2. If you like Childish Gambino, listen to FLACO
Coming up with a comparison for Indiana rapper FLACO isn't easy. But if you like Childish Gambino for his effortless charisma, melodic production, and quotable hooks, check out "New Things." FLACO doesn't waste a single line here, and even his verses are packed with phrases and flow switch-ups that will stick with you long after the song stops playing.
3. If you like Fetty Wap, listen to A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.
It’s safe to say that, no matter how gritty or explicit the lyrics can get, the right combination of a catchy melody and an infectious beat can launch a trap song beyond hip-hop fandom into the sphere of pop music. Fetty Wap opened the door with "Trap Queen," and A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie has already taken over New York radio with his hit “Bag on Me.”
With such consistently addictive melodies and a finely-tuned ear for beats, A Boogie can only improve from here. Take a listen below to see what the future sounds like.
4. If you like Yeezus, listen to WILLS.
Perhaps the most divisive element of Kanye’s 2013 album is its industrial production style. Upon its release, Yeezus split hip-hop fans into two camps: those who are willing to experiment with the fundamentals of hip-hop production and those who are not.
If you’re in the latter group, the modern hip-hop landscape may look pretty dismal. Gone are the days when chopped-up soul samples ripped from your dad’s favorite records dominated the landscape.
But that doesn't mean they've disappeared. The Bronx’s WILLS has combined the two worlds on "Woes vs. Whoas," a song split between industrial propulsion and a devastating trumpet sample. WILLS picks up where Camu Tao left off, alternating dark, stripped-down verses with banging, passionate hooks.
Listen to “Woes vs. Whoas” below and stay tuned for more from this promising newcomer.
5. If you like Sia, listen to Skott.
Scandinavia, you’ve done it again. The overseas musical haven is known for churning out dark, edgy pop acts, and the region’s newest star, Skott, is no exception. With just one track—the ghostly, fragile “Porcelain”—the newcomer has our full attention.
The track reveals a seemingly impossible vocal range and heart-wrenching lyrical depth. “We have got the power of destruction / you can always let it fall / but when we try to work on something solid / it is too goddamn hard,” she despairs. But maybe part of the singer’s appeal also lies in her slight air of mystery. Raised in a forest commune of folk musicians, Skott seems to have materialized out of thin air—all the more reason to keep her on your radar.
6. If you like James Vincent McMorrow, listen to Talos.
James Vincent McMorrow first impressed us with his beautiful voice, but he's kept us under his spell with his intriguing productions choices, mixing folk and rock with electronic production. Talos is similarly creative, and his most recent song, "Your Love Is An Island," might be his best yet. It starts so simple, just guitar and vocals, but the song evolves into a much more intense experience.
The two singers are both from Ireland, t00—what are they putting in the water over there?
7. If you like SBTRKT, listen to Autumn in June.
Autumn in June may croon “it’s alright baby” with a sweetness that makes the chorus sound like a lullaby, but the somber lyrics of "Pretty Wicked" tell a different story. The subject is wasting away from paranoia and drugs, and it’s that exact sense of turmoil beneath the surface that makes Autumn in June’s sound so compelling.
Combining synth-pop and hip-hop, the artist hones a unique vibe that’s at once hopelessly romantic, painful, and irresistibly danceable. It’s a sound he’s continued to build a following on from his 2014 debut single, “Hey Arnold!” to 2015’s similarly-unsettling “HEROin KIDZ.” Hopefully, we won’t have to wait another year to hear more from the up-and-comer—it’s a good thing those three tracks don’t seem to get old.
8. If you like The Social Experiment, listen to Jamila Woods.
Chicago has another rising star to add to its ranks. Jamila Woods has been collecting accolades since lending her warm vocals to Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment’s 2014 “Sunday Candy,” and has since been featured on tracks like Chance The Rapper’s “Blessings.”
The activist/poet/singer is making the transition from sidelines to spotlight with her debut full-length, Heavn. Blending smooth R&B vibes and rapturous vocals with poignant social commentary and guest spots from fellow Chicago stars, the album is as divine as its title suggests.
9. If you like Lido, listen to Foursix.
New York’s Foursix have moved past their city's penchant for samples—"Nothing Yet" is built around synths and heavily effected vocals, a modern style of electronic music still assimilating to the mainstream. But the sound makes sense when you hear about its origins.
Producer Jahnei says “Nothing Yet” started to form “while [he] was skating in front of [his] school, thinking about some girl, listening to a song by [his] favorite producer Lido.” The result is a unique blend of acoustic and electronic elements, and Verdé Madera and J-Pay$o's verses provide nimble accompaniment to the laid back vibes.
10. If you like Arctic Monkeys, listen to Alexandra Savior.
Alexandra Savior is a Portland newcomer with the kind of slinky, mischievous sound that makes you feel deliciously complicit just by listening.
And we’re not the only ones enamored by Savior’s smoldering sound. Her demo track “Risk” was featured in season two of True Detective, Tame Impala’s Cameron Avery collaborated with Savior on “We're Just Making it Worse," and the Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner co-wrote and produced both “Risk” and Savior’s latest single, “Shades.”
With two stellar singles behind her and a debut album in the works, Savior's ceiling is rapidly disappearing.
11. If you like Beach House, listen to Klangstof.
If Beach House sounds like the sunshine, then Klangstof sounds like an icicle melting on "We Are Your Receiver." The Dutch group’s sound is a thoughtful culmination of the past decade of indie progress.
By combining satisfyingly simple song structures with impeccable production, the band demonstrates their mastery of a tried-and-true genre without sounding derivative. The vocal quality of singer Koen Van De Wardt is by turns icy and passionate, creating songs suited for listening in any mood.