In continuation of the December tradition, we bring to you another end of the year list. Today we whittled down our 10 favorite artists who broke out in 2013. Just to make things clear: Our criteria for this category does not require an artist to have released their debut in 2013. These are the bands and artists who seized our attention this year.
We're enjoying all of your comments on this year's lists. Please continue to share who you feel should have made the cut with our readers!
10. Laura Mvula
With so many female solo artists occupying mainstream attention, many of these ladies are forced to adopt a gimmick to help set them apart. English singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, however, needed no kitschy flare to catch our eye in 2013. Her debut album Sing to the Moon showcased her unique, soul-engulfing voice in songs like her lead single "Green Garden", where she unleashes her bluesy tone over claps and xylophone.
From the Colorado Mountains he came, and in Greenwich Village he stole our attention. Gregory Alan Isakov is by no means a music rookie in the folk game, yet we hadn't caught wind of his ethereal sound until hearing his 2013 release The Weatherman. The South African-born, Philadelphia-raised, Colorado local recites lyrics with an idyllic voice that cuts directly into your spirit. When combined with the warming textures of precise banjo picks and acoustic strums, Isakov fills the nostalgic void that many of today's pop folk acts have disregarded.
The British trio were first introduced to us as key members of Communion Records, the musical community co-founded by Ben Lovett of Mumford and Sons and Bear's Den's own Kev Jones. And like all members of this reputable collection, they're pretty damn talented. With gripping, allegorical lyrics lofted above lulling banjo chords, Bear's Den's music embodies a purity that would humble most modern folk acts. Oh, and their songs sounded blissful in our garden during a late-summer visit.
There's not much to say about Lorde that hasn't already been acknowledged. Twelve months ago, her name meant absolutely nothing to the world. And today, we all want to be royals. Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor (yes, that's her full name) became the first solo female artist to top the Billboard Alternative Songs list since 1996, and she currently holds the record for longest reign by a woman on top of the chart. Not yet a legal adult, she's currently nominated for three Grammys. Oh, did we mention she hangs out with David Bowie?
The musical taste of Baeble undoubtedly evolved throughout 2013. Before this year, a DJ's set never would have found its way in front of our lenses. This was until we encountered British brother duo Disclosure who, in our eyes, helped revolutionize the way EDM is performed. While most EDM artists invest in elaborate light shows to stimulate the dilated pupils that gaze from the crowd, Disclosure treated their stage like an elaborate Rube Goldberg creation—bouncing from one computer to the next and randomly grabbing guitars and drum sticks as their songs progressed down the assembly line. Their debut record Settle gave us great hope in the future of EDM.
Charli XCX lured us in with her brash attitude and unique style, and kept us hooked with her infectious pop output on her debut album True Romance. The artist who penned Icona Pop's most iconic, girl-party ballad, "I Love It", seems to be a single-writing machine as her entire album is saturated with radio-ready anthems.
Like many musicians, the trio that comprises The Lone Bellow went through hell and back in the process of creating and releasing their self-titled debut. Not surprisingly, we have a soft spot for this group as they're our native neighbors, residing right across the East River in Brooklyn. In addition to being a humble bunch, The Lone Bellow are true masters of their craft—sad stories told through a brilliant mingling of folk, gospel, and country, all of which are harmonized out of three exceptional voices.
Jean-Philip Grobler of St. Lucia's first commercial success in the music industry came as a jingle writer. We're sure this experience helped make every single track on his debut full-length When the Night so damned infectious. The kaleidoscopic synth exposed on tracks like "September" and "Elevate" are built for grooving, and groove we have. Watch St. Lucia perform "September" below.
Although Los Angeles-based Lord Huron released their debut full-length, Lonesome Dreams, back in 2012, it wasn't until the following year that they received mass attention. Lord Huron's Southwestern spin on folk was particularly popular during festival season. The album's lead single "Ends of the Earth" found itself on television soundtracks like Shameless, and it's currently being used to sell diamonds for Zales. We think they deserve to be paid with a velvet satchel of treasures.
Similar to a few other names on this list, CHVRCHES was a group who seemed to appear out of thin air...Scottish Highland air that is. Although new to the mainstream music world, early in 2013 the Glasgow-based group that is led by the stone-faced fairy Lauren Mayberry began abducting the ears of the synthpop faithful. As they progressively released singles, CHVRCHES' fanbase swelled and charged right up until the September release of their debut full-length The Bones Of What We Believe. What's so appealing about the music released by CHVRCHES is the contradictory yet complementary tones carried throughout their songs. Lyrical sorrow and/or industrial and gloomy synth tones are counteracted by the cooling, Siren-like voice of Mayberry. To some, this balance of melancholy and dance-worthy rhythm is considered the formula for the perfect pop song, and we feel that CHVRCHES justified it so.