Home TV TV Lists

10 New Artists You Need to Know: August 2014

Meet the rising stars of rock, EDM, country, R&B and more acts shaping your tomorrow


Courtesy of Artists

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: Milky Chance's chill electro-folk, Joyce Manor's emo revivalism,  the Canadian indie rock of Alvvays and a duo with most important response to "bro country" yet.

Gorgon City

Courtesy of Gorgon City

Gorgon City

Sounds Like: Anthemic soundtracks for classy conquest of the club, hygienic house music made in bacteria-free environs

For Fans Of: Disclosure, Katy B, Sam Smith

Why You Should Pay Attention: In a kind of pairing that happens bloody often in London, Matt Robson-Scott and Kye Gibbon came together over an affinity for the legacy of club music at its lushest and deepest extremes. House music in all its soulful, floating, weightless glory powered their formative 2013 single "Real," and since then the Gorgon City sound has been streamlined and buffed to an evermore immaculate shine. "Ready for Your Love," a skipping club banger with impassioned vocals by Brit belter MNEK, drifted toward the top of the UK charts earlier this year, and "Here For You," with throaty cooing by Laura Welsh, followed suit. Each of those three singles figures on Sirens, a debut album due out October 7 and featuring other prominent vocal turns by Katy B, Erik Hassle and Jennifer Hudson (yup), as well as songwriting support from Disclosure crony Jimmy Napes.

They Say: "At first it was a little bit random," Robson-Scott says of the name, suggestive of stone-faced menace and mystery (gorgons were snake-haired creatures in Greek mythology). "We were working with some reggae samples, and there's an reggae guy called Ninjaman whose alter ego is Don Gorgon. We made the connection to Medusa, and now it's turned into its own thing and we created a world around it. It's like an ancient Greek world with modern futuristic vibes: sunshine, beaches, people having good times with music, enjoying life — kind of like Ibiza but with history involved." As for a less idyllic but maybe more important setting, Robson-Scott says Gorgon City is jazzed by what's going on with dance music in America: "It feels like it's changed a lot in the past six months, with Disclosure on the charts and all over the radio. There's a feeling that people are getting it a little better now."

Hear for Yourself: "Unmissable" shows of all of Gorgon City's strengths, with a fleet house beat at work beneath a purring bass line and soulful vocals by Zak Abel. By Andy Battaglia

Joyce Manor

Dan Monick

Joyce Manor

Sounds Like: Disappointment in two minutes or less.

For Fans Of: Jets to Brazil, Jawbreaker, Weezer

Why You Should Pay Attention: The Southern California punks recently put out their third album, Never Hungover Again, which showcases their aptitude for writing short but not-so-sweet Nineties-style emo. Songs like record's "Christmas Card" are so confessional and raw that they've gotten frontman Barry Johnson in trouble with his girlfriend ("Looking at your face in the dark/You don't even look that smart"), even when he says the songs aren't specifically about her. But regardless of their inspirations, the group's angsty yawps have earned them a place on this year's FYF Fest, upcoming gigs with Des Ark in the States in late summer and a European headlining trek this fall. 

They Say: "I was surprised at how people would say, 'It seems like you're so angry and so sad and on the verge of suicide always. Are you OK?,'" Johnson says about the reception to his lyrics. "I just thought that was normal. I'm happy a lot of the time. It would be weird for me to write a song about all the good times we've shared. I don't know. It's just corny."

Hear for Yourself: The fast-and-furious 65-second salvo "Catalina Fight Song," which has a video featuring the band getting battered in a martial arts studio. "We're all scrawny, not-athletic types," Johnson says. "We were all just super, super sore the next day. I've never done anything like that. I've never been flipped like that… We only had, like, two hours, so we went from doing rolls on the ground by ourselves to being flipped in a matter of 30 minutes. It was fine but it was definitely scary. I think the people at the jujitsu school assumed we'd be more athletic, period." By Kory Grow

Melissa Steel

Courtesy of Melissa Steel

Melissa Steel

Sounds Like: A portable beach radio that's able to pick up and configure some of summer 2014's hottest trends — breakbeat diva house one moment, dancehall-touched R&B the next.

For Fans Of: Gyptian's slow jams, shows sponsored by streetwear brands, that three-volume compilation of unreleased Cassie songs

Why You Should Pay Attention: A former classmate of One Direction's Zayn Malik, Melissa Steel made her rise to Number One the old-fashioned way: Gig like crazy, write as many songs as possible and find an A&R who can put you on the right tune. "It sounded like something I would write," she says of that breakthrough hit, "Kisses for Breakfast," a track she loved so much that she recorded her vocals with a horrible infection rather than risk letting it pass her by. Now that it has topped her native England's R&B singles chart, Steel is looking ahead, recording songs for a debut LP, listening to as much music as possible and working, like so many of her generation, to become the next Aaliyah.

She Says: "I make R&B, but I'm putting my album together now and trying to keep the island feel infused as well — plus a little trap and drum-and-bass. I think it has a good vibe — energetic music, real music, very empowering to other girls. The other day I was in Topshop, and these nine-year-old girls came up and asked me for my autograph, which was really cute."

Hear for Yourself: Over handclaps, acoustic guitar and a simple piano melody, "Kisses for Breakfast" casually describes a love so passionate that even afternoon delight won't do. By Nick Murray

The Bombay Royale

The Mysterious Lady, The Tiger & The Skipper

Nick Harrison

The Bombay Royale

Sounds Like: Sitars, tablas, and Hindi, Bengali, and Tamil vocals recombine with spy rock, porn funk, and spaghetti-Western strings in a colorful, contemporary update of classic Bollywood maximalism

For Fans Of: Dengue Fever, Asha Bhosle, the Village People

Why You Should Pay Attention: Masked and costumed for maximum visual impact, this Melbourne-based 11-piece crew covered Bollywood hits like RD Burman's "Dum Maroo Dum" and Kalyani-Anandji's "Theme from Don" before evolving into a self-mythologizing song-and-dance spectacle unto itself. With each member assuming an iconic B-movie persona (the Lady, the Tiger, etc.), the Royale is fashioning an ongoing, open-ended narrative from video to video and album to album — Dr. Dre meets Dr. No on The Island of Dr. Electrico, their latest. Having played everywhere from Glastonbury to GlobalFest, the group hits the road in Australia with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings in September.

They Say: "We're obviously a Melbourne band playing in 2014," explains Bombay Royale founder-saxophonist Andy Williamson, a.k.a. the Skipper, "so we're not trying to sound like a Bombay band in the Seventies. At the same time, it's a love affair and we're having a good conversation with it." How do Western audiences take to the show? "I guess I always imagined beautiful female groupies. But at one particular Melbourne club there were four Skippers dancing together in the front row, which was fairly confusing."

Hear for Yourself: The Skipper abducts the Tiger and jets to Dr. Electrico's hideout in a cliff-hanging clip for "Henna Henna." By Richard Gehr

Big Data

Brendan Walter

Big Data

Sounds Like: MGMT if they were paranoid androids

For Fans Of: Phantogram, Phoenix, Ratatat

Why You Should Pay Attention: As of last summer, New York-born and Brooklyn-based musician Alan Wilkis was working in music licensing by day and making tracks on nights and weekends, self-releasing his electronic-tinged rock under his own name. At a friend's wedding, he met someone who worked in information architecture and kept talking about "big data" and the name stuck. A fortuitous meeting with Rochester, New York's Joywave led Wilkis and vocalist Daniel Armbruster to work on music together. Obsessed with how life in the internet age leads to paranoia and surveillance, Big Data also teamed up with designer Rajeev Basu to create Facehawk, an interactive music video that hijacks your Facebook account to the strain of the group's breakout single "Dangerous." Thanks to an extreme, trenchant and borderline NSFW video that's racked up over a million YouTube views, the song soared to the top of the Alternative Nation charts on Sirius and is now the Number One song on the Billboard Alternative chart. This month, they made their late night debut on Seth Meyers.

They Say: "On the 'Dangerous' video, we worked with a horror movie special effects guy whose trick to making something stuff look really gross is to put raw bacon on the surface," says Wilkis. "The first proper head explosion is covered with raw bacon with fake blood poured on it. The first girl headbutts it and gets bacon slime all over her. At video's end, they make out and the second girl was vegan and totally grossed out by the taste of raw bacon." A hit video also means that Wilkis has been traveling like crazy. "I've been on 11 planes in 13 days," he says. "I went to L.A. to try and finish the Big Data album. I also DJed in Vegas at a huge hacker convention called Def Con. I spoke on a panel to youth hackers, half talking about music technology and half about what my favorite hockey team was."

Hear for Yourself: Big Data's infectious, Facebook-hacking hit "Dangerous." By Andy Beta

Lee Gamble

Mehdi LaCoste

Lee Gamble

Sounds Like: A half-remembered vision of the electronic Nineties; a foggy, slow-motion rave near David Lynch's Lost Highway.

For Fans Of: The Haxan Cloak, Boards of Canada, Wolf Eyes

Why You Should Pay Attention: 37-year-old Lee Gamble, raised in Birmingham but living in London, is of the first generation of U.K. kids to grow up with electronic music as popular music. "The alternative you had in the early Nineties was this fucking terrible Britpop shit," he says. "I'm definitely not walking around with a fucking parka on, driving a scooter and pretending I'm one of the Beatles. Fuck that." In turn, his music as an adult plays like forgotten, blurry, techno Rorschach text: the textures of vintage house and jungle used to create dark, claustrophobic, strangled thumps. His upcoming album KOCH, is his third album for PAN, currently the hottest art-techno label in the game. However, the fact that he's "of-the-moment" probably isn't much of a concern for someone contextualizing vintage sounds. "This idea of constantly pushing on and having new, new, new all the time. Is it possible to keep up with that as an artist?" he says. "Generally the stuff I tend to warm to seems to be stuff that's gestated, has a bit of time, has a bit of depth in it. When I DJ… it's nice to pull back and say, 'Look this record sounds like a record that people would go crazy for now, but it actually was made in '94. It's still only 20 years ago, it's not that old. It's not fucking Mozart."

He Says: "I kind of grew up as more of a raver. I don't think think I saw a band until I was about 25 — someone with a guitar onstage. I had some sort of weird aversion. I remember going to this one, it was on a boat, and it was [U.K. grindcore band] Extreme Noise Terror. And there's me standing in the middle like, I got a decent spot to watch; and then they start and then it just fucking goes mental, like mad moshing. I didn't know what to do, I never experienced this. Got right to the back and just stood at the bar. 'OK, This isn't like a rave.'"

Well, do you still go dancing? "Nah, I never did," he says. "I was always at the back. I was more going to the jungle clubs. It wasn't some white gloves, waving hands in the air and hugging each other. It was more, 'Heads down.'" You'd try to get the best trainers you could and the best jumper you could and not fuck 'em up. You wouldn't wanna be jumping around in some sweaty pit all night."

Hear for Yourself: The throbbing "Motor System" is like a Detroit techno banger as enjoyed from a toilet stall. By Christopher R. Weingarten

Show Comments