By Zachary Swickey
It's hard to believe that nearly half the year is already over. With April having come and gone, we've already endured our first big fest of the season - Coachella, of course - and thankfully this year's Grammys helped make the beloved Bon Iver a household name. Best of all, Adele is on track to receive the first diamond record (10x platinum) since Usher's '04 effort Confessions.
So, basically it's safe to say that 2012 is already a hell of a year in music, and we've spotted some amazing new acts on the rise this year that are sure to only make it better. You may already recognize some of the names (who hasn't heard of Kimbra at this point?), but we hope you get well acquainted with all of them.
Here are six of our favorite acts on the rise. Who are some of yours?
At the spry young age of 22, Kimbra has already earned herself the title of youngest artist to be featured on a number one song. Not even Miley Cyrus can claim that distinction! Kimbra's debut album, Vows, just dropped and the critics are already raving about it. Tracks "Settle Down" and "Cameo Lover" alone make the album purchase a must. Like a quirky, more sane Bjork, Kimbra has a uniqueness to her music (and look) that's undeniable. She's made plenty of television appearances in support of "Somebody That I Used to Know," but make sure to catch her flying solo when she hits the road this summer as the opening act for Foster the People.
We must give credit where credit is due. During our chat with Alison Brie of "Community," she revealed her fondness for dreamy new pop act HAIM (Paim? I originally replied), and now we have fallen in love with the group's music ourselves. (For the record, the proper way to pronounce their name rhymes with "time.") Based in LA, HAIM consists of three young sisters Danielle (22), Alana (19), Este (24), and their pal Tim (26) as drummer. They only have one three-song EP to their name, Forever, but they've already worked with Blondie producer Mike Chapman. We can all but guarantee you'll be hearing more from these lovely ladies, who craft some of the best dreamy pop soundscapes we've heard in quite some time.
Read on for more!
Alabama Shakes is a throwback American rock band in the truest since of the phrase. The Athens, Alabama-based group has only existed for a few years, but has already been praised by every music publication that matters. The Shakes decided to sign with ATO Records, who are known for their eclectic roster (My Morning Jacket, Mariachi El Bronx, 311, Primus), and the group has already been nominated for this year's mtvU Woodie award for Best Live Performance. Their new BFF, Jack White, is an adamant fan of their debut record, Boys & Girls, and we most certainly are as well.
Everyone got caught up in the Odd Future hoopla last year but the group's staying power remains to be seen. However, the new insane rap/noise/rock act Death Grips is already prepared to take their place in the realm of "hardcore rap" if you will. The group consists of the iconic underground drummer Zach Hill, of Team Sleep and Hella fame; MC Ride, who looks and sounds like an even more terrifying version of street fighter Kimbo Slice; as well as Andy Morin, who helps Hill with the group's production. Epic Records took a chance on the maniacal group, releasing their killer debut The Money Store earlier this year before Death Grips decided to cancel all of their dates so they could immediately begin work on album number two, No Love, due to drop later this year. Just put "The Cage" on repeat and thank us later.
Frontwoman Mish Way has all the punk rock swagger a band could need - almost always with cig in hand - and drummer Anne-Marie Vassilou is simply put: a badass. Guitarist Kenneth William is the sole male in the group as Grady Mackintosh handles bass duties. Their two-year-old debut It's the Evil contained the killer track "Creep Sleep" and their newest single "Take the Mirror," off their upcoming LP Sorry, is quite possibly even more appealing. The band is signed to Deranged Records - home of Polaris Music Prize winners F**ked Up. Need we say more?
Occasionally, you'll get into a band, and through their network of mutual friends/artists, you will find a smorgasbord of other amazing acts to choose from. My love of Polica began with Bon Iver and Solid Gold fandom. Later, I discovered Gayngs, a "supergroup" that consists of over 25 musicians, including Bon Iver and Solid Gold, as well as rappers POS and Dessa of Doomtree, Har Mar Superstar. Well, two other members - Ryan Olson and the mesmerizing Channy Leaneagh - ventured onto a project of their own, Polica. Their dreamy pop debut Give You the Ghost was officially released on Valentine's Day and Bon Iver frontman Justin Vernon describes them as "The best band I've ever heard." Now, that's a ringing endorsement.