We’re always looking for those small and emerging artists and bands to feature. Throughout the year, we’ve profiled musicians we’ve followed in the past and new ones that came to our attention by chance or good fortune. This list is dedicated to our Favourite Hidden Gems of 2014, so artists that we discovered this year – or who discovered us. In other words, these are artists that we think You. Should. Check. Out!!
Last year, Daughter, the indie-rock band from the UK, burst on the indie landscape with their sensational If You Leave. Taking a page out of their playbook is Westminster, British Columbia trio Alea Rae. Making music that is dark yet dreamy, Alea Rae is on the verge of stardom, possibly replicating the success of their English cousins.
BE CALM HONCHO
San Francisco is home to some of the best indie psychedelic-rock bands, but there are some fantastic indie pop-rock bands like Be Calm Honcho. With their debut album, Honcho Dreams, they’ve created songs that have a California feel – laid-back, smooth, and occasionally funky and always enticing.
BLACK CITY LIGHTS
Black City Lights have been around for a few years, having established a name for themselves in their hometown of Wellington, New Zealand and the rest of the country. After an extensive tour that brought them to North America this year, the lights are shining brighter for the trio, whose dark, synth-electronic music – highlighted by 2013’s Another Life and 2012’s Parallels EP – is mesmerizing.
Making her home now in New York City, London-born Cariad Harmon makes music that is just pleasing to the ears. Her music and sound are a little bit of Norah Jones, a touch of Holly Cole, and the cleverness of Lucinda Williams. Her self-titled second album, which was released in November, should put her on the path to achieving the notoriety of her more famous contemporaries.
Scotland is becoming a hotbed for music, and we’re not talking about The Proclaimers. Some of the hottest and brightest indie bands are coming from this small country, such as The Twilight Sad, We Were Promised Jetpacks, CHVRCHES, and Young Fathers. Life Model, a shoe-gaze, dream-pop band from Glasgow, hopes to join this group. They’ve yet to record a full-length albums, but they have released several singles, including the sultry “Just You”. Big things can be expected for the young quintet.
Moats was our favorite discovery from the ACL Festival this past year. Moats won the NME unsigned band contest slot to make a trip over to Austin, TX and their live set did not disappoint. With currently only a few EP’s under their belt – their upcoming EP Rough is much anticipated. We are sharing their most recent track titled “Brace”. If you dig stellar rock almost with a 90’s throwback feel but still fresh for today – Moats is worth checking out. We also did a Q&A right before they headed to the US if you would like to check it out.
It seems like a lot of our favorite records this year came from New Zealand. After it was shared by fellow New Zealand band Tiny Ruins on Facebook, Nadia Reid‘s listen to formation, look for the signs instantly grabbed our attention. This album is beautiful and melancholy for the most part, but there are some folk rockers mixed in as well.
Our discovery of Phosphene was the result of a mutual liking of a lot of artists, including Sharon Van Etten and The National. Their debut, self-titled LP pays tribute to those artists not only in the liner notes but stylistically as well, and that’s a big compliment. Phosphene has been pretty busy this year. They released Phosphene, a music video, and recorded a great new track “Silver” as part of Converse’s Rubber Tracks program. Check that one out below!
Discovered accidentally while scouring Soundcloud for some new tracks, Sumeau have become one of my favourite bands of the year. From their self-titled debut album, which could easily have been on our 50 Favourite Albums, to their awesome covers, Kat Primeau, Chris Sousa, and their friends are just full of surprises.
THE WILD REEDS
Arguably one of the best indie-folk albums released this year was from The Wild Reeds. The California-based band’s debut album, Blind and Brave, was the perfect balance of old, laid-back folk and the dreaminess of today’s indie folk. With the band expected to tour more widely in support of Blind and Brave, 2015 is setting up to be a possible turning point in the young quintet’s fortunes.
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