New Sensations: A Kendrick Collaborator, A Shura Co-Sign & More Pop Finds
New Sensations is our semi-regular roundup of emerging acts you oughta know.
The 17th anniversary of Napster was yesterday (June 1). Seventeen years! That means there are teens, people of voting age, college graduates, who have no memory of life before the free music revolution, before iTunes, before streaming. And this is even more flummoxing when you consider that that goes for new artists, too. Like, Lorde doesn’t remember pre-iTunes existence! I lived through the pre-Napster era, and I can tell you that is an astounding thing to contemplate.
Young artists have always shaped the music landscape, and so the current driving force is a bunch of musicians who grew up in the era of devalued music. On the one hand, plenty of new musicians might not even be musicians if not for the access to all that free knowledge and inspiration. On the other hand, we’ll be experiencing the first wave of music stars who never had to scrounge together enough money to listen to one measly CD a month, and subsequently wouldn’t expect their fans to do the same. So what will all this mean once when we get to the end of the free music era?
That’s my glorified shruggie response to the query. And as you ponder the future of the art form you love so dearly, check out five promising new acts below who are keeping it alive.
“Lover Go” is an impressive debut track because it works both as a vocal showcase and as a completely innocuous earworm. It’s ear candy for a rainy morning. But follow-up “Skin Deep” is a little edgier, bringing hints of Kesha — of all singers — into that “I’m just a bodyyy” wail. With just two electro ballads, the Welsh singer has showcased an impressive vocal range and the lyrical range to match it.
Just a few cryptic tweets from Kendrick Lamar and his crew got the internet in a tizzy about this dude. And now TDE’s newest signee has emerged with two highly peculiar songs, opening up a whole world of possibilities for what the Chicago product’s debut will sound like. On “Speed” he’s all staccato over a mechanistic R&B chug, but then sneakily switches to a graceful whisper. “Could It Be” is even more of a meandering two-in-one, starting as a stoned sway reminiscent of “Consideration” before flipping to a melodic boom-bap exercise.
For Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville’s duo Ider, stillness is the move. The misty elegance of their debut track earned them an early co-sign from Shura. On second song “Pulse,” they again drift into piano-and-electronics quietude, but the way it unfurls into a display of harmonies and nebulous effects takes it beyond any surface comparisons to the likes of Imogen Heap or London Grammar.
Klyne is comprised of producer Ferdous Dehzad and singer Nick Klein, both 22 and hailing from the Netherlands. Last month they made their UK live debut in support of Christine And The Queens, and the confident electro-soul of “Don’t Stop” makes it clear why. Kinetic but restrained, sexy but refined, and more proof of Scritti Politti‘s surprising impact on European millennials.
This is melodramatic, brooding opera-pop, the type that’s rarely pulled off by anyone not known as Florence + The Machine these days. Lyra’s voice is powerful and elastic, evoking Kate Bush‘s trill one moment, Florence’s otherworldly howl the next. And veteran producer Rupert Christie put together the colossal arrangements — though that Irish bodhran drum is all Lyra, which she learned to play at age six.