Every year the music market gets more and more oversaturated with tons of new music and we are inundated with so much, dare I say, “crap” that it becomes easy to miss the real music gems that are waiting to be discovered. Now this by no means is a comprehensive list but a short compiling of a few records that are worth revisiting before moving into 2015. So get all those iTunes gift cards you got as stocking stuffers this year and head over to iTunes and support good music!
Colony House – When I Was Younger
Up and coming indie rock trio Colony House(two of which are brothers) have been playing together since 2009. Their debut album “When I Was Younger” is laden with infectious melodies and candid lyrics, pulling from such influences as “The Strokes”, “Vampire Weekend” and even “The Police”. The album reminisces on life’s beauty, youthful naïveté and wonder and worriment about the future. Written to become the dialog inside your head and the soundtrack of your heart.
“When I Was Younger” asks the questions pertaining to love and regret, the memories of forgotten dreams and the acquiescence that comes along with growing up. With its straight-forward rock edge coupled with pop sensibilities it’s surprising that this record didn’t go farther this year. But like every child wanting to grow up, they’re just waiting for their time to come.
Matrimony – Montibello Memories
When it comes to music it seems that blood runs thicker than water. From “The Everly Brothers”, to “Donny & Marie”, & “The Jackson 5”, to modern day groups like “Eisley” ,”Kings of Leon”, and “Haim”, family bands have always had a unique place in the American music tradition. Now meet Matrimony: A rootsy folk band with deep southern soul and soaring harmonies that might even give you chills at times. These North Carolina natives comprise of husband and wife duo(Jimmy & Ashlee Brown), two brothers(Jordan & C.J. Hardee; Ashlee being their sister). Their latest album Montibello Memories is an ode to the childhood home where the Hardee kids grew up, making this a personal project in many ways.
From beginning to end the album is an intimate look into the pain and struggle of love, each song a glimpse into another room of their beloved Montibello home. Songs like “Southern Skies” pay homage to their roots, blending banjo infused folk rock with a tinge of southern gospel, while emotive piano driven “Giant” bleeds resilience and triumph. In and throughout “Montibello Memories” you feel a resolve and commitment to keep going when it comes to fighting for what you love most. Whether hometown, family or a troubled relationship it’s all love to Matrimony and worth singing about each step of the way.
Childish Gambino – STN MTN / Kauai
Donald Glover doesn’t quite fit into any Hip-Hop mold you put him in. He’s a writer(30 Rock), turned actor(starred on NBC sitcom Community) and now turned rapper known as “Childish Gambino”. His quirk and uniqueness rings similar to a young Andre 3000 from Outkast. His brand of alternative Hip-Hop vacillates between standard rapper bravado and dark introspection. His latest and lesser known EP “Kauai” comes off the heels of his very successful second album “Because of the Internet” featuring radio hit “3005”. “Kauai” is the second half to a mixtape(STN MTN, stands for “Stone Mountain”) that Gambino released for free and both projects are considered dual sides of the same album. (Proceeds from the sale of Kauai go to help preserve Kauai Island).
Gambino seems to switch things up this time around, exploring sonically with pop synth and groove, as well as trying his hand at singing more on tracks like “Sober” and “Pop Thieves”, even adding a spoken word piece by actor turned rapper Jaden Smith on “Late Night in Kauai”. All in all this project is a must have from 2014 that will never disappoint. One thing is clear however, Childish Gambino is the dark horse of Hip-Hop. No one quite knows what to do with him or where he fits. And that seems to be just the way he likes it.
Brooke Fraser – Brutal Romantic
New Zealand singer-songwriter Brooke Fraser recently released “Brutal Romantic”. She leaves behind the pop folk vibe of her previous albums and has embraced a darker electro-pop feel for her third studio project. Vocally her smooth textured tone and delicate melodies are what pulls you in, but it’s her climatic writing that truly sets her apart. Standout track “Psychosocial” unmasks the twistsed psyche behind compulsory social media stalking, dealing a sharp blow to internet voyeurism in our day and age.
As an overseas artist(she’s done platinum in New Zealand) she hasn’t quite blown up stateside but her newest endeavor demonstrates her seriousness to be seen as a break-out artist and producer. Brooke Fraser is a master wordsmith and a bold risk taker worth noting and looking out for. She is not afraid to do what she wants, fully knowing that she will make you like it later.