Favorite Artist of 2010: DM Stith

If you spent any time reading this blog in 2010, you know that I was all about DM Stith last year.  I can’t believe such a talented artist was living in my town, and I didn’t even know about it until he was ready to leave.  When I first heard his song “Thanksgiving Moon” back in 2009, I was just so intrigued by its eerie tone, and this almost quiet, strangely haunting voice that seemed to come out of nowhere.  It took a few months for me to finally come back to it, but when a friend asked me if I knew anything about him I went on a quest of my own to get better acquainted with his music.

When I started digging around and listening to tracks from 2008’s Heavy Ghost, I was completely stunned.  So much amazing music!  So much sound and quality song-writing.  And this voice, I don’t even know how to put it into words.  It’s a voice that can be soft and powerful; it can soar smoothly between octaves, at times its melodic and others like he’s merely speaking. But what really got me, was the symphonic element to the songs.  His songs had everything from strings to brass, and intense percussion arrangements. The songs seemed to come out of nothing really; a short simple phrase often started them out, and by the end there would be an explosion of sound coming from a massive mix of instruments and layered vocals. I also really loved the spine twisting minor chords and playful rhythms.  I listened to the collection of EPs that Stith had also been releasing and was, again, amazed and more curious than ever about his music.

2010 saw the release of Heavy Ghost Appendices, a double disc collection of loose demos of tracks from Heavy Ghost, as well as  fresh arrangements of previously recorded tracks and cover songs performed by Stith himself.  The second disc contained remixes of Stith’s songs composed by other artists.  It was a great example of collaboration and the creative process at work and one of my favorite albums of the year.

Following the album’s spring release, stages all over the country (and Europe) were fortunate to see Stith touring again and releasing material in the form of EPs (Spirit Ditch EP) and compilation contributions (Subterranean Homesick Blues: A Tribute to Bob Dylan’s Bringing It All Back Home).  Video podcasts and write-ups on tour put Stith in the perfect position for his next move: jumping on tour with label mate Sufjan Stevens to not only play in his band, but open for the shows as well.

In my opinion 2010 looked like a good year to be DM Stith: more shows, new music, and more spotlight in music press.  His music got me through some tough times and some of the best times of 2010. I can’t wait to hear what wonderful music will come next. Also, If Tim Burton needs someone to score his next trippy, beautiful, nightmare of a film, he should really look no further than this artist.

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