2011 was an awesome year in music. In case you weren’t tuned in, here’s a list of artists that are worthy additions to your playlists.
(list is in no particular order)
1. Ben Rector
2011 Album: Something Like This
Hot Songs: ‘Song for the Suburbs’, ‘Hide Away’, ‘Falling In Love’, ‘Home’
The best strategy for traditional marketing? According to Ben Rector, no traditional marketing. “Word of mouth” is the strategy of choice for Ben and it continues to work wonders for him. The constant touring and his unique videos on YouTube are a huge reason why Ben Rector’s 2011 album Something Like This is awesome. You don’t have to be signed to a large record label to be heard!
2. Company of Thieves
Hot Songs: ‘Nothing’s In the Flowers’, ‘Tallulah’, ‘Won’t Go Quietly’
Few songs move multiple types of crowds. Few songs can rise above race, gender, and status to create soul harmony. One listen to Company of Thieves ‘Won’t Go Quietly’ and you will experience one of the best singles of 2011. This was everybody’s theme song for 2011; whether you’re in the working class, you hit a homer in the World Series, or roughed it occupying Wall Street. Company of Thieves reminded us that there is truly a wonderful voice in every single one us. An official video for the single was never produced, but a fan of the band created a fantastic unofficial video.
3. Emily King
Hot Songs: ‘Down’, ‘Every Part’
Heartache never sounded so damn good. If you missed true R&B/Soul/Neo-Soul music in 2011, pick up ‘Down’ off Emily King’s 2011 EP The Seven. Not only can she sings, she writes AND plays the guitar. If you want more King, her first album East Side Story (2006) is a must have for R&B lovers.
4. Allen Stone
Hot Songs: ‘Celebrate Tonight’, ‘The Wind’, ‘Satisfaction’, ‘Nothing to Prove’, ‘Unaware’
Allen Stone and his 2011 self-titled album is packed with so much bang for your buck. Vocally and stylistically, Allen Stone is one the most complete albums of 2011. His singing chops? Developed in his father’s church and inspired by the iconic soul singers of the 60’s and 70’s. Listen to and support this man, he’s a rare talent. Here’s a great video of Allen performing one of his 2011 hits. Get in tune with this dude!
5. Bob Hillary & The Massive Mellow
Hot Songs: ‘You Keep Me Warm’, ‘Never Never Land’, ‘Solitude’
Life is supposed to be tough, it’s supposed to be filled with challenges that lead to internal and external growth. Every once in awhile though, it’s okay to regroup, recharge, reassess your mind, body and soul. If you can’t afford a plane ticket to a white sand beach, crystal clear waters, or fresh mountain air, pick up a copy of Bob Hillary & The Massive Mellow’s 2011 album Nature’s Pace. Give yourself moments where you can close your eyes and seek peace within your heart.
6. Terrace Martin
Hot Songs: ‘Shinen’, ‘Love’, ‘Never Stop Loving You’, ‘One Night’
Some of the coolest hip-hop of 2011 was stamped with Terrace Martin’s talents. Jazz wanted him, but another genre’s call was too strong. Instead of becoming the next star saxophonist, Terrace decided to take his jazz talents to the hip-hop ranks as a rapper and producer. Martin had an excellent 2011. Locke High 2 was one of the best hip-hop albums of the year and Martin collaborated with some of hip-hops biggest names. Check out the video to ‘Love‘. Cap it off with his tribute to Nate Dogg; a hip-hop legend that suddenly passed away 2011. Terrace is infusing hip-hop with some much needed soul.
7. Lisa Hannigan
Hot Songs: ‘Passenger’
As far as music videos go, there wasn’t one that was more geninely innocent as Lisa Hannigan’s live performance of ‘Passenger‘. This performance happens to be from 2009, but ‘Passenger’ was official released on Lisa’s album Passenger in September of 2011. The studio version of the song is just as good, but oh how the video, stripped down to just her and her ukulele, instantly places in the ‘passenger’ seat of a convertible gliding down the coast. A quote from the YouTube comments, “It’s impossible not to love her.” Agreed.
8. Childish Gambino
Hot Songs*: ‘Bonfire’, ‘Backpackers’, ‘Sunrise’, ‘Freaks and Geeks’.
Actor, writer, stand-up comedian, rapper, and producer. Ice Cube and Will Smith you have a new newphew! Childish Gambino is NBC’s Community actor Donald Glover’s alter-ego (that was a mouthful). Donald had a very busy 2011; a 1-hour Comedy Central stand-up special, hosting an awards show, and the release of his first studio album. He also performed on late night talk shows, performed at various music festivals and tours, filmed Community episodes AND began filming a movie set to be released in 2013! Camp is surprisingly awesome for someone that wasn’t necessarily known for music prior to mid-2010. It takes a certain kind of attitude and work ethic to balance multiple careers like that of Donald Glover. To balance the careers is one thing, to be great at all of them is absolutely amazing.
*Songs contain ‘Explicit Content’
Hot Songs: ‘Slumber’, ‘The Reckoning’, ‘Devil’s Been Talking’, ‘Learn To Love’
Rarely does a musical act walk the line between ‘popular’ music and Inspirational (a genre that is heavily populated by Christian-based artists) music. NEEDTOBREATHE has comfortably walked this line for a large portion of the band’s career. Ask the band what genre they are and they most likely will say, rock-n-roll. If you just read a lyric to one of their songs, how would you classify the band? “Days, they force you back under those covers, lazy mornings they multiply. Glory’s waiting outside your window, wake on up from your slumber, baby open up your eyes” (from the song ‘Slumber‘). Who cares, NEEDTOBREATHE, keep doing what your doing. The genre is ‘music to our ears’.
10. Mayer Hawthorne
Hot Songs: ‘No Strings’, ‘The Walk’, ‘You’re Not Ready’
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what Mayer Hawthorne would probably say about the iconic soul music that poured out of Motown Records in the 60’s and 70’s. One listen to Mayer Hawthorne’s style and you will quickly find out that he is wildly inspired by artists like Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield, but he doesn’t stop at just being inspired. Hawthorne’s albums are also heavily inspired by his passion for DJing and hip-hop. The end result, today’s grooviest example of “old meets new”. It looks like his live shows are just as entertaining as his time in the studio, so check him out if he cruises through your town in 2012!
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