RIYL Mixtapes: Because sometimes the best way to get to know a new artist is to use them in a sentence.

I’ve decided to do RIYL Mixtapes a little differently.  The first one started with an excellent new band and put them in a playlist with more known names, but then I realized that it’s probably a better idea to start with an artist people are more familiar with and go from there.

RIYL: Laura Veirs

This mixtape begins with Colorado native, Laura Veirs.  Her latest effort July Flame landed her on many Best of 2010 lists, including NPR, Paste, American Songwriter, and a slew of other blogs (including this one).  The album is quiet and organic.  Veirs draws you into such an intimate listening experience with her pure voice that, when finished, you can’t help feel woken from a beautiful trance.  Since the album is an ode to the fleeting sweetness of the summer, it seemed appropriate to introduce several other songstresses and artists in a play on that theme, specifically, summer love: exciting, hot, and often fading with the season itself.  Mixtape below.

Dark Dark Dark / Photo credit: Tim Piotrowski

Dark Dark Dark

Dark Dark Dark may be a 5 or 6 person band, but it’s lead singer Nona Marie Invie who carries most of the vocals on their 2010 release, Wild Go.  She ebbs, flows, dips and soars on every track, most of which starts off with a melodic piano foundation and is layered with harmonies, strings, accordion and a variety of instruments.  It’s indie rock that’s at times dreamy and others slightly quirky and theatrical, without being too in your face about it.

Mountain Man

Mountain Man

I’ll admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the album upon first listen, but after catching Mountain Man opening for Jonsi at The Wiltern this in October, I did a doubletake.  These three ladies let their voices speak for them on their debut album, Made The Harbor out this past July 2010.  So raw you can hear slight rustles and movement before several of the songs.  With the help of only a guitar they weave intricate harmonies that are so delicate they may break at any moment.

Jesca Hoop

Jesca Hoop

One of my favorites of this past year, Jesca Hoop is like a female pied piper.  On her 2010 debut album Hunting My Dress, her fingers leapacross the strings of her guitar, as her voice dances along, and before you know it – you’ve been lured with her into the woods of the Grimm Brothers’ fairytales.  Her live show is not to be missed either, when the guitar isn’t in her hands Hoops gestures like a wizened storyteller with every vocal pirouette.

Peggy Sue

Peggy Sue

The final song in the mix is by Peggy Sue, another indie darling of 2010.  After a series of EPs, their haunting full-length debut, Fossils And Other Phantoms, came out in April on Yep Roc. The Brighton duo creates their special kind of “anti-folk” music with unique gypsy feel and occasional driving drumbeat, crooning largely about loss, distance and other melancholy subjects.

Summer Love

Laura Veirs “Summer Is The Champion”

Dark Dark Dark “Celebrate”

Mountain Man “Animal Tracks”

Jesca Hoop “Bed Across the Sea”

Peggy Sue “The Shape We Made”