Matt Buckley ’15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
This past year has been a fantastic year for the alternative music genre. We were introduced to the very first sounds of many bands, from the pounding drums of Imagine Dragons, to the soft acoustic guitars of The Lumineers. Many bands entered the music scene this year and are making themselves very comfortable. It is very safe to say that most of them will be sticking around for the long haul.
First on the list is Of Monsters & Men, who released their debut album, My Head Is An Animal, this past spring. There was much excitement leading up to its release ever since the debut of their single, Little Talks. Of Monsters & Men burst onto the scene with echoing shouts and rows of trumpets. The Icelandic band is lead by co-singers Nanna Hilmarsdottir and Ragnar Porhallsson giving an interesting duet tone to some of their songs. What is perhaps the most interesting about this band is their ability to create songs that come from the same album, and yet have completely different sounds and tones. Compare the slow building song Slow and Steady or Lakehouse to the constant energy of Mountain Sound or Numb Bears. Of Monsters & Men brought a new sound to the world of alternative rock, and do not keep things constant, we can expect great and new things from them as they rise into the alt rock world.
Next is a band that released their self-titled album over the summer. Lead by their first single Anna Sun the new band Walk the Moon has already begun to make a place for themselves in the alternative world. Combining striking guitar riffs, booming drums, and amazing synchronization, Walk the Moon instantly catches the attention of anyone’s ears. Their lead singer Nicholas Petricca is joined in singing by his other band members almost as often as he sings. Each song on their album practically forces you to start dancing along with the beats. From the sudden bursts of sound from their second single, Tightrope, to the drum heavy Shiver Shiver. Walk the Moon brings a new sound, unrivaled by any other, that will certainly find them a new place in the top of the alternative world.
Imagine Dragons made their way onto the alternative scene this summer with their single It’s Time. The clapping and stomping hook to their single is what catches most people’s attention, and by the time front-man Dan Reynolds comes in with his lyrics, the song has sunk in. Their Continued Silence EP brought the band to most people’s attention, with hard hitting songs like Radioactive and Demons to back up their single. By the time they released their first full length album, Night Visions on September 4, 2012, everyone was already waiting for it. The album reached top slots on most American rock charts, and held its position for an impressive amount of time. There is no question that this new band is here to stay, and will soon be on top of the alternative world.
Perhaps the newest sound in the alternative world recently is the throbbing electronic songs by Alex Clare on his debut album The Lateness of the Hour. His first single, Up All Night, while not placing on any major charts, still introduced a interesting new sound to the alternative genre. Starting off with a grinding guitar sound, and adding some drums and sound effects to make for a fast paced, high energy song. With the release of his second single, Too Close, which placed in the top ten on many charts around the world, Alex Clare began to make a name for himself. With a chorus that quickly became easy to sing along to, and a sound that was easy to move with, people took quickly to his new single. This past July, when Alex released his debut album, he solidified his position in the alternative world.
Earlier in this year, a modest folk rock band from Denver, released their first single, Ho Hey, which aired on several TV shows, a commercial, went platinum, and peaked at number eleven on the Billboard 200. The Lumineers released their self-titled album April 3, 2012. Instantly claiming a spot in the top of alternative, as if their single was not enough, songs like their second single Stubborn Love and Flowers In Your Hair began to reach the charts. The simple trio led by Wesley Schultz soothe the listener with acoustic guitar, and echoing drums. The songwriting is where The Lumineers stand out, with heartwarming songs such as Dead Sea and the interesting story behind Submarines. The Lumineers have little to do but stay on course to keep their spot in alternative music.
Zsuzsanna Eva Ward (better known as ZZ Ward) is the newest artist included in this article, having only released her first album, Til The Casket Drops, this October. Her skills on the acoustic guitar and piano make for a great album, but this is not what really stood out. ZZ Ward has a voice that could rival some of the greatest women of pop and alternative music to date. What she has different is less of a pop feel to the music, and a more soulful, jazzy tone to it. This really comes to life on tracks like Move Like U Stole It and Lil Darlin. She also has a slower side to her, the heart-wrenching lyrics to Last Love Song coupled with her calm acoustic guitar and powerful vocals make for a fantastic song. Her album may have just been released, but even in this short time, she has made a spot for herself in alternative music.
There are several more artists that deserve to be mentioned, but have yet to release full length albums. Atlas Genius came onto the music scene this summer with their single Trojans and their first EP Through The Glass. The Royal Concept also released their self-titled EP this summer, containing songs such as Gimme Twice and Goldrushed that sound like a newer version of The Strokes. Finally there is Youngblood Hawke who’s self-titled EP was released this August, containing their single We Come Running and other songs to sing along with, like Stars (Hold On) and Forever. Certainly keep an eye out for these artists debut full length albums, which are sure to come out sometime soon, until then the EP’s are good enough to get you through.
The music world is always changing, new artists surfacing, and old artists releasing new albums. Sometimes it may not seem like there is time in the day to find and listen to all of it. This is true, but if you can get some of the good stuff, then you are doing better then most.