Like last year, I came across a huge number of new songs and new artists. There were some that were very good, and some that were well worth forgetting. Here's my favorite new discoveries of 2008:
These guys out of North Carolina play a mean live act. There's energy, lots of hand-eye coordination and some very good songs. While not quite out there as an indie group such as the Decemberists, these guys have a quirky nature to their songwriting that really makes them stand out.
Excuse my gushing about Bon Iver. He's easily one of the best new artists of this year, and has a fantastic indie-folk sound. More later.
I first came across Civil Twilight when their song Human was featured on House, MD. These guys have a good alt-indie-rock sound with plenty of energy and beat behind the lyrics.
The Fairline Parkway
These guys have a light touch when it comes to lyrics and sound. Their first album, A Memory of Open Spaces was catchy and didn't fall into most of the normal sounds that I tend to listen to. It's not quite folk, not quite rock, but something inbetween. Perfect for driving with the top down.
Findlay Napier and the Bar Room Mountaineers
Findlay Napier recently formed the Bar Room Mountaineers with a neo-scottish folk sound that explodes with subtle energy throughout their songs with a distinct modern flavor. I'd love to see them live sometime.
Franc aka Goodtimes Goodtimes has a strong hand at the guitar. From the opening notes of his first album, Glue, there's a strong rhythm and a set of brilliant lyrics.
Helen Lawson's sound seems to be strongly rooted in her home country of England, with a rich history of folk, which she really draws upon here. Her debut EP, Crossing the Bridge is light, soft on the ears and lyrical.
Regan has released latest album, Let It Go, which is strongly reminiscent of the sound of Marc Cohn. He wouldn't sound out of place in a jazz lounge, and according to the frequent updates I get from him, he's touring strongly.
Let It Go - Jon Regen
Arthur isn't new to the music scene, but he is new to me. His recent album Could We Survive caught my ears, and he carries a strong alt-country/folk sound with him.
Flint has a new album coming out, Dirty Birds, and she has been on my radar all year as a strong female vocalist. Her voice is solid, guitarwork firm and her lyrics gold.
Ryan is another new artist to me, but he's been around for a little while now. He sings with a gravelly tone that really reminds me at times of Tom Waits (not quite as harsh). His new album Matthew Ryan Vs. the Silver State is a subdued, somber album that sounds fantastic.
Natalia Clavier's album Nectar is a downtempo affair that has a fantastic, smooth sound to it out of South America. There's energy and emotion here, all wrapped up in a fantastic sound.
Lavie has released a wonderful album that he recorded himself. Hailing from Israel, his song Her Morning Elegance caught my ears off of a commercial, and the rest of the album has the same unique sound and lyrics that set that one apart.
Sarah Siskind came to my ears via Bon Iver, when he covered one of her songs, and later sang with her. She's gotten another album on the way in 2009 that is something to keep an ear out for. She reminded me a lot of a favorite of mine, Sara Wheeler, but with more depth and drive to her songs.
Tina Dico is another girl who's worked with Zero 7 before (Sia is also well know for her work here) Her latest album, Count to Ten is a fantastic listen in alt-pop music with some real talent with lyrics and melody here.