10 New Artists You Need to Know: February 2014 – Rolling Stone
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10 New Artists You Need to Know: February 2014

Meet the rising stars of rock, hip-hop, EDM, folk and more acts shaping your tomorrow

Isaiah Rashad Hurray for the Riff Raff

Christopher Parsons; Sarrah Danziger

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: pan-continental folk-rock brothers KONGOS, the slamdance bass music of DJ Snake, YG's trunk music renaissance, and the ever-exploding post-Winehouse retro-pop treats of John Newman.

Isaiah Rashad

Christopher Parsons

Isaiah Rashad

Sounds Like: A Tennessee MC in a laptop-generated floating world, segueing between ruddily sung harmonies and honest raps.

For Fans Of: Kendrick Lamar, Drake, ATLiens-era OutKast

Why You Should Pay Attention: Hip-hop's gaze is currently trained upon Rashad, whose Cilvia Demo marks the first release from management powerhouse Top Dawg Entertainment since Kendrick Lamar's instant-classic good kid, m.A.A.d city. Only two years ago, Rashad was working odd jobs while uploading tracks to his SoundCloud account, hoping to get a response. Apparently the tactic worked: TDE relocated the 22-year-old from a public housing complex in Chattanooga to a house in Carson, California where he developed songs with in-house producers like the Antydote. Well-received leaks like "Shot You Down" and "Ronnie Drake" piqued interest for Cilvia Demo, which was inspired by his rundown-yet-beloved 1995 Honda Civic. "I called it a demo because it's the first collection of songs I ever put together," he says. By January the free mixtape was upgraded to a retail release that debuted in the top 40. by MOSI REEVES

He Says: Rashad once considered naming his project Pieces of a Kid in homage to proto-rap pioneer Gil Scott-Heron's 1972 classic Pieces of a Man. "I love Gil Scott-Heron. He has a song called 'Home is Where the Hatred Is, and the stuff he described in it I related to a lot, as far as being where I was from in Chattanooga, in the trap. He's one of the first guys to do what guys are doing now, which is a rap/singing kind of thing. He did spoken-word poetry, but he always put some melody in it. He's done more for me and for hip-hop than a lot of people know."

Hear for Yourself: "Ronnie Drake," where Rashad stick-shifts from a "coke flow" braggadocio to meditating on how "We came a long way from a boat and an auction / Now we got names and a vote and a coffin / Ain't shit changed but the coast we adopted."


Nothing

Shawn Brackbill

Nothing

Sounds Like: Old-stock alt-rock cut from the same guitar cord that connected My Bloody Valentine to A Place to Bury Strangers

For Fans Of: Smashing Pumpkins, Hum, MTV's 120 Minutes circa 1994

Why You Should Pay Attention: These Philly-based hardcore expats formed this noise-pop group in 2011, but the huffy vocals and alternately jangly and static-y guitar lines on their debut LP, Guilty of Everything, sound as though they were excavated from the geological ruins of the first Bush Administration. Frontman Dominic Palermo plays fuzzy, Buzz Bin-ready riffs and – like so many bands in the early Nineties – he can only muster enough "voice" to qualify as a really loud whisperer. The lyrics on Guilty of Everything are personal too: Palermo finally felt comfortable enough to write about an early 2000s two-year prison sentence for a stabbing. Not that they're exactly a serious bunch. "Our new bass player, Nick [Bassett], pranked me when we were touring with his other band, Whirr," says Palermo. "He and his bandmates put my phone number on a Craigslist ad for free Pepsi memorabilia when we toured the south. It said that when you called, you had to say, 'Gimme that free Pepsi,' so I kept getting calls from literally hundreds of hillbillies trying to score some free Pepsi." by KORY GROW

They Say: "I'd hate to be called anything besides a punk band; I don't really like the term 'shoegaze,'" says Palermo. "That word gets thrown around so much these days that I would hate to even be attached to it. Anybody who has a delay pedal and a reverb pedal, go grab a Jazzmaster and you're a shoegaze band now."

Hear for Yourself: The nightmarish, slow-mo noisescape that is "Dig":

 

pearls negras

Courtesy of Pearls Negras

Pearls Negras

Sounds Like: Rio Go Hard: The smartest, sassiest high-school girls in your favela rapping on would-be trunk-thumpers

For Fans Of: M.I.A., Oaktown's 357, DJ Chernobyl

Why You Should Pay Attention: Brazilian funk carioca has been morphing past the syncopated boom-kat that U.S. ambassador Diplo borrowed while producing M.I.A.'s Arular in 2005. It's absorbed everything from the crescendo-ing squall of contemporary Eurodance to the heavy thump of American trap. To the three teenagers in Pearls Negras – 17-year-old Alice Coelho, 16-year-old Mariana Alves and 16-year-old Jennifer Loiola – who grew up Rio de Janeiro's vibrant Vidigal favela and met at an after school theater program, a mish-mash of super-heavy club and trap rhythms simply makes sense. Even if you're not fluent in Portuguese, the guttural aspects of the language always sounds tough over beats, and in this case, the ladies' talent and intent shines through on skillful rapping fêting cuties or indicting the state of their 'hood. Upon releasing their Biggie Apple mixtape in December via British label Bolabo, they've garnered acclaim on globally minded blogs across the world. They'll embark on a European tour in May and will hit further stops around the world (Biggie Apple refers to their desire to visit New York), though they're balancing the dates with their day jobs: They're all working actresses and Coelho will star in the upcoming novela Meu Pedacinho de Chão on Brazilian TV. by JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD

They Say: "Female rap in Rio de Janeiro is not recognized very much and we struggle to gain a space here," says Coelho, via translator. "Our songs talk about many different things such as love, fun, parties and about what is happening in society, about where we live and where we come from. But people like our music because Vidigal is a place of much talent, dance and music. We have actresses, singers, a bit of everything."

Hear for Yourself: "Pensando em Você" ("Thinking of You") flips bottom-heavy, twerky club synths into the sweetest sing-song ode to a boy with "an angelic face":

 

 

Thumpers

Oliver Smith

Thumpers

Sounds Like: A blissful, sun-soaked memory of days spent flirting poolside with no commitments or curfew.

For Fans Of: Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Broken Social Scene, nostalgia

Why You Should Pay Attention: While British bands like Arctic Monkeys, Alt-J and Foals rely on chunky guitar riffs to get post-punkian points across, London two-piece Thumpers aim for pure pop euphoria, singing about carefree teenage days spent goofing off and trying to find yourself. The lush, heavily reverbed vocals on their just-released Sub Pop debut, Galore, sidle alongside subtle keyboards that sound like outtakes from Sonic the Hedgehog. The nostalgic quality makes sense: The duo's Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. are childhood friends. by MIKE AYERS

They Say: "We're not big checklist guys; we're kinda quiet," says Hamson. "With British bands, you're constantly thinking of the next thing and never really enjoying the amazing thing that happened to you today. People keep asking us, 'Oh what's on your bucket list for this year?' That's a bullshit question. That's not a really good way to live and I think that's reflective in our music."

Hear for Yourself: The cheery, tom-tom throb of "Unkinder" is like Animal Collective gone pop – or Imagine Dragons gone punk party.


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