‘I was blown away!’: readers on their best music discoveries – and listening habits

Concluding our Discovery Channels series, Guardian readers share the music that’s new to them – and how they came across it

Coast Contra – 505

Coast Contra’s 505 - video

For me, Coast Contra is the most exciting new hip-hop group in years. The first I heard from them was their track Never Freestyle, which is a great introduction to the skill level and style of all four members. A lot of attention is given to Never and other freestyles on YouTube but their debut album 505, released this year, seems to be overlooked. What’s most exciting is that I expect their best work is still to come. Over the last couple of years the best source of finding music for me has been the KEXP YouTube channel. I’ll give all their videos at least a quick listen to see if they’re my sort of thing. One thing that hasn’t changed since I was growing up is that I still listen to albums. I find it weird when people talk about their playlists as their primary form of listening to music. James, 38, Glasgow


Grimes and i_o’s Violence – video

I mainly discover new music from my kids. We have Spotify in the car and on a drive up to Scotland we took turns choosing tracks. Grimes was my daughter’s choice. I had never heard any of Grimes’ music before and I was blown away. In fact, a lot of the tracks they chose were from artists I hadn’t heard of and I enjoyed a lot of it. I created a playlist of them all as a memory of the road trip. Before my kids were born, I was a big music fan and picked up a lot of new artists via the NME and Q magazine. I used to pick up new music from late evening radio but now only listen to Spotify or Amazon. Sarah Hill, 58, Nottingham

Charlotte Cardin – Phoenix

Charlotte Cardin’s Phoenix – video

Last year Charlotte Cardin released her debut album, Phoenix, which is one of the best I’ve heard in a long time. Her vocals are up there with Adele and the lyrics are excellent. I first heard her music when my wife, who is originally from Quebec, started listening to her, since she is also from Quebec. As part of her album tour, Charlotte Cardin came to perform in Calgary so my wife and I got tickets. I’m so glad we did; it was a flawless performance and I’ve been addicted to her album ever since. I miss the good old days of spending time flicking through the CD racks at record stores and picking up something random. Technology has taken a lot of the life out of discovering new music. Keith McFarlane, 40, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

High Vis – Talk for Hours

High Vis’s Talk for Hours – video

Social media and streaming services have benefited the DIY hardcore punk scene. It’s easier than ever to access demos from newcomers who blew you away in their opening slots. One of my favourites is High Vis. Just watch their set at Outbreak Fest 2022 on YouTube – you’ll see a band welcoming a crowd that shouts every single lyric back at them at the top of their voices. They channel a hardcore energy with hard-hitting lyrics about loneliness and a pressure to connect with the people around you. Talk for Hours resonated with me in particular. Joshua Bolam, 27, Leeds

Valerie June – Call Me a Fool

Valerie June’s Call Me a Fool – video

I heard Call Me a Fool on BBC 6 Music. I immediately bought the album, The Moon and Stars. The minute I heard Valerie June’s voice I was mesmerised. (I was also a bit cross that I’d only just discovered her.) Her sound is so original, such a mix of so many genres, all of which I love. I’m excited that I still have her entire back catalogue to discover. For many years, my best source of new music has been Jools Holland, Songlines, BBC Radio 3 and 6 Music. I have a very broad taste in music and I like to listen to whole albums and not single tracks. Yeah, I know, showing my age. I have gone from vinyl to cassette tapes to CDs to iPod and … I’ve stopped there. I don’t want to stream. I don’t want ads and I don’t want to pay someone who doesn’t make the music. I want to own the music; I want albums not single tracks; I want hard copy of some sort in my own possession because music is too important to me. Caroline, 73, Bath

Gang of Youths – Angel in Realtime

Gang of Youths’ The Angel of 8th Avenue – video

It would have to be Gang of Youths and their 2022 album Angel in Realtime. I think the music we love most connects us to a time, place, or person. For me, Angel in Realtime takes me back to how I felt moving to London at the beginning of this year: “This strange new town … this strange hemisphere.” The album is also a stunning meditation on grief. You in Everything and In the Wake of Your Leave are two tracks that I return to in darker moments. I managed to catch GoY in concert earlier this year at the O2 Brixton in London, where I got to celebrate the album with the people who made it and the people who have come to love it – what a moment. The way I discovered GoY was an anomaly: a YouTube ad for their tour popped up with the song The Man Himself, and I proceeded to delve into their back catalogue. Usually, I depend on streaming. I wish I’d discover more music by talking with friends – I am terrible at feeling self-conscious about the music I listen to, when really I could chat endlessly about it. Harry Rogers, 23, London

Blue Violet – Rabbit Hole

Blue Violet’s Rabbit Hole – video

Blue Violet is an incredible Anglo-Scottish husband-and-wife duo. They create beautiful alt-pop/folk tunes and Sarah Gotley has the most remarkable voice. Their single Rabbit Hole is still my favourite release of the year so far. It’s an exceptionally well-written ballad based around a beautiful piano chord progression and overlaid with a spot-on melody. The harmonies are gorgeous but never overbearing. I’ve also discovered Emma Mae, Serotones, Kitty Perrin and many more this year. For all the negatives, services such as Spotify have enabled me to discover many more artists compared with passively listening to radio or browsing CDs (although I still do that, too). This has hugely broadened my horizons and helped me discover many smaller, independent artists over the past couple of years. Phil Taylor, 44, Rutland

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Magenta Mountain – video

My favourite discovery this year is King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, especially their album Infest the Rats’ Nest and their latest record, Omnium Gatherum. I love how often they switch genres and how prolific they are. But their music doesn’t suffer from it. I found them by recommendation of a close friend who listens to them religiously. I mostly listen to curated playlists on Apple Music or read music critics for their recommendations. Sometimes I’ll just choose something because an album cover looks cool. When I was a kid, I listened to what my parents listened to – so either classical or rock music. Aerosmith is still my favourite band ever and that probably won’t change, but I discover music digitally 95% of the time. Katharina Lukas, 20, Germany

Yard Act – 100% Endurance

Yard Act’s 100% Endurance – video

My favourite music discovery this year has been 100% Endurance by Yard Act. Their album, The Overload, is brilliant, but this closing track is distinct because it leaves behind the cynical outlook on British life for something sweeter. It’s one of the most beautiful and uplifting pieces of music I’ve heard in years. Using the prospect of alien invasion, and the realisation that the aliens have no more idea about the meaning of life than we do, to celebrate life is bonkers and moving. Sparse, witty, and heartfelt without being sickly, songs like this come along very rarely indeed. This one came via my cousin, but mostly I discover music via Spotify on friends’ recommendations. I do miss my weekly visit to HMV and buying CDs off the evidence of a track or an article in Classic Rock magazine. Dark Side of the Moon, Back in Black, Abbey Road. I would take them home and listen to the full album while doing the washing up. I appreciate the convenience and ease of streaming, though, and because I’ve always preferred listening to whole albums rather than individual tracks or playlists, my listening habits have remained pretty much the same – and it’s a lot cheaper. Ryan Govin, 35, Liverpool

Peter Cat Recording Co

Peter Cat Recording Co’s We’re Getting Married – video

My favourite this year is an Indian band called Peter Cat Recording Co. They mix a range of genres; jazzy, soul, folk and even disco, yet somehow it works. They’re the one band that whenever I put them on around friends, everyone asks, “who is this?” They’re also now the band I want to see live more than any other. I used to get everything through magazines and newspapers yet these days a lot of my discovering is through Spotify and their various algorithms that are pretty spot on for the large part. I still like to buy vinyls and music for my iPod. The iPod especially helps me rediscover music I’d forgotten about so I like to return to it, even though Spotify is easier. Ben, 32, London


Guardian readers

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