Since we are new in town, we decided not to do a traditional list, that being #1 is the best and #25 being the bottom. Instead we have compiled a list of 20 Artists/Bands that really made their mark in 2013, within in the city and our ears.
Our list will include electronic artists, indie bands, punk music, jazz, psycho billy and many other artists you may recognize and others you may have never heard of before.
1. KYLE HALL – 2013 Release: The Boat Party
In electronic music, this was the year of Kyle Hall. I recently had the pleasure of sharing breakfast with him and our Media Director, Roger Castillo. Kyle Hall is a well spoken, intelligent, down to earth guy who shared with us stories about his travels, his influences, and even had a laugh as Roger and I attempted to guess samples he used in “Crushed.” The Boat Party was definitely a favorite among many in 2013, with Kyle Halls dirty r&b samples with a blend of Detroit style electronic, this LP was unstoppable. You can find this LP among many lists such as NPR, Resident Advisor, and XLR8R. At the start of 2014, please check back for an exclusive Detroit Sounds Like This interview with Kyle Hall.
2. THE GUTTER GHOULS – 2013 Release: Motor City Murderbilly
The Gutter Ghouls had a wonderful year in 2013, playing shows throughout Metro-Detroit, even being the highlight of the Motor City Nightmares horror movie convention. I have never met a band that works as hard as these guys do, even with a lineup change mid year, they still show that they are capable of giving you a great show. These psychobilly maniacs even released a brand new video for their track “Corpse Bride,” in early 2013. Recently being signed the Splatterhouse Wreckords in Washington, we at Detroit Sounds Like This cannot wait to hear what is in store for The Gutter Ghouls in 2014.
3. MEXICAN KNIVES – 2013 Release: Other Tramps & Nightmare b/w Down To Hell
Mexican Knives were without a doubt becoming one of Detroits most looked at and talked about band. Mexican Knives achieved so much this year not only at shows but gaining a wider audience. Just by attending other shows around the Detroit area, we always hear the name Mexican Knives being talked about and how they opened for touring indie bands such as Best Coast, and The Fresh and Onlys. Mexican Knives not only wowed us with killer unforgettable performances but they released not one but two amazing EP’s in 2013. With Nightmares/Down To Hell and Other Tramps being released in 2013, Mexican Knives are definitely a serious Detroit band. Lead vocalist Ruth the Truth, lead by lead guitarist Zach Weedon are a duo on stage not to be toyed with. Lets not forget their amazing bass player John Salvage, and their amazing drummer Blair, who are the perfect additions to Zach and Ruth. Enjoy their new music video for “Killer Snake,” from their 2013 release “Other Tramps.”
Mexican Knives-Killer Snake from Mexican Knives on Vimeo.
4. ROGUE SATELLITES – 2013 Release: Other Angels
Rogue Satellites never disappoint. Their style, rhythm, and production is something so elegant, most ears are probably not even ready for it. Rogue satellites provide you with dark synths, electric guitars and beautiful lyrics with support from soft yet deep driven vocals. Playing a daytime show at this years Dally in the Alley, Rogue Satellites really stood out with their hour long set and amazing sound. Enjoy and purchase their album “Other Angels” below, and make sure to follow their facebook page and check out one of their shows!
5. OMAR S – 2013 Release: Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself
A release that went almost under the radar unless you are a huge Omar S fan is one to have for your library. This is a MUST listen to if you have any respect for Detroit Electronic Music. Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself is a deep house master piece which displays influences of early Detroit electronic music. This album also made many lists across many blogs and news outlets around the country.
6. BRANDON WILLIAMS – 2013 Release: Stronger & Godsend
If you have been to MotorCity Wine more then once, then you have definitely seen Brandon Williams or the B.Williams Experiment. Brandon Williams is one guy who definitely loves his fans, he is one to always thank and give the love back to his fans. You can see him at various spots around downtown, and make sure to check out his upcoming album XII (coming soon). In addition to his playing he has worked with many major recording artists and he has a 2009 Grammy nomination under his belt, this is one jazz cat not to be messed with.
7. SAXAPPEAL – 2013 Release: Singles: It’s You, Time Flies, Catch the Rhythm & I Can Be
Detroit Sounds Like This had the honor of sitting with SaxAppeal (LaDarrel Johnson) to really get to know how he creates, and how much Jazz music means to him. Johnson handles his alto saxophone in the same fashion in which he plays his music — with attention, pride, and a graceful passion.
8. Dustin Alexander (Dayda, Sexual Tension Detroit) – 2013 Release: Bootlegs V.1
The name Dustin Alexander can be heard in two realms of electronic and house music in Detroit. Dustin is a man with two hats, one being that of Bass heavy ghetto tech playing loudly and unmistakably from The Works. He is also 1/2 of Sexual Tension Detroit with friend Jerry Downey Jr.. With the Bootlegs V.1 release, Dustin clearly showed the city what he is capable of and how knowledgeable he is in the bass scene and with his disco grooves. Dustin Alexander was a name to watch in 2013, look out 2014, I’m sure this DJ/Producer has way more in store for Detroit as he is making a name for himself.
9. COSMIC HANDSHAKES – 2013 Release: 2 Delicate Details
One part Todd Modes, one part Blair French (Dial.81) and you have Cosmic Handshakes. Maybe house and most forms of electronic don’t fit your style. Cosmic Handshakes have elements of electronic, but infuse parts of jazz, skilled drums, and very high end production. The very chill EP release 2 Delicate Details really takes the listener on a journey on the joyous parts of life, the album makes you want to hang out, see old friends, and of course makes you hope for Detroit. Cosmic Handshakes have never performed together, but maybe if were lucky in 2014 we can see something amazing happen at a local venue.
10. MONTY LUKE – 2013 Release: Lonely is the Night
Lonely is the Night is probably one of the strongest deep house releases of 2013. Monty Luke and his label Black Catalogue are putting out some of the heaviest and hard hitting grooves that are getting around the world. Seeing him this year on my birthday at MotorCity Wine was definitely a treat, he is a vinyl only professional, dont expect to see a laptop at his show. Monty Luke will spin the night with the rarest grooves and get everyone dancing. Make sure to check him out for NYE at MotorCity Wine for only five bucks!
11. NIGHTMERICA – 2013 Release: The Waiting Room
Those seeking hip hop refuge from the current ramblings and nonsense of the current trend of hip hop, Nightmerica is the answer. In addition to these 6 amazing artists, they each display a very strong solo presense with their solo projects all over soundcloud, as a group though…perfection. This is definitely one of the best Detroit hip hop albums to be released in a long time, and they definitely need the love.
12. CLEAR SOUL FORCES – 2013 Release: Gold PP7’s
Finally a group to fill my void of A Tribe Called Quest era style hip hop with an additional 2013 production. These guys have an unmatched flow and unreal production. Clear Soul Forces have definitely made a dent in the hip hop circuit having recently toured Europe and getting their name out there. With the release of Gold PP7’s, put your copy of Yeezus down and listen to hip hop the way it was supposed to be listened to. Make sure to check them at their Ugly Christmas Sweater Concert at The Shelter.
13. JERRY DOWNEY JR. (Sexual Tension Detroit) – 2013 Release: Bad Motor Folk (Jerry Downeys Motor City Dub)
Having interviewed Jerry Downey Jr. earlier this year was a great experience not only getting to know him, but he shared his knowledge of anything disco in Detroit. 2013 was a big year for Jerry Downey as he played many Sexual Tension parties, including his North End Studios Two Year Party, with Secrets and Dr. Disko Dust. He has slowly been releasing his own edits and they are definitely being noticed.
14. SECRETS (Gary Springs Hunting Club) – 2013 Release: Real Life – Send Me An Angel (Super Trance Edit)
Matt Abbott aka Secrets is one man who is always playing at every sleezy bar and wharehouse in the city. His fans/party goers know him for his wild parties with Gary Springs Hunting Club and as one of the best disco edit DJ’s in our city. He performs many live edits during his sets and always awes the crowd or gets them singing. While his edits range from disco, to soul, and some 80’s new wave you can always find a way to get sleezy when you hear a Secrets Edit.
15. SHIGETO – 2013 Release: No Better Time Than Now
Our first Shigeto show was at the Laneway Music Festival this past September. Shigeto did nothing but awe his crowd and played a show which showed his precision and how he treats electronic music like a craft. His album No Better Time Than Now became a hit across the world after its release on Ghostly. Listen below on his track “Detroit Part 1,” for his mind blowing drum sequences, eerie sounds while it takes a walk with an unimposing bass.
16. JAMES LINCK – 2013 Release: Fortress of Solitude
The first time we encountered James Linck was when the office staff and I went to check out Mexican Knives at St. Andrews, and James Linck was one of the opening acts, our ears were blown away. James Linck and Doc Waffles took over the stage and made sure they were heard. James Linck has worked with many other Detroit musicians such as Dial.81, Doc Waffles, Eddie Logix, and Christopher Jarvis (Phantasmagoria). With his 2013 release Fortress of Solitude, James Linck pop vocal skills really add to the production of his tracks, whether it be electronic, hip hop or any other sub genre.
17. PASSALACQUA – 2013 Release: Eagles Fly
I really hope in 2014 Detroit Sounds Like This can sit down with them and really get to know them. We have extensively listened to their albums and they leave us wanting more. Their beats are beautifully done, their style reminds us of Brother Ali, and early Dilated Peoples. A lot of their tracks are just great to sit and relax to, by relax I mean light up of course.
18. ZOOS OF BERLIN – 2013 Release: Lucifer in the Rain
Zoos of Berlin had a quiet yet tremendous release with Lucifer in the Rain. If you enjoy the styles of bands like Beach House and Wild Nothing, we would definitely recommend this album. With beautiful melodies, soft vocals echoing throughout the album you couldn’t ask for a more relaxing and engaging album.
19. THE VONNEGUTS – 2013 Release: Automobile
The Vonneguts lured us in pretty early on this year with their funkadelic rock ‘n roll. From snatching sets at nearly every musical event to just rocking on the street in Eastern Market, this group stole our attention and vowed not to return it. They have a very promising future ahead of them in 2014, but don’t take your eyes off of them even for a second, because these men move quickly!
20. EDDIE LOGIX – 2013 Release: Eddie Logix Plays Lykke Li
Who hasnt Eddie Logix been working with these days? It seems that I havent heard a remix without Eddie Logixs name attached to it, whether its for Dial.81, James Linck, Doc Waffles, Phantasmagoria, and many more, hip hop and indie musicians of Detroit want Eddie Logix on their projects.
In addition to our top 25, we included a “KEEP ON YOUR RADAR 2014” List