The Top 20 Most Underrated Artists Of ACL Fest 2013
Who doesn’t love a music festival, right? It’s all the best parts of a concert–music, friends, alcohol and drugs…just lots and lots more of them! Each year, more and more of them are popping up all over the place. As you probably already know, one of the biggest and baddest is always Austin City Limits. And it has to be one of the most incredible line ups this year–hell, maybe even one of the best ever! I mean we’re talking about Vampire Weekend, Queens Of The Stone Age, Kendrick Lamar, Atoms For Peace, Local Natives, Phoenix, The Cure, Wilco, The National, Depeche Mode, Muse, and Kings Of Leon. Is it just us, or does 2013 seem like the year that each fest is trying to out do and top each other?
The larger indie music sites always publish guides which present a good summary to the impressive bill, but who doesn’t already know about most of these celebrity performers? Yet one of the best reasons to go is to discover new music! Of course most attending will certainly want to see Passion Pit, Arctic Monkeys, Fun., Haim, Tame Impala, Franz Ferdinand, Grimes, and Portugal.The Man. But for each of these, there are a ton of massively talented, vastly underrated artists they don’t get the attention they deserve.
Anyone who has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows what it feels like when looking towards the bottom of the schedule. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. That’s where we come in to help. Live music festivals are still, despite all the advanced technology of 2013, one of the best methods of discovering new music. This isn’t necessarily meant as a planning guide for deciding who to catch, unless you are really late! But what happens if you don’t have time to catch an artist you wanted to see, or it’s too crowded?
We aren’t providing first hand coverage, but are keeping up with online coverage like many of you. These are some artists already turning up everywhere this year, and others we expect to follow them very soon. The list includes everything from pop to hip-hop to EDM to folk. So in our best and on going effort to cover the best in indie music, we present our picks for The Top 20 Most Underrated Artists Of ACL Fest 2013. The list is not presented in any logical or sequential order whatsoever.
Cherub is a sexy electro-pop duo that is the dance love-child of 80’s funk and pop-music from the future. The members of Cherub, Jordan Kelley and Jason Huber, share a love for honest original music and vibrant live performance, with a common goal to share a little bit of sex, a little bit of drugs, and a whole lot of love with people across the globe.
Cherub’s music is a fresh electrified take on risqué pop music that brings to mind timeless artists such as Prince or Zapp and Roger, and more contemporary artists like Pharrell and The Dream. With a live show that is bouncing with energy, Cherub dances their way into the hearts of audiences from the first falsetto hook, until the very last delay filters out.
Named one of Paste Magazine’s “12 Tennessee Bands you Should Listen to Now,” Cherub has had a massive 2012, with appearances at such major festivals as Bonnaroo, SXSW, Electric Forest, Hangout Fest, Snowball Music Fest, and with STS9 at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
After receiving a warm response worldwide to the digital release of the band’s first record, Man of the Hour, and touring throughout the US and Mexico, Cherub released their follow up MoM & DaD in February 2012. The album includes the smash viral hit “Doses and Mimosas,” which in August 2012 hit #1 on Hype Machine’s most talked about songs chart.
The latest batch of Cherub songs brings a fresh, uptempo electro feel to the familiar pop sensibilities showcased on their first record. Jordan Kelley’s studio production, clever songcraft, and silky smooth falsetto are complimented perfectly by Jason Huber’s live production and tube-driven guitar work. Cherub’s versatility in songwriting and dance music production blurs conventional genre barriers. Ranging from grooving heartfelt ballads to risqué club bangers, Cherub takes the throwback vibes of old drum machines and washed out keyboards and marries them with timeless writing and a very modern approach to music production and performance. Playful guitar licks and lush synthesizer textures dance around in the mix, as listeners are treated to sing-a-long hook after hook the entire way through the tunes.
“Melding a club-spawn, skull-shaking low end with a wall of guitars and talkbox pyrotechnics, the duo comprising Cherub also sport the silky smooth pipes to spread their appeal to all four corners of the dance floor.” – Nashville Scene
For Fans Of: Moon Taxi, Ghost Beach, The Bright Light Social Hour, Reptar, Dan Croll, St. Lucia
2. The Orwells
The Orwells are five guys from Chicago, IL, playing rock’n’ roll music with an umatched ragged intensity. Cousins Mario Cuomo (vocals) and Dominic Corso (guitar), twins Grant (bass) and Henry Brinner (drums), and Matt O’Keefe (guitar) have been playing together since late 2009, when they were in 9th grade. Although one might try to simply sum up their sound as garage or punk, it isn’t that simple. The Orwells sound comes from a deeper, different place that is both long forgotten and yet timeless. Their live show is frenetic, charged and feels like it could go off the rails at any moment-with the audience in full participation. Filter called them “universal, relevant thematically to anyone who’s received their high school diploma, and relevant sonically simply in that it is good music played well.”
Other Voices EP was released on June 25th on [East End/Canvasback] and [East End/National Anthem] in the UK. Producer Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio/ Yeah Yeah Yeahs) was brought on to produce a new version of “Other Voices”. The EP also includes an Audiotree live version of their track “Mallrats”, which Pitchfork called, “the band’s shredding, hyper-repetitive earworm single,” as well as their own version of “Other Voices” and new tracks “Blood Bubbles” and “Head”, also produced by The Orwells. With an EP, countless tour dates, and more music on the horizon, 2013 and beyond will mark the emergence of The Orwells.
For Fans Of: Bleached, FIDLAR, Mikal Cronin, Bass Drum Of Death, King Tuff, Jeff The Brotherhood
Widowspeak is an American band comprised of Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas, known for its dreamy, western-tinged take on rock and roll. The outfit formed in 2010 and released two singles in 2011 (Harsh Realm, Gun Shy) followed by a debut album (self-titled) in the summer of that year, all on Brooklyn label Captured Tracks. Widowspeak was praised for its reverential spaciousness, Hamilton’s haunting voice, and Thomas’s spindly, Morricone-esque guitar lines; both drawing on 1950’s pop ballads and 1970’s psych, creating languid call-and-response melodies. The band then toured extensively, wearing in their warm, nostalgic sound.
Widowspeak began to write what would become their second record, Almanac, at the start of 2012, as popular fears of the apocalypse became imminently close to realization. Though not totally convinced of catastrophic disaster coinciding with the year’s conclusion, Hamilton nevertheless began writing lyrics seeped in doomsday imagery, darkness and dread, inspired by the idea of such a universal experience of the end. The two started making demos in their practice space. Thomas shaped the ideas into songs, experimenting with denser arrangements and grander gestures. Black and white became Kodachrome, subdued became saturated. Widowspeak explored Appalachian melodies and desert rhythms, Saharan to the Southwest, as well as incorporated acoustic instruments and slide guitar, stemming from a shared love of Neil Young.
As the compositions were brought to life, they became something new, something unlike the fatalistic seeds from whence they’d grown. These songs were no longer concerned with the end of the Earth, but with the life and death of seasons, youth, love, and the cyclical nature of all things. The band chose the name Almanac in tribute to those annual tomes which have eternally provided predictions of weather patterns, lunar and solar movement, and astronomical phenomena. But the songs are also about the changing times we find ourselves in: “the good old days” at odds with the hyperactive present, and the sense of loss, but also adventure, which that provides.
The album was recorded by Kevin McMahon (Swans, Real Estate) in a hundred year old barn in the Hudson River Valley of New York State during the transition from summer to fall. Producing with McMahon, Thomas expanded on the band’s demos, crafting layers of guitar, Rhodes piano, organ and harmonium.
Almanac was released by Captured Tracks on January 22, 2013. If Widowspeak’s first record serves as a collection of postcards, sent from destinations traveled to in that first transformative year, then their second is the guidebook written after they’d found their sonic home and inhabited it fully. They are releasing a new EP, The Swamps, due out October 29.
For Fans Of: Atlas Sound, Still Corners, Lower Dens, Diiv, Blouse, Veronica Falls
4. MS MR
Edward Scissorhands. The board game Operation. Sonic Youth. Claudia Schiffer? Plastic monkeys! These are among the pop-culture artifacts that appear in the epilepsy-inducing slideshow video for “Hurricane,” the first single from MS MR. Until recently shrouded in anonymity, the atmospheric indie-pop duo from New York City has proven universally intriguing, earning breathless attention from Pitchfork, Forbes, and Perez Hilton alike.
In the trip-hoppy “Hurricane,” smoky-voiced Lizzy Plapinger sings, “Welcome to the inner workings of my mind/So dark and foul I can’t disguise,” while a push-and-pull of echoey strings and staccato percussion (courtesy of the producer stylings of Ms Mr other half Max Hershenow) envelop her voice. Technically, the song, which hit No. 1 on Hype Machine, is about Hurricane Irene, which careened towards Gotham last year. The video? Not so much.
“I see something different every time I watch it,” concedes Max. “The video is sort of a cross section of the images we’ve collected on Tumblr, which we essentially use as an ongoing mood board.” If there’s one philosophy driving MS MR (pronounced “miss mister”) —dabblers in chaos theory who’re as goofy as they are thoughtful—it’s media-theorist Marshall McLuhan’s famous observation that the medium is the message. MS MR are so committed to that sentiment they handpicked each “Hurricane” image themselves.
“We’re interested in exploring the nature of mixed media and collage,” says Lizzy, “and how music transcends all these various platforms.” Chief among them: MS MR’s lively—if thoroughly mystifying—Tumblr page, which they unprecedentedly used to debut their second EP, the critically acclaimed Candy Bar Creep Show, song-by-song. (Their first release, Ghost City USA, was a self-released collection of demos.)
The EP, which sets the foundation for MS MR’s still-untitled album (out early next spring), references everything from ’80s to’90s pop, doo-wop to country. That kitchen-sink aesthetic won the attention of vintage-sound wiz Tom Elmhirst (Adele, Amy Winehouse), who mixed and did some additional production on it at the legendary Electric Lady Studios. “Tom helped us more fully realize the album as we imagined it” says Max. “He responds to music more emotionally and viscerally than anyone I’ve ever met. It was the perfect match.”
The aural Jenga that is MS MR was born of Lizzy and Max’s vast inspirations. “We both listen to a lot of different music from all different genres and time periods,” says Max. “So we like to approach each song as its own project and experiment with combining unexpected elements.”
It’s a stroke of serendipity that Lizzy and Max are even making music together. They may giggle uncontrollably and complete each other’s thoughts, but these Vassar alums never really knew each other during college. Lizzy was a media-studies major, releasing records under her burgeoning imprint Neon Gold. (She’s gone on to release records by artists such as Passion Pit and Ellie Goulding.) Max was an urban-studies major with a concentration in modern dance, and started composing music for his choreographies. They met fleetingly through friends. But really connected after they graduated, when Lizzy needed an unbiased sounding board for her secret project, and Max was looking for new artists to collaborate with.
“There was sort of an element of Internet dating to it,” Max says, laughing. “Throw caution to the wind! Send someone an email, hope for the best.” He liked what he heard, which only terrified Lizzy more. “I was nervous because I had never sung in front of anyone before, so when he told me he was interested I actually put it off for a few months.”
They finally connected three months later in December 2010. To find their footing as collaborators, they recorded a sweeping cover of Patrick Wolf’s “Time of My Life” in Max’s closet-turned-studio. Curious to see where else the music could take them, they decided to give it another go and try their hand at some original material. This led to the swelling, mercurial tune we know now as “Bones.” “It’s quite a personal song and definitely set a tone for the band,” says Lizzy. “In person, we’re quite upbeat and bubbly, but the music is a much more honest space and outlet for us.”
Only now, it’s become public. MS MR finally unveiled their live personae in March with a rocked-out gig at Brooklyn’s respected Glasslands Gallery. “I think people maybe expected two people on stage with a laptop, but we were adamant from the beginning that we would never do that!” says Lizzy. “We wanted the live show to do the recoded tracks justice,” continues Max, “so we perform as a band to give it the lushness and energy we aim for while recording.” Since their Glasslands show, they’ve moved on to bigger venues while touring with Marina and the Diamonds, an outing they affectionately refer to as their “training-wheels tour.”
“Really,” continues Max, “this whole experience has been about discovering undiscovered parts of ourselves.”
For Fans Of: Charli XCX, Haim, Chvrches, Geographer, The Neighbourhood, Daughter
5. Hundred Waters
Hundred Waters was woven together under the spell of a viscous Floridian summer, from a home on its own in the woods amidst a city. The music sets sail into ancient seas, subtly shifting through worlds of howling silence, borealic tales, and briarpatched exotica, ultimately arriving into the arms of a caring embrace.
Nicole Miglis narrates the journey alongside Trayer Tryon, Paul Giese, Zach Tetreault, and Sam Moss, in Hundred Waters’ debut release. The album was composed, recorded, torn apart, reshaped, spat on, shined, and tucked in at their Gainesville home through a method of remote collaboration and thoughtful solitude, reconvening at the helm to gather their threads into rope, and pull.
They are signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label.
For Fans Of: Freelance Whales, Mac Demarco, Doldrums, Blue Hawaii , Alt-J, The Luyas
I once came very close to dying (bug-bite, failed organs), and though my life was spared thanks to thanks to modern medicine and a kidney given to me by my father, nonetheless I live with a persisting sense that my time is borrowed. My resolution–what I intend to do with my finite allotment– is to reach some small, yet conclusive understanding of my life in particular and the world in general; an understanding accomplished, in part, through a combination of music and words.
The last record we made, Hunger & Thirst, is a record that purposefully confuses physical sickness with ontological sickness, i.e. that most desires are only symptoms of the desire to be someone else. This new record picks up where we left off, though this time “purposefully confusing” the idea of time as a place. It imagines that my past is a composite of old houses and apartment buildings, that my memories are these little artifacts strewn about, and then there’s me with a single candle, picking up the artifacts one at a time and examining them by the dim light.
Songs as personal as these perhaps ought to be burned or buried rather than be paraded before an audience. But there is something transfigurative in playing music with so many close friends–what starts out as a solemn, solitary attempt is turned into something both communal and cathartic. I think we even have fun at times.
A New Kind of House (the title itself is borrowed from the brilliant poetry of Zach Schomburg) was artfully recorded on location (our house) by repeat-collaborator Paul Laxer; the artwork was beautifully realized by Ricky Delucco, and we have Tender Loving Empire to thank for so tenderly helping us put out a record a second time.
kyle ray morton / 01.11.2011
For Fans Of: Hey Marseilles, Wild Child, Reptar, Kopecky Family Band, Lord Huron, Kishi Bashi
7. Dan Croll
Dan Croll is a fabulous new solo artist coming from Liverpool, UK with enough facets for a whole band. The British singer-songwriter moved to Liverpool when he was 18 to attend the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). While at LIPA, he won the national Songwriter of the Year award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund and was one of eight students picked to have a one-to-one with LIPA founder Sir Paul McCartney. Dan is currently signed to Turn First Records.
He’s the electro boy with links to the folkie scene, a multi-instrumentalist whose songwriting prowess has impressed everyone from former Beatles to legends in the world of fashion and design. Don’t be fooled by the Buddy Holly specs – he’s a one-time rugby fanatic whose career in the sport at the highest level was derailed by a broken leg – or by the sensitive acoustica: the 22-year-old is a former nightclub doorman who lives above a strip joint in Liverpool. You could say he’s gone From Nowhere to, well, everywhere, in less than 12 months. “It’s been mind-blowing,” he says. “I had every bit of faith in the single doing well, but I never imagined getting daytime Radio 1 plays, some tremendous support from 6 Music, or breaking 100,000 SoundCloud streams in two weeks.”
For Fans Of: Pacific Air, Pepper Rabbit, Haerts, Papa, The Colourist, SmallPools
8. White Denim
White Denim is a four-piece rock band from Austin, Texas. Their music draws influence from dub, psychedelic rock, blues, punk rock, progressive rock, soul, jazz, experimental rock with home-based recording, jamming approach, intense looping work and unusual song structures.
“It has taken five records to make one that sounds the way we do onstage,” says White Denim frontman James Petralli, explaining the bandʼs new full-length Corsicana Lemonade.
Set for release October 2013 via Downtown Records, Corsicana Lemonade puts White Denimʼs freewheeling stage ethos to wax and cements their position as a quintessential, unique American rock band. Featuring production on two songs and a full mix from iconic songwriter Jeff Tweedy, itʼs a revelation, merging the group’s manic live virtuosity into a rollicking ten-song mission statement.
The Austin, TX four-piece is no stranger to mixing crunchy punk energy, scorched psychedelia, Southern rock and knotty funk, but Corsicana Lemonade, the groupʼs fifth studio album, naturally covers so many bases that it plays like the greatest lost mixtape you could find on your dashboard during a hot summer afternoon.
Since its formation in 2005 and first string of EPs in 2007, White Denim has steadily expanded its sound. From the rootsy classicism of Last Day Of Summer (2010) and noisy sun-soaked sizzle of Fits (2009) to the soft-edged riffage of D (2011), the groupʼs commitment to fiery live performance, textured exploration and blissful interludes has never wavered. It peaks on Corsicana Lemonade.
Album sessions started in Chicago at fabled Wilco compound The Loft with Jeff Tweedy (and frequent production partner Tom Schick) manning the boards and providing motivation. The record was almost entirely recorded live with full-band takes, ensuring a lived-in live feel.
“Before, we had kind of leaned on the ability to give the impression of a full live band on our recordings. That Protools Rock is way more common than people know,” says Petralli. “On Corsicana Lemonade, it was actually the band playing together and doing takes as a whole. Whatever sounded best was what we stuck with.”
After the Chicago sessions, White Denim returned to their native Austin, holing- up in a house overlooking Lake Travis from a 100-foot cliff. There, with the help of local producer Jim Vollentine, the band designed a makeshift studio, wheeled in a bunch of crazy ’50s gear and solidified the mixture of hard and classic rock elements that they began exploring on their fourth album D.
The recordʼs songs feel at home with the skuzzy rawness of contemporaries like The Black Keys or Jack White and the Americana experimentalism of Wilco, while the band cites the classic rock shuffles of Thin Lizzy and The Allman Brothersʼ instrumental ecstasy as primary influences.
And now, with the support of leading publications like the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and Relix, as well as adoring crowds from Bonnaroo to their sold-out headlining tours, White Denim has fully arrived with a record to claim their own spot in America’s great rock lineage. They will soon be on tour as the opening support for Tame Impala.
For Fans Of: Bright Light Social Hour, Deerhoof, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Here We Go Magic, Hospitality, White Fence
9. Wild Nothing
Fresh out of the desert for their Coachella debut, Empty Estate is the follow-up EP to the critically acclaimed Nocturne, which received several year-end accolades including album of the year in Under The Radar and iTunes.
The 7-song EP was recorded in Brooklyn at Gary’s Electric by Al Carlson in January and finds Jack Tatum exploring new sounds, new instruments and a new voice for Wild Nothing. This is what Jack Tatum has to say about Empty Estate:
“This is a record that happened very fast for me. We had just gotten back from a particularly long European tour last November, our first supporting Nocturne, and I was feeling a lot of things. I found myself struggling with what it meant to be a musician, with what music in general meant to me and what part I could possibly play in it. Playing the same songs every night for months left me bored with myself. But when I got home, for the first time in awhile it suddenly seemed that the pressure was off. We didn’t have any tours planned for several months and I started to remember again why I love music in the first place. I listened to Brian Eno and David Bowie for weeks on end and felt like I was hearing them for the first time. I took a trip to Miami with my girlfriend. I visited my family. I felt free to try things musically that I would have stifled before. The songs on this EP were recorded over a 10 day period and are a reflection of this time. Of all the frustrations and successes and moments of peace in between.”
They will be the opening tour support for the upcoming Local Natives tour.
For Fans Of: Diiv, Mac Demarco, Still Corners, Beach Fossils, Ducktails, Washed Out
10. Parquet Courts
Little was said about Parquet Courts’ debut effort, American Specialties. Released exclusively on cassette tape, the quasi-album was an odd collection of 4 track recordings that left those who were paying attention wanting more. A year of woodshedding live sets passed before the Courts committed another song to tape. The band’s first proper LP, Light Up Gold, is a dynamic and diverse foray into the back alleys of the American DIY underground. Bright guitars swirl serpentine over looping, groovy post-punk bass lines and drums that border on robotic precision. While the initial rawness of the band’s early output remains, the songwriting has gracefully evolved. Primary wordsmiths A. Savage and Austin Brown combine for a dynamic lyrical experience, one part an erudite overflow of ideas, the other an exercise in laid-back observation. Lyrically dense, the poetry is in how it flows along with the melody, often times as locked-in as the rhythm section.
“This record is for the over-socialized victims of the 1990’s ‘you can be anything you want’, Nickelodeon-induced lethargy that ran away from home not out of any wide-eyed big city daydream, but just out of a subconscious return to America’s scandalous origin,” writes Savage in the album’s scratched-out liner notes. Recorded over a few days in an ice-box practice space, Light Up Gold is equally indebted to Krautrock, The Fall, and a slew of contemporaries like Tyvek and Eddy Current Suppression Ring.
Though made up of Texan transplants, Parquet Courts are a New York band. Throw out the countless shallow Brooklyn bands of the blasé 2000’s: Light Up Gold is a conscious effort to draw from the rich culture of the city – the bands like Sonic Youth, Bob Dylan, and the Velvet Underground that are not from New York, but of it. A panoramic landscape of dilapidated corner-stores and crowded apartments is superimposed over bare-bones Americana, leaving little room for romance or sentiment. It’s punk, it’s American, it’s New York… it’s the color of something you were looking for.
They have also just announced a new EP, Tally All The Things That You Broke. It comes out October 8th, right between both ACL weekends!
For Fans Of: Foxygen, King Tuff, The Hives, Iceage, White Lung, Merchandise
11. Bear Mountain
Bear Mountain is an electronic dance band from Vancouver, B.C. Stirring and soulful, they blend syncopated bass lines and arpeggiated synth chords with live instrumentation and soaring vocals to create a sound that is both deeply moving, and sweetly captivating. With old heartbreak on the mountain style vocals, Bear Mountain sings with powerful release and vulnerable honesty.
Bear Mountain began as the bedroom project of Ian Bevis. After releasing early demos and remixes online, Ian caught the ear of long-time friend and collaborator Kyle Statham. Together, the two friends brought the sounds to the stage by blending live instrumentation with dance style electronics. Their sound has been described as a mixture between Cut Copy and Passion Pit, infusing lead singer Ian Bevis’ vulnerable and emotive vocals.
Says Ian Bevis, “We were trying to capture a feeling. When we wrote these songs we were just completely honest with ourselves, and I think that comes across in the music.”
The debut album from Bear Mountain is titled XO, a collection of songs that is unmistakably fresh and powerfully captivating. From lush synth sounds and chopped vocal samples, to tropical drum beats and house drenched kicks, the album manages to capture the feeling of the infinite and the impossible, all rolled into one. They have already played have played major festivals including Lollapalooza, The Governor’s Ball, and Sasquatch! Music Festival. They are currently on tour opening for Ms Mr, and are a show in Austin also opening for Starfucker (STRFKR) and Chrome Sparks.
For Fans Of: Superhumanoids, MS MR, Ghost Beach, Papa, Bloc Party, Hot Chip
12. Desert Noises
Desert Noises is Kyle Henderson, Tyler Osmond, Patrick Boyer, and Brennan Allen, four adventurers from Utah Valley, UT. Ask about their recent musical influences, and you’ll extract a litany on the riches of Tom Petty, Fleetwood Mac, and Tame Impala. If it seems an unlikely trio of choices, it simply means that you haven’t yet become acquainted with their propulsive, jangle-rich breed of rock ‘n roll. Desert Noises make music for shouting into canyons, jumping into rivers, and getting married to the wide-open road. With a strong maturity in their songwriting, they conjure the majesty of the American pastoral landscape.
While one can pick out definite strains of blues and Americana, their often-ferocious delivery and penchant for shredding guitars elicits a powerful transcendence into psychedelic rock. This is felt most strongly in their live performances, where they harness their visceral energy in new ways each night.
Desert Noises work with an emotional palette that is sophisticated beyond their years, as front-man Kyle Henderson translates melancholy, longing, and loyal affection into lyrical fables like a seasoned troubadour. He seems to be howling into the vastness with all of his might, romancing his life’s bittersweetness and taking comfort in wild, open spaces.
These four young men are enchanting hearts across the country, having shared the stage with such notable contemporaries as The Head and The Heart, Local Natives, The Morning Benders, Blitzen Trapper, Miniature Tigers, and Pepper Rabbit. With their gaze set enthusiastically into the future and a new album on the way, the chronicle of Desert Noises is just beginning to unfold.
For Fans Of: Hey Marseilles, Air Review, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, Scattered Trees, Local Natives, Seryn
“He was all over the stage, driving the crowd into a frenzy, grinding sounds from his guitar with the back of his hand, the ceiling beams, the mic stand. His extended solos were soul-dripping, finger-flailing explosions that he looked like he could have done in his sleep.”- Todd Hamm, Seattle Weekly
One of the most buzzed about and underrated artists performing at both weekends of ACL Festival this year is Reignwolf. We first discovered him earlier this summer before he played Lollapalooza fest.
While standing behind a kick drum armed with a guitar and all kinds of attitude, Jordan Cook a.k.a. ReignWolf instantly captivates the crowd with his howling vocals, ferocious riffs, and raw energy. He has already performed at both Sasquatch and Rock the Shores fests, as well as at this summer’s NXNE. He will also be going on tour opening for The Pixies. He may well be the only current musician that plays guitar and drums simultaneously. He has drawn comparisons to both Jack White and Gary Clark Jr. and sorta reminds of of El Ten Eleven. He also performs live with his bandmates David ‘Stitch’ Rapaport on guitar and Joseph Braley on drums (bother formerly of The Mother’s Anger).
For Fans Of: Diamond Rugs, Mac Demarco, Wolf Parade, Divine Fits, Soundgarden, Jack White
14. Paper Diamond
Paper Diamond is an EDM artist making quite a name for himself, and it comes as no surprise to those familiar with his endlessly creative music that the name Paper Diamond itself carries. As he simply put, “Paper Diamond draws from an origami concept in that If you have a piece of paper, whatever your diamond shape is (simple or complex), that’s YOUR art. For me musically speaking, whether it’s simple or has a lot of layers, it’s my self-expression. Paper Diamond is art.”
Skill and versatility has landed Paper Diamond on stage with some of the biggest names in the game, and with releases on Pretty Lights Music and Diplo’s Mad Decent label under his belt, everything is falling into place for Paper Diamond. 2013 has already seen a massive 50+ show tour with Excision and top tier festival plays surfacing for the Summer. Even with a heavy touring schedule Paper Diamond has found time to write new music and ready his third official release “Paragon” is out now for free on his own Elm & Oak records. “Paragon” features a range of production, instrumentation, and collaborators all weaved into Paper Diamond’s signature style. While “genre-defying” is an overused word, Paper Diamondis one of the rare artists who truly pulls it off.
For Fans Of: Beats Antique, Felix Cartel, Mimosa, Peaking Lights, Pretty Lights, STS9
15. Vintage Trouble
Vintage Trouble formed in 2010 out of the ashes of a few other bands, and not by chance, Ty Taylor (vocal) and Nalle Colt (guitar) teamed up with drummer Richard Danielson and bassist Rick Barrio Dill. They entered The Bomb Shelter Studio, recorded an album’s worth of material in three days, which was intended to be demos and ended up being pressed into CDs. The Bomb Shelter Sessions became Vintage Trouble’s first album. Selling it at their gigs was easy and not surprisingly so were the calls to feature their music in several commercial media.
With a unified decision to stay in Los Angeles to build their musical foundation as a band, weekly residences in the area lead to a large assembly of fans in a short amount of time. These fans became known as the “TroubleMakers.” It was that underground buzz that lead to legendary manager Doc McGhee taking notice and signing Vintage Trouble to his roster after hearing only a single chorus. Doc’s first order of business became breaking the band in England, right away. Their first venture overseas resulted in a similar groundswell with Music Weekly naming them 2011 Breakout Artist of the Year and HMV hailing them as their “Next Big Thing.”
Their return to the U.S. and Harvelle’s was nothing short of epic, with a line forming down the block before the club even opened. Vintage Trouble felt the homecoming as a true testament to their fans’ dedication at spreading the word and sharing their music. The crowd inside was just as amped; young and old, newbies and old faithful, all anticipating the transference of energy from the band to their soles. Vintage Trouble didn’t disappoint. The next day the band would be on a plane back to London to appear on Later… with Jools Holland. This performance was one of the most talked about of the year, blowing up Twitter as the 6th most tweeted topic worldwide just hours after the show. The very next day, their self-released debut, The Bomb Shelter Sessions entered the charts, becoming the No. 1 “R&B Album” and No. 2 “Rock Album” on Amazon UK—No. 6 on Amazon overall and No. 13 on iTunes, charting in the “UK Top 40” by the time it was officially released in July.
The band went on to play 80 shows in 100 days in front of an estimated 400,000 people throughout the UK and Germany. The next three months brought them an opportunity playing theaters, opening for Brian May’s Anthems Tour, and then as the support for Bon Jovi in stadiums and arenas on the UK, Ireland and German legs of the tour, playing to over 200,000 people in just under two weeks—all the while headlining smaller venues, after-hours clubs, and pubs. Guitarist Magazine ran a feature about Nalle, and The Bomb Shelter Sessions was named one of the “Top 25 Guitar Albums of the Year” by Total Guitar Magazine. They won the Classic Rock Award for “Best New Band of 2011″—an honor that German Music Magazine would also bestow upon them.
Things exploded around their penultimate show in Glasgow. The demand for tickets was so great that they were bumped up from a 500 seat venue to play for over 800 freshly converted “TroubleMakers.” Ty was invited to front Queen for Freddie Mercury’s 65th birthday celebration in London, setting the stage for Vintage Trouble to embark on their third overseas tour, with destinations including Italy, Germany, Paris, Belgium, and the Netherlands. They played Hyde Park Main Stage twice in eight days (The Wireless Festival and Hard Rock Calling). They were featured on Sky News, recorded an MTV The Studio Sessions with Tony Visconti, in addition to 17 live radio sessions throughout the tour, including Radio 2- Janice Long, 6 Music With Craig Charles, Q Radio, BBC Radio London and BBC Radio Scotland.
2012 proved to be just as busy. The band sold out The Troubadour in Los Angeles and took up residencies at both The Cosmopolitan and Hard Rock Hotels in Las Vegas. Their first video “Nancy Lee,” filmed entirely with an iPhone, won at the Original iPhone Film Fest, not just taking the Music Video category, but the festival’s grand prize as well. In February, Google Music selected Vintage Trouble as the featured artist at Sundance where their live performance rocked the film community and they made their first appearance in Rolling Stone. Their too-brief Australian tour included the Sydney Festival and the Australian Film Awards and was met with such an overwhelming response that a return trip is guaranteed sooner rather than later. Vintage Trouble’s SXSW showcase in Austin was named “the fourth best live performance of the festival” by Paste Magazine (only behind The Jesus and Mary Chain, Jack White and Bruce Springsteen). In celebration of the official U.S. release of The Bomb Shelter Sessions, Best Buy also featured Vintage Trouble on their TV screens in stores nationwide.
The release of The Bomb Shelter Sessions, combined with their electric live show has catapulted Vintage Trouble into the US limelight, earning them a sponsorship by Supercuts, an iTunes rock download of the week for new song “Pelvis Pusher,” along with praise from NPR, Rolling Stone, The Wall Street Journal and Billboard for what The New York Times raves, “Like Otis Redding, Vintage Trouble makes music that is a little bit of everything … You can slow dance, groove, rock and let it all go.”
Following unforgettable TV performances on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live, Vintage Trouble recently wowed audiences at this year’s SXSW festival, capturing the attention of Yahoo Music who raves, “Imagine James Brown singing lead for Led Zeppelin, and you’ll get an idea of Vintage Trouble’s muscular, in-the-pocket sound.”
Vintage Trouble is currently on a world tour that has already seen them open for Lenny Kravitz, The Cranberries, Joss Stone and recently, The Who. Their world tour continues in 2013 with performances at Coachella, Glastonbury and Rock In Rio, a Japanese headlining run and The Who’s European Tour. The band will open for The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park in London this July, and will return to the US for a headlining tour in August.
Vintage Trouble’s Ty Taylor, Nalle Colt, Richard Danielson and Rick Barrio Dill together form a quartet of sincere musicians whose combination of hard work, talent, and luck are undoubtedly going to take them right where they deserve to be: on our radios, in our cars, our headphones, our televisions, at the venues where we go to see our favorite bands and on the soundtrack of our favorite moments in life.
For Fans Of: ZZ Ward, Jack White, Black Joe Lewis, Grace Potter, Joss Stone, Gomez
16. Bright Light Social Hour
The Bright Light Social Hour is an American rock band from Austin, Texas. Born out of a university art-rock collective, the band first gained attention in Austin from their incendiary live performances and innovative vision of rock and roll. Melding southern rock, hard dance, psychedelic blues, and deep soul, their debut full-length album led to heightening critical acclaim, national touring, and a rare sweep of six awards at the SXSW 2011 Austin Music Awards, including Band of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year.
Recorded in five studios around Austin during summer 2010, their self-titled debut is founded on sun-drenched optimism, raucous youth, and an innovative brew of American music. Producer Danny Reisch of Good Danny’s utilized the best elements of vintage and modern recording to achieve a sound both forward-looking and evocative of 1970s hi-fi. The first track, “Shanty,” pairs southern rock with hard disco, featuring the searing slide licks of guitarist Curtis Roush. Following the lean, exuberant stomp of “Bare Hands Bare Feet,” the band settles into the dark psychedelic funk of “La Piedra De La Iguana.” Throughout the middle of the record, the solemn rhythm and blues of “Detroit” is juxtaposed with “Back And Forth,” a four-on-the-floor disco-funk romp. On “Garden Of The Gods,” the album’s penultimate 10-minute epic, the band evolves from stately ballroom Americana to an expansive, ensemble anthem, conjuring up their limber and unrelenting live sets. The fiery “Rhubarb Jam” closes out the record, featuring the agile, booming funk of bassist Jack O’Brien and drummer Joseph Mirasole.
Following their album release, The Bright Light Social Hour have embarked on a heavy touring rotation, playing over two hundred shows throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. They have performed in front of thousands of new fans, most notably at SXSW 2012, Wakarusa Festival and opening for Aerosmith at the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City. Chronicling their adventures, the band has released a series of self-produced tour documentaries depicting their life on the road.
The Bright Light Social Hour is currently writing new material for a second full-length album with plans to return to the studio this year.
For Fans Of: White Denim, Black Taxi, The Stone Foxes, Moon Taxi, The Whigs, He’s My Brother She’s My Sister
Los Angeles’ foursome Smallpools consists of Sean (vocals/keys), Mike (guitar), Joe (bass) and Beau (drums). Their self-titled debut EP was released this summer and gained them critical acclaim as the first single “Dreaming” shot to #1 of Hype Machine within its first 3 days and is currently climbing the alternative radio charts. To support the EP, the band went on tour with Australia’s San Cisco and will head out next with Two Door Cinema Club followed by Walk The Moon in October and Twenty One Pilots in November.
When asked how to describe their vibe, the band said: Smallpools are a group of brothers with ADD working in their dad’s factory on an assembly line. Everybody has their roll, but sometimes one will wander into another’s department, to help or to frustrate. And every now and again everybody just stops production and plays a game of street fighter.
The working relationship in the band is really unique. Sean and Mike, both from the East Coast, have been friends and toured in various bands for years. While Beau and Joe, of Portland, OR, came to Los Angels to pursue music and within weeks stumbled upon Sean and Mike. The East Coasters definitely bring a different attitude and personality to the music compared to the laid-back “rational rhythm” team, and compliment each other really well, all being a vital part to the sound and dynamic of the band – on and off stage.
“(“Mason Jar”)…a sepia splash of power-pop that crystallizes into a starscraping smash before the verse even kicks in, as stadium-sized Of Monsters And Men gang vocals ride high on the buoyant flair of Smallpools’ youthful, Two Door-esque ebullience.” Neon Gold
Smallpool’s self-titled debut EP is out now via RCA Records and the band is currently in the studio recording their full length, which will come out early 2014.
For Fans Of: The Mowgli’s, Walk The Moon, American Authors, The Colourist, Lorde, Grouplove
18. Autre Ne Veut
“Anxiety in children is originally nothing other than an expression of the fact they are feeling the loss of the person they love” – Sigmund Freud
Anxiety is the full-length follow up to Autre Ne Veut’s 2010 self-titled debut, which was for many the definitive post-millennial Failure Pop statement outside of time and style. Autre Ne Veut rivaled other lovelorn “missteps” such as Marvin Gaye’s Here My Dear and Big Star’s Sister Lovers. If you didn’t hear the connection, you weren’t listening closely enough.
Be that as it may, ANV brazenly decided to make it easier for people with his post-canonical return. No longer playing the role of pauper or king, Anxiety is simply his high definition arrival. Born April 20th, 1982 Arthur Ashin is the first of two children and the only son of American ex-patriots living in rural Kenya. He’s struggled with minor bouts of depression throughout his life, but a year of intensive psychoanalysis helped Arthur to realize that anxiety was at the crux of his problems.
Anxiety is in some sense Ashin closing a chapter on his adolescence through song-form depictions of his own relationship struggles and ecstasies. There are club bangers on Anxiety, for sure; “Counting” a cybernetic sea shanty tips its hat to Timbaland, and opening track “Play By Play” rolls out like a slowly evolving Top 40 operetta with nods to Dr. Luke and Patti LaBelle in equal measure. But when experienced as a whole, there is an unfolding sense of confession to Anxiety.
Like a collection of photographs, each featuring our anti-hero surrounded by lovers, friends, and family and, ultimately, the world, Ashin himself is peripheral to the action. He is always a little too aware of the joke, laughing at the wrong time.
The influences on Anxiety range from David Byrne to Lee “Scratch” Perry, Laurie Anderson and Annie Lennox to Katy Perry and Rihanna. But Arthur’s primary influence – and the influence most evident in his music – is of karaoke- the solitary person singing along with their favorite song. In karaoke we get to be someone bigger than who we usually are. When we sing karaoke or when we sing in the shower, we get to be gods; gods with bars of soap, gods with plastic cups in our hands.
We’re going to tell iTunes that this a Pop/R&B record, but our gut says it’s so much more. Anxiety was released February 12th, 2013.
For Fans Of: Rhye, Majical Cloudz, Blood Orange, How To Dress Well, Doldrums, Polica
19. The Mowgli’s
Five childhood friends from the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles, augmented by three Midwestern transplants, The Mowgli’s are a quintessential California band. Inspired by the magnetism of San Francisco, the grind of Los Angeles and the serenity of the Big Sur Coast, their songs are a joyous revival of rock n’ roll, a twisting indie-folk dance and a heartfelt protest ballad.
Sliding from indie pop to country and a host of genres in between, the band evokes modern artists such as Fun., Grouplove and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, whilst having their roots in the music of Neil Young, The Byrds, The Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac.
Part ’60s Laurel Canyon, part ’70s Venice Beach and part ’10s Silverlake, the band and the harmonies are held together by their message of universal love, peace and the belief that the highest form of consciousness is achieved by togetherness and unity.
Uplifting, collaborative, joyous and communal, their music is a walk through their life thus far: Meeting each other and experiencing together (“San Francisco”, “The Great Divide”), emerging stronger (“Carry Your Will”) — their message is finding a foothold with fans from every walk of life, bringing people together under one roof to celebrate each other. They are currently on tour opening for Walk The Moon.
For Fans Of: Fitz and the Tantrums, The Lonely Forest, American Authors, The Last Royals, Youngblood Hawke, Sleeper Agent
Savages is not trying to give you something you didn’t have already, it is calling within yourself something you buried ages ago, it is an attempt to reveal and reconnect your PHYSICAL and EMOTIONAL self and give you the urge to experience your life differently, your girlfriends, your husbands, your jobs, your erotic life and the place music occupies in your life. Because we must teach ourselves new ways of POSITIVE MANIPULATIONS, music and words are aiming to strike like lightning, like a punch in the face, a determination to understand the WILL and DESIRES of the self.”
This album is to be played loud in the foreground. The London 4 piece is made up of all females, and has already played at the Coachella festival.
For Fans Of: Thee Oh Sees, The Besnard Lakes, Speedy Ortiz, Mikal Cronin, Majical Cloudz, Deap Vally