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Top Musical Discoveries of 2013

These eight are my top picks of 2013. What are yours?
These eight are my top picks of 2013. What are yours?

2013 may have come to a close, but it was bountiful in musical discoveries. Here are eight bands this writer is looking forward to seeing more from in 2014.

San Diego post-hardcore band Pierce the Veil’s breakout year started when they issued their most recent album, “Collide With the Sky”. After going on a co-headlining, genre-bending tour called Spring Fever (with pop-punk bands All Time Low and openers You Me at Six) Pierce the Veil opened themselves up to a whole different audience, this writer included. Three things make Pierce the Veil shine: their live shows, the imagery used in their lyrics, and the relationship they have with their fans.

Pierce the Veil puts their heart and soul into their live performances. One can see this by how much planning goes into both their stage show and the passion they play with on stage. Add the fact that they have developed a great relationship with their fans and you have a recipe for something truly amazing. At the Tampa date of the Spring Fever tour, for example, lead singer Vic Fuentes said a few things that made this writer’s jaw drop (in the best way). First, he asked if anyone in the crowd’s life had ever been saved by music. As could be expected, a lot of hands went up. Second, he said he reads every piece of fan mail Pierce the Veil gets, and added, “you guys have been through some s—t”. That moment made this writer realize that this band really cares about their fans.

Then there’s Pierce the Veil’s lyrics. Written primarily by Fuentes, the imagery he uses while writing is enough to make any writer green with writer’s envy. A prime example of this could be found in a song called “I’d Rather Die Than Be Famous”, a song Fuentes co-wrote with his brother and drummer for Pierce the Veil, Mike:

Doll up and sleep walk, until we have some teeth marks. Narcotic sweet talk, until we have some teeth marks. This whole place is gonna burn.

Another example of great imagery can be found in the song “Props and Mayhem”:

Burst into flames, scream in the dark. I'm gonna light up this place. And die in beautiful stars tonight.

The way these lyrics blend so well with the killer drums, guitar and bass provided by Mike Fuentes, Tony Perry, and Jaime Preciado is mind-blowing. Pierce the Veil recently came out with a DVD called “This Is A Wasteland” about their first world tour and is reported to be coming out with new music this year.

Ghost Town is another band that made a terrific impression. They’ve only been around for a little over a year, but they’re already signed to independent label Fueled By Ramen and have played on the Journeys Noise Tour with notable Canadian pop-rock band Marianas Trench, the Vans Warped Tour UK, the UK Kevin Says tour and the 2013 Bryan Stars Tour, which they headlined.

What’s so great about Ghost Town is the unique and creative concept behind the band, their lyrics, and their album artwork. The name Ghost Town is part of a larger overall theme, with songs like “Party in the Graveyard”, “You’re So Creepy” and “Skeleton” featured on their debut album, “Party in the Graveyard”. The songs, written by lead singer Kevin Ghost and guitarist Alix Monster, weave a dark story that culminates in a very clever ending. The band’s album artwork features original artwork from “honorary fifth member” Alister Dippner and creates a visual story to go along with the one told on the CD.

An early copy of “Party in the Graveyard” starts with the song “Skeleton”, the chorus of which goes,

Your skeleton forgot to bring its backbone, next time pack it in your body bag.

This song flows into the next track, “You’re So Creepy”, which features another thing unique about Ghost Town: the band’s use of sound effects to enhance the “mood” of the songs, both live and on the CD. “You’re So Creepy”, for example, begins with a wolf howling before breaking into the guitar/electronics intro. The song is also great in the way that it’s a new take on the use of the word “creepy”:

Creepy girls, you’re just my style, blood red lipstick you don’t smile. Falling victim to your fantasy, damn I love it that you’re so creepy.

The band is known for their live shows and maintains a great relationship with their fans, through both social media and by hanging out with them after shows.

Sometimes the best musical discoveries happen from a random Twitter follow. Such was the case with pop-rock band Darling Parade. From infectious single “Ghost” to the take-no-prisoners attitude of songs “Just Another” and “Messin’ With Me”, this Nashville band truly delivers on their Twitter headline: “a tasty rocky-pop explosion!” Darling Parade was recently named an Artist To Watch by MTV, is signed to independent label Page 2 Music and has two action music videos out for singles “Ghost” and “Crash and Burn”. They have 72,117 views on YouTube for “Ghost” and 8,650 for new single “Crash and Burn” as well as 81,698 followers on Twitter and 28,810 likes on Facebook.

Air Dubai was the surprise of the year. The Denver hip-hop band has a Gym Class Heroes feel to them as their songs feature both sung and rapped vocals. After an opening spot on the 2013 Journeys Noise Tour, it was clear that their sound fit in well with both fans of hip-hop and pop-rock. From their dynamic live performances to their fantastic lyricism, Air Dubai is a joy to listen to and watch perform.

The band, currently signed with prolific independent label Hopeless Records, is touring in support of their EP, “Warning”. “Warning” has spawned two singles, “Warning” and “Soul and Body”. The videos have 209,110 views and 19,314 respectively. The public at large has begun to recognize them as well: “Soul and Body” has been featured during NBA games on TNT, they were named Westword Magazine’s “Best Hip Hop Band” from 2010-2012 and won Channel 93.3 KTCL’s 2011 “Hometown For The Holidays” competition. Air Dubai is heading out on a headlining tour in February and will be a part of the 2014 Vans Warped Tour.

2013 was a big year for A Day to Remember. Despite their most recent release, “Common Courtesy”, being embroiled in legal drama with label Victory Records, A Day to Remember won the rights to self-release “Common Courtesy”, which would go on to sell 92,874 copies just in the U.S. The band also showcased their sense of humor with a hilarious series of videos detailing the making of “Common Courtesy”. They’re known for their well-written, relatable lyrics as well as their powerful live shows. Songs to check out are “Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail”, “If It Means A Lot To You”, “All I Want” and “I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of”.

British metalcore band Bring Me the Horizon is one to watch. Having already created a rabid stateside fan base and an electric live show, Bring Me the Horizon is touring with California metalcore band Of Mice and Men on the American Dream Tour starting in February. Although their songs may sound harsh, it only takes a closer listen to realize that this is not an accurate perception of the band.

For one thing, Bring Me the Horizon’s name comes from the last line of the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”. For another, their music is great for those who like a little screaming with their punk. Their songs also give a genuine voice to the lost, sad or struggling, which just rounds out their band personality. Bring Me the Horizon delves into their punk roots with the song “Antivist”, which angrily declares,

I’m sick to death of swallowing every single thing I’m fed.

The lost, sad or struggling part comes in with songs like “Can You Feel My Heart”. Bring Me the Horizon’s romantic side comes out as well on earlier release, “F--k”, which despite its title, is about missing the one one loves while away on tour.

XO Stereo is a new rock band that formed from the ashes of LoveHateHero, From First To Last, The Hollowed and Jeffrey Starr. XO Stereo proves that even if a band only has one song, as long as it’s a good song, people will flock to listen to it. Their single, “Show and Tell”, already has 34,453 views on YouTube and it’s only been up for about four months. They’ve also been featured in Substream Music Press, a magazine dedicated to new music, fashion, film and TV, and have 8,661 likes on Facebook and 21,409 followers on Twitter.

Party-metal band Attila knows when to get serious and when to have fun, and that’s what makes them great. From songs that “poke fun at people who revolve their entire lives around money” to songs that call out musicians/organizations who “are fake and lie” and otherwise take advantage, Attila strikes a great balance between the two extremes. The band is heading out on the 2014 Vans Warped Tour and is currently signed to Razor and Tie imprint Artery Recordings. It’s also worth noting that front man Chris Fronzak, better known as Fronzilla, backs up the ‘not-taking-oneself-too-seriously’ thing with his constant (hilarious/silly) Twitter name changes and tweets.

Here’s to many more great musical discoveries in 2014!

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