U.S. Royalty -
Up-and-coming quartet U.S. Royalty (hailing, appropriately, from Washington D.C.) have been making some waves this year with their debut album, Mirrors. Combining classic rock 'n' roll elements with bits of folk and indie rock, frontman John Thornley and company have released a solid first effort with songs ranging from Local Natives-esque anthems ("Equestrian") to fiery blues stomps ("Hollywood Hollows") to beautifully melodic ballads ("Old Flames"). Personally, I think the band is at their best when they hold to the more classic elements of their sound, but Mirrors proves U.S. Royalty has plenty of ability when it comes to crafting a variety of tunes. Definitely a group to keep your eye on.
The Equestrian (MP3)
Monte Carlo (MP3)
Knowing several variations over its fairly brief existence, Snowblink currently consists only of Toronto-based Daniela Gesundheit and Dan Goldman, though the duo feature a variety of collaborators on their new record, Long Live, including members of Deerhoof and Dirty Projectors. The album's somewhat experimental folk sound is both refreshingly odd and undeniably beautiful, with some fantastic moments scattered among its brief 34 minutes. Whether patiently unfolding a winding, beguiling ballad or breezing through a triumphantly melodic interlude, Gesundheit demands your rapt attention with her lovely, warm voice and unusual songwriting. There are plenty of musicians reaching for the kind of seemingly effortless brilliance found on Long Love, but few achieve it so completely as Snowblink.
Tired Bees (MP3)
Young Circles -
It's difficult to put any sort of descriptive label on Florida trio Young Circles; the band's debut EP, entitled Bones, blends more disparate elements than it has tracks. But then that's precisely what makes the album such a thrilling 23 minute journey and why this band is one you should know. Utilizing everything from moments of acoustic clarity to washes of disorienting noise to undercurrents of smooth jazz, Young Circles never let you get entirely comfortable, and if you're willing to stick with them through all the sharp twists and turns, you'll likely find this first effort to be a gripping one. Get familiar with these guys, you can bet everyone else will be soon.
Sharp Teeth (MP3)
Listen to or download the EP (free, I believe)