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10 New Artists You Need to Know: April 2017

Tee Grizzley, Middle Kids, Aldous Harding, J.I.D., Hayley Kiyoko and more

Tee Grizzly, Middle Kids, Aldous Harding, Kelly Lee Owens, Zeshan B, Hayley Kiyoko, Ondatropica, Mary Bell, J.I.D., Kevin Ross

J.I.D. and Hayley Kiyoko are two new artists you need to know this month.

Michael "Waboosh" Kelly, Asher Moss

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: Tee Grizzley’s viral freedom raps, Elton John-cosigned rock band Middle Kids, Zeshan B’s continent-crossing soul music and more.

Ondatropica

Courtesy of Soundway Records

Ondatrópica

Sounds Like: A festive, percussive blend of Colombian tropical pop and smooth Caribbean grooves – with an avant-garde tinge and jawbone percussion

For Fans of: Frente Cumbiero, DJ Quantic, Meridian Brothers

Why You Should Pay Attention: For their critically acclaimed 2012 debut, Ondatrópica musical directors Will “Quantic” Holland and Frente Cumbiero’s Mario Galeano spent three weeks in a vintage Medellin studio creating a sprawling, cumbia-centric map of Colombia with 40 of the country’s finest musicians. For Baile Bucanero, though, the duo temporarily relocated to Isla de Providencia, a tiny English-speaking island about 400 miles off Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Ensconsed in the Midnight Dream Theatre studio, Holland and Galeano (who begin a short DJ tour on April 18) drew local singers and MCs into their fold and brewed up a refreshing batch of breezy tropical concoctions between scooter runs for “bushy rum,” as the local hooch is known. Cumbia meets calypso and dancehall grinds with champeta in tracks that always maintain a soft focus on Afro-Colombia and Caribbean culture.

They Say: What is Baile Bucanero opener “Commotion” about? “I’ve traveled a lot in the Caribbean and on the Caribbean coast of Colombia,” Will Holland says, “and commotion is something I can relate to. There’s always something going on – somebody fighting over a chicken, or some woman in pajamas shouting at a guy from a doorway. So I wrote that song while thinking about Providencia. But halfway through the recording, the guy who sings it, Shala Boom, asked me, ‘Hey, Will, what does “commotion” mean?’ [Laughs.] And he explained to me, ‘We don’t say “commotion” here, we say jaggin’.’ We wanted to make sure we got that onto the track, so Shala sings, ‘Don’t go jaggin’ around!'”

Hear for Yourself: Afrobeat visits the Caribbean in “Hummingbird,” a soaring blend of horns, percussion and sweet female voices. Richard Gehr

Mary Bell

Emeric Guaquere

Mary Bell

Sounds Like: Les filles des riot; French feminist punks with switchblades

For Fans of: Early Hole; Early Babes in Toyland; nouveau riot grrrl that doesn’t Xerox Bikini Kill

Why You Should Pay Attention: This Parisian quartet named their band after a serially abused British girl who, at age 11, was convicted of strangling two young boys. That theme of acting out and seeking vengeance juts shardlike through Mary Bell’s gripping guitars, with vocalist Alice Carlier growling and screaming like she’s ready to pounce. “Gaïlla [Montanier, drummer] was always telling me to scream more because I was shy,” says Carlier. “I didn’t really know if they liked it, apparently they did!”

The band self-titled first album, edition of 500, dropped in January on French punk label Danger Records, and it’s full of rebuttals to masculinist status quo and straight-up declarations of rejection. “I really can’t imagine playing music without being political,” says guitarist Victoria Arfi, something that’s reflected in their nervousness about France’s upcoming presidential election. “A new scandal erupts every two days and this is so part of the political institution right now that the people are gonna vote knowingly for those corrupted bastards.” The band’s vivid songwriting, though, tends to focus on more specific vignettes, coming in short bursts. The album’s longest track, “Trash Tongue,” is two minutes and 35 seconds, a grimy little bop about embodying womanly multiplicities, being “anything I wanna be, I don’t care what you think about me.” 

They Say: “Most people who come to our gigs are very supportive, either women or men. But sexism is so deeply anchored in mentality, that even when people try to be nice, they say or write some very weird stuff,” says Arfi. “Sound engineers sometimes behave like assholes because we are women. Most of the time, they think that as I am a woman, my guitar sound should be clear, with a lot of treble. I remember playing at a venue in Northern Paris once, and the sound engineer telling me at the end of the show, ‘Seeing you with your cute little dress, I really had no idea you could sound like a stoner guitarist.'”

Hear for Yourself: The simmering road rage of “Fire Fire” calls to mind the Hendrix song with a similar name – if the woman he addressed in it responded with a middle finger and dumped her beer on him. It tells a full story in just one minute, punk at its most blissfully compact. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

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