Ah, a new year. Here’s to new adventures, ambitious resolutions, and, of course, new music. We’ve compiled a preview of some great new—and not-so-new—musical acts / tracks you should have on your radar for 2014.
FRIENDS: “Van Fan Gor Du”
Friends has been incubating in the indie buzzosphere since 2011 and are slowly garnering some well-deserved attention. Headed by Samantha Urbani, Friends is self-described “weird pop,” swapping genres for an infectious, funky album that’s filled to the brim with cutesy female appeal. The band is sure to kill it during festival season, the proto-funk beats providing the ultimate soundtrack when you and your besties are glazed and that dude keeps dancing on you, no, next to you, no, on you.
JAMES BLAKE FEAT. CHANCE THE RAPPER: “Life Round Here”
One of the best things to happen to hip-hop and R&B these past few years has been their head-on collision with electronic music, producing some incredibly catchy beats and reshaping their respective forms in a substantial way. James Blake and Chance The Rapper join forces for a hypnotic, tingly, remix of Blake’s own Overgrown track “Life Round Here.” It’s been one of our favorite remixes to come out of 2013, only made better by celebrated director Nabil’s music video.
(via Lindsay Zoladz | Pitchfork)
“Probably won’t make no money off this, oh well,” Beyoncé shrugs on her new album’s moody, amorphous second track, “Haunted.” And I say this with the requisite curtsy to the Queen, but: bullshit. True, in both content and form, Beyoncé is a risk—an emotionally candid, unconventionally structured experimental pop record that was released digital-only with absolutely no promotion—but we know now that she is going to make a little bit of money off this. Still, how could you not know all along that you’ve got a blockbuster on your hands, when there is a song on your record like “XO”?
“XO” is one of those big, boundary-obliterating pop songs that demands to be projected onto the sky, like the aural equivalent of a firework. There will be a supercut of people all over the world lip-syncing and doing cute hand motions to “XO” by the end of this week. It’s the Beyoncé cut that Ed McMahon would ride for. One of the guys from Skeleton Crew is going to propose to his girlfriend while “XO” is playing and she will say yes. “XO” is the reason why anyone you know who has said, “Yeah, but where are the hooks on Beyoncé?” did not listen to the entire album. Chris Martin is listening to “XO” right now, crying. And, because perfection is overrated, all of the flawlessness here is brilliantly undercut by that gravelly croak in her lower register when she growls, “Baby love me, lights out.” You kill us, Bey.
IMMIGRÉ: “Madeline Remix”
We have a confession. We like to believe it was the LAC crew that “discovered” DJ duo Immigré so we can cling to the backbone of their success when they blow up. Liberian/Iranian/American/European/Creatures-of-the-World, Jasmine & Val Fleury prove the amazing output of collaboration when cultures and music styling’s blend (If only the rest of the world would take their lead). The gals have been curating some fresh mix tapes since 2012, and will be making their rounds on the festival circuit this coming spring. Do yourself a favor and watch them spin live and with love.
WILD CUB: “Thunder Clatter”
This song isn’t particularly new, but it’s finally making its rounds this year, and we have a sneaking suspicion this is destined to be some kind of summer sleeper hit. The Nashville quintet just signed to Mom+Pop Music, and “Thunder Clatter” is a youthful, jubilant, celebratory tune that lends itself to an afternoon of drinking with friends.
KELELA: “Guns & Synths”
If you had to guess whose style Beyoncé might bite for her latest studio album, your guess would probably not have been a no-name LA R&B singer who hangs around with underground electronic producers. And yet that would not have been such a bad answer. Kelela’s blend of hard drum and bass and warm ’90s-style diva vocals made her mix tape Cut 4 Me one of the most talked-about of 2013. She’ll be performing here and there through 2014, including an appearance at SXSW. If you get a chance to see her, do yourself a favor and take it.
BLOOD ORANGE: “”You’re Not Good Enough” [ft. Samantha Urbani]”
Whether writing/producing wispy pop cuts for Solange and Sky Ferreira or releasing misty, meditative R&B (“Chamakay”), Dev Hynes is crushing it…in glossy black dancing shoes. Hynes, aka Blood Orange, sounds like Prince if Prince had been raised entirely at nighttime under Miami’s neon lights. “You’re Not Good Enough” is solid enough to be a massive hit but dude has stayed (largely) under the radar until the release of this album.
EARL SWEATSHIRT: “Chum”
A member of LA’s Odd Future hip-hop collective, the 19-year-old released the sleeper album of the year with Doris—an album light years beyond his peers. “Chum” is 4 minutes of intensely personal yet insanely catchy headphone rap.
TINY HEARTS: “Stay”
Comprised of singer DeDe Reynolds, jazz trained composer Tim K and producer Waajeed of Platinum Pied Pipers fame, Tiny Hearts came together on a fateful night in a bar in Brooklyn in 2011. Since then, the trio has relocated to LA, and wowed us with their debut Stay EP. Waajeed and Tim K create a gritty cocktail of melodic and lyrical potency, while Dede Reynold’s ephemeral vocals bring the whole thing home with an affect that combines a bit of enigmatic gypsy mysticism with a healthy serving of old Hollywood charm.
Just for this Vine:
While we’re a little biased (peep our Jan/Feb cover), Malaysian-born beauty Yuna has been keeping us above water and smiling while we wade through our most gloomy breakup moments, our career pitfalls, or simply, our Wednesday hump day. Yuna is audible euphoria, and just the ray of sunshine we need to kick ass and take names in 2014.