writes on April 20, 2017
I feel like I’ve seen everything. Like everyone else, I have fond memories of songs that changed my worldview—music that changed my life. My parents moved me into our renovated attic early and like the other Bart Simpson, I let my obsessions run wild in my personal cave. I loved music, so I played music as often as I could—flute, drums, bass, baritone, etc. I loved music, so I blasted music as loud as I could—Metallica, Chopin, From First to Last, Ke$ha, Iron Maiden, Muddy Waters, etc.
I was a musical Galactus, devouring everything in my path. At fourteen, I was a regular at concerts like Lamb of God and Slayer. I’ve seen and met Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco three times before they got “big”—they always were to me. When I was older, I took my youngest sister to K-Pop shows, The Jonas Brothers, and Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concerts—all excellent live performers in my biased opinion.
I just love music. All of it damn near.
That’s why it pains me so much to admit that I’m bored with music now. Across all genres, so much looks the same and sounds the same and isn’t concerned with being particularly unique in any fashion.
And it just keeps coming. As the hungry consumption of music has grown, so too has the general fatigue with it all. There’s a feeling in every part of the industry that we’ve just seen it all.
So color me excited to come across the following acts. Some will undoubtedly say I just need to “get out” more but each of the below musicians piqued my interest at first sight. Quite obviously, music is an aural experience. But being a musician is a visual one too. Kudos to the following musicians for their branding—it’s different, it’s something I haven’t seen a million times. And, dare I say, I like it.
When branding aligns with an artist’s music so perfectly, you have to take notice. Nicole Dollanganger is a sad doll—in a completely intriguing, impeccable way. Her music is sad doll music in the best sense.
“Loveless Nightmare” is Dollanganger’s chilling cover of the Twitching Tongues tune, yet her ghostly vocals take lines like “Why can’t I cherish anything” and “Love is not an option for me” to a level the original doesn’t quite reach.
You know immediately who she is when you look at her website or Instagram page. She presents a clear brand that works heavily in her favor. It resonates so much with her audience, she receives original artwork on a constant basis. Suffice it to say, I’m a little enchanted too.
The wheel of music is always turning. Our parents didn’t understand—much less like—our music, and we’re going to feel the same about the next generation. It’s inevitable. Accept it.
Now that we’ve got that understanding, check out Ayo and Teo, who you maybe remember from videos for Usher, Lil Yachty, Gucci, and Chris Brown. As far as musicianship goes, these dancers turned artists (hey, JLo did it) only have three songs on iTunes. But this list isn’t a pissing contest for catalogue size.
What surprised me the most is the fanbase these two have attracted. They are Loyal with a capital L. And even though older hip-hop heads may be scratching their collective heads as to why, it’s not really our job to get it. Take a look at the screenshot of a YouTube comment from the duo’s “Rolex” video below.
New generation Rae Sremmurd? I thought Rae Sremmurd WAS new generation. Still, over a thousand people agree with Sr. Romantico.
Before you cry “Rolex” and “Lit Right Now” present the same subject matter of everyone else in the genre (!), remember that the core of music never changes. Bruce Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch” is about cars and girls. Songs have always transformed human thought and impulse into something more, and they do it through the lexicon of the current vocabulary.
There’s bound to be similarly-styled, mask-wearing musicians bopping around the interwebs (how many 21Savage’s are there again?) but Ayo and Teo brand themselves well—read: they’ve picked a lane and are firmly planted in it. Respect.
Remember 1997 (some of you probably don’t 🙁 ) and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl”? Well strip those vocals and back it with a voice like Vanessa Carlton’s and you’ve come close to Kady Rain.
I collected Lisa Frank’s uber colorful school supplies as a kiddo and Kady hits that sweet spot for me.
The Austin native melds 90’s fashion, a millennial love for colorrrr, and pure pop beats into a consistent brand image. Watch all three come together in her song “R.A.D. Moves” with fitting hooks like “I’m kind of digging your rad a** dance moves.” What she’s doing, she’s doing well.
“Magneto was right” reads the Instagram bio for Canadian synth-pop artist, Claire Elise Boucher aka Grimes. I’m in.
#w4water drop4drop.org —– @drop4drop heyyyyy!!! its world water day — . ! 1 day soon we're strait up gonna run out of water and i'm terribly anxious about it. in any case,lots of ppl don't have clean drinking water as it is. water is a fundamental human right. this is a great charity that builds wells in communities so they have access to clean potable water. ————-—• "Every donation made goes straight towards our latest project, building a fresh water supply in a community in need of water. 100% of your donation will be going towards making a difference to a person’s life." i hope the robot overlords can fix this shit soon. 📸 by @hanatruly style/ art by @trashique2
She’s super, unashamedly political and does just about everything in the industry: record producer, songwriter, music engineer, singer, video director and editor, and visual artist.
In February, she released a video for “Venus Fly” with Janelle Monae that’s an art piece for the eyes but still incredibly listenable. It’s otherworldly and new yet backed by a celtic-toned fiddle—lots of fun to watch.
— SALES (@WEARENOTSALES) August 31, 2017
Keep it simple, stupid. Uniqueness, meaning a particular and exuding difference, isn’t always over-the-top.
Lo-fi duo Lauren Morgan and Jordan Shih have already been named “Ones to Watch” by The Hype Machine and they do not disappoint. These musicians are yet another example of brand and musicianship in perfect marriage. They’re toned-down image matches the simplicity of their sound in songs like “Getting It On”.
They’re poster children for the phrase “less is more.”
If you’re not familiar with lo-fi (low fidelity), it’s a genre that harkens back to earlier days of audio recording, where distortion was common due to music technology. SALES lo-fi sound is often “gravelly.” It’s like listening to a tape.
Soundcloud has given lo-fi artists a platform to band together, increasing the proliferation of the movement. Popularity will be the real test of loyalty for these musicians’ brand.