Need playlist suggestions for finals? Looking to expand your musical palette for the coming year? Hoping to impress the resident hipsters in your classes with your musical foresight? We’ve got you covered with a roundup of acts that should make a big splash in the year ahead.
Half Moon Run
A Montreal collective which includes a former McGill student, Half Moon Run has already managed to leave a mark. A single full-length album, Dark Eyes, was enough to sign them up for a tour with the likes of Patrick Watson and Metric. With well-crafted lyrics, chilling harmonies, and flawless song structure, their passion for songwriting is clear—and listeners can’t wait to see what else they come up with. Half Moon Run is performing this Friday, Dec. 7 at The National.
Undecided? Listen to “Call Me in the Afternoon,” and their big single, “Full Circle.”
Since remixing New Navy’s “Zimbabwe” last year, Flume has been making serious musical waves down under. The young Sydney native’s smooth beats, subdued percussion, and soulful samples have garnered acclaim from blogosphere (his mixes have been increasingly trending on Hype Machine, a blog aggregation website) and print publications alike. Fresh off two sold-out tours and this year’s festival circuit—music festivals play an even larger role in Australian culture than they do in North America—Flume is only getting hotter.
Tracks to watch include Onra’s “The Anthem (Flume remix),” Hermitude’s “HyperParadise (Flume remix),” and Flume’s own, “Holdin’ On.”
Quebec natives Le Matos recently performed at M for Montreal with Danger, and blew his set out of the water. The trio’s music is infused with the coarse synth characteristic of Ed Banger Records (Justice, Busy P), bad-boy Kavinsky’s early work (circa “Testarossa Overdrive”). Unlike Kavinsky, Le Matos manages to keep the heavy synth fresh from track to track, and consistently deliver stripped down Justice-esque beats (think of a minimalist version of † rather than Audio, Video, Disco.
Standout tracks include “88mph,” “Sarah,” and “Quiet Earth.”
Recent years have seen a reemergence of female rappers. Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, and Azealia Banks have received the baton from Missy Elliot & Co., injected a dose of feminine swagger into mainstream hip-hop. Think of Angel Haze as a rougher, leaner, and grimmer version of Banks. While Haze cracks the occasional joke, her flow is more desperate; her clever wordplay is tinged with a sense of urgency that in Banks’ lyrics, is replaced by levity and cheek. If her recent mixtape Classick is anything to go by, 2013 will be Haze’s year.
For a taste of her lyrical flair, listen to Haze’s version of “Gossip Folks,” or her visceral cover of Eminem’s “Cleanin’ Out My Closet.”
Texas natives Wild Child released their brilliant indie-folk concoction, Pillow Talk, at the end of 2011, to surprisingly little fanfare. The seven-piece band’s debut showcased an unusual musical maturity and their genial sense of humour—think Edward Sharpe with a macabre streak. In 2013, Wild Child hope to record a new album called The Runaround, under the auspices of Ben Kweller, the latest subject of the “Bob-Dylan-of-our-time” campaign. They’re currently raising recording funds via Kickstarter.
Before you contribute, check out “Pillow Talk,” “Someone Else,” and “Day Dreamer.”
Michael Tomlinson, a twenty-something Australian living in London, has an impressive musical background. Tomlinson is the former lead singer of Yves Klein Blue, an indie-rock group which drew worldwide attention with their gritty “Silence is Distance” and “Polka.” While YKB disbanded in 2010, Tomlinson continued his musical career with his new project, MT. With a new 7” vinyl single out (“Paranoid People”), MT is quickly gathering momentum. Expect big things for MT in the coming months; meanwhile, check out Tomlinson’s songwriting on “Alpha Romeo.”
Lianne La Havas
Lianne La Havas first played in North America this time last year as the opening act for the Grammy-award winning Bon Iver. If that’s not an impressive way to make an entrance, her rare soulfulness, and heart-shattering lyrics give you no other choice but to fall head-over-heels in love with her. Musically situated somewhere between Billie Holiday and Adele, her talents won’t go unnoticed much longer. Nominated for Zane Lowe’s 100 Hottest Record of 2012, “Band to Watch” by Rolling Stone, and having done every American late night talk show from Conan O’Brien to Craig Ferguson, this can only be the beginning. Lianne La Havas’ album, Is Your Love Big Enough is in stores now.
Standouts include “No Room For Doubt,” and “Forget.”