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If you’ve been sleeping on our city’s music scene, then stop and pay attention. Philly’s music world is a deliriously eclectic tapestry of artists presenting every iteration of musical genius to make pop chart mainstays seem positively lame. Even though 2014 was supposedly the year that music tanked and nobody sold enough records (or something like that), it was a banner year for Philly artists staking claim over less-traveled sonic terrain. Americana troubadours The War on Drugs, who took critics and audiences the world over by storm with their slow-burning Lost in the Dream, were the most obvious local success story, but so many artists dropped albums and built foundations to supersede all expectations in the new year. Need a place to start? Just love lists? Then check out the 9 local artists, from bedroom composers to national superstars, to watch over the next 12 months.
With the recent news that this punk-derived, catharsis-inducing quartet will be touring the country with The War on Drugs this spring, Hop Along is prepared to make a major-league leap this year. And with a new album on Saddle Creek records expected soon, that leap will only further Philly’s worldwide reputation for honest, anthemic rock.
After a four-year hiatus from the music industry (propelled in part by a toxic, abusive relationship), this Grammy-nominated RnB singer and longtime-Roots collaborator made a powerful statement with her just-released Reality Show. 12 songs of breathtakingly honest narratives and powerhouse vocals put Sullivan back on the RnB map.
This local four-piece, whose catchy sun-drenched sound is equally perfect for summer barbecues and winter dance parties, exploded during a summer support stint with Taylor Swift’s favorite band The 1975. The buzz behind their excellent debut full-length All Over (and the title track’s cinematic-pastiche-heavy music video, which you can see below) is setting Cruisr up to become a much bigger act in the coming year.
There aren’t many rappers who can spit while triggering their own breaks or compose multi-suite tributes to the Toynbee Tiles, but virtuoso rapper/composer Lushlife can do that and so much more. We can expect a follow-up to 2012’s shimmeringly beautiful Plateau Vision, as well as some new tour dates, in the coming year.
Speaking of local rappers working with big concepts, Chill Moody basically set the template for local artist branding and social media mastery, producing exceptional music and giving much-due attention to our city’s bustling rap scene in the process. Look for new material in 2015, as well as a headlining slot at the TLA on March 7 before he heads with other local luminaries to Austin for South by Southwest.
Also heading to SxSW is Marian Hill, a fascinating duo mixing minimalist 808 breaks with sultry jazz and soul vocals. Instrumentalist/producer Jeremy Lloyd and singer Samantha Gongol reinterpret these well-worn sounds with sophistication. And with the possibility of a full-length debut in 2015, their star is still ascending.
A dedicated DIY venue network has turned Philadelphia into an epicenter for punk bands escaping, among other places, central Pennsylvania. After nearly three years of touring the world, Kingston, PA natives Title Fight release Hyperview, the highly-anticipated follow-up to 2012’s incendiary Coral Green, on February 3rd.
2014 was a banner year for a new class of millennial emcees who opt to play smaller rooms and art spaces, creating intimate experiences and new communities with every performance. Verbatum Jones set himself apart with his relentless positivity and pastor-like talent for uplifting audiences, making potlucks into shows and building a fanbase in the most interpersonal way possible. Expect a new self-released album, Faith, later this year.
Nothing’s explosive-yet-withdrawn mix of shoegaze and hardcore made their debut full-length Guilty of Everything both easy to miss but, once you listen, very difficult to forget. As they spend 2015 touring behind this new masterpiece, Nothing offer something (no pun intended) rather substantial to the conversation on rock’s future.