Daniel Wilson “Heartbreaker”

Instant classic. I should really just leave it at that…

Twenty-three-year-old Detroit native Wilson has one of those voices that comes around once a generation. With a gospel music upbringing and jaw-dropping range, Wilson will quickly become a household favorite. This fantastically catchy tune captured me. There is a Stevie Wonder sensibility to “Heartbreaker”, though that’s not as apparent in the other songs off of his recently released EP Boy Who Cried Thunder. So far, in the early stages of my SXSW listening binge, Daniel Wilson takes the cake!

Júníus Meyvant “Color Decay”

Icelandic-born Júníus Meyvant’s resplendent tune, “Color Decay”, offers a rich and textural palette of sounds. I love how the strings accent and add warmth to the beginning of the track. The horns come in and brighten it up, while his wise, raspy vocals deliver an Alex Ebert (Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros) kind of friendliness. Currently, this is his only song available, though word is that he is finishing up a debut album this year.

Polyenso “Moona Festival”

Wow, this song is movingly beautiful. From the absolutely stunning, patient piano intro to the striking yet delicate Thom Yorke-esque vocals woven throughout, I can’t decide what I love the most. This trio from St. Petersburg, FL released their full length debut in 2013. “Moona Festival” is their latest single, which hopefully precedes yet another LP filled with similarly delicious songs.

Christof “Empty Handed”

This is a lovely number by the Dutch singer-songwriter Christof. He recently opened for the awe-inspiring Bear’s Den and certainly made a big impression amongst the local audience here – I can imagine he is being received equally as well in every other city. I liken him to a European Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes) with a touch of Jeff Buckley. While “Empty Handed” is most definitely the standout single, I would recommend checking out his entire EP.

Fierce Bad Rabbit “Do You Want Me Now?”

Another catchy, fun tune for your ears this weekend! This quartet out of Fort Collins, Colorado delivers upbeat, alt/folk tunes with just the right amount of rock sensibility. “Do You Want Me Now” is a total stand out track. I adore the lovely viola accentuating the melody and Chris Anderson’s occasional barks à la Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse. This song will keep you bouncing in its wake.

Flyte “Light Me Up”

I can’t stop listening to this extremely cheerful track from the UK-based quartet Flyte. Not much information is available on the band at this point, but I can tell you they are headlining a bunch of UK dates through November. All I know is that it’s damn near impossible to not tap your foot, bob your head, crack a smile, break into dance, or all of the above while listening to this song!

Black Honey “The Taste”

Another killer British band I’ve been watching closely has delivered a walloping 2:18 minute smash. I know virtually nothing about Black Honey except that they only have three demos out and all of them absolutely rock. I love the sultry darkness of the frontwoman’s vocals and the crashing guitars at the very beginning of “The Taste.” Listen to (and love) the other two demos here. Nothing more to report – have a listen or ten and enjoy!

Leo Stannard “Please Don’t,” “Why Don’t We,” and “Eliza”

Step aside all other British early-20-somethings with incredible musical sensibility, Leo Stannard (19 to be precise) has entered the scene. He croons with the rasp of Paolo Nutini, hits notes as high as Justin Vernon, yet still fits comfortably in the same space as our beloved Ben Howard. It was incredibly difficult to choose just three of his songs – they are all truly excellent. I adore the undeniable warmth of the horns in “Why Don’t We,” and can’t help but completely melt into the melody and his range in “Eliza.” “Please Don’t” shows off the intricacies of his guitar picking prowess and his peerless sense of timing.

Europe, be on the look out for his debut EP next month! And for us Americans… well, hopefully we will get a piece of Leo before too long!

Arkells “Leather Jacket”

Loving these pop-rockers from Canada! If you are looking for a fun, upbeat album to get you through the final stretch of summer, look no further. The Arkells’ latest release High Noon is a melodic, piano-driven ball of energy with lots of lovely little nods to a mélange of artists (depending on the song) ranging from Frank Turner, U2, Third Eye Blind, and even to Asbury Park-era Springsteen. There’s something for everyone here. As an unabashed lover of undeniable hooks and well-calculated buildups, I give you my favorite track, “Leather Jacket.” This will be on repeat for the rest of the summer.
Also, gotta love the hilarious pay phone comment at around 3:44 …

Mid Ayr “My Mayhem”

This is one of those songs that gets better and better with each listen. All of the sudden, you are five listens deep and you realize you’re hooked. Mid Ayr is fronted by Brisbane-based Hugh Middleton, known more notably for his work as The Trouble With Templeton’s lead guitarist. I love the mellow, casual flow of this track, loose acoustic guitar, hand claps, and crowd singing included…