10 New Artists You Need to Know: March 2014 - Rolling Stone
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10 New Artists You Need to Know: March 2014

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

10 New Artists You Need to Know: March 2014

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: Jetta's emotional pop, Future Islands' beaming new romanticisms, Lil Herb's Chicago rap update, Sturgill Simpson's honky-tonk revisionism and more.

Lil Hern

Danny Manhattan

Lil Herb

Sounds Like: The re-re-rebirth of New York rap, one time zone over. Lil Herb, often working with collaborator Lil Bibby, is a Chicago teenager obsessed with writing bars and telling stories: the raw reality of Chief Keef and Lil Reese's "drill music," but molded to resemble traditionally lyrical hip-hop.

For Fans Of: Mobb Deep, Dipset, Jadakiss

Why You Should Pay Attention: In the wake of Keef's success, various artists and scenes – like Chance the Rapper's hippie-soul and the cotton-candy pop of "bop" – have sprouted up to make the city's hip-hop vibrant and diverse. But Chicago's best lyricist may well be Herb. On his recently released debut solo mixtape Welcome to Fazoland, the 18-year-old proves to be a commanding but slippery MC, whether he's talking shit ("At the Light"), flossing ("Designer") or repenting ("Mamma I'm Sorry"). But he was tabbed as a star long ago: Early last year, Drake posted a video to Instagram rapping along to Herb on his and Bibby's early single "Kill Shit." 

He Says: "I don't really consider myself as drill music, cause I really don't know what drill music is. I don't follow up on drill music. I'm interested in real music, real bars, real lyrics, real stories. You gotta make some type of stance… [Drake rapping our song] was a pretty good moment, it built some excitement. But I just like to stay humble, so I didn't really let it get to my head. It didn't mean anything. We don't have a song with Drake or anything. I appreciate the shoutout from Drake, but we just stay humble and keep working. Before Drake I got a shoutout from Waka Flocka and Kevin Durant, and I just took it as a reason to go harder."

Hear for Yourself: Check him out on the first half of the Drake-endorsed "Kill Shit" with Lil Bibby. JORDAN SARGENT


Mathew Morand


Sounds Like: A group of young 20-somethings having a Dischord-ant nervous breakdown.

For Fans Of: At the Drive-In, Unwound, people who pronounce Ian MacKaye's last name properly

Why You Should Pay Attention: With feedback-saturated guitars, catchy melodies, and the sore-throat yowls of frontman Shehzaad Jiwani, Greys sound like lost transmissions from the underground punk scene that thrived in the years between Nirvana and Limp Bizkit. The group hails from the same Toronto punk scene that gave birth to the similarly anachronistic guitar aggressors in Metz and operatic post-post-hardcore howlers in Fucked Up. Regardless of their pedigree, Greys have packed their debut, If Anything, with their own brand of angsty riffs and fist-banging chants. "That kind of guitar-rock revival that is happening now wasn't happening when we formed," says Jiwani says. "We just wanted to write songs that sound like bands like we like." 

They Say: "I was 13 when At the Drive-In put out Relationship of Command," says Jiwani. "It was insane. The heaviest thing I'd ever heard was Korn. So [ATDI] was just otherworldly to me. You see these guys with Afros bouncing about the stage, and you're like, OK, this puts everything I am listening to shame. This is a whole universe of art and culture I'd never heard of before."

If Anything's lead track, "Picciotto," pays tribute to another hero, the guitarist and vocalist of Fugazi. "Guy Picciotto is my favorite frontman and guitar player and, in a lot of things we've played, you can hear me trying to rip them off vocally," Jiwani says. "The song is not specifically about him. But he's the coolest, have you ever seen [the Fugazi movie] Instrument, man? He's the coolest. . . I don't know how I would feel if someone wrote a song about me. I'd think, 'That's cool,' but I'd want to keep a distance from them maybe."

Hear for Yourself: The frazzled, anxious, innately punk-rock commentary on classism, "Use Your Delusion." KORY GROW

Ana Tijoux

Inti Gajardo G.

Ana Tijoux

Sounds Like: A classic hip-hop party – held somewhere in the Andes

For Fans Of: Jean Grae, Manu Chao, Flora Purim

Why You Should Pay Attention: Ana Tijoux is an old-soul in the rap world. The fierce French-Chilean has been honing her serious estilo since the Nineties, first in the popular Chilean hip-hop group Makiza, and later as a global pop star who collaborated with Julieta Venegas, toured with Manu Chao, and got a co-sign from Thom Yorke. The latter accolades were for her single "1977," off her eponymous and well-received 2009 album, which later appeared in Breaking Bad and Broad City. Though she's released two albums since, "1977"'s classic hip-hop style and banda-influenced horn section predicted the turn she's taking on her latest, Vengo, which celebrates her love of old school hip-hop but forgoes samples in favor of traditional South American instruments like Andean charango and Colombian gaita. These underscore lyrics about indigenous culture, feminism, and most importantly – giving birth to her second child. Plus, when was the last time you heard a pan-flute solo played on a rap song? Timbaland samples do not count. 

She Says: "I've never had a big connection the way I'd like to with the planet, because I've always lived in big cities and buildings as my way of life. So I had the chance to travel to Ecuador to see a friend of mine who works with indigenous people, and had amazing conversations with him – it was a moment where I understood. I was like, you know what? I should make a song about bringing these ideals back again, almost in a manifesto of the planet being born again, and understanding the history of countries with new eyes, decolonizing everything that you've learned. Reclaiming our identities and relearning everything in our lives."

Hear for Yourself: Title track "Vengo" is a boom-bap banger hinged on Andean pan flute, underscoring Tijoux's determinate raps in Spanish about "decoloniz[ing] what we were taught" and celebrating "our black hair/our high cheekbones." JULIANNE ESCOBEDO SHEPHERD

Sturgill Simpson


Sturgill Simpson

Sounds Like: Merle Haggard with a stack of books on cosmology and metaphysics.

For Fans Of: Buck Owens, Gram Parsons, Jason Isbell, storytellers who make you say "I used to know a dude like that. Wonder when he's getting out of jail?"

Why You Should Pay Attention: Simpson's debut, last year's self-released High Top Mountain, was one of 2013's best under-the-radar country records, full of classic, roughneck, pedal-steel-spiked honky-tonk jams with lyrical bon-mots like "They call me King Turd up here on Shit Mountain," delivered in a handsome barrel-aged baritone. His forthcoming Metamodern Sounds In Country Music stretches his vintage sound even further with dub effects and lines like "Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, DMT, they all changed the way I see/But love's the only thing that's ever saved my life." 

He Says: "I've had some profoundly powerful psychedelic experiences. To each their own, and maybe they're not for everybody. But I figure something that forces you to look at things that you're not able to, helps you work on being be a better human, raises your level of empathy and lowers your ego, that's probably good for everybody once in awhile.

Hear for Yourself: Check the pill-poppin', Dukes of Hazzard-watchin' narrator of "You Can Have the Crown."" WILL HERMES

white sea

Anouk Bertin

White Sea

Sounds Like: The soundtrack to an Eighties science-fiction-fantasy-romance-drama. Particularly, the slow-motion sex scene.

For Fans Of: M83, Kate Bush, beds with gauzy white curtains

Why You Should Pay Attention: In Cold Blood is Morgan Kibby's debut album as White Sea, but she's already received accolades for her work as a touring member and frequent collaborator with M83. She co-wrote three songs on the band's 2011 album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming, including "Midnight City," which sold 920,000 downloads in the U.S. and garnered Kibb got her first Grammy nomination. Fans of M83 will love the futuristic and cinematic drama of White Sea's instrumental arrangements, soaring voices, and crashing bells. But this is a break-up-and-rebound record at its core. On songs like "For My Love," she and her lover sound like they're either separated by a few time zones or exist in different dimensions, but everything comes crashing down when she notes one of their reasons for separating: "But you just want that pussy." 

She Says: "I love drama. I come from a theater background and high emotion and a penchant for showmanship are in the fiber of my being. "For My Love" is truly a mishmash of things thematically though. It's first about losing someone, the repeated empty actions that happen after intense loss, and then it becomes about a tearful, giving of oneself to someone new. That new, open and joyous lust that happens in a honeymoon period. It's also got an underlying feeling of desperation which is a huge theme in the album. I don't think there was a song I sang that, at some point, I didn't cry while recording."

Hear for Yourself: Press play on the epic and ardent "They Don't Know." Then climb onto a car roof to stare at the stars. JESSICA SUAREZ


Cristopher Cichocki


Sounds Like: Nimble-tongued, beat-fractured L.A. hip-hop spilled over the abrasive crunches, squeals, clangs, slurps, and static of experimental musique concrète.

For Fans Of: Death Grips, Run the Jewels, Public Enemy

Why You Should Pay Attention: Their Sub Pop debut, clppng, is definitely the first album to have a Gangsta Boo cameo and a John Cage cover. Hip-hop is headed to noisier terrain, and the Los Angeles trio does Kanye and Death Grips one better by recording with actual noises: The tip-tapping beat of "Work Work" was made by rolling a ball-bearing in a metal Thermos, smashing cinder blocks, and crumpling a beer can. William Hutson, who co-produces with Jonathan Snipes first mentally connected the dots between hip-hop and musique concrète when he first heard the latter in high school. "It sounded like, 'Oh, people are doing what Public Enemy was doing, but they're just losing the regular rhythms," says Hutson. "I wanna say maybe specifically, it was Drew [Daniel] from Matmos in about 2000, I was reading something he was writing where he argued that the baby laughing in that Aaliyah song, "Are You That Somebody" – that was Drew's argument that hip-hop and musique concrète are the same thing. I always go back and remember that as some sort of justification. This is what we're doing, that's what they're doing, We're just part of a tradition." 

They Say: Some of rapper Daveed Diggs's nimblest rhymes are on "Get Up," a song performed over most people's least favorite sound, the incessant beep beep beep of an alarm clock. "I think that beat manages to at once propel the song the way a beat should, but also be kind of the harshest thing we've done," says Diggs. "Using something that is really painful, generally, as the percussive element for a beat, I think is cool…. To me that song ends up sounding really beautiful – but maybe that only happens after you listened to it 200 times. It was terribly hard for Steve [Kaplan], who was mixing and engineering the album. I had to constantly turn it down in the studio. It never bothered me. But, I also don't wake up to an alarm clock [laughs]. I'm an artist, so days don't start on any regular time."

Hear for Yourself: The ball-bearing and cinder block symphony "Work, Work" featuring Cocc Pistol Cree. CHRISTOPHER R. WEINGARTEN

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