For much of my life I have limited myself when it comes to experiencing new media. For 15 years I stuck to the same genre of music, listening to different artists, but rarely straying from the hip hop style. I have participated in the downloading scene for years, but I was unaware of just how many great types of music are out there on the internet if you know where to look. I have really enjoyed discovering new genres, and along the way have found some bands and artists that I have listened to over and over again. It is nice to have different types of music depending on what mood you are in or what you have going on. If I am in a laid back mood and want to relax I really like listening to folk music or a well put together indie album. When I need a boost of energy I look for electronica or house music, these styles are great for working out as well. Some albums bring me to a happy place regardless of what I am doing. I thought what better way to share some of my musical tastes then to put together a "top 10" favorite artists list. This is proving to be quite hard, but I will highlight my favorite artists, the exact number to be determined Most of these artists are new to me this year, but a few of them have been constantly played by me for much longer then that.
Tegan and Sara - Ironically, the first song I heard from these ladies was "The First", released in 2000 on their debut album "This Business of Art". Listed by Wikipedia as an Indie Rock band, the music is really about Tegan and Sara, their guitars, and their incredible ability to write the perfect song time after time. Emotion spills from them, and they feel genuinely invested in everything they perform. In 2011 they released their 7th studio recording, but for the last couple of years I have been stuck on their 2007 release "The Con". I play this album constantly on my ipod as it really never gets old, but I will make a point of giving their last 2 releases a play in the coming weeks.
Matisyahu - Unique musical stylings flow from this man like water. Likely the only artist to combine rap, reggae, beat boxing and the scat singing style associated with jazz music, the first time I discovered his music I fell in love. My sister told me about his amazing talents, and knowing me she was surprised that I hadn't heard him. As a deeply religious man Matisyahu always has a message to deliver through his songs, and he follows through time and again in a powerful way. I have listened to his most recent work "Light" hundreds of times and it flows like a well constructed story, each song transitioning from the last. Give it a listen if you have never tried it.
Balkan Beat Box - This collection of musicians make up one of only a few gypsy punk bands in the world. Alternatively described as electronica, the songs have a fast-paced upbeat feel, and their "Blue Eyed Black Boy" album can be relied on to bring you out of any funk that you are in. The guys hail from Israel, and the trio is made up of Ori Kaplan, Tamir Muskat and Tomer Yosef. They also work with other artists on their albums depending on what kind of sound they are looking to achieve. Their music incorporates the saxophone, trumpet, trombone, guitars and percussion instruments to create a unique sound that carries a great positive message. I am eagerly anticipating some new material from the Balkan Beat Box crew.
Chromeo - My brother Ian deserves a thousand thankyous for introducing me to this amazing duo from Montreal. I played their "Fancy Footwork" album more then any other this year. These guys produce a fun brand of dance music through their use of keyboards, synthesizers, guitars and the rarely utilized talk box. "Fancy Footwork" released in 2007 was their first widely recieved effort, though the guys have been working together since 2001. They followed up with another album in 2010 called "Business Casual" and it delivers as well. Chromeo has a great style to get your blood flowing and get you in the mood to work out.
Corb Lund and the Hurtin' Albertans - Ah, what can I say? Corb Lund is the best musical storyteller I have come across in my time. He and his band have passed through Prince George many times, but I was too ignorant to get out and experience it. I have always been a strong hater of commercialized country music with the constant references to whisky drinking and general lack of creativity. When I discovered the amazing storytelling style of Corb Lund dubbed "Country Folk", I had to put down my defences and let country music into my life. The 2005 album "Hair In My Eyes Like a Highland Steer" is gold from start to finish, with the song "All I Want to Do Is Play Cards" serving as a type of personal anthem for me. Try these guys out if you haven't already.
Bombay Bicycle Club - A recent discovery, this indie rock group from the UK has a nice mellow style, couple with a solid flow from song to song. In the last few months I have found myself going back to their 2011 album "A Different Kind of Fix" time and time again. They have found some solid success in the UK and elsewhere in Europe but have yet to be released in North America. I will be checking out their previous two albums in the near future.
Alexandra Stan - After hearing her widely known "Mr. Saxobeat" single, I added this super poppy artist to my collection. She has an infectious dance style that never fails to get me going if a work out is in order. Likely the only Romanian artist I have ever listened to, I have played her album to death.
Other Artists I am Listening to:
The Black Keys, Florence and the Machine, The Ting Tings, M.I.A., The Cool Kids, Wiz Khalifia, Glasses Malone, Asher Roth, Yukon Blonde, Danko Jones, and Fall Out Boy.
I look forward to discovering more new to me artists in 2012 but for now I will leave this list as is. Try new styles and genres, you just might find yourself branching out.