Back to New Music

I don’t know how I used to discover new bands. Boyfriends, probably, and college radio. Now it’s Pandora, Spotify, or NPR First Listen (shoosh, I’m a 40-year-old mother who lives in the suburbs; I don’t listen to anything but NPR on the radio.)

Here’s some of the best stuff I’ve been listening to lately:

If you like Amy Winehouse (RIP), listen to Adele (21). While the latter doesn’t have Winehouse’s black-soul voice, she definitely has VOICE. Girl can wail it. She’ll suck you in with “Rolling in the Deep”, which is getting some radio play right now, but she’ll sock it to you on “Rumour Has It”. Bonus: A cover of The Cure’s “Lovesong”.

Release the Sunbird, Come Back to Us. This is one I discovered through NPR Music’s First Listen feature. It’s breezy summer pop anchored by Zach Rogue’s sweet vocals. The lyrics reveal a serious side to the music, but it’s nice to have the tunes wash over you in all their melodic glory. And if you end up liking this, check out Rogue’s first band, Rogue Wave: more of the same, a little harder instrumentally — for example, the guitar gets a little more fuzzed out on some tracks. All these albums are on my Spotify heavy rotation (so to speak).

If you like Kate Bush or Tori Amos or Regina Spektor, then listen to Florence + The Machine (Lungs, Lungs: The B-Sides). Florence Welch doesn’t sound *exactly* like any of these other female artists, but her music is romantic, baroque, thrillingly rich, and her voice. Oh that voice. It’s… unique. I can’t describe it, really, you just have to hear it. She may be one of those “love her or hate her” artists. I am completely smitten. Bonus: A cover of Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”. Extra special super bonus: A cover of Cold War Kids’ “Hospital Beds”.

If you like the Decemberists, then listen to the damn Decemberists. I finally got around to hearing The King is Dead, and I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. And for missing their last Pittsburgh tour date. Just brilliant stuff here.

I’m always hunting for new music. I’m also enjoying Jill Scott, Eleanor Friedberger (from the Fiery Furnaces), Stephen Malkmus and the Jinks, and Portugal. The Man. (If you like MGMT or Flaming Lips, listen to Portugal. The Man. As Dr. Bro says, “Bad name, really good disc.”)

How do you discover new bands? What are you liking lately?

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5 thoughts on “Back to New Music

  1. RE: The Decemberists: Listened to The King is Dead b/c of the hype, was unimpressed. Was more impressed by The Crane Wife and the so-disturbing-it’s-brilliant-(or-vice-versa) The Hazards of Love.

    The National. I really can’t pick a best album out of their last three or four; they’re all equally terrific. Current favorite song is “Bloodbuzz, Ohio,” because I went to college in a then-rural area of Ohio where agriculture and bees were prominent aspects of life.

    Leonard Cohen–not new music, but his versions of his songs instead of the covers I’ve heard for years are revelatory. Live in London is pretty much a much-have for any Cohen fan.

    • The Crane Wife is my favorite Decemberists album to date. I didn’t like Hazards of Love AT ALL. Even after multiple listens, it didn’t do a thing for me.

      Haven’t heard of The National. I’ll have to check them out on Spotify.

      Leonard Cohen is just classic. His version of “Everybody Knows” floors me every time.

  2. Oh how I love the Decemberists. Favorite band of all time – lucky me got tickets to their show this year for Valentine’s day. AND IT WAS AWESOME. I have to agree with the previous poster that The King Is Dead is not my favorite Decemberists sound and I adored Hazards of Love. But I like their weird stuff best.

    Lately I’ve been enjoying this German rock singer named Peter Fox and I’ve been trying to get into Patty Griffin. I need to listen to Florence + The Machine.

  3. The more I listen to Florence + the Machine, the more I dig it. Swooping vocals, thundering percussion. You’ll like it. Why Patty Griffin? I tried to like blue grass and folk, especially after O Brother, Where Are Thou? came out. Never could do it. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t seek it out.

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