Artists to watch in 2014

2013 was a big year for many artists. The indie scene continues to explode with color and promising new talent, and tunes have been ranging from electro-pop to dark wave, and everything in between. This year, keep an eye out for these upcoming artists and bands.

Chance the Rapper: I recently had the chance (no pun intended) to catch his San Francisco show, and the crowd was one of the most enthusiastic groups I’ve ever seen at a concert. Already being named by many as one of the “rappers of the year”, Chance has rapidly gained recognition, especially after his release of Acid Rap. He’s also been featured on tracks from the likes of James Blake, Childish Gambino, and even Bieber himself. Even though he hasn’t officially released a studio album yet, I have high hopes that he will in 2014.

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Banks: She recently opened for The Weeknd on his tour. She released two EPs in a year. In January, she finished third in BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll. It’s been a tremendous year for this Los Angeles born artist, and the future looks promising. Her songs combine deep-bass melodies with a dark undertone and a smooth voice. Give some of her heavy tracks a listen while we anticipate a full-album together.

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Sam Smith: He’s already been featured on two of 2013’s biggest singles, and now he’s moving onto solo acts. Smith quickly rose to fame when he provided vocals for Disclosure’s “Latch”, followed by Naughty Boy’s “La La La”. At the end of the year, he won the 2014 BRIT Critic’s Choice Award, and is also featured on BBC’s Sound of 2014 poll. His first studio album, In the Lonely Hour, is set to release in May.

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Panama: Not much else is known about this indie band from Sydney, Australia, except that they’ve released two EPs this past year. However, they seem to have a good future. Their first single, “It’s Not Over”, has a very solemn and nostalgic feel to it, like yearning for home, while their newer stuff sounds more dream-pop, proving that this up-and-coming group can put out all kinds of good music.

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NONONO: Surely you must have heard this Swedish indie trio’s single “Pumpin’ Blood” by now. The song just recently surpassed 1 million hits on Soundcloud, and the band is set to drop their debut album sometime in February. Their combination of electro-pop and cheery melodies are sure to launch this band in a good direction this year.

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Kelela: She’s been receiving a lot of buzz lately – and for good reason too. Her newest mixtape, entitled Cut 4 Me, is a good blend of minimalism and dark R&B. Currently based in Los Angeles, the singer continues to put out plenty of tracks that combine her low vocals with deep bass, and she continues this in the next year, she’s sure to stand out as one of the big names.

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Smallpools: Dubbed as one of the “songs of the summer”, this band’s first single “Dreaming” has been getting a lot of airplay lately. Their sound has a strong indie pop vibe to it, making for the perfect feel-good, get-up-and-dance music. In July, they released their self-titled debut EP, and have gone on to support many bands on tour, including Walk the Moon, Two Door Cinema Club, and Twenty One Pilots. The group is currently finalizing work on their debut album, and hopes to release it in the upcoming year.

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Jungle: Known for being relatively unknown, this band has gotten lots of plays on their first single, “Platoon”. However, aside from that, the two members are pretty close-mouthed on social media and in interviews. Regardless, they show potential – they definitely know how to produce some of the grooviest tunes. And, there are talks of an album on the horizon.

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Born Karen Marie Ørsted, this singer-songwriter has been ranked among the likes of Grimes and Purity Ring. Her tracks are beautifully produced, combining elements of glitch-pop, electronic, and airy vocals. This is definitely one singer to keep an eye on. Look for her debut album, No Mythologies to Follow, which is set to drop in February.

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Claire: This Munich-based band actually didn’t plan to be a band. Originally, three of the members had gotten together to produce music for a short film. However, they ended up recruiting a vocalist and a drummer, and before you know it, they’ve released an EP and a new single from upcoming debut album The Great Escape. The band itself says their sound is a combination of synth-pop, electronic, hip-hop, and indie. Their single “Games” has been featured and remixed a number of times, and their feature album is set to release soon.

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Ryan Hemsworth: A Canadian DJ and producer who’s quickly rising up through the ranks, Hemsworth has spent the last few years perfecting the art of putting together hip-hop rhythms with an ambient vibe. This past year alone, he’s released a multitude of tracks, including the Still Awake EP and the Guilt Trips LP. As a Christmas bonus, he even released a pack of ten unreleased songs, all for free, including a sweet remix of Lorde’sRibs.

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Wet: Like many other indie bands that find success online, this Brooklyn-based trio has kept themselves pretty under wraps for the time being. Regardless, they’ve just released their self-titled debut EP, and it sounds solid. A combination of synths, slow beats, and dynamic female vocals make for some of the best alt-pop out this year. Although they don’t have many tracks under their name just yet, 2014 is starting to look good for them so far.

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Article by Alex Wu

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