These acts are ready to make a big splash in 2019

BLOXX, Eighty-Ninety, IDER, Simple Creatures & vverevvolfWritten by Wes Severson //

They’ve got talent, great songs and are just now starting to be heard. These five acts seem to be flying under the radar, and they really shouldn’t be. They are all putting out new material on a consistent basis, and in most cases, each new song they release seems to outdo the one that came before it.

Let’s face it — finding good new music takes time, which some of you might not have much of these days (that’s why we’re here). Hopefully these five groups can breathe some new life into your outdated playlists. They are all making music that’s on the cutting edge of freshness. So, go listen to these five bands and enjoy!



This London quartet is really something special. Not only are BLOXX’s songs well-written and superbly produced, but the vocals that come from lead singer Ophelia Booth also maintain an amazing tone and texture to them. The songs feature both catchy choruses and verses due, in part, to some top-notch guitar work. Although their songwriting is somewhat predictable, the finished product is so clearly polished and tastefully produced that it keeps you wanting more and more.

BLOXX have issued eight singles so far, with the latest “Sea Blue” slated to be the title track on their debut LP. Their first official song “Boyfriend” was thrust into the mainstream at the start of 2017, and since then, the pop-punk outfit has dropped a new single every 2-3 months on average. So far, they have only played shows in the UK, but it’s clear that their fan base is starting to stretch wide. Keep your eyes peeled for some kind of U.S. tour or at the very least, some North American dates this year.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify. Instagram.

Eighty Ninety

Eighty Ninety

These guys got some love from Taylor Swift when the pop star included an Eighty Ninety track (“Your Favorite Song”) in her Spotify playlist “Songs Taylor Loves” less than a month ago. The sultry, minimalist vibes that their songs deliver have a soothing, almost mesmerizing effect on the listener. The duo made up by brothers Abner and Harper James has an incredible ability to make simple vocal lines sound very addictive. Every Eighty Ninety melody grabs you, and the verses and choruses are all well-crafted to hook you. In general, the production on all of their material is top-notch and often features flavorful guitar licks that come out of nowhere.

As far as their lyrics go, Eighty Ninety are all about heartbreak. They’re good at grabbing you with stories that often feel very real ever since they unveiled their three-song EP Elizabeth in 2016. With each new song that they give us, there has been more speculation about a longer release coming soon. For now though, you’ll have to enjoy the band’s seven singles, and we can hope they come back to California at some point this year (we’re pretty sure they will).

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify. Instagram.



Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville are quickly turning heads back home, but the UK indie-electronic duo making music under the name IDER has yet to break out in the U.S. They soon will, though … trust me. They’ve already started 2019 on a strong note a new pop masterpiece called “Brown Sugar”, and describing it as “infectious” would be putting it lightly. IDER really bring emotion to their catchy, quickly worded melodies. Some have a rap component to them, which definitely prevents any listener boredom. Lyrically, they excel at conveying complicated feelings and situations into simple, uniquely timed musical phrases.

Last year, the group released “Mirror”, which was one of my favorite songs from 2018. But the electronic production that IDER’s latest material employs makes them a force to be reckoned with. Simple, yet groove-able beats and synths keep the focus on the words, which can strike emotional chords in the hearts of anyone who has been in love. IDER have yet to release their debut LP, but when they do, which we assume will be this year, fans best be prepared.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify. Instagram.

Simple Creatures

Simple Creatures

Simple Creatures may not even be classified as indie, but I promise you, you will be hearing a lot about them over 2019. That’s because the group consists of two guys who should probably be considered alt-rock Hall of Famers (if there was such a thing). Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus has joined forces with All Time Low frontman Alex Gaskarth, and his signature vocal tone is quite apparent and tends to blend very nicely over their synthpop-tinged tunes.

So far we’ve only gotten a taste of Simple Creatures’ potential, but they’re already proving to be addictive. Hoppus and Gaskarth have been called the two of the juiciest brains in alt-rock, and their creativity shines through on their first two singles “Drug” and “Strange Love”. Plus, there’s a good chance that we’ll get another single or two from Simple Creatures over the next few weeks as they gear up to release their first EP at the end of March.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify. Instagram.



They have a cool name and they spell it the cool way, but that is not why I like vverevvolf (yes, it’s spelled with no caps), the two-piece from Berkeley. It’s actually because of their creativity and their approach to a type of pop music that doesn’t have to be perfect. Their songs are both dynamic and unpredictable but also are full of hooky lines, interesting lyrics and niche chord progressions as well as beats. They make you feel comfortable. Sometimes playful, sometimes emotional, sometimes distant and sometimes vulnerable, vvwerevvolf’s music packs a punch that’s worth absorbing. They just released their second EP last month that includes the single “Sugar and Spice”, which also has a very funny music video (watch below).

The upbeat, driving pulse on “Sugar and Spice” stands in contrast to vverevvolf’s first single “Cruel Games”, which has more of soothing feel and brings much more artistry and emotion to the table. Kelsey LaRae and Dylan Gallagher have voices that mesh well together, and the stylistic production choices will surely catapult them to the forefront of a returning wave of pop. More new music from vverevvolf is likely in the works, but what they have unveiled so far is a lot to enjoy.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify. Instagram.

Which act are you most excited about in 2019? Let us know in the comments section below!

Five emerging artists you need to hear

Sabrina Claudio, Little Simz, Grace Mitchell, Amy Shark & TRANSVIOLET

Get ready to discover your new favorite artist.


Sabrina Claudio

Who: Sabrina Claudio

Origin: Miami, Florida

What she’s about: Growing up in Miami, Claudio would eventually be drawn to pop-oriented contemporary R&B, similar to that of Mariah Carey. Despite only being on the scene for about two years, she’s already set to be the next big thing in R&B. Last year she dropped six-song EP, which has gained millions of plays and highlights her raw talent and astounding songwriting abilities. The title track “Confidently Lost“, for one, showcases the sultry vulnerability in her voice. Claudio describes the song as being inspired by her own experience being “vulnerable and lost, (but) almost like a good kind of lost.” Check out the full breakdown on Genius here, and watch her latest music video release below.

File next to: Jorja Smith. Jhene Aiko. H.E.R.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Little Simz

Who: Simbiatu Ajikawo

Origin: London, UK

What she’s about: Simbiatu Ajikawo, aka Little Simz, might not be considered an emerging artist in her native London. In fact, she was named Breakthrough Artist of the Year at BBC DJ Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards in 2015. However, here in the U.S., you probably haven’t heard much of Little Simz. Well, get ready because you’re about to. In 2016, Simz dropped the phenomenal Stillness in Wonderland on her own Age 101 label. The record contains her lucid storytelling skills and speaks to her touring lifestyle while featuring collaborations with Bibi Bourelly as well as Syd and Chronixx. Most recently, the UK native released an introspective and compelling track called “Backseat” in addition to another collaboration she worked on with Bourelly that’s titled “Customz” and is a raw and unmastered gem about the highs and lows of a traveling artist. Make sure to keep an eye on Simz.

File next to: GoldLink. Kehlani. Lauryn Hill.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Grace Mitchell

Who: Grace Mitchell

Origin: Portland, Oregon

What she’s about: Arriving on the scene at the tender age of 16, Mitchell first opened eyes with her R&B influenced cover of Hall & Oates’ “Maneater”, which was on the soundtrack for “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”. Since then, she has released two EPs with standout tracks like “NoLo” and “White Iverson“, creating a sound that blends alt-pop and R&B with an air of attitude and candor — something that is truly hard to come by these days. So far this year, she has released four new songs that have me eagerly awaiting more. 2017 is going to be the year that Mitchell takes off, and if you missed her at Coachella (read our festival review here), see her perform on Friday, August 11th at Outside Lands. You can also check out her latest release below, which surely doesn’t disappoint.

File next to: Verite. Anna of the North. Phoebe Ryan.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Amy Shark

Who: Amy Billings

Origin: Gold Coast, Australia

What she’s about: Better known by her stage name Amy Shark, Billings is an indie-pop singer-songwriter from Down Under. The Aussie has been an active musician on YouTube since 2014, but her career really took off last year with her single “Adore” (listen to it below). The song was voted at No. 2 on the Triple J Hot 100 (with Flume’s “Never Be Like You” coming in at No. 1) and went double platinum. It was also remixed by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio. Shark’s personal lyrics and in-your-face chorus arm her with a uniquely emotional sound that connects and resonates with the listener — and you can’t help but want to hear it again and again. Some might think that Shark is just a one-hit wonder, but “Weekends” proves that is not the case. And judging from the response of her recent performance at Australia’s famous Splendour in the Grass festival, you are going to want to see her perform live when she arrives in the U.S. You’ve been warned.

File next to: Vera Blue. Maggie Rogers. Paramore.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Sarah McTaggart, Judah McCarthy, Michael Panek and Jon Garcia

Origin: Los Angeles, California

What they’re about: This foursome will satisfy all of your indie-electropop needs. Their slick debut single “Girls Your Age” made waves in 2015 and was remixed by Twin Shadow. And this year, they’re back and ready to take over the world after releasing their explosive single titled “Kaleidoscopes” and featuring Reo Cragun, followed by their eponymous EP, which is full of exceptional songwriting and shimmery synths. You’re going to want to get to know this band, so listen to their latest single, a brooding and delicious slice of electropop goodness, below.

File next to: Halsey. Sia. XYLO.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Who is your favorite emerging artist? Let us know in the comments section below!

Five female emerging artists you need to hear

Billie Eilish, Sigird, Sampa the Great, Mabel & Jessie ReyezWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get ready to discover your new favorite artist.


Billie Eilish

Who: Billie O’Connell

Origin: Los Angeles, California

What she’s about: Better known by her stage name Billie Eilish, LA’s Billie O’Connell is our youngest emerging artist this month. At only the age of 15, she’s releasing the kind of music that ethereal, dark pop dreams are made of. Her debut single “Ocean Eyes” was released in 2015. Eilish collaborated with her brother on the track, and it’s a beautifully arranged and highly impressive debut. Her voice just seems to float in the air as the chorus comes in: “No fair / You really know how to make me cry when you give me those ocean eyes / I’m scared / I’ve never fallen from quite this high falling into your ocean eyes”. Though Eilish had been a part of the LA Children’s Choir, her initial focus was dance. We’re so glad that this rising star decided to explore recording. Her latest song “Bored ” comes from the Netflix original series “13 Reasons Why” soundtrack. And don’t forget to check out Marian Hill’s sultry “Bellyache” remix, too.

File next to: Lorde. Lapsley. AURORA.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Sigird Solbaak Raabe

Origin: Alesund, Norway

What she’s about: Our next emerging artist young’n is Sigrid, a 20-year-old from a small town in Norway. Her debut single “Don’t Kill My Vibe ” is about the time she was put in a writing session with middle-aged men. Spoiler alert: they killed her vibe. The single was released in February and was immediately named “Hottest Record in the World” on BBC Radio 1. In the few short months since then, Sigrid has released her debut EP, and Gryffin remixed “Don’t Kill My Vibe“. One thing that I love about Sigrid, and what I think sets her apart from others is the fact that even with big production, each song is piano-based and focused on the songwriting. This aspect might be due to being influenced by Joni Mitchell along with Chet Baker when she was young. Make sure to pop on Sigrid’s live and acoustic versions to really hear those lyrics and that big voice. You’ll want to keep an eye on this one.

File next to: MO. Lorde. Jessie Reyez.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Sampa the Great

Who: Sampa Tembo

Origin: Zambia, South Africa

What she’s about: Born in Zambia, raised in Botswana and currently residing in Australia, Sampa the Great is a modern poet. Her lyrics contain political and societal themes, while her debut release The Great Mixtape is an inspiring and accomplished piece of work. With tracks like “Female” and “Blue Boss ” and a tour in support of Kendrick Lamar, it’s easy to see why Sampa is about to the next big thing. Last month, the urban poet unleashsed HERoes Act 2, a three-track EP for Red Bull Sound Select featuring British songstress Estelle. So, if you need a new hip-hop artist in your life, go listen to Sampa’s EP. It’s beautifully produced and uplifting with poetic lyrics. Plus, Estelle is on each track so what’s not to love? Furthermore, check out her feel-good collaboration “For Good” with Remi. You won’t be disappointed.

File next to: Lauryn Hill. Ray BLK. Remi.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Mabel McVey

Origin: London, United Kingdom

What she’s about: Despite having quite famous parents (Neneh Cherry and Massive Attack producer Cameron McVey), Mabel is beginning to make a name for herself. She spent a large portion of her childhood in London before moving to Stockholm at the age of 15. It was there that she undertook a three-year course at Rytmus (where Robyn and Tove Lo also attended). But it wasn’t until she came back to London that she felt free to create her specialized R&B sound that’s 90’s-influenced with London beats. Mabel first stepped onto the scene in 2015 with “Know Me Better” before her second single “My Boy My Town” caught the attention of Annie Mac and was remixed by Shura. The following year, she was nominated for the BBC Music Sound of 2016 poll. Get familiar with the name and check out the latest track from her Bedroom EP below because we expect Mabel’s debut album to be the stuff 90’s R&B dreams are made of.

File next to: RAY BLK. Bibi Bourelly. NAO.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Jessie Reyez

Who: Jessica Reyez

Origin: Toronto, Canada

What she’s about: Reyez first garnered attention in 2014 for her collaborative track with King Louie entitled “Living in the Sky”. From there, Reyez was approached for her songwriting and vocal talents by the likes of Diplo, Chance the Rapper and Babyface. Last month, she released her debut EP Kiddo. The great thing about Reyez is not only how she blends pop, hip-hop and R&B influences, but also her honest and at times, intense storytelling ability. Reyez dives deep into the story about her cheating ex like on “Figures” and what it’s like dealing with sexism in the music industry as she explains on her latest single “Gatekeeper”, which even she created a short film for. You definitely don’t want to miss her SF debut at The Rickshaw Stop this June.

File next to: Bibi Bourelly. Sigrid. Melanie Martinez.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Who is your favorite emerging artist? Let us know in the comments section below!

Five emerging artists you need to hear

Ray BLK, Kali Uchis, KING, MUNA & Camp CopeWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get familiar with these five emerging artists.



Who: Rita Ekwere

Origin: South London, United Kingdom

What she’s about: Ray is taken from her last name, and BLK stands for “Building, Living, Knowing.” Many have dubbed her “the Lauryn Hill of the UK,” and it’s not hard to see why. Born in Nigeria, Ray came to London at the age of four. Many of her songs are influenced by “My Hood” and are about female empowerment. Her lyrics are truthful and brash and sung with such raw, soulful vocals. Listen to any of her tracks, and you can hear how Ray is not only a voice of strength and confidence for herself, but also for those who listen. Her music video for “Chill Out“, which dropped last year, was filmed in Jamaica and features the Gully Queens, a group of LGBT women who have been forced out of their homes. “It put a lot into perspective because every day of their lives is a struggle and a battle to stay alive — yet they were so happy, so full of life,” Ray says of the experience. She recently won the BBC’s Sound of 2017, beating out Nadia Rose and Jorja Smith. If Ray is any indication of what the sound of 2017 is, then this is going to be a great year for music.

File next to: Lion Babe. Lauryn Hill. Jorja Smith.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Kali Uchis

Who: Karly Loaiza

Origin: Colombia

What she’s about: Kali Uchis (born Karly Loaiza) does it all as a singer-songwriter, record producer and music video director hailing from Colombia. Five years ago, she released her self-produced mixtape Drunken Babble, which garnered attention from high-profile rappers like Snoop Dogg and Tyler, the Creator. In 2015, she released Por Vida independently, which includes standouts “Loner” and “Ridin Round” (below). Loaiza never really wanted to be a singer; she wanted to be a director. Just like she sings “I don’t even wanna know ya / I don’t wanna be known” in the chorus of “Loner”, you can sense that she’s more about staying in the background than in the public eye. Influenced by music from the 50’s and 60’s, and by beautiful women who were never taken advantage of, Uchis herself is quite the feminist. Her music is a wonderful blend of pop, soul and surf rock. Last year, she released the Kaytranada-produced track “Only Girl“, featuring Vince Staples and The Internet’s Steve Lacy. I can’t wait to see what Kali Uchis does next.

File next to: SZA. Kelela. The Internet.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Paris Strother, Amber Strother, Anita Bias

Origin: Los Angeles, California

What they’re about: KING are an alternative R&B/soul trio with a unique and distinctive sound that’s drenched in old-school vibes but is also quite futuristic. In fact, the way their harmonies float so perfectly over Paris Strother’ production is the stuff that musical dreams are made of. They write and produce their own music, on their own record label named King Creative. Formed in 2011, it wasn’t long before they began to earn praise from Erykah Badu, Prince and Questlove. Last year, KING released their debut album We Are KING, which was nominated for “Best Urban Contemporary Album” at the Grammy Awards. Impressed yet? Take a listen to their song “The Greatest” below, and you’ll hear why KING are one of the greatest emerging acts out there right now.

File next to: Amel Larrieux. Erykah Badu. Gallant.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Katie Gavin. Josette Maskin. Naomi McPherson.

Origin: Los Angeles, California

What they’re about: This three-piece met in 2013 while attending the University of Southern California. The next year, MUNA self-released their debut EP More Perfect and subsequently signed to RCA Records following its success. Last month, they released their debut full length About U, which is full of beautifully crafted electropop songs. “Crying on the Bathroom Floor” is a glittery jewel of a track. Think Robyn meets HAIM, and soon you’ll be singing along to all of their songs. Check out their first single “I Know a Place” below.

File next to: Robyn. Grace Mitchell. Grouplove.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Camp Cope

Who: Georgia Maq. Sarah Thompson. Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich.

Origin: Melbourne, Australia

What they’re about: Last but not least is another talented trio, this time from the land Down Under, who will satisfy all of your alt-rock and indie-rock needs. Their self-titled debut album came out last year and climbed into the Top 40 of the ARIA Albums Chart. They’ve been quite busy in Australia, performing at major festivals like St. Jerome’s Laneway, covering the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Maps” for Triple J’s “Like a Version” series and launching a campaign that helps stop sexual harassment at concerts. Watch the music video for their defiant and heartfelt tune “Keep Growing” below.

File next to: Gang of Youths. Methyl Ethyl.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Who is your favorite emerging artist? Let us know in the comments section below!

Albums you’ll want to hear in 2017

2017 albumsWritten by Josh Herwitt //

For as bad as 2016 might have been, there’s no question it yielded some excellent albums. So, what’s in store for 2017? It’s still early, but from what we know right now, there’s plenty of new music on the horizon — and a lot of it we can’t wait to get our hands on.

Here are 10 upcoming albums (in chronological order by release date) that you’ll want to hear and could very well end up being on some “Best of 2017” lists in another 12 months.

Bonobo – Migration

Bonobo - Migration

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Ninja Tune

British musician, producer and DJ Simon Green has organically built a loyal following among electronic music fans for almost two decades with a unique sound that combines downtempo electronica with trip-hop and world-music influences. Since 2013’s The North Borders, he has moved to Los Angeles and recorded his sixth LP Migration, which boasts a few notable guest appearances from Nick Murphy (fka Chet Faker), Rhye and Hundred Waters.

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

The Flaming Lips - Oczy Mlody

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Warner Bros.

Wayne Coyne and his psychedelic sidekicks have been busy over the last few years, recording Beatles cover album With a Little Help From My Fwends in 2014 and releasing a collaborative LP with Miley Cyrus the following year. On their 15th studio effort, the difficult-to-pronounce Oczy Mlody that drops on Coyne’s birthday, the Lips return to the days of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and get a little help from their pop-star “fwend” on closing track “We a Famly”.

SOHN – Rennen

SOHN - Rennen

Release date: January 13th
Record label: 4AD

London native Christopher Taylor has been known for working extensively with such artists as BANKS, Lana Del Rey and Rhye, but his transition in becoming a legitimate solo act was cemented with the release of his 2014 debut LP Tremors, which peaked at No. 31 on the UK charts. Now calling LA his home, he has spent the last three years constructing Rennen, his second record as SOHN that’s led by “Signal” and its frighteningly beautiful music video.

The xx – I See You

The xx - I See You

Release date: January 13th
Record label: Young Turks

No impending album in the first quarter of 2017 may have as much hype around it as The xx’s I See You, their long-awaited follow-up to 2012’s Coexist. The build-up to its release in the last few months has seen the London trio perform on SNL, where they showcased lead single “On Hold” and debuted “I Dare You”, and play shows in Eastern Europe to go along with the news of guitarist/vocalist Romy Madley Croft’s recent engagement.

Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound

Cloud Nothings - Life Without Sound

Release date: January 27th
Record label: Carpark Records

Lo-fi noise rockers Cloud Nothings have come a long way since Dylan Baldi started recording songs in his parents’ basement. With their last two LPs — 2012’s Attack on Memory and 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else — garnering critical acclaim from the music media, the four-piece will release Life Without Sound, its fifth studio album and first with lead guitarist Chris Brown now officially a member of the band, later this month.

Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Japandroids - Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Release date: January 27th
Record label: ANTI-

Known for their DIY approach and high-energy performances, Brian King and David Prowse are back after what some may have considered a brief hiatus since touring in support of their 2012 studio album Celebration Rock. This time, the Canadian garage-punk duo is signed to a new label, with its third LP Near to the Wild Heart of Life set to drop on ANTI- in a couple of weeks before embarking on a 20-date North American tour this winter.

Elbow – Little Fictions

Elbow - Little Fictions

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Polydor

2017 marks a big year for Elbow. The Mercury Prize winners have been going at it for 20 years, and to celebrate the occasion, frontman Guy Garvey and company are unveiling their seventh studio album Little Fictions, which features collaborations with The Hallé Orchestra and their choir after longtime drummer Richard Jupp announced in 2016 that he was leaving the group to pursue other creative projects, from expanding his drum school to various charity work.

Sampha – Process

Sampha - Process

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Young Turks

Sampha Sisay, who performs under his mononymous stage name, has built much of his reputation on working with high-profile artists like Drake, Kanye West and Solange. But almost seven years after unveiling his debut EP Sundanza, the South London electronic musician, singer-songwriter and producer is finally dropping his own full-length effort, highlighted by previously released singles “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me”.

Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Ryan Adams - Prisoner

Release date: February 17th
Record label: PAX AM/Blue Note

At the age of 42, Ryan Adams is as prolific as any musician out there right now, with Prisoner marking his 16th LP and the follow-up to his Taylor Swift cover album. And while he has been teasing the record for about six months, originally hinting at a possible November release, the alt-country songwriter gets ready for his next chapter, which he says was inspired by 80’s rock giants like Bruce Springsteen and AC/DC despite coping with a very public divorce at the time.

The Shins – Headworms

The Shins - Heartworms

Release date: March 10
Record label: Columbia

By the time The Shins unleash their fifth LP this March, it will be nearly five years between album releases for the Portland-based outfit. Of course, it’s no secret that bandleader James Mercer keeps a tight schedule between The Shins and Broken Bells, but on Heartworms, the Albuquerque native made sure to include “So Now What”, the song he wrote for the “Wish I Was Here” soundtrack that he later said was “one of the best things” he has ever done.

The following artists and bands are expected to release new albums in 2017 but have yet to confirm an official release date and/or an album title:

Arcade Fire
Broken Social Scene
Bruce Springsteen
Depeche Mode
DJ Premier
Grizzly Bear
Jesu/Sun Kil Moon
John Mayer
Kanye West
The Killers
LCD Soundsystem
Lupe Fiasco
Major Lazer
Modest Mouse
My Morning Jacket
The National
The Offspring
Sky Ferreira
St. Vincent
Troye Sivan
Vampire Weekend
Wyclef Jean
Zack de la Rocha

Five female emerging artists you need to hear

Charlotte Cardin, Shura, Bibi Bourelly, Tkay Maidza & Anne-MarieWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get familiar with these five female emerging artists.


Charlotte Cardin

Who: Charlotte Cardin

Origin: Montreal, Canada

What she’s about: If you’re in need of a new artist who effortlessly blends electronic textures with classic soul and jazz, close your eyes and put on Charlotte Cardin’s music. Just 21 years old, the French-Canadian singer placed in the top four on the Canadian TV talent show “La Voix” in 2013. Two years later, she released her first EP Big Boy on Cult Nation, in which she sings in both English and French. After watching this live version of the title track, I can’t wait for Cardin to begin touring outside of her home country. The lyrics, the voice and the music — Cardin has everything she needs to be a star. Watch the video below for the latest release from the EP, which features rapper Husser.

File next to: Amy Winehouse. James Blake. Billie Eilish.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Aleksandra Lilah Denton

Origin: Manchester, England

What she’s about: Aleksandra Denton, better known by her stage name Shura, first stepped onto the scene two years ago with her single “Touch“, which gained positive traction across the blogosphere. It’s is a languid, bittersweet song beautifully capturing that post-break-up moment. “Touch” would later be released featuring a version with Talib Kweli while Shura was also a longlisted nominee for the BBC Sound of 2015. Over the summer, she dropped her debut LP Nothing’s Real on Polydor Records. What I love about Shura is her ability to create songs that sound like they’re pop songs from the 80’s or 90’s while still sounding fresh and new. Watch the video for “What’s It Gonna Be?” below (I’ll wait while you dance it out).

File next to: Lapsley. HONNE. Mura Masa.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Bibi Bourelly

Who: Badriia Ines Bourelly

Origin: Berlin, Germany

What she’s about: At the age of 22, Badriia Ines Bourelly is a fresh face. She is multi-talented (prior to releasing her own material she was featured on a Lil Wayne track, an Usher track and wrote both Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” and “Higher”) and has an ego. Bourelly is now signed to Def Jam Recordings and releasing her own material. Many of her songs touch on ambition, society and honesty. It’s very refreshing to see such a young female artist be so frank and unapologetic with her lyrics. Bourelly’s new EP Free the Real (Pt. #2) is available now everywhere. Don’t sleep on this rising star.

File next to: LEON. Jorja Smith. Rihanna.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Tkay Maidza

Who: Takudzwa Victoria Rosa Maidza

Origin: Adelaide, Australia

What she’s about: Another young star on the up and up is Tkay Maidza, who first stomped onto the scene in 2013 with “Brontosaurus” at the age of 17. Since then, she has worked with SBTRKT, Martin Solveig and Killer Mike, supported Troye Sivan and Charli XCX on tour and released her debut album last month. While her danceable blend of hip-hop and electronic music might remind you of M.I.A., Maidza has a distinct flow, sound and presence all on her own. I recently saw her perform live. If you get the chance to see her, do yourself a favor and do it. She glows onstage while simultaneously setting it off, so it’s easy to see why Maidza is Australia’s hip-hop sweetheart.

File next to: Santigold. M.I.A. SAFIA.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Anne-Marie Nicholson

Origin: Essex, United Kingdom

What she’s about: Anne-Marie Nicholson has previously worked with Gorgon City, Magnetic Man and Rudimental. Now signed to Rudimental’s label Major Toms, she has embarked on a solo career. Her music is a beautiful blend of hip-hop, R&B and pop with soulful energy. I’m still jamming out to her first solo single “Do It Right” — and her second single is just as good. Check out a live version of “Alarm” from the Live Lounge at BBC Radio One below, and keep an eye out for her debut album that’s due out later this year. Random fact: She’s a three-time world karate champion. Talk about a multitalented artist!

File next to: Jessie J. Dua Lipa. Zara Larsson.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Who is your favorite emerging artist? Let us know in the comments section below!

Five emerging artists you need to hear

Sophia Somajo, Maggie Rogers, Terror Jr, Jorja Smith, Era IstrefiWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get familiar with these five emerging artists.


Sophia Somajo

Who: Sophia Somajo

Origin: Stockholm, Sweden

What she’s about: They must be putting something in the water in Sweden. The amount of exemplary pop music that has come from the Scandinavian country is insane, and its latest export, Sophia Somajo, is no different. Somajo first arrived on the scene back in 2007 with a complete DIY project, The Laptop Diaries, and now, she’s back. “Sapphire” is the stuff that delicious pop dreams are made of. It’s got a hook made of gold. Just add in some dark fringes, and you’ll be hooked. This track has been stuck on repeat since my first listen. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

File next to: Sia. Charli XCX. MO.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Maggie Rogers

Who: Maggie Rogers

Origin: Maryland

What she’s about: Maggie Rogers is a student at the NYU Clive Davis Institute. You may have seen this video on Facebook during which she plays a song of hers for Pharrell Williams, and his reaction is amazing. That video has gone viral, and the track, “Alaska”, is now available on iTunes. Rogers combines folk, dance and a self-proclaimed genre of movement/feelings in her music. “I wanted to make dance music, or pop music, feel as human as possible,” Rogers recently told Pigeons & Planes. Do yourself a favor and have a listen. That chorus has all the feelings and makes me move. Keep an eye on the name.

File next to: Sylvan Esso. Oh Land. Niki & The Dove.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Terror Jr

Who: I just know there are three of them.

Origin: New York? LA? Canada? Greenland?

What they’re about: This enigmatic trio has been keeping its identity on the down low for now (remember when no one knew who ZHU was?), and its first track “3 Strikes” was featured in a Kylie Jenner commercial a few months ago. While some people are convinced that it is, in fact, Jenner singing, The FADER tells a different story. What I do know is that “3 Strikes” is on point, riding a similar wave as Kiiara, with light, airy vocals over a hypnotizing beat. And now “Sugar” has been released, and I am officially hooked. Terror Jr can seemingly do no wrong.

File next to: Kiiara. Felix Snow. The Chainsmokers.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Jorja Smith

Who: Jorja Smith

Origin: Walsall, England

What she’s about: Jorja Smith first came on the scene back in January with the poignant “Blue Lights”, which ignited more than 100,000 plays on Soundcloud in a week. The song was written as part of a school project that asked Smith and her classmates to dissect the legacy of post-colonialism in grime. It quickly put the 18-year-old on the map as she drew comparisons to Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill. Since then, Smith has dropped a track entitled “A Prince” featuring English-Irish singer/rapper Maverick Sabre and her latest cut “Where Did I Go”, cementing her place as an emerging R&B artist that you need to know.

File next to: NAO. Zak Abel. Lauryn Hill.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Era Istrefi

Who: Era Istrefi

Origin: Pristina, Kosovo

What she’s about: Era Istrefi is an Albanian Kosovar singer-songwriter that comes from a family of singers. She has been on the scene in Europe since 2013 and won three Albanian Music Awards. Istrefi recently gained international attention after the release of her latest single “Bonbon”. From there, she signed to Sony Music Entertainment and Ultra Records. According to Spotify, she has the most plays in Hamburg, Germany. Check out “Bonbon”, which is my pick for song of the summer.

File next to: Rihanna. Dua Lipa. Major Lazer.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Who is your favorite emerging artist? Let us know in the comments section below!

New Music: The Hotelier – Goodness

The Hotelier - Goodness (censored)The HotelierGoodness //

5-BamsTop Tracks: “Sun”
“Piano Player”

When you make a record so vital and overwhelmingly powerful that it establishes you as the standard-bearers for an entire genre, the only possible follow-up is to release an album so utterly transcendent it renders the genre distinction moot. The Hotelier’s 2014 LP Home, Like NoPlace Is There was a breakthrough in the sense that the few hundred people they played in front of nightly screamed every word of it back to the Worcester, Mass., band, and critics referred to them, alongside peers like Joyce Manor, Into It. Over It and Modern Baseball as leading the “emo revival,” a term used with varying degrees of sarcasm. But Goodness doesn’t fit into that box quite as neatly. Largely eschewing the pop-punk genre tropes and sonic conventions emo is beholden to, the 13-track LP sounds more like a band making a leap and taking the entire scene with them.

Home was written while singer and bassist Christian Holden’s social circle, a scene once so crucial to creating and sustaining The Hotelier, was tearing itself apart. Many of Holden’s friends at the time were suicidal, including his then-girlfriend, who made it difficult for him to take care of anyone other than her. “I was in this abusive relationship with somebody who was suicidal and I couldn’t get out of because I felt like I would be responsible for her death if she were to kill herself,” Holden told Stereogum this month. Home standout “In Framing” was written about her and what Holden then saw as her inevitable suicide; fortunately the funeral he wrote about faking an illness to miss, to avoid her family and feelings of both guilt and responsibility, never came to pass. “Life in Drag” was written about another friend who was abusing his girlfriend; after hearing the song, he stopped speaking to Holden.

Rather than pull as extensively from Holden’s previously tumultuous personal life and fraught relationships, Goodness is written more obliquely (it also, thankfully, appears to reflect a life that has found some kind of stability). Songs opaquely describe people and relationships who may or may not represent Holden or the listener, with Taoist philosophy and Mary Oliver references scattered throughout. Phrases and imagery (notably “you in this light”) are repeatedly woven into different points of the album, creating a cyclical feel that mirrors its major Taoist themes of death and rebirth, death and renewal.

Where Home was about tearing open wounds new and old, Goodness is more interested in closure, in healing. Where Home was written from a place of darkness — or, at least, a place adjacent to darkness, struggling to cope with it — Goodness is written from something closer to serenity, in understanding death as both prelude and postlude to life. Tinged with equal parts hope and regret, grief and exaltation, it mirrors hip-hop’s recent and historical flirtation with gospel influence and feeling in its acknowledgement of past trauma and yearning for communal catharsis to purge the pain — an ultralight beam for the guitar scene.

The sound is richer and fuller, with most of Home‘s jagged edges smoothed to a comfortably warm roar. Holden takes more risks in composition and structure as well, at times removing instrument parts like on “Goodness Pt. 2”, which consists of sparse drums and Holden’s clear voice for several verses before finally unleashing the massive pop-punk guitar riff it’s been threatening, then only to pull it away after exactly one minute. The song ends with repeated snare drum hits at an interval that eventually lead into the rapid-fire snare pattern of “Piano Player”, which is just a picture-perfect piece of anthemic guitar rock. “The entire room awash in the sustaaaaaaaain,” Holden yells, and you can already picture a tiny venue awash in sustained reverb and a crowd holding that high note along with Holden.

If there’s a song that best represents the leap The Hotelier have made on Goodness, it’s “Sun”, which has been previewed live as far back as last fall’s tour with The Get-Up Kids. It rides a twangy swagger of a guitar riff into a quiet plea from Holden (“Will you lay with me when the sun hits right?”) and then a rumbling breakdown and slow build, like thunderclouds blowing up and covering the face of the sun, before Holden begins softly intoning “suuuuuuuun,” as the storm builds behind him, finally crashing open in a wash of bright guitars and drums that are as jarring and beautiful as a downpour in the daylight.

For an album so much about the cycle of life and death, of birth and rebirth, it seems only fitting that Goodness feels like both the arrival and culmination of emo as a distinct genre. It’s an album so undeniable, so capital-G great that it both demands and transcends attention. If Home was an album of death, then Goodness is an album of life, affirming and overflowing with it.

~Matthew Caponi

Albums you’ll want to hear in 2016

2016 albumsWritten by Josh Herwitt //

Now that we’ve said our goodbyes to 2015, it’s time to start looking ahead to 2016 and what lies ahead when it comes to new music. Although it’s still rather early and new albums are sure to be announced after this writing, there’s plenty of ear candy that’s already set to be released in 2016.

Here are 10 upcoming albums (in chronological order by release date) that you’ll want to hear and could very well end up being on some “Best of 2016” lists in another 12 months.

David Bowie – ★ (Blackstar)

David Bowie - Blackstar

Release date: January 8th
Record label: RCA/Columbia

The 20th studio album from Ziggy Stardust will be one of the first to hit stands in 2016, and although the 68-year-old legend has said that his touring days are over, Bowie is still capable of making an intriguing record, much like he did in 2013 with The Next Day. From what we’ve heard on ★, be it the 10-minute title track or in recent weeks “Lazarus” (the song that Bowie is also using in his off-Broadway musical by the same name), we’re eager to hear the rest.

Tortoise – The Catastrophist

Tortoise - The Catastrophist

Release date: January 22nd
Record label: Thrill Jockey

It’s been more than six years since Tortoise last released an album, but the Chicago post-rock outfit will unveil The Catastrophist, led by first single “Gesceap”, later this month. Featuring vocal contributions from Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley and Todd Rittmann of Chicago bands U.S. Maple and Dead Rider, the new LP was inspired by music closely tied to Chicago’s jazz and improvised music scenes that the city commissioned the band to write back in 2010.

Ty Segall – Emotional Mugger

Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger

Release date: January 22nd
Record label: Drag City

Segall announced his eighth studio album by mailing a VHS tape to Pitchfork less than two months ago, and if that wasn’t eccentric enough, the prolific garage rocker followed it up with a dedicated website for the LP, which includes a hotline number to call and two videos — one that shows him and the band wearing baby masks and another that sees him playing a doctor while explaining what “emotional mugging” is. Despite Emotional Mugger not extending quite as long as Segall’s previous solo effort Manipulator did, many of the track names are worth a chuckle, from “Breakfast Eggs” to “Baby Big Man (I Want a Mommy)”.

Bloc Party – Hymns

Bloc Party - Hymns

Release date: January 29th
Record label: BMG

Long known for pioneering a sound that bridged the gap between indie rock and electronic music, Bloc Party return in early 2016 with their fifth studio album and their first with new members Justin Harris (bass, keyboards) and Louise Bartle (drums). Debuting material from Hymns, including newest single “The Good News” at FYF Fest (read our festival review here) in August, the British quartet will also offer a deluxe edition of the LP with four bonus tracks.

St. Lucia – Matter

St. Lucia - Matter

Release date: January 29th
Record label: Columbia

Jean-Philip Grobler released the debut LP for his Brooklyn-based, synthpop project St. Lucia toward the end of 2013, and late this month, the South African native will unveil his follow-up to When the Night. If you were curious as to how Matter will sound in comparison to his first full length, Grobler has a geographical analogy to describe both: “If the last album sounded like the tropics, this album is the desert.”

Black Moth Super Rainbow

Black Moth Super Rainbow - SeeFu Lilac

Release date: N/A
Record label: N/A

Thomas Fec has become well-regarded in indie-electronic circles for his work as Tobacco over the last several years, but for more than a decade, he has also served as the frontman of Black Moth Super Rainbow, the Pittsburgh psych-rock group that’s preparing to drop its sixth studio album later this year. As BMSR fans await the LP’s official release, the band surprised many in mid-November by streaming its new mini-album Seefu Lilac, which features “neon flavored outtakes from a 6th album that doesn’t yet exist.”

Animal Collective – Painting With

Animal Collective - Painting With

Release date: February 19th
Record label: Domino

After streaming new material on loop at Baltimore’s BWI Airport the day before Thanksgiving, Animal Collective are now just a few weeks away from the release of their 10th studio album. Taking some much-needed time off after its latest tour so that David Portner and Noah Lennox could focus on their own side projects, the band refined its songwriting approach for Painting With, removing the long, ambient passages that were often synonymous with their previous LPs and also collaborating with Welsh musician John Cale and multireedist Colin Stetson.

Wild Nothing – Life of Pause

Wild Nothing - Life of Pause

Release date: February 19th
Record label: Captured Tracks

Jack Tatum remains the brains behind his indie-rock/dream-pop project Wild Nothing, having been its founder and lone songwriter since 2009. Feeding off the success of 2012’s Nocturne, Tatum consciously wanted to reinvent himself as a musician while recording Life of Pause in Los Angeles and Stockholm with producer Thom Monahan, and if his double-sided single “To Know You”/”TV Queen” is any indication, we’re starting to see what he means.

Poliça – United Crushers

Poliça - United Crushers

Release date: March 4th
Record label: Mom + Pop

Poliça lead vocalist Channy Leaneagh may have been pregnant last year, but you wouldn’t have known it from the way this Minneapolis synthpop group has continued to work in the studio. In following up its successful sophomore effort Shulamith from 2013, the five-piece takes a more political approach on its third full-length album United Crushers, which boasts first single “Lime Habit”.

Charles Bradley – Changes

Charles Bradley - Changes

Release date: April 1st
Record label: Daptone Records

You have to wonder if Charles Bradley was a Black Sabbath fan growing up as a kid, because his new album Changes draws plenty of inspiration from the legendary heavy metal group’s Vol. 4. While his cover of the famous Sabbath hit serves as the LP’s title track, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” continues to win us over with his rags-to-riches story (Bradley was at one time homeless before becoming a cook and working various odd jobs) and his undying charisma.

The following artists and bands are expected to release new albums in 2016 but have yet to confirm an official release date and/or an album title:

Band of Horses
Chairlift – Moth
Chromatics – Dear Tommy
Crystal Castles
Death Grips – Bottomless Pit
Diddy – No Way Out 2
DJ Premier – Last Session @ 320
Drake – Views From the 6
Frank Ocean
Gary Numan
GZA – Dark Matter
James Blake – Radio Silence
Kanye West – SWISH
Kings of Leon
LCD Soundsystem
Lupe Fiasco – Drogas
M.I.A. – Matahdatah
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Major Lazer – Music Is the Weapon
Mark Kozelek
Modest Mouse
My Morning Jacket
No Doubt
Pete Yorn – Arranging Time
Rihanna – Anti
The Jesus and Mary Chain
The Killers
The Strokes
Zeds Dead

Five female emerging artists you need to hear

NAO, Andra Day, Zara Larsson, Tala & KiiaraWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get familiar with these five female emerging artists.

1. NAO


Who: NAO

Origin: East London, Britain

What she’s about: NAO is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she studied vocal jazz. After teaching singing for a few years, she decided that she wanted to make her own music. Since 2014, she has released two EPs on her own label Little Tokyo. NAO’s sleek and at times, dark production, combined with her rich and subtle vocals, create a smoky neo-soul sound that integrates quite a few different influences, such as funk, R&B and UK bass, seamlessly. Most recently, NAO contributed to Disclosure’s Caracal on the superb track “Superego”, as well as released her first single from her debut album, which is due out early next year. Listen to “Bad Blood” below.

File next to: FKA twigs. SBTRKT. Lion Babe. Billie Black.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Andra Day

Who: Andra Day

Origin: San Diego, California

What she’s about: After releasing a few covers that went viral on YouTube back in 2012, Andra Day is now signed with Warner Bros. Records. After one listen, it’s easy to see why many compare her to the likes of Amy Winehouse and Billie Holiday. But it’s not just her vintage style and “retro-pop-soul” sound, as Day calls it. It’s that raw emotion that few singers have, and it makes for a very special live performance. Her debut album Cheers to the Fall was released earlier this year and is produced by Raphael Saadiq and Adrian Gurvitz. She recently performed in San Francisco to a sold-out crowd at Rickshaw Stop (hopefully you were there). If you weren’t, watch her live performance for NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert below, and you’ll understand why she’s on this list.

File next to: Amy Winehouse. Billie Holiday. Adele.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Zara Larsson

Who: Zara Larsson

Origin: Stockholm, Sweden

What she’s about: If you’re looking for a new pop fix, look no further. At just 17 years old, this Swedish pop singer has already won Sweden’s equivalent of “America’s Got Talent”, signed a record deal and released her debut album 1. “Lush Life”, her debut single from her second album, is the stuff that summer jams are made of. And then there’s “Rooftop”, another pop anthem with light harmonies and a strong beat. But perhaps the most exciting track in her repertoire is the latest, a collaboration with MNEK (an amazing up-and-coming artist in his own right) titled “Never Forget You”. In September, the track was named by Annie Mac of BBC Radio 1 as the hottest record in the world, and rightfully so. Get ready to listen to your new favorite song below.

File next to: Robyn. Lorde. Rihanna.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.




Origin: Southwest London, Britain

What she’s about: “The idea of taking something and fusing it with its complete opposite excites me,” TALA says of her influences. This best describes what the multicultural producer is all about, and her music explains the rest. Start with “The Duchess“, released last year, and then listen to “Tell Me”, featuring up-and-coming UK producer Mssingo and Korean group Wa$$up. Both tracks combine electronic pop with a global, experimental sound that is all her own. And then check out TALA’s most recent release, which features Banks, and you’ll see why TALA is one of the most exciting producers to emerge this year. Listen to “Wolfpack” below.

File next to: Cashmere Cat. Lil Silva. M.I.A. FKA twigs.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Kiiara

Origin: Illinois

What she’s about: Not a whole lot is known about Kiiara other than the fact that she is from Illinois, worked at a hardware store and Felix Snow produced her first single “Gold” (below). But we’re loving her whispery voice over the glitchy pop/R&B bass-heavy beat. Hippie Sabotage released their remix of “Gold” just a few weeks ago, and Kiiara’s debut EP Meet Me in the Cornfield is coming soon.

File next to: Made in Heights. Kate Boy. Alina Baraz. Marian Hill.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Which female emerging artists are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

New Music: Jamie xx – In Colour

Jamie xx - In ColourJamie xxIn Colour //

4-BamsTop Track: “The Rest Is Noise”

Jamie Smith, better know as Jamie xx, likes to keep his sound tightly knit. As the brains behind his critically acclaimed band The xx and with his undeniably successful career as a solo producer and DJ, keeping his sound contained and tense seems to be the string tying his entire repertoire together. This, for better or worse, is no different than on his most recent — and first official — solo album In Colour.

As one of this year’s most anticipated albums, Smith demonstrates his expertise in his craft and makes it clear he won’t succumb to the seemingly endless demand of club anthems and rave bangers around these days. But that doesn’t make it any less fun; In Colour is a dance party inside a pressure cooker. The opening track “Gosh” introduces the key elements that make up Smith’s first solo release: polyrhythmic instrumentation and gorgeous major synth melodies layered under chopped and screwed samples of Londoners that call back to Jamie xx’s upbringing in the UK house and garage scene. The second half of “Gosh” features an ascent of a synth melody that ties together tension and release unlike something I’ve ever heard before. The hazy deep blue sound of “Sleep Sound” is comfortable and like its incredible music video, has a sense of innocence peppered within it.

Closing out the first part of In Colour with what may end up being the best three-song-run on an album this year, “Seesaw” introduces Romy as the album’s first guest. From the first few seconds, you can tell Smith took a chapter from the enigmatic UK producer Burial’s book, with a hyper-looped beat that races through the track, guiding Romy’s vocals alongside Smith’s familiar synth melodies. The album only grows from there with these few elements that work together like a complex mix of ingredients in a dish you’ve never tried before, yet still seems familiar.

In Colour may not be everyone’s favorite album this year, but no one can doubt the level of detail devoted to making every layer of every track as perfectly tuned as possible. I find myself returning to the album again and again while finding more and more to discover, which may be the very way Mr. Smith wanted us to experience it.

~Brett Ruffenach

New Music: Death from Above 1979 – The Physical World

Death from Above 1979 - The Physical World

Death from Above 1979The Physical World //

4.5-BamsTop Tracks: “Right On, Frankenstein!”
“Crystal Ball”
“Government Trash”
“The Physical World”

Album Highlights: It’s hard to believe that it has been nearly 10 years since Death from Above 1979 unleashed their signature dance-punk sound that would make 2004’s full-length debut You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine such a groundbreaking success. Ever since then, it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for the Toronto-based duo. Less than two years after finishing You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine, Sebastien Grainger (drums, vocals) and Jesse F. Keeler (bass, synths, backing vocals) went their separate ways, citing both musical and stylistic differences for the band’s breakup. Yet, it would take five years before Grainger and Keeler — also of MSTRKRFT fame — would even speak to each other again, let alone play music together. So, while their reunion in 2011 certainly excited old fans and converted others, it wasn’t until this past July that DFA 1979 finally released new music, enlisting “Trainwreck 1979” to serve as the first single on The Physical World. With Keeler’s gut-rumbling bass line paving the way for Grainger’s melodic yelping and thunderous drumming, it’s a track that employs all of the DFA 1979 essentials their admirers should be used to hearing by now.

But for as strong of a first offering as “Trainwreck 1979” is, especially when you consider how long it has taken Grainger and Keeler to get back in the studio, the rest of The Physical World is worthy of just as much commendation. If anything, it deserves more. After all, the 11-song LP has all the makings to be considered one of the best albums of 2014. From top to bottom, it’s loaded with head-banging, yet danceable punk riffs that make DFA 1979’s sound so unique, even almost a decade later. In fact, just trying to pick out the record’s top tracks can be a difficult endeavor in of itself. Of course, you won’t find a much better one-two punch on The Physical World than the thrashing “Right On, Frankenstein” and the subsequent “Virgins,” on which Grainger croons, “Where have all the virgins gone?” to open the song’s chorus. Still, what may be most impressive about DFA 1979’s follow-up to You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine is the fact that there are no throwaways here to speak of — only some choice cuts that stand out slightly more than others (see “Crystal Ball,” “Government Trash” and the album’s title track for instance). And with the kind of chops that Grainger and Keeler unload on The Physical World, DFA 1979 supporters really can’t ask for much more.

Album Lowlight: As electrifying as DFA 1979’s songs can be both in the studio and in a live setting (read our review of their recent warm-up show in LA here), they’re definitely not for everyone. Though punk has never been a genre that this music writer has taken a great liking to, there is something about DFA 1979’s stripped-down style that makes them as intriguing as any two-piece out there right now. Despite plenty of outside pressure to make a new album (Grainger actually told NME in June that the media and the band’s fans were the impetus for writing The Physical World in the first place), DFA 1979 has proven once again to the (physical) world that it only takes two talented dudes to create some seriously bone-crushing, blood-pumping tunes.

Takeaway: There will be many DFA 1979 fans who will have a difficult time deciding whether they prefer You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine or The Physical World more. At the end of the day, that’s not a bad problem to have. Instead, it should serve as further evidence that DFA 1979’s sound can stand the test of time. Because if Grainger and Keeler decide to never make another album together again, they can at least know that the music has never suffered as a result of their own personal strife.

~Josh Herwitt

New Music: Interpol – El Pintor

Interpol - El Pintor

InterpolEl Pintor //

3.5-BamsTop Tracks: “All the Rage Back Home”
“Ancient Ways”
“Tidal Wave”

Album Highlights: As indie music continues to draw more and more from the electronic revolution that dominates the current landscape, New York post-punk revivalists Interpol have quietly fallen into veteran status while still doing it their own way. But that doesn’t mean things haven’t changed for frontman Paul Banks and his bandmates. Shortly after recording its fourth full-length, self-titled album, the band announced the departure of founding bassist Carlos Dengler. Reforming as a three-piece with Banks taking over on bass and working with well-known British producer and mix engineer Alan Moulder (Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Nine Inch Nails), the group’s fifth studio effort El Pintor — the title serves as an anagram of the band’s name — also features guest appearances from Brandon Curtis of Secret Machines, former Beck keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Rob Moose of Bon Iver. And though the four years between albums stands as the longest gap to date for the band, what we hear on the 10-track LP off of Matador Records, which includes three bonus tracks via iTunes (“The Depths”) as well as Target (“Malfeasance” and a live version of “Slow Hands” from the Brixton Academy in London) after being recorded at NYC’s Electric Lady Studios and Atomic Sound, proves to be well worth the wait.

From opening rocker “All the Rage Back Home,” it’s clear that there’s still plenty of chemistry between Banks (vocals, guitar, bass, production), Daniel Kessler (guitar, piano, production) and Sam Fogarino (drums, percussion, production) since receiving critical acclaim for their 2002 debut Turn on the Bright Lights and their 2004 follow-up Antics. Punctuated by Kessler’s frenetic, yet exquisite riffs, the album’s lead single debuted at No. 37 on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart last month before more recently ascending to No. 31. And as one of the best offerings we’ve heard from Interpol in quite some time, it’s undeniably deserving of such applause.

That’s not to say that the rest of El Pintor doesn’t warrant any as well, however. Rather, it boasts some other outstanding cuts, including the guitar-driven “Anywhere,” in which Banks dreams of escaping to far-away places with lyrics like “The ocean … I could go anywhere! I could go anywhere!” There’s even the ensuing “Same Town, New Story,” which sounds like nothing the band has ever written before — an exciting proposition for any longtime Interpol fan. With three more gems (“Ancient Ways,” “Tidal Wave” and “Twice As Hard”) rounding things out, El Pintor holds up from start to finish and even more, is one that Banks, Kessler and Fogarino can be proud to call their own.

Album Lowlight: There is something that remains uniquely distinct about Interpol’s sound, and while that most often has worked in their favor, you could certainly argue that their sound hasn’t evolved by leaps and bounds since Turn on the Bright Lights. At the same time, that doesn’t mean what the band brings to the table here doesn’t work. What’s impressive about Interpol is that despite the potential sonic limitations they face, each album fits suitably within the context of their overall body of work. Interpol may never top the praise and success they received in the early 2000s, but El Pintor gives us a good reason to remember why they remain an important fixture in today’s indie rock scene.

Takeaway: It will be interesting to see what comes of Interpol’s lineup after they tour this fall in the U.S. and this winter in Europe. Will their new three-piece setup in the studio work for the long haul, or will they bring a new bassist on full time and allow Banks to return to solely his rhythm guitar duties? For as integral as Dengler was to the band’s songwriting process and its public image, you wouldn’t even know on El Pintor that he’s no longer playing in the band — a true testament to the job Banks has done in filling those shoes for at least the time being.

~Josh Herwitt

Five emerging artists you need to hear

Five emerging artists you should hear this AugustWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get familiar with these five emerging artists.



Who: Ellinor Olovsdotter

Origin: Stockholm, Sweden

What she’s about: Inspired by Scandinavian pop and the Jamaican-influenced dance scene in Sweden and Denmark as well as London’s dubstep scene, Elliphant’s music is a global potpourri of electrifying rhythms and powerful, yet raw, chants. “Down On Life” is her most “traditional” song, while her more recent singles, “Only Getting Younger” and “Revolusion”, resemble the efforts of her Mad Decent associates M.I.A and Maluca much more. Elliphant is currently on tour supporting the fabulous Charli XCX. Catch them both at Slim’s in San Francisco on Saturday, October 25th. Get your tix here.

File next to: M.I.A., Mapei, Maluca.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Seinabo Sey

Who: Seinabo Sey

Origin: Stockholm, Sweden

What she’s about: Seinabo Sey is of both Swedish and Gambian descent — a fact that is reflected in her music, which is an accessible blend of Swedish pop, R&B and African rhythms. At just 23, Sey made a big splash across the blogosphere with her debut single “Younger” and is currently recording her debut album in Stockholm. With crisp production coming from fellow Swede Magnus Lidehall (Mapei, Veronica Maggio), Sey’s powerhouse vocals are always the focus of each track. Hopefully we get more tracks from this emerging pop/soul artist in the very near future.

File next to: Ella Eyre, Marlene, Mapei.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.


Zella Day

Who: Zella Day

Origin: Arizona

What she’s about: Zella Day first appeared on the scene a few years ago with her sparse and organic cover of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army“. Since then, Day released the single “Sweet Ophelia” and began drawing comparisons to Lana Del Rey. The Arizona native picked up a guitar at a young age, capturing inspiration from the Arizona scenery, Western films and personal experiences to create a raw sound that doesn’t really fit into one specific genre. Currently, Day is in the studio working on her debut EP, and if her single and B-side “1965” are any indication, then we can expect some charming indie pop to hook us. Until then, check out her newest release “East of Eden” below.

File next to: Lana Del Rey, Broods, Betty Who.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Oliver Lee and James Carter

Origin: London, England

What they’re about: If you need a more laid-back soundtrack for the summer, then look no further than Snakehips. The London duo make music at that sweet spot where the 90’s R&B of yesterday meets the technology of today. They’ve topped The Hype Machine charts with remixes of Banks, Wild Belle and The Weeknd, and they are getting ready to take over. Think Disclosure, but at reduced speeds. Check out their newest single below, featuring the always lovely vocals of Sinead Harnett, who has previously been featured on tracks by Rudimental and Disclosure and is another artist to watch out for in 2014.

File next to: Disclosure, Cyril Hahn, Kidnap Kid.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

5. ZHU


Who: Steven Zhu?

Origin: Current location is California (LA/SF)

What he’s about: Zhu is the mysterious producer behind the Outkast mashup “Moves Like Miss Jackson“. You won’t find any pictures of him on his website or on Facebook. His EP Nightday is out now on iTunes, and you can listen to it on Soundcloud. Zhu issued the following statement about keeping his identity hidden: “Many are wondering why I chose to release my music anonymously. I am my own ghostwriter. As a society, we become more attached to the creator than to the creation. Music is faceless. My music is for a new generation—one in which people appreciate art for its intrinsic value—Generation WHY.” His chill, deep house and “letting the music speak for itself” vibes have got people intrigued, and he is set to be one of the biggest breakout acts in 2014. And now you know everything there is to know about Zhu — for now.

File next to: Moon Boots, Disclosure, Duke Dumont.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Which emerging artists are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

New Music: The Black Angels – Clear Lake Forest


The Black AngelsClear Lake Forest //

3.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Tired Eyes”
“Diamond Eyes”
“The Flop”

Album Highlights: Clear Lake Forest is a super solid album from start to finish. One gets the impression that they purposefully set up the track listing to mirror a good acid trip. The album takes you through highs and lows — both sonically and lyrically. Opening track “Sunday Evening” quickly draws you in with its poppy verses and snappy chorus. Songs like “Tired Eyes”, “Diamond Eyes” and “The Flop” bring with them a darker quality but remain infectious. As the album moves on, we come upon the drone-pop ditty “The Occurance at 4507 South Third Street”, which sets the listener up perfectly for the remainder of the album. Coming back down, we come to “The Executioner”, which advises the listener that “If it feels good, do it again!” Finally, we close the album with “Linda’s Gone”, which appropriately brings you back down to Earth gently but without completely taking you out of your haze.

Album Lowlight: Where The Black Angels excel in creating a dreamy, psychedelic wall of sound, I do believe that they tend to borrow a bit too much from their influences. As with many of the neo-psych rock bands, there is a tendency to reproduce the sonic quality of a vintage 60’s LP. Considering the strength of the songs themselves, that is all well and good, but sometimes it’s best to leave the past in the past.

Takeaway: Those familiar with The Black Angels’ body of work will be pleasantly surprised by their latest offering. It’s a quick seven-track album, with each track leaving you in acid-laced reverie. There is very little in the way of “dead air” on this album, and even with borrowing much from their forefathers, the production quality is top notch. The album starts off very strong, carries you along for a sweet ride and ends on a mellow note … just like a good bourbon.

~Andrew Pohl

Five female-fronted, emerging UK acts you need to hear

5-in-JulyWritten by Krystal Beez //

With the Fourth of July in the rearview mirror and the taste of independence fresh in my mouth, I thought it would only be fitting for us to get familiar with five emerging artists from the United Kingdom. While listening to the artists below might make you a quasi-traitor, at least you’ll be a renegade with some good music.



Who: Ella McMahon

Origin: West London, Britain

What she’s about: You may recognize her name if you listened to Rudimental’s amazing album Home. She was the sexy and husky voice belting out proudly on their No. 1 single “Waiting All Night“. She also collaborated with Wiz Khalifa and Naughty Boy on the track “Think About It“. But now, Ella Eyre is out on her own with a debut EP entitled Deeper. Ella attended the famous BRIT school for performing arts and was runner-up for the Brit Critics’ Choice Award, losing to Sam Smith. At 21 years old, Ella is just getting started. Her debut single, “Deeper“, really emphasizes her sultry voice and her R&B/soul influences. Sadly, there’s no release date for her debut album yet, but no need to panic. You can catch Ella’s San Francisco debut at Popscene on Friday, July 25th. Samsaya and local artist Anya & the Get Down support. You do not want to miss this! Tickets available here.

File next to: Zella Day, Sam Smith, Kiesza

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Camden Cox

Origin: London, Britain

What she’s about: Camden Cox is signed to Little Boots’ label On Repeat, and her debut single, “Kinda Like”, is future pop coming to fruition. She recently released an EP with only one drawback — it needs more new songs by Camden Cox.

File next to: AlunaGeorge, Sky Ferreira, Tove Lo

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Elli Ingram

Origin: Brighton, Britain

What she’s about: Elli Ingram is a name that’s been buzzing around the UK music scene after she released the beautiful track “When It Was Dark“. Since then, Ingram has collaborated and toured with electronic duo Chase and Status, and she released two EPs. The UK songstress’ soulful vocals and R&B/hip-hop style have her drawing comparisons to the likes of Adele and, more accurately, Amy Winehouse. Both of Ingram’s EPs — Sober and the more recent release The Doghouse — demonstrate her powerful, soulful vocals as well as highlight the skill of her production team, Felix Joseph and Aston Rudi. Start with “High Love” and “All Caught Up“, and soon you’ll be addicted to the music of this talented young lady. And if you enjoy a good cover song, watch Elli’s jazzy cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Poetic Justice“.

File next to: Sampha, Laura Welsh, Amy Winehouse

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter.



Who: Josh Christopher and Melis Soyaslanová

Origin: Brighton, Britain

What they’re about: IYES (pronounced “eyes”) are another girl/boy duo breaking out this year. The duo met at a party while in school and started making music together. They put a track on Soundcloud called “Lighthouse” and took over the blogosphere within a week. Since then, they’ve done a number of remixes as well as released their debut single “Til Infinity“, a lovely track of minimal electropop. More recently is the song “Toys“, which is labeled as a demo but actually feels like a polished and full track, and sees Christopher taking on more of a vocal role as the duo sing back and forth in almost an XX type of way. Again, if you enjoy a good cover song, check this one out.

File next to: MS MR, ASTR, Sohn

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.



Who: Jack Patterson, Luke Patterson, Grace Chatto and Milan Neil Amin-Smith

Origin: Cambridge, Britain

What they’re about: Now let’s combine elements of classical music along with dance music, house and UK funky, and you get the brilliance that is Clean Bandit. Their debut album, New Eyes, was released last month, and it features their No. 1 single “Rather Be“, starring the exquisite guest vocals of Jess Glynne, another emerging UK artist to keep your eye on. Clean Bandit are signed to the Black Butter Records label, home to the likes of Rudimental, Gorgon City and Kidnap Kid. Clean Bandit are going to be doing big things, so remember the name. Be sure to see them perform live at The Fillmore for their SF debut on Saturday, September 27th! More info on tickets here.

File next to: Gorgon City, Route 94, Le Youth

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Spotify.

Which female-fronted emerging artists from the UK are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

New Music: ANTEMASQUE – Self-titled


ANTEMASQUEAntemasque //

3-BamsTop Tracks:
“I Got No Remorse”
“In the Lurch”
“Drown All Your Witches”

Album Highlights: Control freak or not, Omar Rodríguez-López has certainly kept himself busy since the breakup of The Mars Volta. The former TMV bandleader/guitarist teamed up with Le Butcherettes vocalist/guitarist Teri Gender Bender and former TMV drummer Deantoni Parks to form experimental alt-rock outfit Bosnian Rainbows in 2012, and earlier this year, he joined forces with former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante and Swahili Blonde drummer Nicole Turley to release Kimono Kult’s debut EP Hiding in the Light (read our review here). While rumors of a TMV reunion surfaced in February when Rodríguez-López and former lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala started speaking to each other again after going their separate ways for a couple years, fans were eventually informed in early April that there would be no reunion, but instead, a new project from Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala dubbed ANTEMASQUE. Featuring RHCP’s Flea on bass, the rock ‘n’ roll legend is not considered to be an official member despite letting Rodríguez-López, Bixler-Zavala and former TMV drummer Dave Elitch use his recording studio and being included in the band’s teaser video that dropped three months ago.

What came out of those sessions at Flea’s studio is the groundwork that makes up the supergroup’s 10-track, self-titled debut, which fuses the frenetic punk-rock elements of Rodríguez-López’s and Bixler-Zavala’s first band, At the Drive-In, with the prog-rock roots of TMV. The album’s first single “4AM” kicks things off in a hurry, as Bixler-Zavala shouts his way through the upbeat, yet short-lived track that sees Rodríguez-López use a guitar effect reminiscent of The Cure’s Robert Smith during the song’s verse sections. The ensuing number, “I Got No Remorse”, picks up the pace even more thanks to Elitch’s drumming, making it easy to see why the ATDI comparisons will come fast and furious for ANTEMASQUE. “In the Lurch,” on the other hand, bridges the gap between progressive rock and punk rock better than any other tune on the LP, with a breakdown midway through that lets Flea’s groovy bass line shine through.

But unlike any song on the album that precedes it, “Drown All Your Witches” takes a much different approach, with Rodríguez-López exchanging his electric guitar for an acoustic one. Surprisingly enough, it stands as one of the album’s top tracks, even if Bixler-Zavala’s lyrics are still relatively cryptic, as he demonstrates in this verse: “All I ever done is hold a love as this / I’m used to just watching without a sound / On that day with our backs against the wall / Is that how you drown all your witches?” It’s not long, of course, before we’re transported back to the charging punk that rounds out the rest of Antemasque, as we come to discover with “People Forget” and “Rome Armed to the Teeth.”

Album Lowlight: As excited as ATDI and TMV fans should be to see Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala back together making music, Antemasque doesn’t come anywhere close to topping ground-breaking albums like 2000’s Relationship of Command and 2003’s De-Loused in the Comatorium that thrust both bands into the mainstream spotlight. That’s not to say that this record is completely unlistenable, but it’s far from complete. “Ride Like the Devil’s Son” has the potential to be one of the album’s best offerings, but it falls flat when the chorus kicks in. “50,000 Kilowatts,” meanwhile, serves as another departure from the punk-prog concoction that dominates most of Antemasque, but its pop/rock vibe and cookie-cutter formula sounds rather contrived. On the whole, it’s hard to ascertain what the band’s identity truly is, as it mixes prog, punk and alt-rock over the course of just 35 minutes.

Takeaway: Although fans of TMV will likely find Antemasque too straight-forward for their liking, more traditional punk enthusiasts may be able to get behind what Rodríguez-López and Bixler-Zavala have put together here. It’s worth nothing that Elitch’s work on the skins is absolutely exquisite throughout, driving the music forward while also lying back at certain times when it’s appropriate. There’s no doubt that Rodríguez-López, Bixler-Zavala and Elitch are all talented musicians, but you’ll want to keep your expectations to a minimum before hitting the play button.

~Josh Herwitt

New Music: Jack White – Lazaretto

Jack White - Lazaretto

Jack WhiteLazaretto //

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“Three Women”
“High Ball Stepper”
“That Black Bat Licorice”

Album Highlights: No one has been more important to the future of rock ‘n’ roll for nearly two decades than Jack White. Since the late 1990s/early 2000s, White (born John Gillis) has pushed the boundaries of rock music more than any other musician. Even with The White Stripes now a thing of the past, he’s still proving to be one of the most innovative and prolific artists in the game today — whether it’s been with The Raconteurs, The Dead Weather or his own solo project more recently. Blunderbluss, his 2012 solo debut, was evidence in of itself that White’s songwriting chops have come a long way since his days playing alongside ex-wife Meg White.

But while the Grammy-nominated Blunderbluss furthers the genre-bending sound that White discovered with the Stripes during the recording sessions for Get Behind Me Satan and Icky Thump, his sophomore solo effort Lazaretto manifests the current musical landscape of Nashville — where White has resided since 2006 — by intertwining a smorgasbord of styles over the course of 39 minutes and change. On the album’s opening rocker “Three Women,” White cooks up a batch of old-school blues coated with pedal steel guitar and Hammond organ as he tell us, “I got three women / Red, blonde, and brunette / It took a digital photograph to pick which one I like.” Though the narrative may appear misogynist in nature, if you know anything about White, it’s all in good fun. The eight-time Grammy winner, after all, has never been one for technology, admitting in a recent interview with NPR that he still doesn’t own a cellphone (so how could he possibly enjoy digital photography then?).

The ensuing title track, meanwhile, crosses over into another sonic realm — a brief journey into rap rock compliments of White’s fuzzed-out bass line — he hasn’t spent much time experimenting with, as he mocks modern-day emcees with rhymes like “They threw me down in the lazaretto / Born rottin’, bored rotten / Makin’ models of people I used to know / Out of coffee and cotton.” It’s definitely a departure from the garage-heavy blues rock we have come to expect from White, which he so masterfully hypnotizes us with on his initial single “High Ball Stepper.”

Of course, what makes White such a unique songwriter is his ability to transition from one high-octane cut (see “Lazaretto”) to a country-tinged folk ballad (see “Temporary Ground” featuring Nashville’s Lillie Mae Rische on fiddle and backup vocals) in the drop of a hat. There’s even a cameo appearance from one of White’s Dead Weather bandmates, Dean Fertita (also of Queens of the Stone Age fame), on the piano rock-driven “Would You Fight for My Love?” Yet, it’s clear that White’s bravado shines brightest with a guitar in his hands and a chip on his shoulder, as exhibited on the aggressive, funk-fueled anthem “That Black Bat Licorice.” “Women need to know, I play dumb like Columbo / And get my feelings hurt and move to New York like I’m Dumbo” the Detroit native raps before Ruby Amanfu’s violin work brings things to a close, demonstrating that at a moment’s notice, White is more than capable of surprising us with something we’ve never heard quite like this before.

Album Lowlight: No matter which band he’s making music for these days, White has never been one to take the easy way out. He’s even said so much in interviews. White put himself through the ringer trying to tour with two backing bands — the all-male Buzzards and all-female Peacocks — for Blunderbuss, and he struggled to write the lyrics to Lazaretto for “seven or eight months” after recording the music. While White certainly has a strange way of working, it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that not every track on Lazaretto flows seamlessly right into the next. It may not suit some folks, but that’s just the way White wanted it.

Takeaway: As eccentric as he is, White remains the ultimate virtuoso in today’s music industry — and Lazaretto does nothing to disprove that notion. Over the course of 11 songs, he dabbles in rock, blues, folk and country, blending all of them together for a finished product that’s truly one of a kind. It’s not as cohesive as Blunderbluss from start to finish, but the standout songs on Lazaretto are some of the best White has ever written. At only age 38, White stands as a trailblazer in his own right, having already achieved more than some artists do in a lifetime. And with White leading the charge, the future of rock ‘n’ roll is undoubtedly in good hands.

~Josh Herwitt

Five emerging artists you need to hear

5-to-Hear-in-June_postWritten by Krystal Beez //

Get familiar with these five emerging artists.



Who: Mike Del Rio and Crista Ru

Origin: New York/Los Angeles

What they’re about: There’s not a whole lot of information about this secretive duo. Both Del Rio and Ru have written songs for Selena Gomez, Icona Pop and Kylie Minogue, just to name a few. But don’t let those names fool you. The music that POWERS delivers is a wide range of genres (think future pop-rock-indie-soul), held together by their strong songwriting skills. Their second release, “Money”, is more of an electro-soul track, while “Touch The World” is indie-pop-rock gold. Both songs are anthems. The official lyric video for “Touch The World” was just released last week, watch it below.

File next to: NONONO, IYES.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter.



Who: Stevie Scott, Carman Kubanda, Trevor Kelley, Jake Randle and Harrison Allen

Origin: Los Angeles, California

What they’re about: machineheart makes new indie pop at its finest, and Stevie Scott’s engaging vocals are the perfect complement. Their debut singles “Circles” and “Another Me” will both have you pressing repeat. Also make sure you check out their latest release “Snow”, which is not as upbeat as their other songs, but it is just as good and just as infectious. machineheart are definitely a band to keep on your radar.

File next to: Rilo Kiley, Kyla LaGrange, Foster the People.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter.


Laura Welsh

Who: Laura Welsh

Origin: Staffordshire, Britain

What she’s about: Laura Welsh describes her songs as ‘hypnotic and kind of like electric soul-pop’. She has collaborated with producer Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion) and on “Cold Front” with Robin Hannibal (of Rhye). She moved from Staffordshire to London to pursue a career in music as lead singer of a band. The band collapsed, and Welsh used that time to write new material and meet people with the same musical ideas as her. Her most recent collaboration sees her featured on the Gorgon City track, “Here For You”. While the original is an amazing dance-electro jam perfect for summer, Welsh recorded an acoustic version that really highlights the strength and beauty of her voice (watch below). Hopefully she releases her debut album soon, followed by an international tour that stops in San Francisco.

File next to: Jessie Ware, Banks, Broods.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter.



Who: Kwabena Adjepong

Origin: London, Britain

What he’s about: The 23-year-old Ghanaian-born singer grew up in the UK and studied jazz at the Royal Academy of Music. Kwabs creates soul music that fully embraces the futuristic sound of 2015, similar to fellow UK acts Sampha and AlunaGeorge. His voice is simply amazing, evoking so much soulfulness, especially when performing live. And with production coming from Sohn (“Wrong or Right”) and Plan B (“Pray For Love”), you’re going to be hearing a lot more from Kwabs. Watch a live performance of “Pray For Love” on BBC Radio 1Xtra below.

File next to: James Blake, Sampha, AlunaGeorge.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter.



Who: Marlene Strand

Origin: Stockholm, Sweden

What she’s about:  Marlene is one of those artists that you hear sing one song, and then you play that song over and over until they release a new song. And then you play that song over and over and so on. From “Bon Voyage” to “Stay Awake” to “Indian Summer” the jams just keep on coming! The Swedish songstress has just the right amounts of the catchy chorus, infectious rhythms and powerful voice to be the next big Swedish import. Her music is so simple, yet so rich and full. She recently released a five track EP titled Indian Summer that you should listen to while driving to the beach. No tour dates are announced as of yet, so be sure to check out a live performance in the video below.

File next to: Foxes, Tove Lo, Say Lou Lou.

Follow: Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter.

What emerging artists are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below!

New Music: The Black Keys – Turn Blue


The Black KeysTurn Blue //

4.5-BamsTop Tracks:
“Weight of Love”
“Turn Blue”
“Bullet in the Brain”

Album Highlights: Has there been a rock album in the last three years as highly anticipated as this one? Ever since lead singer/guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney followed up three Grammys for 2010’s Brothers with four more for 2011’s El Camino, The Black Keys have been rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest darlings. But the road hasn’t always been so smooth for these two childhood friends from Akron, Ohio. Burned out and beaten up from their 130-date El Camino tour in 2012, the duo struggled last year to find the creative juices that propelled it to churn out six full-length albums and a handful of other recordings in less than a decade. That, though, was far from the only issue that the Keys have faced recently. For Auerbach, 2013 would turn out to be the hardest year of his life after a nasty divorce took its emotional and financial toll, leaving him unfit to work on new music at one point during the recording sessions for Turn Blue.

But for all the pain and suffering Auerbach endured in the last year, it also provided him with the fire to write arguably the Keys’ best album to date. Unlike its predecessor, Turn Blue strips some of the polish that coated El Camino from top to bottom, starting with the scintillating, seven-minute opener “Weight of Love,” as Auerbach channels his best David Gilmour impression in what almost sounds like Dark Side of the Moon 2.0. The epic track, which stands as one of the record’s best, helped the Keys uncover an entirely new sound for Turn Blue, one that has Danger Mouse’s paws all over it. With that said, it should be no surprise to find that there are flashes of Broken Bells, Electric Guest and even Portugal. The Man here (see “Turn Blue” and “Year in Review”), all bands that Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) has produced albums for in the past two years.

In more than just a metaphorical sense, Turn Blue also marks a return to the garage-heavy blues that propagated some of the Keys’ earlier releases, including 2004’s Rubber Factory and 2006’s Magic Potion. Yet, while those LPs are filled largely with grit and edge, Turn Blue doesn’t pigeonhole itself in the same way. What makes Turn Blue so special is not just Auerbach’s driving guitar riffs, his soulful vocal melodies or even his laid-back grooves, but all of those coming together at once for 45 minutes of pure sonic gold.

Album Lowlight: However much hype surrounded Turn Blue prior to its release, the Keys’ eighth studio album manages to live up to it and delivers even more. It’s hard to find much wrong from start to finish, a refreshing revelation in this day and age where three-minute pop hits repeatedly cloud the airwaves. Still, there’s a lot more to get behind than just the album’s first single “Fever,” a synth-laden number that’s soon to be on every bar’s playlist (if it isn’t already). These aren’t exactly tunes grounded in true love and infinite joy, but rather in the heart-wrenching reality of breakup. For Auerbach, writing Turn Blue offered him the opportunity to therapeutically confront his personal issues head on, and he does that no better than on the album’s title track in which he soothingly mouths, “I really don’t think you know / There could be hell below, below”.

Takeaway: The Black Keys were together for almost 10 years before they hit it big, but now that they’re here, there’s no turning back. Turn Blue is everything that you would expect from a band that continues push the envelope each time it steps into the studio. From the hip-hop flavor that colors “10 Lovers” to the Hammond organ that infiltrates “In Our Prime,” there are diamonds and pearls lined up and down the 11-track LP — even if the song titles aren’t all that welcoming at times (see “Bullet in the Brain”). But as often is the case, artists produce their best work in times of turmoil, and the same can certainly be said for these two seasoned vets.

~Josh Herwitt