Currently comprised of founding members Austin Knecht (vocals, guitar) and Crysal Napoles (vocals, keys) along with Tamara Simons (guitar), Kai Dodson (bass) and Jonathan Palmquist (drums), the Los Angeles-based indie rock quintet Curtsy can trace their origins to when Knecht auditioned as a lap steel player for a country/folk band fronted by Napoles back in 2013. After bonding over a mutual love of 80s pop and 90s shoegaze, the band’s founding duo began writing songs together. Eventually, Knecht and Napoles recruited Simons, Dodson and Palmquist — and with the release of their debut single, shimmering guitar pop “One Less Thing,” the Los Angeles-based indie rock act quickly received attention from the site and across the blogosphere for a sound that to my ears drew from 120 Minutes-era alt rock; but with a heart wrenching sincerity. Adding to a growing profile, the single was included on Spotify‘s Fresh Finds Six String and New Noise playlists, and as a result, the track has amassed nearly 50,000 streams.
Building upon that growing profile, “A Better Pet” will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting shimmering and propulsive indie rock centered around rousingly anthemic hooks — and while owing a sonic debt to 120 Minutes-era alt rock, the song thematically focuses the apprehension, uncertainty and self- doubt that frequently plagues the insecure romantic. And they manage to do so with a psychological attention to detail that feels lived-in and real.
With the release of “Superego,” which received nearly 3 million streams on Spotify, the Vienna, Austria-based indie electro pop duo Leyya, quickly emerged into both the national and international scenes. Adding to a growing profile, the duo comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer played sets across the European Union’s festival circuit. including The Great Escape, Liverpool Sound City, Tallinn Music Week, Primavera Sound, Reeperbahn Festival, Iceland Airwaves and a headlining set at Popfest. Along with that the duo have received airplay on Huw Stephens‘ and Phil Taggart‘s BBC Radio 1 shows and Lauren Laverne‘s BBC Radio 6 show, been playlisted on Germany’s Radio 1, as well as praise from Pigeons and Planes, Wonderland Magazine, Clash Magazine, Konbini, The 405 and Consequence of Sound among others.
Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past year or so, you’d know that the duo’s sophomore effort Sauna was released earlier this year, and from album single “Drumsolo,” the duo further cemented a growing reputation for crafting ambient and moody electro pop while expanding upon their sound with elements of hip-hop, R&B and jazz in a way that reminded me of Flourish//Perish-era BRAIDS and Clearing-era Softspot but with a coquettish and swaggering self-assuredness. Interestingly, “Wannabe,” is a standalone single, released as a follow up to their critically applauded sophomore effort and the track is a breezy and summery track that finds the duo’s sound nodding at JOVM mainstays Sylvan Esso, as Lindinger’s coquettish and ethereal vocals float over a slick production consisting of layers of stuttering and staccato beats, bubbling synths, gently swirling electronics and an anthemic hook. Lyrically, the song manages to walk a tightrope between spirited animation and deep introspection, which gives the danceable song a palpable yet subtle emotional heft.
As the duo says of the single, “After releasing our second album Sauna we tried to avoid the post-release-down with being creative and writing new music straight away. The song is circling around a problem almost everyone can relate to: Wanting to be like somebody else. Ironically – we find – its often also the other way around.“
Shirazee is Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist and singer/songwriter, who studied in Ghana, overcame homelessness and after spending a stint in Atlanta, relocated to New York to pursue his dream of being a performer and singer/songwriter. Since then, Shirazee has written for and collaborated with Afrojack, Sting, Ty Dolla $ign and Kiesza — and as a solo artist, the Benin-born, New York-based artist has received attention from Wonderland, OkayAfrica and Hunger Magazine, as well as millions of streams across Spotify and Apple Music for a sound that draws from Afropop, American hip-hop and contemporary electronic music paired with songs that possess underlying personal narratives.
The up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based Afrosoul artist’s debut EP Make Wild finds him collaborating with the Brooklyn-born and-based hip-hop artist and producer SAINt JHN — and as the Brooklyn-based artist and producer says of their collaboration, “he’s a friend first and a rising star in his own right second. When he heard me playing Juju in Toronto and asked to jump on it, I thought he was kidding, until he insisted, ‘Juju issa vibe!’”
“Make Wild,” the EP title track and latest single is a breezy and summery track featuring thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering and looping guitar lines, and a sinuous and infectious hook — and while managing to be a slickly produced amalgam of African pop, Afrobeat, American electro pop and soul, the up-and-coming Benin-born, New York-based artist manages to do so in an incredibly accessible, crowd pleasing fashion.
Produced by WOVE, the recently released video employs the use of incredibly vibrant video, full of colors meant to evoke sunset over the Sahara Desert as Shirazae sings to a gorgeous woman just out of his reach.
Initially formed back in 2013 in Boston, the Los Angeles-based rock duo Migrant Motel, comprised of Peruvian-born David Stewart, Jr. (vocals, bass, guitar) and Mexican-born Chava (drums and live loops) have developed a reputation for a power chord-based arena rock friendly sound, largely influenced by the likes of Royal Blood, MUSE, The Struts, Grandson, Foals and Foo Fighters. So far, 2018 has been a breakthrough year for the band, as “New Religion,” off their Peder Etholm Idsoe-produced full-length debut Album One has received over 350,000 Spotify streams — and building upon the growing buzz, the band released the album’s second single “Blue,” a swaggering and self-assured track that that will further cement the duo’s growing reputation for crafting an enormous, arena rock sound centered around the blues, rock and metal.
The recently released video for “Blue” is comprised of live footage shot while the band was relentlessly touring the country — and it gives you a sense of the up-and-coming band’s live set.
With the release of her attention grabbing debut single “Lemons & Limes,” which focuses on the relationship between the police and young people, the London-born and-based singer/songwriter and businesswoman Mina Rose has quickly developed a reputation for socially conscious songwriting and a sound that draws from and meshes trip-hop, dub, hip-hop and soul (in particular, the work of Gorillaz, Massive Attack, Gil Scott-Heron, Outkast and Lily Allen), as well as her own background — her mother’s side of the family claims Roman ancestry, including the famous “Queen of Kent Gypsies,” Urania Boswell Lee. Adding to a growing profile, Rose has collaborated with the likes of Tricky and Conducta, has played a set at The Great Escape Festival, and has received airplay from the likes of BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 1Xtra, as well as nods from the likes of Spotify and Apple Music.
Reportedly, the up-and-coming British artist’s forthcoming EP London Burning finds her translating her own experiences of a changing community into material that’s rooted into present day paradoxes, as well as the consciousness of history and hierarchy in British society. The EP’s latest single is the incredibly cinematic and moody track “Paradise,” which is centered around a Massive Attack and Tricky-like production consisting of soaring strings, stuttering beats and Rose’s ethereal yet sultry vocals — and while seemingly effortless, the song may arguably be among the most ambitious track of her young career. As the British singer/songwriter explains in press notes, “When I visualise the idea of someone getting lost in their own thoughts, I imagine them sitting in a room with red walls,” says Mina Rose. “Paradise’ focuses on our want to make this life as perfect as we can by finding escape, and the fact that a lot of the time it might appear that the easiest way to do that is to shut the world out: whether that’s from taking something heavy or cat fishing online to whatever vices you explore within the four walls of your own space, so as to tackle your demons. ‘Paradise’ is about the idea that if heaven and hell exist on earth, then finding your own heaven here in hell would be the greatest heaven of all.”
Born to an American father and Swedish mother in Portland, OR, the up-and-coming pop artist Rhys grew up as a natural performer, singing, dancing and acting as long as she could remember — but when she turned ten, she moved to Sweden, where she crossed paths with Jörgen Elofsson in early 2016 after being recommended as a demo singer. And as the story goes Elofsson and Rhys had an immediately artistic chemistry that lead to her debut single “Swallow Your Pride,” which she promptly followed with her viral, smash hit “Last Dance,” which has amassed over 23 million Spotify streams, and was the most-played Swedish song of 2017 on P3 Radio. Adding to a growing national profile, the American-born, Swedish-based pop artist was nominated an Artist of the Future at the P3 Gold award show.
Rhys followed her smash hit single with “Too Good To Be True,” which amassed 14 million Spotify streams, and with the growing buzz around her, landed sets at festivals like Way Out West and Storsjöyran among others. Building upon that, she’s planning a busy touring schedule throughout the spring and summer, including sets at Gröna Lund, Queens of Pop and Peace & Love. Rhys’ latest single “No Vacancy” is a swaggering and incredible self-assured tell-off, that “is about a very specific person, who had been toying with my emotions for a little too long,” Rhys told The Fader.”Ironically, my current boyfriend. This song is about drawing the line, me or them.”
“Everything is great now, but I would say he was a bit of a player when we started seeing each other,” she continues. “Parts of the text are direct quotes from him, so I think I should thank him for that – he gave me a good song! When I wrote it we were already together and I said ‘Today I will write a song about you, it will be so nice!’ Then I came home and said, ‘yes, I wrote a song about you … but it might not be so nice.'”
Directed by Indra Herö Wide, the cinematically shot video stars a coquettish and proud Rhys preparing for a momentous tell off to the unseen womanizer she’s attached to — an throughout, you can tell that she’s not having it, and is perfectly fine being herself if the man doesn’t shape up and act right. And while it’s directly a feminist anthem, it’s certainly something that young women will immediately associate with and take to heart.
ISLAND, an up-and-coming London-based act can trace their origins to when vocalist Rollo Doherty’s solo, acoustic, bedroom project expanded to a fully fleshed out band with the addition of Jack Raeder (guitar), James Wolfe (bass) and Toby Richards (drums) — and with the release of two critically applauded EPs, the band have quickly developed a reputation for crafting atmospheric yet anthemic, arena rock friendly material largely inspired by the likes of Fleetwood Mac, Kings of Leon, The War On Drugs, Grizzly Bear and others, and for must-see live see that they’ve honed through some relentless touring of the UK and European Union over the course of 2017.
Building upon their growing profile, the London-based quartet’s highly-anticipated self-produced, full-length debut Feels Like Air reportedly continues their long-held DIY approach to the creative process while further cementing their reputation for crafting incredibly self-assured earnest and anthemic songs; in fact, album singles “Try,” “The Day I Die,” and “Ride” have amassed a total of over 2.6 million Spotify steams — with the band earning nearly half-a-million monthly listeners. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Horizon” is a slow-burning, atmospheric track with enormous, arena friendly hooks reminiscent of Unforgettable Fire and Joshua Tree-era U2 and while self-assured, it reveals a band that’s managing the difficult balance of an ambitious desire to rock everyone’s pants off with a thoughtful and deliberate attention to mood and craft.
Directed by Claes Nordwall, the recently released, and incredibly cinematic video for “Horizon” follows the members of the band driving through the snowy Swedish countryside, with each individual member broodingly lost in their thoughts. And as the members of the band explain in press notes, the video “captures a key theme of the album as a whole — the idea of a passenger drifting through different dreams on a journey. We wanted the video to reflect the open soundscape, we feel the song creates, so we jumped at the chance to shoot in the vast Swedish countryside. Claes took us back to his snowy hometown for the video, which had an amazing dreamlike feel that really suited the ideas we wanted to convey.
Xavier Dunn is an up-and-coming, Sydney, Australia-born and-based singer/songwriter, producer and electronic artist, who first came to international prominence with a series of acoustic covers that included 3 Hype Machine #1s, a Spotify Global Viral Charts #2, a Spotify US Viral Charts #1, a Spotify Australia Viral Chart #1 and over 22 million Spotify streams to date. Last month, Dunn released the critically applauded “Isic Tutor,” an ethereal bit of neo soul that features Dunn’s tender and aching falsetto paired with a ambient production consisting of thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and gently swirling synths and electronics within a song that immediately brought to mind Beacon’s For Now EP and The Ways We Separate — but centered around the ebbs and flows of a rather tumultuous relationship and in part the strange wisdom of Isic, an AI character from the video game Battleborn.
Recently, one of Australia’s most exciting up-and-coming producers — and perhaps one of their youngest to reach national attention, Black Summer, a 14 year old EDM producer, who was first discovered by Triple J when he was 11, remixed Dunn’s ambient “Isic Tutor,” and while retaining the aching and tender falsetto vocals of the original and some of the ethereal and ambient electronics of the original, adds skittering drum programming and a live drum sample, which manages to gently speed up the tempo while remaining unhurried and moody.