During dark days of winter, in beginning of the new year, before the music gets sunny with the weather, and before the mandolins come out for the summer festival circuit, is a perfect time to wrap your ears around some of the new music you will be hearing for the next twelve months. A lot of the big names released new material in 2014 making it a bit more difficult to surface new and exiting artists and bands, but just because you have never heard of them doesn’t mean that the music doesn’t kick a little ass.
If you have never heard of Leon Bridges, best you stop what you are doing right now and write down the time and place that you first heard this Soul Power that could very easily be the love child of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. His live performance of “River” will bring your ears to attention, and if you are ever are lucky enough to see him perform live in the Dallas area, you will be better person for it. Staying on the Soul Train until the next station, Curtis Harding puts the Fly in Superfly with his stirring debut album Soul Power. Inspired by the Memphis Horn- Stax singles of the late sixties, this record should set the stage for Neo-Soul stardom for Harding in the near future.
Breaking up the sausage fest on this weeks playlist are two interesting female led Rock acts that are definitely on the rise. Wolf Alice, are a group of North Londoners that combine the harder edge of Lita Ford with a bit of the fun of post Runaways Pat Benatar. This is a harder edged band with that dash of melody that will keep you interested and coming back for more. The Pearl Harts is a Rock Chick Duo that has been on our musical radar for a few weeks now. This harder rocking pair takes White Stripes and Black Keys comparisons and throws them out the window. In a steel cage match we would take these gals over Haim two out three falls.
Rival State is an Anthem Rock band that is very radio friendly and should be a summer festival staple this year, the jury is still out here, but if they can change things up a bit from song to song they may be ones to watch. Von Hertzen brothers, a band formed by three Finnish brothers named, amazingly enough, Von Hertzen, threaten to break through but never seem to capture that mojo that would get them over the radar instead of languishing just below. Their blend of Classic Rock, Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock might not be for everyone, but for those that want to revisit those days of Rock yore, this may your band.
Thanks to Brisbane, Australia music critic Paul McBride for introducing us to The Ninja’s and their 2014 E.P. Kill ‘Em All. These blokes have an infectious Indie Rock, Post Punk sound that should get them some serious world-wide acclaim outside of their Aussie borders in very short order. Make sure you check out Paul McBride’s work on his web site for the music scene of Australia and around the world.
Tobias Jesso Jr. is a pretty fresh face on the music scene, and if piano based singer songwriters are to make a comeback this young lad just might be the one to lead the way. “Hollywood” is an understated gem that evokes Randy Newman more than Billy Joel or Elton John, but that is never a bad thing. This will be on shuffle on your Itunes playlist once you check it out. Blackberry Smoke is another one of those bands that have been on the precipice of stardom for a couple of years now, and their new album set to be released early 2015 should push them over the edge.
Finally, with The Bohica’s featuring their rocking Strokes-is, guitar heavy “To Die For, ” Viet Cong and their Delta Blues boogie, along with The Districts “Rocking Chair” 2015 is poised to be another great year in music.