It seems like the music scene in recent years has become more of a mixed bag than ever. When you look at things by a particular genre, you can see trends and movements that make a little more sense to the conventional wisdom of the music world, but there’s little (if any) in the way of broad claims we can make about the general direction of western music— it’s all over the place.
In pockets, we’ve seen moves toward folk, electronica and a general devaluing of musical instruments. It just seems like the digitization of our music has gotten to the point where it’s difficult to view instrumental ability as a necessity anymore.
That means guitars, piano and drums, though still viable, are no longer the core center of attention. So, had Kurt Cobain began his rise to popularity in 2011 and hit the height of that popularity in 2013, his ceiling of success would have been a lot lower.
Yet, the good news for the organic side of the music world, is that you’ve got a lot of bands this year who are both doing electronic music well, or who are staying true to the roots of folk, blues and rock.
Here’s what would be worth a few downloads in a music world gone mad ⁞
Sonny John Moore is at the tip of the spear, that is electronic music’s move into the mainstream of western pop culture. No longer relegated to the dark corners of European dance clubs, Moore’s musical style is front-and-center in today’s mainstream. He has released several of his own albums, but his biggest break and most successful release was a full-scale album collaboration with Korn titled The Path of Totality.
Though they’ve been a little quieter than the other groups mentioned here in terms of recognition, this indie rock group has seen a lot of success, considering they are only going into their fourth year. They’ve already performed on several late night shows, including Conan, Jimmy Fallon and Letterman, and have also had their song ‘The House that Heaven Built’ selected as the intro song for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks hockey team.
Bo and Bear Rinehart are brothers from South Carolina, and the driving force behind what has been a tremendously successful folk, blues and rock project. After well over a decade of marginal notoriety, the band has seen a lot of recent success as a result of their two most recent studio albums, The Outsiders and The Reckoning. Early 2013 has them playing for bigger crowds and getting more radio airplay, so they’re definitely past the “up-and-coming” stage going into the second half of the year.
4. The Black Keys
Like Needtobreathe, the Black Keys got their start over a decade ago in Akron Ohio (2001 to be exact) but didn’t see a lot of mainstream success until their more recent studio albums. In particular, 2011’s El Camino has driven a lot of recognition and success their way, even earning them a Best Rock Album of the Year Grammy award.
5. Mumford and Sons
Since 2010, they’ve won over 13 awards for their music, including a 2013 Grammy Award for best album of the year, Babel, and were nominated for over 20 others. Their unique instrumental abilities and high-energy live performances drive the bulk of their success, but in recent years, their studio albums have started to keep pace. Like Needtobreathe, their music is deeply rooted in folk, so much so that they’ve become one of the most successful mainstream representations of the folk genre.
There are a lot of great bands out there who are making a move toward a more unique sound and a more honest commitment to originality. It’s paying off as these bands have done it well and are some of the most successful groups in recent years.
Have you found an up-and-coming artist or band you think is doing the music industry justice? Share your favorites in the comments!