MUSIC IN REVIEW: TOP 10 TO WATCH FOR IN 2015

Sunflower Bean
Sunflower Bean

After this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, which showcased a whirlwind of musicians, underground and mainstream, it’s time that we round up the musicians that are on our radar for 2015. From New York-based artists like Evvy and The Midnight Hollow, to other artists across the country, here is our list of top 10 people to watch for in 2015.

1. EVVY

evvy

NYC-based Indie songstress, EVVY, writes glittering pop music that has wide-reaching commercial and underground appeal in equal measure, setting her far above today’s crop of new artists who are engaging in the revival of pop as a genre, and its subsequent emersion into hipster ethos. What she creates through her songs is a bold grafting of infectious and innovative beats with warm youthful vocals, that meld seamlessly and compel the listener into her world. All her tracks are simultaneously danceable, and sonically mature thanks to this blend. Though she seems to have appeared out of nowhere, she’s already made meteoric strides in a matter of months. After releasing her debut EP this past August, she swiftly bypassed the standard metrics by which musicians normally abide as they endeavor to climb the unending ladder upward to any sort of mainstream recognition. Instead she’s already played an impressive slew of live shows, most recently opening for VÉRITÉ, and had a single by Song Remedy, “Victory”, on which she was featured, hit number 1 on the taste-making blog aggregator, Hypem. She’s just getting started. Her debut full length will come out this spring and she’s billed for three major shows in the next month, sharing the stage with the likes of Hockey and Robert Delong. Catch her live in NYC at one of the following shows, and listen to her infectious single, “Collide”, here via Soundcloud:

11/28 Brooklyn Night Bazar 

12/12 Rough Trade 

12/19 Glasslands

2. Von Sell

David Von Sell

David Von Sell, though brand new as an artist, is already making formidable waves, after releasing his debut single, “Ivan”, last month. If the premiere indicates anything, his forthcoming EP, due out in early 2015, will set the standard for the current currency in electropop, and likely push the genre as a whole, toward entirely new frontiers. As far as bedroom production goes, it’s clear that he surpasses many of his predecessors in his natural ability to see a much bigger picture when it comes to all aspects of song writing, namely how to take a catchy, trending style of music that has gravitational pull, and co-opt it into something entirely original sounding without forsaking its fundamental appeal. The result puts his musicianship as well as his eye for composition and balance on full display. The one track we’ve heard from him so far is anthemic and larger than life, containing irresistible tenor vocal melodies and a pounding kick drum that raises our pulse, all in all leaving us wanting. Raised in Germany, Von Sell studied at the British Academy Of New Music, and went through training at the Berklee school in Boston before landing in Brooklyn to begin his career. His forthcoming EP is currently in production. Until then you can catch him at one of the following shows, and listen to his debut single here, via Soundcloud:

11/22 Glasslands

12/10 ChargedFM, live in-studio session (invite only)

3. Tei Shi

Tei Shi

Tei Shi, aka Valerie Teicher, is among the newest batch of indie royalty signed to boutique imprint, Mermaid Records, off of Mom and Pop records. After putting out a widely acclaimed debut EP, Saudade, in 2013, the Argentinian-born electro R&B siren got snatched up by the label world, and made her official debut a few months back. Her glimmering and propulsive breakout single, “Bassically”, takes on the motif of sexism within interpersonal dynamics, and the unrelenting battle women face to receive equal treatment as their male counterparts do in all aspects of life. Far from a politically-slanted in any conventional manner, however, the musical underpinnings are straight-up seductive, with gritty bass lines, experimental electronic instrumentation and Tei Shi’s soaring, anthemic vocals layering over top to create a dance-ready electro jam. With a buzz-worthy CMJ performance under her belt, and a forthcoming EP in the works, the world is gearing up to see much more of her in the coming months. Her next big appearance will be at the M For Montreal festival on 11/19. In the meantime, jam out to “Bassically”, here via Soundcloud:

4. Sunflower Bean

sunflower beanSunflower Bean, the Brooklyn-based project of vocalist (and former runway model) Julia Cummings, guitarist Nick Kivlen and drummer Jacob Faber, started capturing the attention of the music industry over the summer, after their debut single, “Tame Impala” hit blogs in August. They soon thereafter played a sold out show at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right, followed by a string of highly attended buzz worthy performances throughout New York. The trio’s music blends gritty psych rock–that with the addition of Cummings on lead vocals, harkens back to the best and earliest days of Riot Grrrl–with dreamy, reverb-drenched shoegaze, creating a soundscape as entrancing as it is sonically complex and interesting. Influenced by classic rock icons of yore, ie Led Zepplin, Black Sabbath and The Velvet Underground, their sound is unique and nostalgic in one single breath. They describe it themselves, as “Night Music”, which one will find is pretty damn spot-on, upon hearing it. The EP, Rock & Roll Heathenis due out any day now. Of this highly anticipated debut, they’ve said “we’re writing a concept album: an alternative history of the creation of the Universe, with the God being someone like Brian Jones, Lou Reed, or Billy Corgan. This is real. This is true to life.” Catch a sneak peak of what’s to come here, via Soundcloud:

5. The Midnight Hollow

The Midnight Hollow Press Photo 3

Psychpop quartet, The Midnight Hollow came onto the scene about year ago, after releasing their debut single “Her Morning Glow”, which received widespread attention in the media, putting the band on the map before they were really even a band. After a brief period during which they began writing new music (which will comprise the bulk of their forthcoming work), they released a brand new track, “Forward”, last month, off of their debut EP, due out early next year. The project, spearheaded by vocalist Spencer Draeger and drummer Andrew Segreti, has been described by some, as the next U2, while others throw them nods to new wave darlings like Depeche Mode and The Human League. To be fair, they are an amalgam of all of the above, combining Draeger’s expansive and booming baritone vocals with spectacularly composed synth melodies and Segreti’s inventive drum lines. The result encapsulates the direction in which psychpop will head over the next several years. The band will be performing at Pianos in NYC on 11/18. Catch their single “Forward”, here via Soundcloud:

7. The Prettiots

the prettiots

The Prettiots are an all girl trio from New York, none of whom have had their 21st birthday yet, though they have the poise of a band that’s been around since the 1970s, when NYC was the coolest place on earth for musicians and artists. Members Kay Kasparhauser, Rachel Trachtenburg and Lulu Prat write what they have self-described as “indie-girl-pop-but-not-shitty”. And that’s exactly what they deliver. Though it’s stripped down–bass, drums, ukelele and vocals–the songs are compelling, which alone is a feat most musicians just can’t ever seem to accomplish: to create simple music that isn’t boring. They started garnering momentum earlier in the summer after performing at various live DIY shows throughout NYC. Within a few months, however, they’ve started to infiltrate the mainstream press. With a handful of singles out, and their popularity on the rise, we can only anticipate what to expect in the next year from them. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it’s bound to be big. Catch them on 11/18 at Pianos in NYC, and listen to their debut track, “Boys I dated (in high school)” from earlier this year here, via Soundcloud:

8. Tunde Olaniran

tunde olaniran

Flint-based Afrofuturist, Tunde Olaniran made his debut earlier this year with his criminally good single, “Brown Boy”, which both introduced his politically charged motivations as a performer, and also showcased his outstanding capacity to weave a host of genres together (electronic, rock, afro-beat, R&B hip-hop, pop etc) as if they were intended to be thrown into a mixing bowl all along. The EP that he released in the months following only solidified his artistic foresight, striking the perfect balance between art that has deep and profound political undertones, and art for the sake of art. Though he tours regionally, based on the success of the work he has put out, we will undoubtedly be seeing much more of him in the coming year as he prepares to release his full length. Check out “Brown Boy” below, via Soundcloud:

8. Leverage Models

leverage-models

Leverage Models, is the project of multi instrumentalist and frontman Shannon Fields, who spearheaded the NYC-based group Stars Like Fleas over the past 15 years before forming this current act. The self-titled debut feels like the result of  what would happen if Arcade Fire took a time machine back to 80s-new wave and made an art rock album. Or if The Talking Heads were to time travel into the future and make an electronic album. In any case, what he’s managed to craft is an exceptional piece of work–musically dense, rich in collaboration and heady without being over wrought in its concept. The group toured briefly over the spring and summer, and then retreated out of sight, to our dismay. Now they’ve reemerged with a new single, “Very Small People”, off of Hometapes Records, and played a few CMJ shows in October, giving us hope once again for what’s to come from this impressive cast of musicians. Listen here, via Soundcloud:

9. CTZNSHP

ctznshp-2014

With two EPs under their belt, Montreal-based indie five piece CTZNSHP has taken its time finding its voice, so to speak. During the period in which they have existed as a band, we’ve seen guitar-driven indie rock go in and out of style with the seasons, as well as the bands that lead the trends disappear into obscurity. Now, with their first full length, All Things to the Sea, in preparation for release, and a few singles out, it’s clear that CTZNSHP have honed in on something unique. The music is relatively stripped down, garnering comparisons to NYC indie rock darlings like The National and Interpol, though with much, much louder guitars, and swelling, emotionally weighty lines with unabashed use of reverb. They worked on the album with legendary producer, Jace Lasek (Wolf Parade, Suuns, Young Galaxy), and his hand in it is clear. What they’ve produced has truly paid off, and will likely finally launch them onto the international market this year.

Listen to “Low Lives” here, via Soundcloud:

10. Girlpool

girlpool

LA-based duo, Girlpool hit the ground running after releasing their very first single, “Blah Blah Blah”, in early October of this year. While grungy post-punk had its major revival throughout the latter part of the past decade, it seems only now, after the trend has subsided that we’re seeing a new batch of bands who are particularly talented within this genre. At the top of those emerging this year, is Girlpool. The duo crafts a stripe of larger than life, unapologetic, gritty girl-rock for which we’ve been waiting for a long time. Their debut self-titled EP is out on 11/18, but can be heard streaming in the meantime. They are currently on tour in Europe, but will return stateside for more shows soon. Their lead single, “Blah Blah Blah”, can be heard here via Soundcloud:

– Article by Audiofemme for The Untitled Magazine

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