1. Ben Sollee. I've been playing his latest cd, Learning to Bend during morning planning periods for months. He is a cellist and vocalist songwriter who reminds me of a classical Jack Johnson. He was one of NPR's "Top Ten Unknown Artists" in 2007, and I found him through iTunes, where his song "Learning to Bend" was a freebie on New Music Tuesday back in December of '09.
2. Pharrell. He's come a long way from "Shake Ya A--"(cir. 1999); he's now a music producer, musician, fashion designer and he recently composed music for the DESPICABLE ME soundtrack! Check out "Prettiest Girls," and "Fun, Fun, Fun," both from that movie and family-friendly, bringing back the images of the "three little kittens" running around the amusement park.
3. Florence + The Machine. Recently gaining attention for "Dog Days Are Over" on the Eat, Pray, Love and more recently on the Water for Elephants trailer and on the CW's Nikita with "Cosmic Love", F + TM has been gaining momentum. Download "Cosmic Love." My favorite Florence fan episode is when I was sitting at Tijuana Flats eating tacos and I saw a nurse in scrubs holding up her phone to the ceiling as she danced waiting in line, clearly trying to get the byte for her music identification app: priceless.
4. The Dalton Warblers (from the Glee Cast). The men's acapella group (in real life the Beelzabubs from Tufts University) led by the capable and scintillating Darren Criss (Harry Potter- A Very Potter Musical) leads the iTunes Glee Cast downloads with their "Teenage Dream" rendition. Download "When I get You Alone," "Silly Love Songs," "Teenage Dream", "Bills, Bills, Bills."
A bluesy-countrified remake of "99 Problems"? Yes please! Hugo has been all over the alternative rock radio stations recently with this song, but when I checked him out on iTunes, I liked "Bread and Butter" even more. If he had been out ten years ago he would have been on the Gone and Sixty Seconds soundtrack.
6. The Dirty Heads. The song you would know would be "Lay Me Down," featuring Rome from Sublime, and Sublime they do sound like in it. Flashback to the nineties! "Check the Level" sounds like a mix of Everclear and Eminem, and "Driftin'," like oldschool Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Dirty Heads are hit or miss: with Rome, a hit, without Rome, a miss. Here's hoping to more musical transactions with Rom in the future.
7. Mumford & Sons. New to the music world in 2010, and famous for "Little Lion Man," a lot of my friends are getting excited about their other songs- now coming to be heard on the radio: such as "White Blank Page" and "The Cave", where they sound a little too much like Flogging Molly. I prefer "Awake My Soul" and "Little Lion Man." I'm looking forward to their next album.
8. Ian Fitzgerald: a local guy (Attleboro, MA) that I've been listening to for years, ever since he played in the Open Mic Night's at Jaec's cafe where I used to work. He's got three cd's on iTunes, and even though the '04 album I listened to isn't on there ("Until You Bleed," "Southern Girls,") you can hear his Dylan-esque crooning on "Lillian" and "Idle Hands." Still a great sound from an up and coming!
9. Laura Izibor: Download "Don't Stay," which reminds me of Alicia Keys, and which iTunes tells me I've listened to 55 times since it was a "Single of the Week" back in June of '09. "Carousel"was featured in P.S. I Love You, "Mmm..." was in Tyler Perry's Why Did I get Married?, "Shine" in When in Rome, and with Ledisi, Nina Simone and Simone sang"Four Women" in For Colored Girls. I prefer "If Tonight is My Last" where she rocks that Alicia Keys pop-jazz style again.
10. Miranda Lambert: Country Music's "bad girl" next to Carrie and Taylor, Miranda is coming into her own, with softer singles such as "More Like Her", and "The House that Built Me" and her old sassy staples, "White Liar," "Kerosene" and "Gunpowder and Lead" she's carving a name for herself in country music. Download "New Strings."