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10 New Artists You Need to Know: January 2014

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

We talked to 10 of the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos. This month: high-octane Canadian blues from Reignwolf, steamy rap&B sex talk from Ty Dolla $ign, throbbing Dutch house from Martin Garrix and the country hustle of actress Lucy Hale.

lucy hale

Sasha Eisenman

Lucy Hale

Sounds Like: The Pretty Little Liars star and perennial Teen Choice Award winner says she grew up listening to both kinds of music: country and Disney princess songs. Those influences coalesce on her new single "You Sound Good to Me," a perkily infatuated breeze set to arena-ready fiddle and mandolin.

For Fans Of: Sugarland, pre-NPR-pandering Dixie Chicks, Nashville's Juliette Barnes

Why You Should Pay Attention: A gal can hardly find a home these days on country radio, which is a stomping ground for lightweight hunks telling big lies about good times in small towns. But Hale, beginning her fourth season as PLL's Aria, brings 3 million weekly ABC Family viewers and even more Twitter followers. "You Sound Good to Me," which rides the recent Nashville trend of likening your crush to a song (see Florida-Georgia Line's "Cruise"), sold 42,000 downloads in its first week, hopping into the Billboard Hot 100 and the country Top 30. A full-length, recorded with producer Mark Bright (Rascal Flatts, Scotty McCreery, Carrie Underwood) and featuring a Joe Nichols duet, is expected this spring.

She Says: "While recording we would usually start at about 10 a.m. every morning and break at about 1 for lunch. I'm obsessed with ranch dressing and would pretty much have it every day. After we ate, I would come back in to continue recording and sound 50 percent better than before. So we joked that ranch dressing is my secret weapon."

Hear for Yourself: "You Sound Good to Me," the exact sonic opposite of a polar vortex:

by Keith Harris

a day to remember

Courtesy Fly South Music

A Day to Remember

Sounds Like: Hyperactive power-punk-pop with the occasional blood-curdling hardcore scream as a release valve.

For Fans Of: The hooks of New Found Glory, the chugging riffs and caterwauls of Killswitch Engage, the sweat of a day under the Warped Tour sun.

Why You Should Pay Attention: After a decade-plus working their way up the Warped roster, honing a unique, unlikely blend of metalcore and sugary pop (and battling Victory Records in court), these Floridians self-released their fifth album, Common Courtesy, last fall. The gambit paid off, as first single "Right Back At It Again" climbed to No. 33 on Billboard's Alternative chart. The band's do-it-yourself spirit isn't just limited to records: In March, they're throwing the Self-Help Fest – the bill includes what vocalist Jeremy McKinnon calls "a lot of bad-ass bands," including Of Mice And Men, Bring Me The Horizon, and the Story So Far – in San Bernardino, California.

They Say: "We were truly a garage band," says McKinnon. "We started off in a really small town in our parents' garage and we would have the cops called on us all the time just for playing our music – neighbors would get pissed off about it. We went to work and paid for everything we did, and it just snowballed from there. There was never a point where it just shot through the roof – it was this gradual growth. That's why we've been able to sustain things; nothing ever came too fast or too quick. Growing slowly over the course of 10 years gave us the time to grow up."

Hear for Yourself: The band chronicles their trip from the garage to headlining their own festival on the peppy, bouncy "Right Back At It Again":

by Maura Johnston

Blackletter/Patrick Crawford

Lydia Loveless

Sounds Like: Loretta Lynn and Patti Smith slamming shots at a Midwestern dive bar while cowboys and punks brawl out back.

For Fans Of: Neko Case, Lucinda Williams, country singers not averse to using the word "fuck" when necessary.

Why You Should Pay Attention: Shouted out by no less a rock & roll arbiter than Richard Hell, this brash Columbus, Ohio 23-year-old set tongues wagging at last year's SXSW, and has just finished her breakout album Somewhere Else, an aching, lusty set of twang and sneer wrapped in electric guitar swagger. Among its knuckle-ball love songs are "Verlaine Shot Rimbaud" (the singer admires how the French symbolist poets expressed affection) and "Head" (a bummed-out meditation on oral sex). There's also a shimmering cover of "They Don't Know" by the late, great English singer-songwriter Kirsty MacColl.

She Says: "I am a not-at-all-closet huge Ke$ha fan – I actually have her logo on my ankle! My friend and I went to see her last year, and we got matching tattoos. I'm fascinated by the whole pop-star thing, and I think she's a really good pop songwriter. I do "Blind" as the bare bones song, to give people a different perspective on it."

Hear for Yourself: The sweetly tortured "To Love Somebody":

by Will Hermes

Kuenta i Tambu

Brett Russel

Kuenta i Tambu

Sounds Like: A super-crunk, blacklight warehouse party surrounded by four separate Carnival parades.

For Fans Of: Major Lazer, Buraka Som Sistema, Machel Montano

Why You Should Pay Attention: A go-hard blend of peak rave synths and traditional Afro-Curaçaoan tambú music, Kuenta i Tambú (or K i T, for short) translates as "words and drums" in the Caribbean language Papiamento. It's a spare distillation of the music these Amsterdam party-starters pay tribute to, "work songs" originating from slaves in the formerly Dutch-occupied island of Curaçao. Their bananas, just-released debut, Tambútronic, puts rhythm above all, alongside beat-blasts and dance-beseeching chants by gum-cracking lead vocalist Diamanta von Lieshdek. It's a "worldwide ting," as they say: high-impact, dutty-wining single "Jackhammer" has been remixed by like-minded stars of global bass music and upcoming dates around the world will leverage the party in 2014. (They're playing SXSW and doing a U.S. tour in early summer.)

They Say: "We played a block party in the Bronx, and I was dancing with this old lady, I think she must have been 70 or so," says Roël Calister, the group's mastermind. "And she was wining, going on her knees, you know! People went fanatic. I think it was the hypnotizing beats of our drums, the tambús, which are the most important part of our set." 

Hear for Yourself: "Jackhammer" shames dance-floor half-assers with von Lieshdek's motivational chants:

by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

lake street drive

Jarrod McCabe

Lake Street Dive

Sounds Like: Llewyn Davis's favorite pop group; Motown meets the Brill Building in jazzy, soulful, woulda-been Sixties chart toppers.

For Fans Of: Norah Jones, Pink Martini, Hurray for the Riff Raff

Why You Should Pay Attention: Launched as a country-jazz experiment at Boston's New England Conservatory in 2005, Lake Street Dive has evolved into the hardest-swinging pop quartet since Manhattan Transfer. Their upcoming second album, Bad Self Portraits, is a fresh, knowing collection of tunes that split the difference between Motown soul, Sixties pop zip, and British Invasion swagger. With award-winning jazz vocalist Rachael Price as their secret ingredient, LSD boasts an unflagging collective charisma and sense of humor that will take them far. Invited to join a roomful of idols at T Bone Burnett's Inside Llewyn Davis concert in New York, they found themselves mugging it up with Elvis Costello, who probably hasn't seen their sultry million-views YouTube take on the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back." But he should.

They Say: "We came out of the institutional jazz scene," says Price, "so it was a mischievous and crazy thing to decide to play three-chord pop. We wanted to make music that would garner younger fans, but we grew up listening to the Beatles and ended up playing music our parents love. We didn't think about demographics, just 'let's play pop.'"

Hear for Yourself: Price delivers the goods in the loping, explosive "Rental Love":

by Richard Gehr

alcest

William Lacalmonti

Alcest

Sounds Like: If the Cocteau Twins discovered a long-lost triplet who had slugged it out in space-pop groups and post-rock bands.

For Fans Of: Slowdive, Mogwai, the adjective "ethereal"

Why You Should Pay Attention: Literally "post-metal," this Parisian duo traded in the leather gauntlets and "corpse paint" they wore in their halcyon days as teenaged black-metal hellions for a dream-pop second act with sweaters and clear complexions. The eight flickering, shimmery tracks on the group's fourth and latest, Shelter, have more in common genetically with Sigur Rós than Satyricon. Moody and serene, the album plays like metal in photo negative: The guitar lines jangle and reverberate, the drums wash in and out, and frontman Neige sings in a way that seems absolument devoid of machismo. Their transformation was convincing enough they were able to get Sigur Rós buddy Birgir Jón Birgisson to produce and dream-pop O.G. Neil Halstead of Slowdive to sing on the appropriately Slowdive-y "Away."

They Say: "I felt a bit bored about all this metal stuff from some years ago," says Neige. "A lot of old fans are completely lost. They don't understand why a band that could be metal before would change to something else. People think they know better than me what Alcest is. It's crazy.

"In Australia, we had a mosh in the audience, which was quite funny. This music is very, very calm and very serene and there was almost a fight in the audience. It's so funny when you play this very dreamy and ethereal music and you see guys moshing. It's completely weird."

Hear for Yourself: The intoxicating, splendiferous, Homeric 10-minute album closer "Délivrance":

by Kory Grow

angel olsen

Zia Anger

Angel Olsen

Sounds Like: Sometimes even the Alternative Nation gets the blues

For Fans Of: PJ Harvey, the Breeders, Sharon Van Etten

Why You Should Pay Attention: Will Oldham called on Olsen to sing on his 2011 album Wolfroy Goes to Town and her quivering, angelic voice often stole the show. She's currently Bon Iver's labelmate on indie powerhouse Jagjaguwar and her upcoming second album, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, fluctuates between sparse songs of introspection and bluesy numbers that still can convey optimism. Case in point: The first song is called "Unfucktheworld."

She Says: "[My music] changes from quiet melodies to rock and roll – some might venture to say its psych-folk. I hope listeners can pick up on something meaningful and, if not, something fun."

Hear for Yourself: Twang-punker "Hi-Five"

by Mike Ayers

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