1. Cecelia and the Satellite (Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness)
If you don’t know this new band, you probably know Andrew from his other projects. Andrew McMahon was the front-man of Something Corporate (ahh yes, those angsty middle school days) and then went on to form Jack’s Mannequin (ahh yes, those angsty high school days). Jack’s Mannequin reached wide fame for hits like ‘Dark Blue’ and ‘The Mixed Tape’ and despite that fact that his resume speaks for itself, I’ll go ahead and say it anyways: go listen to his new album. In 2013, Andrew went solo in his EP titled The Pop Underground and then went on to release his new album Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, which is also the title of his newest identity. ‘Cecelia and the Satellite’ is the hit single from this album, which is a tribute to his newborn daughter.
2. Shadow (Bleachers)
Lead guitarist of Fun. Jack Michael Antonoff began Bleachers as a secret project until the release of their first single ‘I Wanna Get Better’ in February 2014. ‘I Wanna Get Better’ was a frequenter on indie and alt-rock stations this summer and should be checked out if you haven’t already heard it. In July, their debut album Strange Desire was released, which contains ‘Shadow,’ another great track which has yet to gain as much attention as the single.
3. Mess is Mine (Vance Joy)
This Australian singer-songwriter rose to fame in 2013 with his song ‘Riptide’ in his God Loves You When You’re Dancing EP. When he released ‘Mess is Mine’ as the third single to his debut album Dream Your Life Away, it peaked to number 37 in Australia. While it remains one of the most popular songs on the album, its popularity has yet to rival ‘Riptide.’
4. Money on my Mind (MisterWives)
This indie pop band released their first EP Reflections in January 2014. Their song ‘Reflections’ has gained wide recognition and their song ‘Vagabond’ is starring as the opening theme of the MTV drama ‘Finding Carter.’ At some point, they managed to cover Sam Smith’s song ‘Money on my Mind,’ and if I’m being honest, I like the cover more than the original. The MisterWives’ cover relies less on background electronics and more on the actual vocals to keep the song upbeat, and the Misterwives’ unique tone adds something that seemed to be missing from the original.
5. Down by the River (Milky Chance)
Milky Chance is a German folk duo that rose to fame in 2013. Their mix of reggae and electronic influence is something I haven’t heard before and I’ve been a fan since hearing their hit song ‘Stolen Dance.’ While they technically released their album Sadnecessary in 2013, it wasn’t released in the US until October 2014 so I’m going to go ahead and count this one.
6. Smile (Mikky Ekko)
Mikky Ekko is both an artist and record producer, but probably best known for being featured on Rhianna’s 2013 single ‘Stay.’ Throughout 2012 and 2013, he released other singles such as ‘Pull Me Down’ and ‘Kids’ and was also featured on The Hunger Games soundtrack. This past August he released his single ‘Smile’ and to be honest I’m not sure why I haven’t heard more about it. Come January 2015, he will release his first full album titled Time and this single gives me high hopes about the rest of the album.
7. Latch (Kodaline)
Yet another Sam Smith cover where I think the other artist wore it better. Sorry Sam Smith, I really do think you have an amazing voice, but in this case, the Irish rock band got me hooked on this song when you couldn’t. While the original sticks to a slower beat and sounds more like a lullaby, Kodaline picks it up and adds something more. Kodaline released it’s debut album In a Perfect World in 2013 including songs you’ve probably heard already, like ‘All I Want’ and ‘High Hopes.’ As a bonus suggestion, they also released a single of their own in 2014 titled ‘Honest’ which is also worth checking out.
8. One Night Town (Ingrid Michaelson ft. Mat Kearney)
Ingrid Michaelson is a household name and a verified indie-pop, singer-songwriter veteran who doesn’t need much of an introduction. In 2014, she released a new album titled Lights Out, which includes the hits ‘Girls Chase Boys’ and ‘Over You’ which featured newcomers A Great Big World. This album also includes a song that features another singer-songwriter veteran, Mat Kearney. Maybe not Grammy-worthy, but it’s a fun and upbeat song that blends two great voices and has earned a place on my recent playlists.
9. First (Cold War Kids)
This indie rock band from California has been around for a while now. This past October, they released their fifth studio album titled Hold My Home, which includes the hit single ‘All This Could Be Yours’ (definitely listen to it if you’ve been living under an rock and managed to miss it). The second track of the album ‘First’ is also worth the listen and I’ve been hooked for more than a month now. I’m still waiting to get sick of it, but the time just hasn’t come yet.
10. Elysium (Bear’s Den)
Bear’s Den is a relatively new British alt-folk band that released their Agape EP in 2013. This EP had me hooked with the title song ‘Agape’ and ‘A Year Ago Today.’ After touring with Matt Corby in 2013, they released their debut album Islands this past October. ‘Above the Clouds of Pompeii’ has rose to fame as their hit track, but Elysium comes in at a close second.