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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

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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.

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

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