Usher in the new year with these tracks from artists who are teeming with potential.1. Azealia Banks – BBD: https://soundcloud.com/azealia-banks/bbd
Move over Nicki Minaj, there’s a new “bad b*tch” taking the hip-hop scene by storm. Azealia Banks meteorically rose in the underground with last year’s 1901 EP, and the feisty female does not foresee a demise anytime in the near future. Recently released on her SoundCloud page, this sassy rhyme continues to build the anticipation for her forthcoming album, Broke With Expensive Taste. The beats will drop on February 12, so get ready…Banks packs a bang for her buck.
2. San Cisco – Wild Things: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h32_wNcjLZA
This Australian-bred band is a rare species. Often cute and cuddly, San Cisco unleashes a different side of the animal with “Wild Things.” The group has received much buzz, and with an upcoming showcase at SXSW and a tour supporting The Vaccines beginning later this month, it intends to keep the ball rolling until it becomes the size of its own indie-pop planet. Slated for release early in the year, San Cisco’s self-titled debut LP will feature this celestial lo-fi tune. If it means dominating the alt frontier, this fuzzy creature is not afraid to show its claws.
3. Allen Stone – Unaware: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4Hy6kp5kIs
Although he put out his second self-released album in 2011, singer-songwriter Allen Stone did not receive much recognition until ATO Records re-released his self-titled LP, garnering attention for this previously uploaded acoustic performance. Little did he know that his “Unaware”-ness would eventually send him from oblivion to viral fame. VH1 named him this month’s You Oughta Know artist, a long overdue title. Stone’s voice, a hybrid of John Mayer’s suaveness and Stevie Wonder’s soul, infuses the song’s bluesy sound with social commentary repercussive of the Bob Dylan era.
4. Atlas Genius – Trojans: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sd2yr12abg8
The Trojans may not have won the Battle of Troy, but this song wins ears over with its blasting beats, recalling those of indie rock pioneer Phoenix. The enigmatic elation that “Trojans” conjures is beyond explanation. Atlas Genius will bring its ecstatic energy to more listeners on a tour with Imagine Dragons that kicks off next month. Hear the soundtrack of success when the debut LP, When It Was Now, drops on February 19—its weapons of sound will surely make it reign victorious.
5. Bastille – Oblivion: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVmWdVC6vOo
Dan Smith founded Bastille as a solo project, but when he craved more textural layers to his music, a band was born. The typically upbeat electronic outfit spreads its wings and ventures into a softer side with “Oblivion”—and boy, does it soar. Sound familiar? Probably because the breathtaking ballad was played on a recent episode of the hit show The Vampire Diaries. On March 4, Bastille will drop its debut LP, Bad Blood, featuring the studio version of this sweet serenade.
6. twenty | one | pilots – Guns For Hands: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pmv8aQKO6k0
Duo Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun may be riding the risky crossover wave, but there is no calming the current for twenty | one | pilots. This tune displays how they steadily balance spitting with screaming, busting rhymes between explosive choruses and synth-drenched verses. They even dabble with a slight reggae groove before Joseph turns the tables and rocker morphs into rapper. It’s not easy, but these shape shifters pull it off, so they stay on board. Their major-label debut, Vessel (released by Fueled by Ramen), hit the shelves January 4 and is now available on iTunes.
7. MS MR – Bones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcmQQT0b-Hk
Utilizing the sharing power of Tumblr, MS MR caught aficionados from Jay-Z to Tom Ford in a goth-pop trap. The dangerously talented duo has described its style as “Tumblr glitch pop, soul fuzz, and electro-shock.” Not quite sure what that means? See: goth-pop trap (and a glorious one at that). It’s not easy to articulate the sound, but one phrase does describe the rise of MS MR: game-changing. The band’s debut LP drops in May; until then, prepare for the “electro-shock” with this chilling track.
8. Kitten – Cut It Out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2YcRWh4RPI
Despite being named after a fluffy domestic creature, this alt-rock outfit, fronted by 17-year-old Chloe Chaidez, is far from a tame house pet; it is a fierce wildcat that should be watched with a close eye. Kitten spices up the Fancy Feast with a dash of its own feline flavor. The ambient Cut It Out EP remained under the radar until SiriusXM’s Alt Nation recently put this single on rotation. This radio revelation highlights the unearthly quality of Chaidez’s croon, echoing that of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O. Expect to hear more…this kitty can roar.
9. The Neighbourhood – Let It Go: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l91u752OCPo
The beauty of this band’s sound almost disguises the somber message that lies within—almost. The magnificence of the music is anchored by some universal pain; deep in the collective unconscious exists a struggle we leave bottled up inside, but lead singer Jesse Rutherford has the voice to uncork it. There is a stark contrast between what is seen on the surface of society and the brutal reality of what lies beneath, and this catchy, R&B-tinged track helps to let it go. Tell all your neighbors: The Neighbourhood’s debut LP will hit your ‘hood this March.
10. Sky Ferreira – Everything Is Embarrassing: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/videos/sky-ferreira-makes-tv-debut-on-fallon-20130108
Sky Ferreira’s potential has long been bubbling just beneath the surface, but now she is gaining steam. The Ghost EP offered a taste of her masterful ability to blend R&B with electro-pop, forging an ethereal quality embodied by “Everything Is Embarrassing.” Last week, she made her TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon performing the sultry song. Ferreira’s first LP, I’m Not Alright, is scheduled for release early this year. Don’t be surprised when this star shoots out of the abyss; she has prepared for years and is finally ready for all to see her rise to the top.