpop” can seem like a fluffy genre, but CHVRCHES’ vocals and synths work in tandem instead of one overpowering the other, and their lyrics are substantive.
For a debut album, there isn’t a song I don’t like on The Bones of What You Believe. The most popular song from the album is "The Mother We Share". "Lungs" and "We Sink" are two other I’m really into, but "Zvvl" from their EP Recover is one of my all time favorite songs from the group. It’s a little slower and mesmerizing. They’ve also made some solid remixes of "Hurricane" by MS MR and "Before The Dive" by St. Lucia.
If you can’t tell I only have good things to say about CHVRCHES. They’re different, they’re new, and they’re going places.
David Cooper - Hozier
My favorite new musician of 2014 has to be Hozier. Is there any question about this guy? He has blown up in the past six months to unbelievable heights. The guy is a star. He hails from Ireland but his soul is straight out of the Mississippi Delta. Hozier’s deep, bluesy voice will blow you away. He has the ability to put you in a trance with his powerful lamentations of love and anger. Obviously “Take Me to Church” is his most famous single, but his music has so much more depth than just one song. Make sure you listen to his full album as well as videos of covers on Youtube. Prepare to be stunned.
Ben Schechter - In The Valley Below
It’s impossible for me to say that I have only one favorite artist who made a debut in 2014. That being said, I’ve got to share this duo with you, because if you haven’t heard their music yet, you’re missing out. In The Valley Below consists of Angela Gail and Jeffery Jacob, both from very different backgrounds. Based in Echo Park, Los Angeles, California, the two started making music together at SXSW when experimenting with a lot of drugs and jam sessions. Gail is the keyboardist and was raised in Muskegon, Michigan. Jacob is the guitarist and is from Memphis, Tennessee. Both members are on the vocals.
I caught on to In The Valley Below when I heard their single “Peaches” in 2013. The band released this one track in July of 2013, following in September of 2013 they released a 4 song EP. This past May, they released Man Girl EP consisting of four tracks plus two “Peaches” remixes. One remix by Omniflux, the other by Kele, the front man of Bloc Party. With Kele’s remix, the band really began to get some serious press. This past August they released their first LP titled The Belt. You can listen to “Peaches” in whatever season, it’s super upbeat and really catchy. When The Belt was released, I couldn’t wait to hear what else the duo had produced. On the album, is my favorite song, it seriously never gets old! “Palm Tree Fire”, the music video rocks too, it portrays every good vibe that the band gives off. The group may have a tour in store, they will be rocking the Buku Music & Arts Festival in New Orleans this March.