As the buzz for festival season begins to heat up, this past month has been full of stunning new releases from artists emerging out of what has felt like to some fans as a very, very long winter. We’ve even been blessed with some truly beautiful videos to pair them with. I’ve curated a list of my personal favourites from artists I believe we’re going to be hearing a lot more from. Check out the list below to get a sneak peek of the madness that is going to be the music scene for the next little while.
1. ALUNAGEORGE FT. POPCAAN- “I’M IN CONTROL”
An undeniably catchy track, with mesmerizing shots of the Dominican Republic’s streets and singer Aluna Francis as she slays Summer 2016 style before it even starts. Catch the UK duo at their WayHome Festival stop this July.
2. RUBY FRANCIS – “MOVE”
London’s Ruby Francis is a triple threat, writing, singing, and producing (or in the case of “Move,” co-producing) her own work. Her sound fuses classic soul and R&B with today’s penchant for heavier beats. Although there are no North American appearances lined up just yet, this new release was too smooth to exclude from the list.
3. BRAVESTATION – “AMADEUS”
Homegrown new-wave poets Bravestation released “Amadeus” earlier this month and it is seriously impressive. Captivating lyrics like “Your touch is an epiphany” pull you in but its the rushing chorus that propels you to your feet. Bravestation have shows in Hamilton and Toronto next week (!!!) and are also slated to play Canadian Music Week in May.
4. FKA TWIGS – “GOOD TO LOVE”
Sweet and dizzying, “Good to Love” might just have shelved “Kicks” and taken the title for my favourite FKA Twigs track. It gets better with every listen. With this new release, Twigs seems to be emerging out of the cyber darkness that she mastered on her past albums and EP’s. Yet another example of her staggering versatility. FKA Twigs is playing at WayHome Festival and judging by her past live performances, hers is not a show you want to miss.
5. SHURA FT. TALIB KWELI – “TOUCH”
Although “Touch” came out over a year ago, it’s been re-released as a single in anticipation of Shura’s debut album, out sometime this year. The new video features a collaboration with rapper Talib Kweli along with a cute animated version of the original video. Hailing from the UK, Shura has quite a few dates come up, but none in North America…yet.
6. JAMES BLAKE – “MODERN SOUL”
James Blake is back with his dark and dreamy sound on “Modern Soul.” Fresh from aBBC Radio 1 Residency, he makes his long-awaited return just as the line-up for Wisconsin’s Eaux Claires Music and Arts Festival, created by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. The artist keeps a low profile, however, so Canadian dates could spring up by surprise in the future.
7. NIKI & THE DOVE – “SO MUCH IT HURTS”
Hailing from Sweden, Niki & the Dove inject some much-needed colour into February’s winter blues with “So Much It Hurts.” The video, directed by Gustavo Torres and Clara Luzian, feels like a Gameboy colour and a Lisa Frank sticker factory made a beautiful, beautiful baby. Their upcoming album, Everybody’s Heart is Broken Now comes out April 10th.
8. THE 1975 – “THE SOUND”
The first single off their sophomore album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it, “The Sound” is a capital-B Bop, complete with the band’s trademark brutally honest and self-deprecating lyrics. The video is equally delightful, framing the lanky, leather-clad foursome in neon fuchsia. The inclusion of some of the band’s most negative critiques, including my personal favourite, “Robotic Huey Lewis Tunes” only makes their cheeky, unabashed sensibilities more lovable. The 1975 play Echo Beach in Toronto on May 20th.