Thanks to my coworker John, I finally learned how to pronounce Xiu Xiu (shoo shoo). I find it counterproductive for bands to choose phonetically ambiguous names, because their new fans may lack the confidence to make recommendations to friends for fear of being wrong (see: !!!). But now that I can confidently pronounce Xiu Xiu, here's my recommendation: click on "Wondering" and get down.
Ought was my favorite new band of 2014 and they delivered on their hype when I saw them live at Pitchfork Music Festival last summer. Unbeknownst to me until a few days ago, their lead singer, Tim Darcy, has been working on a solo record. Saturday Night is due out in mid-February. I wouldn't call Ought an approachable band, so for those of you who weren't on the bandwagon, I think you'll find Darcy's solo music more accessible.
Strand of Oaks
Also on my favorites of 2014 list was Strand of Oaks. They are releasing a new album in February called Hard Love. Tim Showalter just knows how to pen a hook that I want to belt out in the car. He also writes some pretty entertaining "reviews" for The Talkhouse.
I'm not really sure how to categorize this one. Part soul, part hip-hop, part indie-something? sir Was is the product of Joel Wästberg, a Swedish musician who's set to release his debut album, Digging A Tunnel, in March of next year.
Active Bird Community
Is it just me or does this track art look like a younger version of the actor who played young Josh in Big? Also, I hope that the band members truly are part of an Active Bird Community. That sounds like an exciting thing. Their album Stick Around is due out in late January.