Priests and more...
These New Yorkers count a former member of Titus Andronicus (Amy Klein) among them, and they know their way around an anthem too, but Leda possess a stateliness found in few other bands of its kind. The group’s best released music is a two-song EP from 2012 entitled “A Thimble” b/w “Halfway”, full of clear guitar picking, pointed cello lines, and Klein’s Patti Smith-style vocals, cleanly enunciated and prominent. This summer the band spent time recording with Kevin McMahon at Marcata Recording in New Paltz, New York, and their upcoming full-length, if it’s anything like the songs I saw them play during CMJ 2012, will feature punch-through-the-stratosphere rockers and sprawling ballads. There are a million young, hungry bands in the world, but most of them don’t have Leda’s chops. Robert Rubsam
“This is gonna be Mansions big year!” There is no doubt in my mind that Christohper Browder has heard that phrase many, many times before, and despite the fact that his Mansions moniker has been around since 2007 and he’s toured with everyone from Taking Back Sunday to the Get Up Kids, his lo-fi, homespun alternative-rock just hasn’t broken through quite yet—and that is a tragedy. His albums are amazingly consistent in terms of delivering solid, well-thought out rock songs, always featuring powerful, memorable hooks, and all existing in a universe that is entirely his own creation. The reason why PopMatters is pegging Mansions to be a Big Hope in 2014 is for one reason and one reason alone: Doom Loop, his absolutely stellar album that came out in the tail end of 2013, showing that instead of running out of ideas, Browder is more excited and energized by songwriting than ever before, and if all works out, the indie kids will be singing the shout-along finale to “Two Suits” all through the start of next year. Not many people may know who Mansions is, but we’re betting dollars to donuts that that is gonna change very, very soon. Evan Sawdey
The Dallas band Power Trip play an engaging brand of crossover thrash metal that harkens back to the music’s roots in the mid-‘80s, but with a sensibility and appeal that is entirely current. The release of their first full length album, Manifest Decimation, in June of this year brought them attention outside their stomping grounds of North Texas. It was also the first time many got to see them live; and as good as Manifest Decimation is as a recording, it pales before the experience of them in person. While the touchstones of a modern punk or metal show are all present—the fans pressed to the stage screaming along, the pit behind, the nodding heads of those around the periphery—there is a palpable difference. Power Trip aren’t there to put on a show for the fans; they put on a show with their fans. Frontman Riley Gale’s guttural howl may be the loudest, but there is a sense that he’s singing their words, their feelings, as well as his own. There’s a synthesis of artist and audience. It’s astonishing to see it at show after show, particularly in this jaded era of cellphones and crossed arms. With the chance for more touring in more places in the coming year, Power Trip should have the world in their arms. If the reports from their first European tour are to be believed it’s already begun. Erik Highter
It never hurts an up-and-coming band to stoke its rep by having the ability to create an aura of mystery, which is just what DC-based post-post-punks Priests have accomplished in a short amount of time. On the strength of a handful of sporadically distributed releases and word-of-mouth praise for its intense live performances, Priests have whetted the appetites of underground types seeking out a more antagonistic, aggressive sound. Indeed, you can’t help but feel a jolt of energy in Priests’ edge-of-your-seat aesthetic, with their angular, live-wire guitars and DIY resourcefulness recalling their Dischord forerunners and singer Katie Alice Greer’s unblinking screeds harkening back to riot grrrl. Perhaps early Sleater-Kinney might be an even better comparison, not just because Priests have enough charisma to deliver socially charged manifestos and make good on ‘em, but also in the way they smuggle in sneaky melodies and wry wit while throwing elbows. Currently in the studio working on new material and plotting tours in the new year, Priests should continue building up their mystique by expanding their profile in 2014. Arnold Pan
Say Lou Lou
When your mother is an ex-member of an all-female punk band and your father is the singer/songwriter/bassist with the Church (“Under the Milky Way”), you can’t help but have music in your genetic makeup. Twin sisters Elektra and Miranda Kilbey are the dream-pop duo Say Lou Lou and have been releasing teasing singles for over a year now, while they work on a full length album. All cosmopolitan night and languid drama, the sophisticated songs are awash in lush layers of vocals and synthesizers. Dark and soothing like an ocean of stars, with echoes of their ‘80s atmospheric forebears Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil, but with a bit more of a pop conscience. They’ve covered Tame Impala, too, which shows a certain adventurousness. With the right promotion, they could be big. Internationally big. Rob Caldwell