New Year, New Sensations: Meet RomCom, Sara Hartman, Chelsea Effect & More
New Sensations is our semi-regular roundup of emerging acts you oughta know.
It’s too early to determine who/what will be dominating the next 12 months of charts and thinkpieces —prediction: The Disappointment In Our Stars: Why New Kanye, Rihanna, Drake, Frank Ocean & LCD Soundsystem Albums Weren’t Worth The Wait — but it’s never too early to start latching onto new acts while the heavyweights plot their next moves. So here is the year’s first batch of new sensations. Maybe we’ll be talking about these five artists a few months from now as they stake out their territory in the pop frontier. Or maybe we won’t! It all depends on what the pop fates have in store for 2016. But at least they blessed us with these choice cuts to get us through this hellish first month back after the holidays.
You might expect a project inspired by the Chelsea Hotel’s cultural legacy to be folk-leaning or antiquarian, but Leonard Cohen this is not; the debut song from Emerald Isabella’s Chelsea Effect project is thoroughly modern. The Bram Inscore-produced arrangement alternates between faint atmospherics and fast-twitch digital shards, and Isabella evokes the proud spite of a singer like Lauren Mayberry, which has me excited to see hear what she has to say next.
All we know about these guys is what’s in their Soundcloud profile, which is this song and a description that reads “Americans in Tokyo.” But I’m going to assume they’re pretty self-aware, since the band name, song title and video are all baiting oh-so-clever music bloggers like me to describe this silky nu-wave gem in “John Hughes soundtrack” terms, as oh-so-clever music bloggers are wont to do.
Born in New York, Sara Hartman left for Berlin at 19 to work on music full time, and it’s there that she got scooped up by MS MR to open for them. While that duo deals in otherworldly pop, Hartman’s music is more grounded. Her debut single is earthy and straightforward, and even though weird pop is the wave right now, sometimes you want a song that cuts the bullshit and goes straight for your singing-in-the-shower muscle.
Tons of modern music aims to resurrect the sounds of the recent past. Most pop music, even. The nostalgia market is oversaturated, which leads to plenty of winking-reference garbage. But when nostalgia-pop is done right, when it fully and earnestly lives in another era’s skin, it allows pop geeks who were born in the wrong decade the chance to peek into that imagined past. L.A.’s Scavenger Hunt gives ’90s babies the shiny ’80s mall-pop experience they never got.
Anyone who’s losing hope from the #FreeKesha soap opera can at least take solace in the fact that Lady Dolla’s legacy is living on through artists like Sizzy Rocket. Her single “Bad Kids” is sleaze-pop at its most polished, and “Bestie” is a sassed-out ode to a best friendship-with-benefits that’ll make you blush way redder than the cherry in “Cool For The Summer.”