Ever since the Asbury Park-based Folk-Rock outfit Lightning Jar went dark, frontman Sean Marshall has been seeking a creative outlet, even contributing a handful of pieces to SIMGE this past year. However, Marshall found his true voice as a solo artist with the recent release of his alluring debut EP Anchor Sleep, which was quietly unveiled in November but quickly resonated throughout the Jersey Shore folk community.
Stream Marshall’s Anchor Sleep, and check out the songsmith’s top 5 releases of 2013, below.
5. Washed Out – Paracosm
Ernest Green’s synth-pop project went as analog as possible with his second full-length release, picking up the tempo a bit and adding a bit more color to his palette. The album’s musicality marks a step forward for the songwriter (Green played every instrument—reportedly over 100 different kinds), but his lyricism—albeit well intentioned—stays within his typical frame.
4. Dawes – Stories Don’t End
Dawes showed both musical progress and a new independence with their first self-published album, Stories Don’t End (they departed from former record label ATO). While the sounds of SDE show the boys becoming an even better band, their songwriting doesn’t exactly need the new polish this record prescribes. Still, the caliber of Goldsmith’s songwriting puts itself amongst very few peers in contemporary folk.
3. Front Bottoms – Talon of the Hawk
The cult-like following for this NJ-based neo-punk outfit unmistakably has something to do with their blunt lyricism and generational identification. Even though the immature angst in the record comes off a bit too heavy handed, Front Bottoms certainly used their increasing profile for the better with Hawk.
2. Volcano Choir – Repave
Justin Vernon returned from his self-prescribed “side project” Bon Iver to make his second album with Volcano Choir. The album’s theme of personal growth is quite fitting for a record that marks progress for this group, who has taken their avant-garde song forms to a more cohesive and intelligible structures.
1. Local Natives – Hummingbird
The harmonizing group of friends from LA outdid their frosh release Gorilla Manor with Hummingbird, an extremely cohesive collection of dark, deep, and syncopated songs. While it may have come at the cost of a lost loved one and a band member, the lyrical content of Hummingbird marks a new maturity for a band that formerly may have been marked as just a hipster trend. Gorilla Manor captures ears, but Hummingbird captures hearts.