Here’s the new music I found most exciting this year. Much of it was from the free record samplers they distribute on Amazon (one of the web’s best kept secrets, full length anthology albums, some with tracks by famous artists, absolutely free for download –go to the digital downloads section >> special deals >> albums from $0.00). Other standout tracks were discovered via NPR’s local affiliate, WCBE and also the online NPR music blogs. The last few tracks were courtesy America’s last surviving truly independent alternative radio station WWCD 102.5.
1. “Embeleso” – Carolina Camacho
I discovered my top track of the year, this hypnotic anthem, via NPR’s AltLatino.
2. “#Grownupz” – Fein If I’m any judge, this should be a monster hit someday. A song about a bratty rich kid with a Peter Pan complex. Reminiscent of Imagine Dragons, Alt-J and AWOLnation. No video, so you’ll need to click on the link to hear it.
3. “Tie up the Tides” – Quilt
I loved this ethereal number with a sound that was both retro and fresh.
4. “Water Fountain” – tUnE-yArDs
Not much to say other than I’m an enormous fan of this massively talented, subversive and creative artist.
5.”The Man” – Aloe Blacc, Lift Your Spirit
He makes you believe the hype with this feel good genre-defying country-inflected number.
6. Zigzagging Toward the Light – Conor Oberst, Upside Down Mountain
I’ve never been a Oberst fan, but he finally won me over with this number.
7. Is #6 my favorite folkie quasi-religious Light-themed song of the year? It has to fight for that honor with “Distant Light” by the always enjoyable Dr. Dog.
8. Hey Mami – Sylvan Esso
Another amazon sampler track with a subversive female sound –acapella world folk, at least until the dubstep-influenced bass kicks in.
9. River – Ibeyi Oya
Another strong female sound, this one courtesy identical twins from Cuba.
10. “Never Catch Me” – Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar
The song –strongly reminiscent of Outkast’s Andre 3000 — had one of the year’s most unforgettable videos.
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