Today is officially my last day of two years as Brig’s music editor.
Throughout that time, I’ve discovered some fantastic new artists, some of which have gone on to great success. But there have also been bands that I’ve loved, but haven’t had the chance to write about to any great effect. So before I leave Brig’s editorial team, I thought I’d put together a list of recommendations for your listening pleasure before I go – which just so happens to include some of my favourite musicians.
So obviously 7 Years was a massive success, but I fear Lukas Graham are in danger of falling into James Bay territory with a huge single, but nobody really knows any other songs. The Danish band’s eponymous debut album is full of incredibly emotional lyrics and highly impressive vocal range that tell beautiful stories. There are different styles and stronger performances than 7 Years, don’t let that be your only impression of Lukas Graham.
This trio have been making somewhat of an impact recently, and the most apt description I have heard of them is that they are like a synthier Paramore. I can definitely see them appealing to a similar audience, with a powerful vocal and lots of energy. It’s often too easy to compare a female fronted rock band to Paramore, but these guys do stand out with an often darker tone.
Rhodes’ niche is in the atmospherics of his music, more often than not his songs build to an impassioned crescendo, or else they are touchingly simple. He writes not just about his own experiences, but he also writes for other people when they are in times of trouble. It is so easy to get sucked into the stories he tells. So far his biggest song was Let It All Go with Birdy (who is also definitely worth checking out), but his solo songs live up to it.
The South-Carolinian rock band incorporate elements of country into their sound, and it usually makes for an entertaining listen. They are a Christian band, but lyrically they are not overly preachy, making their music accessible for non-religious people like myself – if you didn’t already know that you could easily not guess. Full of rock anthems, these guys have provided my summer soundtrack for the last two years.
Those kids who Mmmbop-ed their way to global fame back in 1997 are now all grown up, and have been making music ever since – Anthem, released in 2013, was their sixth album release. Thankfully, they’ve moved away from the cheesy pop of their teen years, but they still know how to write a good pop song. More recently they’ve even dabbled in rock and jazz elements, but the brothers are still at their best when they’re just having fun.
The singer shot to fame having written and featured on Rihanna’s 2013 hit Stay, but while his label wanted to capitalise on that success, Ekko held off on releasing an album that he felt could be better. The result was Time, which may just be the most versatile pop album from the last couple of years. He bares all with pure emotion, gets angry, and has fun with some typical pop songs. To encompass all those sounds into a flowing album shows the writing and performing talent of Ekko, which I don’t think he’s gotten the credit he deserves for.
A Great Big World
Another band who will likely be known for one song – in this case Say Something (featuring Christina Aguilera). But while that was a slow ballad all about the emotion, the rest of their catalogue is actually really fun. Happy songs that lyrically joke about the world around them, while also writing about serious topics like Chad King’s struggle with Multiple Sclerosis. These guys can do it all with a really nice blend of voices, and their fearlessness to use past struggles in their music must be commended.
The Australian singer-songwriter is a prime example of the kind of talent that can be discovered from talent competitions worldwide, even if we haven’t seen the like in the UK. Corby has one of the best voices I’ve ever seen live, with an enormous range and great power and tone. He knows when to hold back in his jazzy style too, often creating musical masterpieces for very easy listening.
Probably the heaviest band on this list, the thing that never fails to amaze me about Shinedown is their power. Whether it’s their driving guitars or Brent Smith’s unwavering voice, they always deliver. And it’s not just noise either, they do upbeat melodicism surprisingly well, and the few ballads they record are very well done. They have enough variety that you can listen to them for hours without getting bored, and that is a massive achievement.
These guys are my favourite band, but I haven’t had the chance to write about them in the last two years. I’ve seen them described as having “a less hardcore Foo Fighters air”. Again, Chris Daughtry’s vocal seems at times to have infinite power, which he uses to great effect in a variety of styles. Their albums see a definite change in tone, as the latter efforts are far lighter, but the voice and often message stays the same.