Monday will mark the one-year anniversary of Mundo Musique. Who would have believed we would still be doing this? And in that time, Mundo Musique went from a one-man show (Ben) to a duet (with Rich in NYC) and now a threesome (with Michael from Dallas). In that time, we have been introduced to a tremendous amount of great music – from folk to rock to pop to synth-pop to dream-pop to hip hop to dubstep to orchestral pop to electronic to psychedelic to space rock to alt-country to Americana and on and on and on.
The very first post was Neko Case’s “Night Still Comes”. From there, we’ve covered everyone from Arcade Fire, The Who, and Sharon Van Etten to Japandroids, Wolf People, and Haim to Blood Orange, Nicole Atkins, and Hurray for the Riff Raff to Ian Halsall and Fifi Rong. Many of these artists and bands are well known globally or in their home countries, and we are fans of their work, but what gets us most excited is discovering new music and helping to get the word out about the numerous talented, independent bands on this planet.
How do we find these artists? Sometimes we’ll stumble upon a band by reading the liner notes on an album, scouring Soundcloud, see them in a small venue, or even spending some time on Facebook. On many occasions, the musicians find us, whether sending us an email asking them to check out their music or following us on Twitter. On other occasions, their publicists send us an email and ask us if we’re interested. And of course, our friends help us out a lot by making great recommendations.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be using this space to recognize some of our favourite moments, albums, and other obscure things to celebrate one year of Mundo Musique. This week and next, Rich and I will be listing our some our favourite, relatively-“unknown” artists that we have “discovered” over the past year and come to be big fans. We did not know any of these bands or artists listed until we started this journey. And one more disclaimer: we apologize to so many great artists that we have left out. Some of them – such as Shelby Earl and The Belle Game – were discovered before we started Mundo Musique.
This week, we’re listing ten of our favourite discoveries. We’ll list another ten next week.
While I had heard of Bear Mountain, I didn’t know much about them until their publicist reached out to me and asked if I would be interested in meeting with them when they were in town. They were touring with fellow Vancouver band The Belle Game, and I said, “Sure. Why not.” Hearing their great album, XO, seeing their excellent set, and then a zany but terrific interview, I became a fan. Their an act to watch moving forward with their great mix of synth-pop and electronica coupled with immense creativity. ~~~ Ben
BIRDIE BUSCH & THE GREATEST NIGHT
I first heard Birdie Busch‘s music when I drove down to Philadelphia to see a charity concert featuring The Walkmen, Sharon Van Etten, members of The War on Drugs, Sun Ra Arkestra, and many others. I got in early, like I usually do, and one of the first acts was Philly based singer-songwriter Birdie Busch. It was The Walkmen’s last show, ever, but something drew me to Busch and her music, and the moment I got back to New York, I purchased Birdie Busch and The Greatest Night on vinyl. Busch included a thank you note for supporting her music and included a copy of an earlier release as well. ~~ Rich
Ceiling Demons found us. They sent an email back around Christmas time of 2013 and asked if we would be interested in checking out their stuff. And while the young UK band may have hip hop as its foundation, they are anything but a hip hop band. Instead, they are a multi-genre group that incorporates everything from classical music to alternative to R&B. Combine that with songwriting that is meaningful and engrossing, you have a band that is on the verge of a breakout. Sure, their music may never be of the platinum-selling, top-40 variety, but Ceiling Demon is making some of the most refreshing and innovative music around, and for that they will be celebrated. ~~~ Ben
There are so many artists that I have a tremendous respect for because they possess an incredible ability to communicate and share their most deepest secrets in a form that I likely will never master. I admire them for their masterful musicianship and their ability to write captivating lyrics. Chris Ayler, though, impressed me in so many different ways. As a 17-year old, he has an innate and uncanny ability to hear tones and textures and put them together to create music that can be haunting, euphoric, or hypnotic. He’s not like producers or DJs that are currently around, where they are basically remixing existing singles. Instead, Chris Ayler is producing and creating his music. It won’t be long before you see his name as a collaborate with Jay-Z, Tyler, the Creator, or any number of hip hop and rap stars. ~~~ Ben
The “discovery” of Christopher Wild is credited to Mackenzie Scott – aka TORRES. I just so happened to be on Facebook one night, and Mackenzie posted about her friend releasing his debut album. I checked it out and was blown away. His garage – / blues-rock is electric. It has the intensity and ferocity of Reignwolf and Zeppelin. The multi-instrumentalism’s self-titled is not only one of my favourites of this year but arguably one of the year’s best. It’ll probably get overlooked, but really it deserves everyone’s attention. ~~~ Ben
Another Facebook discovery from San Francisco’s Maryam Qudus, who goes by the stage name DOE EYE. This time, however, it was one of those times were Facebook recommended an artist that I might like, and well, I did. Her first two EPs were fantastic, and she followed that up with the terrific Television, which was much more experimental and grittier. In many ways, she’s following the paths of PJ Harvey and Fiona Apple, making music that challenges the listener from its lyrics to the multiple layers of sound.
I get a lot of e-mail from Georgia based artists ever since I wrote about Shaky Knees Festival. I may not live there, but I am a big fan of a lot of bands that have come from Georgia, especially Athens. I’ve been a fan of Elephant 6 bands for as long as I can remember. Something caught my eye about one of the many e-mails, an album featuring members of the Elephant 6 collective. It was love at first listen, the first single from Dream Boat‘s upcoming record, The Rose Explodes, called “Way Out”. It’s a dreamy track that’s easy to lose yourself in. I’m looking forward to The Rose Explodes, due out September 16. ~~ Rich
Before RBC Bluesfest this year, we did a series of local bands that were playing the festival, one of those bands was Fiftymen. Not often do I find myself yelling out an audible “OH HELL YES” upon first listen but that’s exactly what happened when I heard Fiftymen’s “Wedding Band”. Their self-titled LP has a bit of everything, bar room brawl country, blues, ballads, and even spacey psychedelic stuff. ~~ Rich
LOW FAT GETTING HIGH
Thanks to Ba Da Bing! Records inviting me to Slothrust‘s record release show, I discovered Low Fat Getting High, who opened that show. I don’t know what took me so long, apparently they’ve been absolutely killing it over the last year all over New York City. For the last few months, I’ve been on a real punk and grunge kick, and Low Fat Getting High fit right in with what I’ve been digging, like METZ and FIDLAR. Since the article I wrote about them, they released Poor Circulation, a four track, rockin’ EP/Zine. ~~ Rich
I think I stumbled across Julie Byrne in the Sharon Van Etten tag on Tumblr. Someone compared one of her songs to early SVE and I was curious, so I had to check it out. Her smoky voice, and bare bones instrumentation makes her music feel gorgeous, and intimate. Byrne’s ability to create a feel on her record Rooms with Walls and Windows is amazing, and speaks to her incredible ability as a songwriter. ~~ Rich
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