This post has been a long time coming, and don’t worry, I’m working on finishing up my emotional music videos posts, but I wanted to throw this one out into cyberspace first. I had the privilege of working as music director at a small college radio station, and through that I discovered a lot of great artists that are really flying below the radar right now. I’d also like to think that over the years I’ve compiled a list of smaller groups with massive talent that still haven’t gotten the break they deserve. So I’m doing my part to shed some light on some of these artists, and I’ve covered some of them before in my single song reviews, but trust me, you’re going to want to know about them. If they make it big, you can say you saw it here first. If not, good music is good music either way.
- Until the Ribbon Breaks
If “amalgam” is a word you like to put in your vocabulary, or if when someone asks you what you listen to you realize that you listen to so many genres you just say “alternative” and hope the person doesn’t pry further, then by God is this band for you. These Cardiff, England chaps, led by mastermind Pete Lawrie-Winfield, are not jacks but masters of all trades. Firmly guided by the principle that film and music go hand in hand, you can easily describe UTRB’s music as cinematic. Genres are crossed one after another, as the music generally focuses on a background of usually electronic R&B or subtle dance beats, but with colors and notes of rock, hip-hop, and soul intermingled in every song. Music has never felt more like a movie than this: the action packed wordplay and lyricism, the melancholic and urgent singing, and the edge of your seat climax. Soak it all in and enjoy the ride until the credits roll.
2. Capital Lights
It’s a shame that this Oklahoma band decided to break up, because I very rarely give perfect scores to albums, but this band’s debut album This Is An Outrage! is one of my favorites of all time. I’ve never heard a more perfect pop punk (leaning heavily towards the pop) album in my life. Every single melody these guys craft will be your new favorite, guaranteed. If All Time Low, We The Kings, Mayday Parade, or Relient K were big parts of your life or still are, then Capital Lights needs to be in your life. Their second and last album, while a step back from their debut for sure, is perfect for those who like a little rock in your pop. But if nothing else, give This Is An Outrage! a listen. Any fan of a great hook and classic clever and endearing pop punk lyrics will not regret it. Check out my review of the song “Outrage” here.
3. In Flight Safety
What would Coldplay sound like if they rocked a little harder? If you’ve wondered this, then Canadian alt-rock group In Flight Safety are the answer. Cranking out some of the most infectious riffs I’ve heard all year on their last album Conversationalist, these guys bring back a lot of the things I loved about bands like The Bravery. It’s solid songwriting with a twinge of darkness, but without losing the energy. Turns out these dudes have been around for awhile, and though they’ve been featured on TV in some shows, they haven’t made any big breaks in the States yet. As soon as I heard these dudes, I knew I’d found something good. And now I pass it on to you. Check out my review of the song “Destroy” here.
4. Panic Is Perfect
California’s Panic Is Perfect is hopefully on the verge of something big. These guys encapsulate everything that’s fun about alternative music. It’s the kind you music that you just want to listen to whenever you feel happy. But these guys are no one trick ponies. Their recent EP covers all the bases, including my personal favorite, a chilled out funky groove called “Bobby Black,” which I reviewed here. This band just oozes likability, and more importantly, musical talent. These guys come from backgrounds in world music, which means they’ve got so many things to bring to the table that they’re going to need a bigger table. Which they’ll need pretty soon, if my estimation is correct.
5. A Silent Film
Time and time again I find myself going back to A Silent Film in a lot of moments where I just want to be by myself. This English group excels at the kind of melancholic and somber beauty that many bands dream of achieving. This band deserves to be among the titans of modern britpop and counted among bands like Snow Patrol and Keane. The production is there, the talent is there, and the music is sure as hell there. The only thing missing is exposure. This is all radio ready, and it’s time for this band to break into the mainstream. Here’s one of my earliest reviews of their song “Reaching the Potential.”
6. Urban Cone
If this Swedish group is not famous within the next two years, I’ll eat my hat. This is a catchy as you can get, and I’m honestly surprised the song I posted above they did with superstar Tove Lo is not a huge hit already. These guys have the chemistry of any great boy band out there, but with the musical capability of the best alt-pop bands. This is a message that goes out to every pop/alternative radio station: PLAY THESE GUYS. Their album Poloroid Memories was fantastic and they crank out songs like the two posted here, someone who’s in a bigger position than me is going to take notice eventually.
So that’s it for now! Go forth and share!