It’s hard to ignore the classics, but it’s worse to overlook the rising stars. Each month, we pick five artists worth lending your ears to. December’s highlights up-and-coming acts changing post-hardcore, hip-hop and experimental.
WILLIS EARL BEAL
NOTES: Factor in the age (23-years-old) and the unprecedented hype (James Blake and Damon Albarn want to collaborate, Mos Def wants to make a film biopic) and it’s hard to fathom that Willis Earl Beal isn’t a cloth cut industry creation. The Chicago native doesn’t have Facebook, nor Twitter. There isn’t even an online music platform under his name. Using makeshift instruments to create a series of demos, Beal has revealed a unheralded liking for the consummation of inner-city blues that pushes a soulful voice of struggle, love, desire and sadness. His performances – which can be described as “impaling rushes of emotions”– are rare as they are raw, an aspect XL Recordings and the rest of the world hope stays friends with his sincere intensity.
NOW PLAYING: Acousmatic Sorcery (March 2012 – XL Recordings)
NOTES: Having flown under the radar in 2011, Joyce Manor’s self-titled debut – hailed as one of Alternative Press’ essential picks – is a gritty flail of an attempt at pop punk. Being direct, brutally honest and guitar-heavy are a threesome of traits that are hard to unite, let alone inhale, but the four-piece turn it into an accomplishment, scraping off early-2000s’ radio punk (“Famous Friend”) and the angsty notes of Lifted Or The Story Is.. (“Derailed”) while singer Barry Johnson manhandles lines like “You were drunker than high school / Self-conscious and sweet”. In the coolest way possible, rock has never been so shamelessly ferocious and collected.
NOW PLAYING: Joyce Manor (2011 – 6131 Records)
NOTES: London’s Labyrinth Ear are an immediate image of a late night-cruise with friends; giving the middle finger to the world and getting lost in a moment in time where daydreams are all that matter. Frantic, but cool rhythms have been done before yet the male/female duo illuminate them more, stretching out each four-minute cut by putting a definite focus on synth-pop beats. Then there’s Emily Jacob’s dim whisper which accents every shift in tempo, like The xx with an intervention-needed addiction to chillwave or a teenage prom queen succumbing to a whole other world of music she’s neglected her whole life due to an egotistic outlook, and the conclusion is paralyzing.
NOW PLAYING: Apparitions (2012 – Self-Released)
NOTES: What’s remarkable about AraabMuzik is his imagination and creative process are limitless. Whereas musicians hit gaps they find difficult to cross, he leaps them. Every bit of it shows in the Rhode Island producer’s studio work; instead of solely designing basic foundation of tracks for notables like Busta Rhymes and ASAP Rocky, he’s also transmitted a style. Drums with emphasis crash, thud and collide with the sort of samples you’d expect from a pretentious dub step suitor but speak in a more educated tone, one that modestly reinvents a layer of hip-hop while slightly conjoining outside genres. Thus, making it the ideal type of music to drown in when the need of a vocalist isn’t wanted or zone the fuck out to and forget life’s certain discrepancies and dilemmas.
NOW PLAYING: Electronic Dream (2011 – Duke Productions LP)
I CAN SEE MOUNTAINS
NOTES: Their latest thrown together effort may not be slick and Buffalo may not seem to be a hole of city that can influence melancholy lyrics but I Can See Mountains are and will more than likely continue to be a band that know music. Most of Hope You Never Get It holds a youthful spark but standouts like “Hey Man” wrap together adolescent stories, a chord-littered chorus and on-time gang vocals and throw it in your face with glee. The latter being a positive note of course; not many can run through upbeat bitterness and unjust feelings with such a nostalgic feel.
NOW PLAYING: Hope You Never Get It (Jan 2012 – Self-Released)