188726-the-best-hopes-to-break-out-in-2015

The Best Hopes to Break Out in 2015

This vibrant gang of musicians is approaching 2015 from all different angles. Some are still quite new to the music game, while others take the new year on after rising from a breakup.

This vibrant gang of musicians is approaching 2015 from all different angles. Some are still quite new to the music game, while others take the new year on after rising from a breakup.

 
img-42358

Archibald Slim

There’s something comfortingly American about an artist like Rick Ross, who proves that great rhymes about being rich can become self-fulfilling prophecies. But the more stories I read about income inequality getting closer to Great Depression-era levels, the more I want to see a rapper like Archibald Slim hit the jackpot. Don’t be fooled by the title of his 2014 debut mixtape, He’s Drunk!: this a sober, poignant exploration of how it feels to have the deck stacked against you, driven home by the kind of gorgeously subdued boom-bap grooves that DJ Premier could’ve cooked up on a rainy day in 1992. Of all the members of Atlanta’s boldly innovative Awful Records collective, Archie’s vision is the most fully formed, his lackadaisical delivery framing him as a young man who’s already left outrage behind, who sounds resigned to a life spent traversing the shadowy alleys of an unfair world. If anybody’s ready to drop Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City-level science in 2015, it’s him. img-42358 Joe Sweeney

 
img-42358

Battle Trance

The tenor saxophone quartet Battle Trance put out one of the most thrilling pieces of contemporary classical composition in the form of the album-length piece Palace of Wind, released through the always exciting New Amsterdam label. There is, however, a catch; while Palace of Wind is indeed a stunner, it’s the kind of piece that is hard to replicate or reimagine due to its unassailable singularity. Merely reiterating the sonic template established by Palace of Wind would dampen the achievement of the music. Nevertheless, while figuring out what to do after making a one-of-a-kind record is no small task, if anyone is up to the challenge it is Battle Trance. In taking one instrument, multiplying it by four, and from that creating a musical odyssey that sounds like the product of a much larger number of instruments, this quartet has adeptly proven its ability to challenge musical boundaries. For that reason, it’s far from crazy to think these ace musicians have something else up their sleeves. img-42358 Brice Ezell

 
img-42358

BBU

It was but two years ago that we were, in this very same feature, talking about this very same group, hoping they’d do the very same thing. As Yogi Berra might have said, “it’s like déjà vu all over again.” You can forgive us at PopMatters if we’re a little over-enthusiastic about this Chicago rap trio, but there’s no one on the music scene with the kind of incendiary combination of humor and hooks, of passion and politics. The group went on hiatus in 2013 to deal with family and personal commitments, but that doesn’t mean they were sitting on their hands. Epic recently debuted his first solo mixtape #OPRAH (on this very site, no less) while Illekt laid down tracks with Chicago MC Anonymous. Meanwhile, the group has been playing shows throughout the latter half of 2014 and has hinted at possible new music in the coming year. With over two years having passed since their last album, the stunningly ambitious bell hooks, it’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of seeing the group’s next step. img-42358 John M. Tryneski

 
img-42358

clipping.

I hope clipping. keeps experimenting with its sound in the way I want them to. I hope that this year, the experimental rap group simply utilizes accessibility in the same way it might familiarize itself with a new instrument: to help foster the music that’s floating around in the group’s collective mind, and nothing more. While this year’s CLPPNG was a more flavorful pill to swallow than its predecessor Midcity, it still is a hell of a trip at the end of the day. The album tells stories, gritty and grimy, through the lens of a well-polished rap group.

I want to find out what hip-hop is when its innards are thrown against the wall, when any remaining recognizable semblance of the genre is processed and then rehabilitated. I want to find out how much more room there is in rap for the industrial sounds clipping. uses, and that Death Grips once used. I want to understand exactly what it is Death Grips left behind when they posted that now-infamous napkin picture to their Facebook page. I want to know that there’s more to this whole movement of sonic deconstruction within hip-hop, more to this sound that clipping. has helped forge than the illusion of remodeling. And when I listen to songs like “Body & Blood”, I realize something important is happening here. It’s the sound of vitality, of new sounds being explored in an old and familiar way. The truth is that even though I hope clipping. will keep exploring music in the way that it has so far, there’s an instinctive drive telling me that it’s only just getting started. img-42358 Jacob Royal

 
img-42358

Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurrianns

Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurrianns are not new to the world of film scoring. In past years, the two have contributed low-key gems like their work for the highly acclaimed 2011 film Martha Marc May Marlene. However, 2014 proved to be the breakthrough year for this dynamic duo, with its scores for The One I Love and Enemy rising to the top of the crop. Enemy, in particular, is a tour de force of cinema music, an album that pulls off the rare feat of being able to stand entirely on its own and remain a compelling work. Many film music composers spend their whole careers without ever pulling that feat off, so for Bensi and Jurrianns to have succeeded in that way is a significant achievement. Hopefully, 2015 will see this innovative duo provide even more movie music, the kind that you’ll want to listen to long after leaving the theater. img-42358 Brice Ezell

GFTOY and Saunder Jurrianns, and more…

img-42359

GFTOY

Internet only label / music collective PC Music really made a splash in 2014, and for all the wonderful players exhibited, from AG Cook to delightfully named Kane West, it’s GFOTY that stands out above the rest. Her frenetic mix of flanged synths, cheesy midi samples and infectiously catchy vocal lines made for some of the most surprising and exciting pop music of the year. Her ten minute Secret Mix mixtape sums up everything that could be great a full length from her; from the relentless, almost drone influences repetitive nature of central hook “if your friend’s your lover, let your friend be your love” to the honest to go melancholy of preceding passages focusing on lost, GFOTY’s sound is dying to be heard in full length by a wider audience. At times perplexing and just as often playfully annoying, yet always smile inducing, GFOTY is the pop music we need for 2015. img-42359 Andrew McDonald

 
img-42359

Hospitality

RIP Hospitality, the cute-and-catchy indie pop band, 2007-2013. Welcome to Earth, Hospitality, the hard-edged out-and-out rock band, 2014-present. The Brooklyn trio’s self-titled debut was a sleeper hit in 2012, a charming collection of tuneful, immediate pleasures. This year’s Trouble trades coquettish glances for a confident stare, as Amber Papini leads her band through a suite of tight, post-punk-colored jams, at their strongest when her guitar takes center stage. Spring-loaded cuts “Nightingale,” “I Miss Your Bones”, and “Rockets and Jets” launch themselves straight toward the rafters, leaving the synth-inflected “Last Words” to carry listeners back home. The band falters when it slides back toward pure pop balladry on “Sullivan” and “Sunship”, but Hospitality seems to know how to play to its strengths. Here’s to Papini doubling down on riffage and rock ’n’ roll for album three. img-42359 Corey Beasley

 
img-42359

Juniore

Realistically, foreign-language indie bands don’t have much of a market in the States, but if anyone can make a connection in the West, its someone like French indie pop group Juniore. Fronted by the subdued, sultry vocals of Anna Jean, Juniore take influence from surf music, alternative rock and classic ‘60s pop singers of their own country like Françoise Hardy and Jane Birkin, combined into a smooth, dark rock sound that should excite fans of Veronica Falls, Frankie Rose and the Raveonettes. The band is still young, having only released a couple singles in the last two years, but they’ve already proven capable of constructing perfect little pop gems that deserve, at the very least, far greater recognition, both in France and the rest of the world. img-42359 Colin Fitzgerald

 
img-42359

Lily & Madeline

It’s not that Lily & Madeleine Jurkiewicz are young; the two sisters are just 17 and 19 years old respectively, but the fact they create such beautifully mysterious music makes them so promising. Their material works on more than one level, and just when you think you have it sussed while floating on their harmonious vocals, it hits you—they are telling you one story but there is another layer or more underneath it all that says more. It’s not a trick, but the very nature of honest song craft that suggests the connections between everything through the blending of their voices together. The duo has a graceful touch. It doesn’t matter if they are singing about sex (“Lips & Hips”), sweets (“Peppermint Candy”), a bunny (“Rabbit”) or a lupine creature (“The Wolf is Free”), the underlying theme is one of delight in the discovery of music’s magical ability to create a bridge between the self and the world through the creative act. img-42359 Steve Horowitz

Lily & Madeline and more…

 
img-42360

Melanie de Biasio

Who is Melanie de Biasio and where did she come from? The latter question is easy: de Biasio is from Belgium, where as a child she was trained in ballet and flute before the age of ten. But there’s no training available for the smoky, dead-of-night vocal stylings and impossibly rich atmosphere that suffuses No Deal, the artist’s second release and first in nearly seven years. (Her debut, A Stomach Is Burning, preceded it in 2007.) De Biasio has become successful in Europe, though she is still all but unheard of stateside. That could change quickly, if only she toured the U.S. (where, this past October, she played her first show ever) and sped up the seven-year release gap between albums. img-42360 Zach Schonfeld

 
img-42360

Melbourne Cans

Clever, ragged ‘90s-leaning rock with fuzzy guitars seems to be all the rage now. So why shouldn’t Australians Melbourne Cans be the next band to blow up, the next Parquet Courts or whoever? They add a lot of their own quirks and ideas to that equation, copping sensiblities from pop eras past (from ‘50s vocal pop to the Dunedin sound). Their debut, 2014’s vinyl-only LP Moonlight Malaise (Lost and Lonesome Recording Co) is a witty collection that provokes the notion that this would be the kind of band you’d stumble across at a party in somebody’s basement and be blown away by. There’s a heightened romance to their music but also a devil-may-care willingness to keep plowing forward. “Prom Night” should have been the hit of the year; then again, who expects a vinyl-only Australian indie release to take over the world? Maybe next year we’ll all catch up to them. img-42360 Dave Heaton

 
img-42360

Protomartyr

Protomartyr has been around for a while now, but on their second album, Under Color of Official Right, they sound like they’re just getting started picking fights and taking aim at the myriad ills of the world. Even the walls and floors around them can’t get away unscathed. Comparisons of front man Joe Casey to Mark E. Smith of the Fall, another guy known to have a complaint or two, are both typical and fairly on point. It is not surprising that Post-war Manchester and modern Detroit were capable of producing kindred spirits who carry a kind of gritty Northern-ness, but, along with their spleen-venting similarities, Protomartyr’s approach to post punk also runs with the torch of the ragged garage rock legacy of their hometown. On the 14 sucker punches of Under Color of Official Right and in its raucous live shows, Protomartyr exudes a sense of urgency that’s easy to spot but impossible to fake. img-42360 Ian King

 
img-42360

Rathborne

Luke Rathborne’s career so far has to some extent been an underground enterprise: at 17, he recorded his debut After Dark by sneaking into a college recording studio after hours. Then came the double EP I Can Be One/Dog Years released by LA indie label Dilettante and the Australian Speak N’ Spell Records. He went on to tour extensively in the UK and got a last minute break on BBC6 music in place of Noah and the Whale. In 2013 he started a new label, True Believer, dropped his first name and released Soft, a startling mix of NY indie rock, transposing REM sprite and Nirvana grunge to consider such diverse subjects as erectile penile dysfunction and the loss of youthful innocence. Having toured the album in the US opening for Albert Hammond Jr and Travis, 2015 promises a UK release for Soft and possibly a new album in the Spring, provisionally entitled Again, to be produced by Ted Young (Kurt Vile, Gaslight Anthem). With this, the underground indie kid may be pushed into the spotlight. img-42360 Charles Pitter

 
img-42360

Rubblebucket

At this point, Brooklyn is filled with enough art-rock bands to last until vinyl goes out of style again, but once in a while, one comes along that’s charming and unique enough to warrant recognition. Rubblebucket is one of those bands. They make worldly pop music driven by a lively horn section and big infectious choruses, music that takes as much from Afrobeat maestro Fela Kuti as it does from mainstream dance music. In 2014 they released Survival Sounds, a perfect addition to their stellar catalog of underappreciated art pop that, a number of albums and EPs into their career, proves they’re overdue for wider popularity. Does the world really need another indie pop band from Brooklyn? Maybe not, but Rubblebucket are still among the cream of the crop. img-42360 Colin Fitzgerald

Whores and a Tacocat

img-42361

Saint Pepsi

It’s the easiest thing to back Saint Pepsi. Electronic producer Ryan DeRobertis hasn’t just been improving with each and every piece of music he’s released since last year’s Hit Vibes; he’s also been revamping his own electronic music formula with each new installment. Where Hit Vibes could’ve been classified as future funk, “Fiona Coyne” is sheer pop, the catchiest there is to offer. This evolution places DeRobertis at the helm of a fresh sound that merges the grooviest of chillwave with the most distinctive pop artists of the ’80s: old and new, married to bring out the best in each other. It can be difficult to find modern pop that simultaneously is well-produced and is sporting a good hook, but those looking for such a kind of music — which, well, why wouldn’t you? — Saint Pepsi is the answer. img-42361 Jacob Royal

 
img-42361

Steph Cameron

One woman’s voice. An acoustic guitar. The occasional harmonica. That’s all to Canada’s Steph Cameron on her dramatic debut Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady. However, in the face of such minimalism, there’s something in this slice of Canadiana that is absolutely captivating. Cameron has the tunes, and while she hews to traditionalism, her lyrics are full of gender-bending skewedness: On “Five Dollars” she sings, that she uses her money to be spent “on fine women” or “on fine men”. Regardless of the outcome, she sighs, “You know, my nights are full of friends / That I never see again.” Cameron’s honesty and bravery are commendable, and that’s what makes her such a star in ascendance. I had the lucky opportunity to see Cameron recently live in a small club, just her and her guitar, and the way that the audience lapped it up – one woman was recording the whole show on her iPhone – clearly shows that she is Canada’s next big thing. Everything about Cameron and her persona reeks of the honest and true songs of the downtrodden, and yet there’s a hopefulness to her material. Whether you see her live, or hear her on record, you’re listening to an artist laying bare, a natural raconteur, and my money is betting that Steph Cameron is going to now have a whole bunch of friends who’ll be sticking around for quite some time. img-42361 Zachary Houle

 
img-42361

Tacocat

Hands down the most charming album released this year, the three gals and one guy of Tacocat traffic in sunny, low-stakes, shambling ‘90s-style guitar indie rarely seen since the days of the All Girl Summer Fun Band. Totally committed, but never taking themselves too seriously, on NVM, the quartet examines such day-to-day concerns as crummy public transportation (“F.U. #8”), snow days, getting dragged to parties (the horn-abetted, palindromic “Party Trap”, from the palindromic Tacocat!), and, most memorably, menstruation, on “Crimson Wave”, which features your new favorite euphemism for that time of the month: “There are Communists in the summer house”. A keen, clever lyricist, Emily Nokes (whose day job is music editor at Seattle’s The Stranger) captures all the glory and mundanity of being young, half-broke and living it up in the city. With no less a fan than Greil Marcus — who raved in the pages of The Believer, “I love this band” – in their corner, and a big, fun, funny world out there for Nokes and co. to capture in song, it’s easy to root for Tacocat. img-42361 Stephen Haag

 
img-42361

Whores

The American South has, for years, been a bubbling caldron of sludgy rock bands ready to tear a hole in any eardrum within reach. But no one in recent memory has quite attacked the trope like Whores. Self-described as “Neo-monolithic”, subtlety is not their strong point. With a blunt sound that moves as politely as an extremely angry sledgehammer, Whores have ripped through their last two releases. They sound like an infinitely more pissed off version of Queens of the Stone Age, or if stoner-metal nerds The Sword stopped playing Dungeons and Dragons and learned how to win a bar fight. Their last EP Clean was a master class in rock brutality with songs like “Cougars, not Kittens” and “I am an Amateur at Everything” revealing the pitch-black humor that beats at the heart of this abrasive noise. With a massive 2014 tour under their belts (including dates with sludge pioneers The Melvins), 2015 looks like a prime time for these Neanderthals to make another crushing album. img-42361 Nathan Stevens

PopMatters