It’s been a crazy year, and a really great one for music. At this time last year I thought I had expanded my music horizons quite a lot, but looking back now, most of my favorite bands and artists are ones I had not heard before this year. I spend a lot of time on youtube and spotify browsing, and I attended lots of live shows, more than in 2012 by far. I’ve discovered lots of great music this year, and here are just a few of my favorites.
Favorite Artists/Bands I discovered in 2013: Spotify (Artists/bands in bold are ones I have also seen live, and photographed/met.)
Frightened Rabbit; Girlyman; The Airborne Toxic Event
Guo Yue; Sarah Slean; The Civil Wars
Down Like Silver; Eastmountainsouth (This duo no longer exists, but one of its members is now part of Down Like Silver.)
Karine Polwart; Heather Maloney; Carrie Rodriguez
Marian Call; Chris Pureka
Shook Twins (I took photos, but I didn’t meet these ladies properly because I spent too much time chatting with the Attic Wolves fellows instead.)
Cary Morin – I met Cary because he was playing as part of Tyler T.’s band, the Common Clay, at their one show this past spring. He’s a fabulous blues guitarist and songwriter. He released a new album this year.
Greyweather – Tyler T. plays guitar in this band, which is how I met them. Kurt Humann is the man whose songs are the backbone of this band’s shows. I wish they had more material recorded, but at least they have an EP on spotify.
Tyler T. – I met Tyler back in February, but he’s one of those people I feel I have known much longer. He’s also one of my top 5 favorite local musicians. I am really looking forward to hearing his new albums when he finishes recording it next year.
Carrie Nation & the Speakeasy – I only saw this band for the first time in June, but this is another one I can’t believe I haven’t known for longer. This band makes Von Stomper look slow and leisurely by comparison- they are very high-energy. Their bassist is crazy, their trombone-player is a cute long-haired red-head, and their lead vocalist looks like a character out of a very interesting wild west film, so they are fun to watch, and their music is great.
The Haunted Windchimes – I photographed these guys at New West Fest, so I didn’t have time to meet them after their set. I loved their music though, and hopefully next time I see them I will have more time to meet them properly.
Hannah & Maggie – I only just found this duo on spotify, but they are quickly becoming a favorite. They remind me of Whippoorwill.
Dala; David Francey; Pocket Satellite – These 3 are at the top of my concert wishlist for 2014.
Rachel Brooke; Matt Skinner – Every time people gripe about how bad modern country has gotten I think of these two excellent musicians, but young country singers who play music that would be a breath of fresh air on the modern country stations, real music with topics besides trucks, beer and girls in tight jeans (though there may be a few songs in these artists’ albums with trucks and beer in the lyrics).
Rachel & the Kings; Petals of Spain; Varlet – I don’t ever get to Denver (no bus, and I can’t drive) so I am always amazed at how many Denver bands I know. These 3 played shows here this year, and won me as an instant fan. Petals of Spain is one of my top 5 favorite bands ever since I saw them this fall.
He’s My Brother She’s My Sister; Caravan of Thieves; Attic Wolves – For being a small city on the outskirts of the Denver scene, we get a lot of great music touring through Fort Collins from elsewhere. These 3 were among my favorites this year. They are from California, the East Coast, and Kansas City, Missouri, and all were a treat when they played here.
In addition to all the great music on spotify, I came across new music in Fort Collins this year that is not on spotify, and some of those bands/artists are among my absolute favorites now. These are some of the nicest and most talented people I’ve met this year, and it’s easy to forget that I had not heard any of the bands and artists I have mentioned in this article before 2013. What the heck did I listen to before I found all this great music?
Rich With Friends – I met this band’s guitarist, Brian, in 2012, and he told me he had a band. So, I made sure in 2013 to catch his band at Road 34 in February. I saw Tyler T. for the first time that evening as well, since Tyler was the opening act for Rich With Friends. It was snowy and icy and cold outside and I almost skipped the show, but I’m glad I didn’t. Rich With Friends released a new album this fall, which I reviewed elsewhere on this site.
Winchester Holiday – I missed seeing this band for months after they were announced as part of the new SpokesBUZZ class, but I finally caught their show in Old Town Square mid-summer. I’ve been addicted to their music ever since. These 5 guys are absolutely fantastic. I could have sworn I reviewed their album properly, but apparently not- I just gush about it enough that it seems like I must have finished a stand-alone review by now. Anyway, they have a new album too, their first, available on bandcamp.
Whippoorwill – This is a brand new duo composed of Staci Foster and Alysia Kraft. They only just picked their name a few months ago, but these ladies are amazing songwriters and they sound gorgeous together.
Von Stomper – This band has been around longer than Whippoorwill, but not by much. These two acts go together in my head because they meshed so well when they played a show together at Hodi’s earlier this fall. Von Stomper brings together 5 very talented young men for some high energy folk rock with great harmonies. They perform my absolute favorite version of “Sea Line Woman”
A Brother’s Fountain – This is a new jam band that has been playing at Avogadro’s Number for occasional open mics and other events since October, and that is often out on a corner downtown busking. That is where I ran into them when I invited them to play at the Avo’s open mics, and since then quite a few other people have discovered how cool this band is.
Fox & Hound – This duo has been around a few years, but they are up in Wyoming. They played at the Avo’s open mic a couple times earlier this year, and I hope they’ll be back. They remind me a bit of A Brother’s Fountain, actually, so maybe they can do a show together in 2014.
Free Range Pickens – I met this band fairly early in 2013, and was their guest to the Iron Horse Bluegrass show where Free Range Pickens opened. This band brings together some of the talented folks from the same loose circle as Von Stomper emerged from, and the two bands share a few members, but this band has a female lead singer and their sound draws more heavily from bluegrass and traditional folk styles and songs.
Maxwell Hughes – Last but not least I met Maxwell Hughes when he opened for Andreas Kapsalis and Goran Ivanovic in January. As celebrity goes, I suppose this fellow is a bit of a minor celebrity, having been a guitarist in the Lumineers. He is a very very skillful guitarist, with lots of impressive-looking tricks and gorgeous original songs, but my favorite thing about seeing him perform is watching his face- he always looks like he is having so much fun while he is playing. It doesn’t hurt that he is also one of the nicest people I’ve met this year.
- Weekly Playlist: Rewind 2 (ravenmount.com)
- Weekly 20 Songs Playlist: Dec 29 (ravenmount.com)
- Free Range Pickens EP (ravenmount.com)
- 2013: A Great Year for Music (kulturblog.com)
- My Favorite Albums Of 2013 (paulstohler.com)
- End of 2013: The Songlists (ravenmount.com)
- Karine Polwart- ‘Traces’ (bedtimefolkalbum.wordpress.com)
- Top 100 Songs of 2013 (thisisabattleground.wordpress.com)