While we listed 20 artists that would make a name for themselves at the onset of 2014, there are always some who crop up in the first months that just couldn't have been predicted -- and, yes, some we just weren't paying attention to yet. Having just passed the halfway mark of the year, here are 18 artists that you need to know before 2014 gives way to 2015.
There’s something about Chicago lately that is producing some of the most unique additions to today’s hip-hop composite. Alex Wiley naturally draws a lot of comparisons to Chance The Rapper, but he has his own flow, and if he keeps putting out projects like his most recent, “Village Party,” he’s going to make his name known because he did it his way.
One listen through Author’s debut EP, “People Are Alike All Over,” and we knew there was something special about this group. A breed of genuine indie rock all too rare, the band is clearly a fan of acts like Copeland and Circa Survive. After a slight lineup change, the band recently finished recording their debut album at Glow in the Dark Studios, and if the one-off release of “To Dream” is any indication of the album’s sound, we are all in for a gorgeous treat.
Bad Suns got their name out there after the swift rise of their song “Cardiac Arrest.” While it seemed likely that the band’s debut full-length would surround the single with mostly mundane three-minute cavities, “Language & Perspective” is intelligent, inspired and, most importantly, fun. Compare them to whomever you want because it doesn’t matter. It’s good from start to finish, and that can’t be said about many others.
There’s little more we can say to prove how enraptured we are with Bleachers. Jack Antonoff’s resume speaks for itself, and finally getting to see him create in solo just might top the list of anything he’s involved himself in. It’s safe to say that “Strange Desire” will be a part of our daily rotation through the rest of 2014, and then through 2015 and beyond.
While there’s no denying that Clean Bandit fits in nicely with the rest of EDM culture, the group manages to escape any labeling of “button pushers” with their classical inputs -- the instruments are played, not programmed. Tag on a melange of spectacular vocalists and a handful of well-crafted videos that take us to places foreign and exotic, and you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a reason not to love them.
Closure in Moscow
We’re just going to put this out there: You aren’t going to hear a rock record better or more distinctive this year than Closure in Moscow’s “Pink Lemonade.” Five years since their debut LP, the band has shed their post-hardcore rind for a far more technicolor cortex. Songs swerve between but are not limited to progressive, psychedelic, classic, funk and blues rock -- often intra-song. Two of the clearest influences are The Mars Volta and Led Zeppelin. “Pink Lemonade” is a shredding mammoth whose glory can only fully be realized by those who are ready to get hella weird on some dirty, dirty groove-action.
Cozz is the latest signing to J. Cole’s Dreamville imprint, and it only took one song with a video to spark a label shouting match. Gifted with the intelligence to understand that having the song is only one piece of the puzzle to success, Cozz’s highly anticipated “Cozz & Effect” mixtape and mentor in one of hip-hop’s finest are guarantees of a long and prosperous foothold in the game.
The world first caught wind of The Districts after their performance of “Funeral Beds” went viral. After their self-titled debut EP premiered on Rolling Stone, listeners got a further examination into the young quartet’s promising mixture of indie rock, blues and folk. It won’t be long before The Districts become a festival priority for all attending.
There was the rise of Chvrches. There was the rise of Haim. Now, it’s time for the rise of NONONO. Don’t misinterpret: NONONO is definitely distinct from the aforementioned. 2013 marked the beginning of women emerging as the leaders of the most obsessed music acts, deserting the narrow highway of pop superstardom. NONONO is simply the next up to the bat, and they are here to kick some ass.
If the long-awaited release of My Bloody Valentine’s third album had you all jazzed up, your new favorite band is Nothing. Shoegaze infused with a punk ethos, Nothing’s debut, “Guilty of Everything” is a triumph in playing loud as hell and managing to sound beautiful at the same time.
It’s easy to compare a female-fronted pop-rock band to Paramore, but setting up such parameters significantly slights the immense potential of Pvris. Lynn Gunn is a force that cannot be denied, redolently poignant in both her most excitable and serene vocalizations. The first female-led signing of Rise Records, a label that has almost implausibly made metalcore music equally accessible and desirable, the label may have just made its smartest acquisition yet.
Every once in a while, an artist emerges from the ether, destined to challenge the comfort of prevailing musical standards. Raury’s banner jam, “God’s Whisper,” liberates itself from compartmentalization while forgoing all alienation that usually follows in such efforts. You might think you know what Raury is going to do next, but really, you have no idea.
We’re just going to quote ourselves on this one: "Raz Simone is a man who is using vowels and consonants to find consonance in latitude. Eschewing the black and white for a more vibrant spectrum, the Seattle native’s debut LP expresses a mind forged from a convoluted past, unwinding toward a more lucid future.” There is a level of honesty and altruism that incandesces from Simone’s character. You can hear it in his music and you can feel it in conversation, and when you combine this with his talent and work ethic, you will want to do everything you can to ease his rise to the top.
This Wild Life
Since the rise of acts of like Dashboard Confessional and JamisonParker, there’s been a chasm in the indie/rock scene of emotionally driven acoustics. This Wild Life isn’t here for nostalgia’s sake. Stripping down even further than most of their predecessors, the duo’s debut LP radiates every emotion you’ve ever felt at the beginning and end of a relationship. Whether you think Warped Tour is still cool or not, This Wild Life is worth every second.
It was the song “Habits,” and its Hippie Sabotage remix, that brought Tove Lo ("Too-va Loo”) into the media’s iris, paired with an appropriately dark video that winds through a self-operated bar tour. The Stockholm singer is a pop star ready to blow, having spent some time in the studio with Adam Lambert and prepping to open for Katy Perry in Australia later this fall, which is right around the time we should be receiving her debut, and most definitely breakthrough, LP.
Seriously, what can’t Vic Mensa do? He first came on the scene as the frontman of Kids These Days, a funky hip-hop collective that comfortably blended guitars with brass. Then he took on more typical hip-hop beats on his “Innanetape.” Now, his two most recent releases, “Down On My Luck” and “Major Payne,” Mensa is experimenting with disco and house as he prepares to release his “Streetlight” EP. Flow. For. Days.
Drawing comparisons to Sam Smith couldn’t be more valuable than it is at this very moment. A fairly recent addition to Island Records, Wrabel’s croons are marked by an intelligent balance of full voice and falsetto. Whether he’s singing atop pulsing electronics or wielding nothing but a set of keys, its impossible to knock the notion that Wrabel is made of the matter that strikes the heart of listeners across the board.
Your Old Droog
When you release an EP and the majority of people entertain the possibility that you might be a project conducted by Nas under an alias, there isn’t much else to be said. So we won’t.