This summer, 21-year old Ryn Weaver seemed to emerge out of nowhere with "OctaHate," a catchy single crafted by an all-star team of talent including Charli XCX, Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos, and producers Cashmere Cat and Benny Blanco, the latter of whom has take a particular interest in her career. The song hit #1 on the Billboard Emerging Artist Chart before the mysterious Weaver had even played an official show. She’s now working on her debut album, as well as some top-secret project with Charli XCX. If the new tracks are half as infectious as “OctaHate,” expect to see Weaver dominating the charts.
This Atlanta songwriter counts Kanye West and SBTRKT among his fans. He dropped his debut project, the 10-song Indigo Child, at the end of August and has already topped year-end lists, signed to Columbia Records, opened for OutKast and been the subject of a New York Times profile. Not too shabby for an 18-year-old. Raury is still trying to figure out his particular sound — drawing from influences ranging from Cody ChesnuTT to Janelle Monae to psychedelic folk, an unlikely pastiche — but still, he has the world's attention.
This band of Pennsylvania upstarts — all the members are 20 years old or younger — play imaginative indie rock: high-energy songs that meander through folk, blues and classic rock. It's a potent sound that has earned the group plenty of hype and plum spots at ACL and Lollapalooza. The buzz should hit fever pitch when The Districts’ forthcoming full-length, A Flourish and A Spoil, produced by St. Vincent collaborator John Congleton, drops via Fat Possum on February 10th.
Alvvays make sun-streaked California rock songs that belie their Canadian roots. Their debut self-titled album included breezy tunes undercut by a sharp wit and a gimlet eye. (Think early REM meets Best Coast and Dum Dum Girls.) The five-piece earned many fans in 2014 with their jangly pop songs and driving backbeats; 2015 should bring more acolytes to worship at their altar.
Deja Trimble had just quit her job as a janitor at a Chrysler Plant in her hometown of Detroit when she posted her song “Try Me” on SoundCloud on a whim under the name Dej Loaf. A few months later, Drake posted lyrics from the song on his Instagram account; a sleeper hit was born. Wiz Khalifa and T.I. soon jumped on the “Try Me” remix; suddenly, everyone was talking about Dej Loaf. Soon after, she signed to Columbia Records and began work on her debut, which drops next year.
Michael Tucker, a.k.a. Blood Diamonds, has been working as a cooler-than-cool producer since he signed with 4AD back in 2012. He released an album of lush electronica akin to Caribou, worked with Charli XCX and Tinashe, and completed several successful collaborations with Grimes. Now, he's working with Madonna on her upcoming album Rebel Heart.
The tracks on Daniel Wilson’s impressive debut EP Young Rubbish sail on the strength of his androgynous voice — a minimalist set that swerves from synth-driven space jams to deconstructed indie tunes that thrive under his Bon Iver-esque falsetto. Whatever the tempo, the intimate and ethereal songs reveal a deep talent.
There’s little doubt that 18-year old Ella Henderson had a great 2014: Simon Cowell signed the British songstress after she was kicked off of The X Factor in 2012. Her debut single “Ghost” — which she co-wrote with Ryan Tedder — went to the top of the charts in her native U.K. and cracked the charts in the U.S. Chapter One, her first LP, is out stateside Jan. 13.
Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad are teenage friends from Los Angeles who make fuzzy punk songs — but instead of pouring their hearts into a diary like teens of yore, they write catchy critiques of society and cultural ills. Kids these days, right? Their lo-fi sound and conscientious song writing is proven to great effect on their debut EP, which would fit in well with the Pacific Northwest sound of the ‘90s, and should earn them fans twice their age.
Makonnen Sheran, better known as the hip-hop auteur iLoveMakonnen, has been a prolific musician for a long time — but it was only this year, thanks to a collaboration with Drake, that he became the industry’s hottest new voice. That massive hit, which cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, all but guarantees a big upcoming year for iLoveMakonnen.
Nashville singer-songwriter Natalie Prass wrapped up touring as the keyboard player in Jenny Lewis’s band just in time to hit the road in support of her own self-titled debut album, due out January 27 via Spacebomb Records. The songs on the album pair Prass’s countrified R&B voice with Motown-inflected pop hooks, the occasional swelling string movement, and a dash of big band flair. The result is a soulful pop sound with a retro vibe. Think Harry Nilsson meets Dionne Warwick with more than a little Dolly Parton in the mix.
To call this London-based producer enigmatic is an understatement. Believed to be male, Sophie prefers to operate anonymously after rising to notoriety with the 2013 breakout club hit, "Bipp". On the strength of this summer’s scorching “Lemonade," the producer may finally be moving into the big leagues, working with Diplo, Madonna and Nicki Minaj — even if he's not entirely out of the shadows.
The self-described “Glitter Trap” artist had only been making music for a few years when she caught the attention Top Dawg Entertainment, the home of Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q; she started to gain traction last year on the strength of her major label debut, Z, and an opening spot with on tour with Jhene Aiko.
Tobias Jesso Jr.
A well-deserved buzz has been building around this young Canadian singer-songwriter in advance of his True Panther Records’ debut album, Goon, which is due out in March. Jesso writes disarming break-up songs that are brittle and beautiful; an all-star roster of producers, including indie super-producer Ariel Rechtshaid, Girls’ JR White, and the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney have stepped up to help bring his heartbreaking songs to light.
Mackenzie Scott's voice has a honeyed rawness that feels like a simultaneous gut punch and a pat on the head. The Nashville singer’s minimalist songs and blistering anthems would fit seamlessly on a playlist alongside PJ Harvey, Cat Power and Emmylou Harris. When her long-anticipated album drops next year, Torres should have some buzz to go along with her honey.