New Sensations: A Prince Cover, A Fool’s Gold Find & A New Twist On Molly-Pop

New Sensations is our semi-regular roundup of emerging acts you oughta know.

2016 has been all about narratives. The disjointed lead-up to ANTI, the slapdash, real-time progression of The Life Of Pablo, the mourning and celebration of David Bowie and Prince, Kesha‘s frustrating legal battle and rebound, the breakup-to-makeup Lemonade arc. It’s all about the story this year. Unless you’re a new artist, because new artists don’t have a narrative. They don’t have the luxury of backstory or drama to bolster their material or put it in perspective or give it gravitas.

While a few n00bs emerge with some immediate plot hook (think Lana and her Lizzy Grant past, Kanye and the car crash, even Desiigner and his GTA-inspired a-ha moment), most newcomers are just anonymous creators, effectively subjecting their music to a blind taste test. Listening to a no-name’s material is truly the ultimate test for whether a song is worthwhile or not. It’s one of the only times you get to evaluate art separate from the person and buzz attached to it.

So there is really no reason for you to care about the five new artists we’ve highlighted below. No reason but the music.

Charlotte Cardin

On her debut single “Big Boy,” Charlotte Cardin carved out her territory as a post-Amy Winehouse neo-soul crooner. But on “Like It Doesn’t Hurt,” the French-Canadian singer eschews nostalgia, blossoming into a multidimensional talent, pulling off some seriously impressive vocal runs over a barely-there dirge of a beat.

Leaf

Rapper/singer Leaf locked down an Action Bronson feature ages ago, but now the New Yorker is signed to Fool’s Gold/RPM MSC and has relocated to ATL, forging ties with the Awful Records crew. That’s a perfect recipe for her to break out with her full-length later this year. And two recent tracks are helping the cause: “Money” has real Pharrell-at-his-aughts-peak vibes, and the dank eroticism of “Ride” is very Awful (both were produced by the label’s Lui Diamonds).

Wolfie

This South Londoner has attracted an Annie Mac co-sign and plenty of blog coverage, so it can’t be long until the labels catch up. Her syrupy, trap-leaning sound straddles the line between Tinashe and early Charli XCX, which means you’re getting plenty of headphone-optimized ear candy. On latest track “100,” she brings that digital sparkle-slur into focus with her sharpest chorus yet. Both songs below will be on her debut 8 Ball EP, dropping May 6.

Megan Vice

Vice is a sometime member of The Knocks‘ touring band, and the motion in her music makes it apparent why the duo snagged her. She operates in similar lo-fi funk territory as Cellars and Ronika, and is similarly under-appreciated. “All Of The Time” feels like something Chromeo might come up with if they were more earnest, and her fresh cover of “I Wanna Be Your Lover” turns the lithe opener of Prince‘s self-titled effort into a synth-filled rave-up. Her Spread The News EP is out June 10.

LOOP

There’s life yet in EDM-pop. “Looking At You” puts a new twist on the not-so-old trope, going from a skeletal dancehall-inflected beat that recalls Y2K pop to a molly-peak of a chorus. The London singer’s debut single “Love Bites” is a darker affair, with LOOP purring “I didn’t want this, you didn’t want me” over subterranean syncopation. Both tracks were produced by Portuguese duo INSICAL.