Let’s get right to rounding off the latter half of this esteemed list:
11. The Bees – Octopus
In some ways, I was surprised myself to see this album up at #11. This UK collective, though, delivers potently sweet retro tunes that are sure to conjure images and sounds of AM radio gold. With delightful harmonies, rolling funky guitars, and some neat little horn sections, The Bees’ Octopus is a groovy rock opus. “Got to Let Go” has got a dusty-trailed rockness to it, while “This is for The Better Days” is a more downtempo track with Graham Nash-like vocals behind it. More on The Bees here.
Listen to “Got to Let Go” (4.9/5)
12. Candie Payne – I Wish I Could Have Loved You More
To quote my previous post about her: “Straight out of Liverpool comes Candie Payne, who delivers surprisingly solid and incredibly catchy lo-fi indie pop. On her debut album I Wish I Could Have Loved You More, she flirts with a doo-wop sound here and there (see “Hey Goodbye”), but she also dabbles in some more eclectic rhythms (see “One More Chance”).” But each song is delicately layered with intricate instrumentation, lending to a full, voluminous sound. Despite the retro gems on this record, I find myself only looking forward to Payne’s future.
Listen to “One More Chance” (4.9/5)
13. Cathy Davey – Tales of Silversleeve
“Tales of Silversleeve showcases Davey’s infectious vocals; playful but serious, cute but piercing at the same time, Davey uses her voice as an effective instrument throughout the album. She also has a real knack for the upbeat, driving rock song, infusing each track with unique rhythms and fantastic basslines…’Reuben’ is a piano-driven delight with Davey’s sweet voice lifting the track to another level with the accompaniment of a child’s chorus. ‘Moving’ is another one of those purposed pseudo-basslines backed by Davey’s captivating vocals.” More on Cathy Davey here.
Listen to “Moving” (4.95/5)
14. Willy Mason – If The Ocean Gets Rough
He may be young, but his voice and his lyrical content rival that of wise elders. Folk wonderboy Willy Mason really stepped it up for his second release, showing real maturation in both his sound and his message. Mason blends sincere, witty, and introspective lyrics with a laid-back-guitar-and-drums approach to accomplish a rather unique sound. His voice, as I said before, is a near carbon copy of Mark Knopfler, and it is perfectly suited for the music he’s making. It’s so refreshing to find artists that pay attention to detail, who seem intent on delivering a product that not only sounds good but also has something important to say. More on Willy Mason here.
Listen to “Save Myself” (4.7/5)
15. JJ Grey & Mofro – Country Ghetto
A self-professed “front porch soul” music collective, Jacksonville-product JJ Grey & Mofro is sure to strike a chord in that funky space in your heart. They write sincere, socially conscious tunes that are of the folk-blues-funk fusion type that seems to be real popular these days. Country Ghetto features the stylings of JJ Grey’s unique raspy version of Tony Joe White. “On Palastine” is a fantastic slow soul number that blends perfectly into well-strung “Footsteps”. Be sure to check out the Ray LaMontagne-like “Tragic” as well.
Listen to “Tragic” (4.8/5)