There are few things that make me more excited than finding new artists and spreading the word. In a quickly changing industry, it’s difficult for breakout artists to gain traction. So we’ve taken it upon ourselves to dig deep for those new, fresh voices making music today. From Nina Simone inspired R&B, to the reincarnation of the legendary Otis Redding, there are some incredible artists who’ve come out in 2015 with something to say. Here is our list of 7 Artists to Watch Out for in 2015. At the very least, we hope these suggestions revitalize your summer music playlists. But, wouldn’t it be nice to see these artists live, before they make it big? Without further adieu, check out these artists who have us feeling both ecstatic and hopeful for the future of music.
1. Alessia Cara
If you haven’t heard of Alessia Cara by now, it’s time you listen to her anti-party anthem, a trip-hop ode to being the wallflower at a party. Alessia signed on to Def Jam records last year, being 18 years old, but having the lyrical confidence of someone far beyond her age. “Here” is her first and only single, but let me tell you, I’ve probably listened to that song fifty times by now. With 500,000 downloads in its first week of release, “Here” has quickly become an “introvert’s theme song”, coming straight from the heart of a girl who typically feels awkward at parties. Cara calls it a true story, and since even I can relate to it, I believe her. Just last week, Alessia dropped a cover of “Bad Blood” which has garnered praise from Taylor Swift herself. Seriously, her voice is fresh, lovely, and definitely worth listening to.
2. Leon Bridges
When I first showed my friends Leon Bridges, the first thing said was “Is this a really old song?” But no, Leon Bridges released his hit single “Coming Home” just this year, even though it sounds like something straight from an Otis Redding or Sam Cooke record. Call me old school, but when artists return to those wonderful jazz and soul roots, I start to swoon. Leon Bridges, backed by minimal instrumentation, hails in from Fort Worth, Texas. From performing Gospel around the Dallas Metroplex, Bridges first caught the attention of labels with “Lisa Sawyer” a song written about his mother’s baptism, which went to define his revived 60’s soul sound. Now, he struts into venues he’s previously only dreamed to perform in—suited up in a retro tux, elegant bow-tie—and performs to audiences who welcome him warmly. Leon Bridges, the Crooner of the year, is a great example of what happens when you tap into your inner soul.
A recent concert review of SZA noted that if you were to attend one of her shows in order to figure out which musical category she belongs in, then you likely turned away disappointed. But in my book, this is never a bad thing. SZA, most eloquently, has created a category of her own, or rather, has dismissed the need to fit into one at all. In describing SZA, I would say Lauryn Hill and Erykah Badu meets The Weeknd. With powerhouse vocals, unorthodox beats, and stream of consciousness approach to songwriting, SZA has made herself into a beautiful, and incomparable product. On her debut, SZA collaborated with two of the biggest names in rap, the newfound king Kendrick Lamar and the prodigy from Chi-Town, Chance the Rapper. With two incredible musicians behind her believing in the art, SZA is near unstoppable.
When first listening to Raury’s hit single “Devil’s Whisper”, you may think it’s going to be a folk song. Halfway through, it takes an electronic turn. And for the final lap, Raury spits a jaw-dropping rap that teeters on that dangerous, provocative, spoken-word edge. Basically, I had no idea what I was in for when I began listening to Raury’s small, yet incredible repertoire of songs. His vocals are smooth, his lyrics hard-hitting, and each movement within his tracks represents yet another musical influence. With influences as varied as Chance the Rapper from Lorde, it makes sense that Raury’s music doesn’t really sound like anyone at all. But in a world where there a hundred artists trying to sound like their contemporaries, it’s oh so refreshing to hear an artist to just wants to be himself. With talents ranging from guitar to music production to rap, Raury is taking it upon himself to do it all. And all of it is amazing. Oh, did we mention he’s only 19?
Melbourne based Courtney Barnett is the female rocker we’ve all been waiting for. Sure, Haim brought back the female rock band a few years ago, but we haven’t seen a solo act as powerful as Barnett in decades. She began as a guitarist in her girlfriend’s band, but soon outgrew the outfit, and needed some room of her own. With profound lyrics based on small, honest observations, Barnett has complicated her image of the apathetic, “too cool for school” rocker. No, she is much more than that, though her guitar riffs are certainly staggering. Her first hit single “History Eraser” is a dream of lyricism, her deadpan delivery allowing the words to speak for themselves. With the release of her highly anticipated second record Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, Courtney Barnett solidified her presence as a no mercy, no frills artist. Her guitar, jean jacket, and Doc Martens are all Barnett needs to be who she is, and do what she does.
It’s been awhile since a new indie rock band has caught my eye, so with the discovery of The Districts, came a sigh of relief. After years of performing regionally, The Districts finally caught the eye of a label who believed in their folk, Americana, and blues rock sound. When you hear the vocals of lead singer Rob Grote on The Districts single “Funeral Beds”, you’ll instantly be reminded of The Lumineers or Kings of Leon. But with the release of their second record A Flourish and a Spoil, the band confidently skews their folk sound to accommodate indie-rock undertones. In just a year, The Districts have embraced opportunities to create a sound adventurously varied from which they sprang. Sure, The Districts will always have their roots, but in a fast-changing industry, a band has to prove they can keep up with themselves. And according to the success of their second record, The Districts certainly can.
Honestly, it would take more than one language to adequately describe the magic that comes between twin sisters Lisa Kain-de and Naomi Diaz when they perform. Ibeyi (which translates to “Twins”) is a Cuban born Parisian duo who came from a musically inclined father, and were thus compelled to dig into their Afro-Cuban roots to make music of their own. Ibeyi’s music is striking in it’s power, especially considering the outfit is pretty sparse, with one sister singing and the other on piano. But this was more than enough to catch the attention of XL Records when the duo released “Mama Says”. By incorporating a few languages, electronic sounds, and traditional cajon and bata drums, Ibeyi has birthed an intoxicating, multi-cultural approach towards their hip-hop ideas. Ibeyi is, most likely, nothing you’ve ever heard before. But the duo proves that this can be, and is, a wonderful thing.