Los Angeles – As another year kicks off, there are a lot of great new bands (and solo artists) coming to our attention. So many in fact, it's easy to miss some really amazing music. So, we decided to try and put a list together to help us keep track of it all.
We know that, in spite of our best efforts, it's certain that we've missed someone (or more than someone) that deserves inclusion. To those bands all I can say is, we will make it up to you.
So, here are some of the bands we have our eye on:
Chance The Rapper
Chance the Rapper, stage name for Chancelor Bennett, released his sophomore mixtape, Acid Rap, which was pretty well received. Actually, it was very well received. The Chicago rapper is just 20 years old, only adding to the collection of very young and very talented rappers who have broken through recently. In this latest mixtape he revealed his astute sensibility for adding dimensions to traditional rap without overreaching. Acid Rap had twinges of acid jazz (which, yes, fits in with the name of the album), blues, scat and just about a smattering of everything. Coming off this mixtape, 2014 will certainly be a big album for the rapper. He’s playing Coachella and is rumored to be moving in with James Blake to start collaborating on a full-length. (Brigit Anderson)
Australian singer-songwriter, Courtney Barnett is raw, earnest, witty and she reminds me of Bob Dylan and that fact alone is a compliment. In “Avant Gardener”, she sings about her attempt to do gardening that unfortunately led to anaphylactic shock where Barnett proves herself an amazing storyteller, a poet - straightforward and detail, in a tune fit for a road trip. She recently released combined EPs-turn-debut LP, The Double EP: A Sea of Peas, a compilation of mostly guitar-driven tracks inspired by blues music and 70’s rock that says a lot about the kind of year 2014 will be for music with Courtney Barnett to watch out for: one hell of a rollicking good year. (Nazirah Ashari)
Leeds melodic post-punk band Eagulls peaked our interest during this past CMJ, on an eclectic bill that was perhaps a bit haphazard, but neither of those descriptors fit the band themselves. The five lads make true punk music that is pointed and biting, straightforward and in your face. Eagulls don’t stutter with saying exactly what they think, but it’s not as much about getting attention and not caring who gets offended as it is about being spontaneous, honest in the moment, and not taking things too seriously.
As much as their behavior has gotten them plenty of attention, Eagulls music stands on its own as well, earning them best-of CMJ accolades from NPR, Consequence of Sound, New York Times, FUSE, and others; been the the subject of a Pitchfork Rising feature, and their self-titled debut album coming out March 4th is one of the most anticipated albums of 2014. They’ve got a couple Brooklyn shows the end of this month, and then they’ll be on tour in Europe from February 14 through April 4, including shows with Parquet Courts and Speedy Ortiz. (Kelly Knapp)
Speedy Ortiz is a four-piece band from Northampton, Massachusettes (have you heard of it?) who have up until just about now have pretty much been DIY stars of a super-localized scene. The band was originally Sadie Dupuis’s solo project; with the addition of Darl Ferm on bass, Mike Falcone on drums and Matt Robidoux on guitar Speedy Ortiz has developed into a collaborative effort that speaks to the power of the collective. In 2013, the band released its debut full –length album, Major Arcana, on Carpark Records and hot off the new album, Speedy Ortiz is set to release an EP, Real Hair, on February 11. They’ve released the first single, “American Horror” and are set out on tour now. (Brigit Anderson)
The Skins is a Brooklyn-based outfit, with an impossibly more toned talent than the age-range of the band members might imply. The youngest is 15, the eldest 21, and their work is heavy metal, rock-based ballads, coupled with power-packed, soulful vocals. This band will floor you from first listen. The gang is siblings Bayli, Reef and Kaya Mckeithan, joined by guitarists Daisy Spencer and Russell Chell. After releasing their self-titled debut EP last year, The Skins joined UK’s The Heavy on two sold-out tours and made quite the splash at CMJ and SXSW last year. Signed onto American Recordings, this group is gearing up for their next release and their latest single “Dead Hands” is available now. One thing is clear when it concerns this act – they are headed for success on an epic rock wave and, lucky for us, they will not be quieted. (Liz Rowley)
US audiences will be forgiven if they haven’t heard of The Strypes. You will soon enough. The four-piece blues-influenced rock band formed in 2011 in the small Irish town of Cavan, and the group's debut album, Snapshot, was released overseas last year on Virgin EMI. Our London-based reviewer called the album “brilliant” and enthusiastically cited such diverse influences as The Beatles, Chuck Berry and Arctic Monkeys (for whom they opened on a recent tour). The album's US release date is now set for March 11 on Photo Finish Records. The Strypes are booked for four North American club dates (Toronto, NYC, SF and LA) in January. Stay tuned. (Greg Brodsky)
Total Slacker has been buzzing around Brooklyn for some time now, putting on wild shows that sometimes involve singer/guitarist Tucker Rountree lighting his guitar on fire, and sharing recorded phone calls made to Olive Garden corporate, asking the tough questions about the cultural impact of breadsticks. 2014 looks like it’s set to be the band’s biggest breakout year yet, on the heels of a feature in Rolling Stone, and some kicking around with MTV’s Weird Vibes, Total Slacker is now on the main MTV with a new video for single “Ships at Bay.” The video pulls inspiration from Unsolved Mysteries and Paris Hilton, keeping right in line with their style of exaggerated reality.
Life continues to imitate art for Total Slacker as they’ve just announced a tour with Miniature Tigers and Bear Hands, as well as an album release show at Brooklyn’s Rough Trade, with guests Perfect Pussy, Life Size Maps, and BestNewBands.com showcase alum Honduras. (Kelly Knapp)
If you missed Vance Joy’s first single, “Riptide,” do yourself a favor and play it right now. Then prepare to listen to nothing but this song for the rest of the day because it’s that catchy. Vance Joy’s debut EP, God Loves You When You’re Dancing, is replete with the catchy, high-quality songwriting that makes “Riptide” so infectious. It earned him a Featured Artist spot on our site last fall.
Atlantic Records has also been on his tail. They re-released God Loves You When You’re Dancing in September and signed him on for a five album record deal. Despite the rigorous tour schedule that has ensued, Vance Joy is still promising a full-length record in 2014. We love him for his feel-good, ukulele rhythms and hope to hear more in the coming year. (Caroline McDonald)