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10 New Artists You Need to Know: April 2015

Bully, Kehlani, Jidenna, Daktyl and more

Jidenna and Tricot

Jidenna and Tricot

Once again, we talked to 10 of the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos. This month: Janelle Monáe's Wondaland Records signee Jidenna, Nashville's buzzing grunge-poppers Bully, Sherlock composer Michael Price, Kendrick Lamar beatmaker Knxwledge and more.



Sounds Like: Adrenalized math rock sped up and given pop's candy coating

For Fans of: Shiina Ringo; Drive Like Jehu, Deerhoof

Why You Should Pay Attention: Guitarist/vocalist Ikkyu Nakajima, guitarist Motoko "Motifour" Kida and bassist Hiromi "Hirohiro" Sagane released A N D in March, and taut tracks like "E" and "Pieeen" have attracted the ears of both J-Pop fans and shredding aficionados alike. The trio, which formed in Kyoto, Japan, in 2010, claim influences ranging from Fall Out Boy to American Football to the Eagles — "I was influenced by them in terms of backing chorus work," says Motifour. But the nonstop time-signature shifts and torrid playing that animate their tricky pop is the work of a band in its own lane.

They Say: "We tend to be easily influenced from many things," the band writes in an email. "For our new album, we got together and recorded guitars, bass, drums and vocals on a PC with café latte and tea sweets. The triggers of our songs are from guitar phrases, which Motifour plays; then we make a cool track before Ikkyu puts vocals on it. We all like and are influenced by Red Hot Chili Peppers. We wanna play with them."

Hear for Yourself: "E," the first single off A N D, is a whirlwind tour through Tricot's hyperactive, virtuosic appeal. Maura Johnston

East India Youth

Marine Andrieux

East India Youth

Sounds Like: A self-assured voice at the intersection of classic pop and electronic chaos

For Fans of: James Blake, Scott Walker, Brian Eno 

Why You Should Pay Attention: William Doyle, the one-man band performing as East India Youth, made the transition from guitar-group frontman (with Doyle and the Fourfathers) to synthpop soloist two years ago. Last year's Mercury Prize-nominated Total Strife Forever relied heavily on instrumentals. But his new Culture of Volume is a modern song cycle featuring the 24-year-old Londoner's voice in a variety of sometimes classically inspired electronic settings. These range from sweetly ambient to black-hole bleak, with beats aplenty along the way, and Doyle's increasingly confident voice cutting through with restless aplomb. Emotionally experimental, or maybe vice versa, Doyle's music displays a restless vibrancy that should serve him well.

He Says: "Onstage I play bass guitar, keyboard and a drum pad, and I have a controller for my laptop. Any number of things might possibly go wrong, but that happens less frequently than it did a couple of years ago. One weekend it happened quite a few times. I started thrashing my bass really hard, cut my fingers open and bled all over my keyboard. People got quite excited by this struggle of man vs. machine. I've worked out a few fail-safe options for when things do go down the pan, but I can't fake it too much. But anyway, playing electronic dance music would be boring if everything always worked."

Hear for Yourself: "Carousel" is a brooding lazy susan of a tune. Richard Gehr


Amber Asaly


Sounds Like: The swing of Brandy and What's the 411?-era Mary J. Blige mixed with the open-book honesty of the social media age

For Fans Of: Anyone who enjoys a splash of Yay Area grit and grind in their R&B

Why You Should Pay Attention: Oakland-to-Los Angeles singer Kehlani Parrish has soared since she broke from Poplyfe, the teen group that landed in fourth place on the 2011 season of America's Got Talent. She racked millions of SoundCloud plays for her Cloud 19 mixtape, while her sun-dappled video for "FWU" has over 700,000 YouTube views. As a member of East Bay Area rap squad HBK Gang, she lent vocals to Sage the Gemini's Remember Me and Iamsu!'s Sincerely Yours. And she's built a reputation as an unapologetically frank and thoughtful artist, from celebrating her bisexuality in "First Position," to engaging with Twitter critics. "It's a combination of how I look, how I talk, and some of the language in my music that people consider me a hip-hop artist. But I make pretty soft music," she says. Her next project, You Should Be Here, drops on April 28th.

She Says: "People always told me I wouldn't make it because what I look like. They said, 'Oh, you're way too tatted. You're not going to be an approachable R&B singer.' I had someone tell me on Twitter a week ago that I would never get a Top 40 record because of my face tattoo. I didn't know Top 40 records revolved around face tattoos, but thanks for the information, guy! I'm not being [outspoken] to be different. I'm doing it because I genuinely have a message that needs to be told. I have young girls that are just like me, that have been through the same things that I have, and who need a voice."

Hear For Yourself: In contrast to the primarily heteronormative love songs on the radio, the slow-winding "First Position" finds Kehlani claiming she's "not cookie-cutter, not picture perfect," to a female admirer. Mosi Reeves

Michael Price

Alexander Schneider

Michael Price

Sounds Like: Strings, drones and flickering piano creating clouds of nostalgia and melancholy

For Fans of: Ólafur Arnalds, Max Richter, Nils Frahm

Why You Should Pay Attention: Price is an Emmy-winning composer who co-penned the score to the smash British drama Sherlock. His gorgeous debut full-length, Entanglement, was released this week by Erased Tapes, the heart-string-tugging London label that floats gently between 20th Century composition and ambient music. Within the album's 39-minute drift, there's a slow "Tape Overture," plinky piano raindrops, field recordings and the voice of soprano Ashley Knight briefly calling through the fog. "When I'm making a record, the story is all my own, and I can make a structure that makes musical sense," says Price about recording for Erased Tapes as opposed to a TV show. "And there aren't as many car chases."

He Says: "I really got into recording the sounds of travel, as well as the places I went to," says Price, who uses mobile phone recordings on "Budapest," "so you can hear the crazy musical sound of the Budapest metro announcements and then an awesome street fiddle player at the end of the track. Nobody gets freaked out if you're just looking at your phone with headphones on, like they do if you shove a big microphone in their face."

Hear for Yourself: "The Attachment," off Entanglement, already has more than 35,000 SoundCloud plays — pretty phenomenal for a song made up of patient piano, circling strings and warm sounds from a 1940s magnetic tape reel. Christopher R. Weingarten

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