By Jess Goulart and Zach Schepis
Heliotropes, who played at BTR’s CMJ 2013, is due for a 2014 album. Photo courtesy of Bryan Bruchman.
2013 was certainly no musical slouch. While all eyes turned to Kanye and the creation of his prodigal brain-child Yeezus, the Brit fivesome Joanna Gruesome took to blasting audiences with their brutal mix of fuzz, screams, lulled melodies, and an exploding sense of unpredictability. Everyone and your grandma cruised around to Daft Punk’s disco-funked radio single “Get Lucky.”
Meanwhile the sinew of punk-pop-noise reached a climax in Brooklyn at 285 Kent; Pitchfork’s underground party where bands with names like Pefect Pussy and Yamantaka // Sonic Titan proved to blissed out audiences that the future of rock had in fact arrived. The CMJs swept through Manhattan like a tidal wave. It was a week-long surge that featured hundreds of talented and emerging new artists who made sure to leave our ears ringing well on into the new year.
With so many noteworthy moments both in the spotlight and out, it can be easy to lose track of the many anticipations and surprises still to come in 2014. But that’s why we’ve gone through the trouble to do it for you. What follows is a list of break-through artists who absolutely killed it this year, and who you should keep both eyes (and ears!) peeled for during the year ahead.
Photo courtesy of Bene Riobio.
Mogwai – Rave Tapes – Release date set for January 20th
The Scottish post-rockers will be releasing their eighth studio release, Rave Tapes, on January 20th. It will be their second release on the label Rock Action, which they set up nearly 18 years ago. Sub Pop Records describes the upcoming 10-track release on their website as, “a lustrous collection mined from the same quarry as its predecessors, wreathed in painterly textures underpinned by increasingly electronic beats.” Coming from a band who just provided a soundtrack for the cult TV show “Les Revenants,” anything might be possible.
The Interest Group – Full Album – February or March possible release
An amazing amount of talent and promise in this emerging group, their psych-pop influence manifests in kaleidoscope guitar swells, tinkling chimes, and soft fuzz guitar riffs. Marissa Lesnick’s vocals sweetly blend sultry and siren, her counterpart Yohsuke Araki is reminiscent of a young Leonard Cohen. The two tell BTR they hope to duet more on future albums, a sentiment we at BTR fully share.
Medicine – Full Album – Unknown release date
Hardly anyone expected another note from these renaissance shoegazers, let alone a full album and supporting tour. Busy-bee frontman Brad Laner revealed he has some more honey for fuzzed-out ears in the works for next year. Laner might have more projects than almost anyone else in the game, but this trio is his pride and joy.
Photo courtesy of Loz Pycock.
Television – Unknown release date
What is there left to say about this groundbreaking punk/new wave band that hasn’t already been said? They helped spearhead the 1970s New York rock scene alongside legends like Patti Smith and Talking Heads, and their firey guitar playing hearkens back to the acid jams of 1960s ‘Frisco. The band will be back in the studio once again to cut new tracks early next year. Their last release Adventure may not have been as groundbreaking as say, Maquee Moon, but come on. It’s fucking Television.
Cruiser – New single followed by EP or Full Album – spring or summer
Cruiser’s development between their first EP, The Cruiser EP, and their latest single “Kidnap Me” is incredible, their sound maturing from heavy strumming to single notes that let mega-catchy vocals shine through. An upbeat, contemporary Beach Boys, these guys will no doubt grab our attention this summer with more nostalgic, feel-good harmonies hook after killer hook. They should only be allowed to play in sand and sunshine.
White Poppy – Full Album – Tentative summer release
The Canadian one-girl-show Crystal Dorval gave listeners her own unique blend of psychedelic space at this year’s CMJs, released her self-titled album, and all the while maintained upkeep on her blog addressing mental illness and art. Don’t expect her to be taking any breaks in 2014 though – she’s currently in self-imposed isolation on an island off the coast of Vancouver, recording her next dreamy album in an abandoned castle. Seems fitting, really.
Photo courtesy of Katherine Gaines.
Heliotropes – Unknown but in demand
I dare you to find another guitarist who can shred harder than Jessica Numsuwankijku. The undiluted talent rushing at you from this foursome does grunge rockers proud, and their live shows are some of the best I’ve ever been to. Their debut full album was released in June 2013, to a great albeit cult reception. It personifies the simple joy of just rocking the fuck out, and I can’t wait for more.
Palehound – 2 track 7” – Tentative March release date
Because her quirky lyrics are invariably puzzling, her voice warm and comfy, perfect for a rainy spring day. On her first EP, friends Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez of Ava Luna provided back up guitar, bass, and some ambient sounds, but the reception was so good she’s nailed down a steady line-up of musicians for the 7”. I can’t wait to hear what such a brilliant songwriter will do with a full band backing her – expect more complex compositions and a heavier rock influence.
Gabriel Royal – NYC Busker – Unknown release date
In the crazy hustle hell that is the NYC subway, a noteworthy talent occasionally emerges. Gabriel Royal is just such a talent. A strong blues influence permeates his tenor voice, which careens softly over expert cielo melodies. Time Out NY did a recent story on him and he’s set to play the next Busker Ball at Spike Hill in NYC. I’m really hoping an EP is in the works for him, or at least a couple produced singles, because his music mellows me out when the MTA sucks.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Bombay Bicycle Club – Full Album – February release
February will see the release of the London folksters’ fourth studio album. It’s been almost two years since the last one, and word has it, the sounds may be a little different this time. Throw your Joni Mitchell tapes out the window and expect a more experimental approach. In exchange for driving guitars, imagine samples, loops, and horns.