Who doesn’t love a music festival, right? It’s all the best parts of a concert–music, friends, alcohol and drugs…just lots and lots more of them! Each year, more and more of them are popping up all over the place. As you probably already know, one of the biggest and baddest is always Bonnaroo. And it has to be one of the most incredible line ups this year–hell, maybe even one of the best ever! We’re talking about The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, Bon Iver, Radiohead, Skrillex, Bad Brains, and countless others! Is it just us, or does 2012 seem like the year that each fest is trying to out do and top each other?
The larger indie music sites always publish guides which present a good summary to the impressive bill, but who doesn’t already know about most of these celebrity performers? Yet one of the best reasons to go is to discover new music! Of course most attending will certainly see Young The Giant, Kendrick Lamar, St. Vincent, Kurt Vile and The War On Drugs, Two Door Cinema Club, and Fun. But for each of these, there are a ton of massively talented, vastly underrated artists like Trampled By Turtles, Big Gigantic, NEEDTOBREATHE, and ART vs SCIENCE.
Anyone who has ever been or considered going to experience a massive event like this knows what it feels like when looking towards the bottom of the schedule. It can almost feel like reading a foreign language, seeing bands listed that you have never heard of. That’s where we come in to help. Live music festivals are still, despite all the advanced technology of 2012, one of the best methods of discovering new music. This isn’t necessarily meant as a planning guide for deciding who to catch, unless you are really late! Since we weren’t able to get this posted before the event, we are intending it to be a primer for the armchair quarterback fans like us. We aren’t providing first hand coverage, but are watching the live stream coverage on YouTube like many of you. These are some artists already turning up everywhere this year, and others we expect to follow them very soon. The list includes everything from pop to hip-hop to EDM to folk. So in our best and on going effort to cover the best in indie music, we present our Top 30 Indie Picks Of Bonnaroo 2012. The list is not presented in any logical or sequential order whatsoever:
Fruit Bats is led by guitarist, pianist and singer Eric D. Johnson, the band’s main songwriter and only constant member. Originally part of short-lived Chicago group I Rowboat, Johnson and two of his fellow Rowboat members, guitarist Dan Strack and drummer Brian Belval, created Fruit Bats as a side-project.
When I Rowboat split up, Fruit Bats became Johnson’s main focus. Spurred on by Califone/Perishable Records honchos Tim Rutili and Ben Massarella, the group recorded their first album, Echolocation, released in 2001.
After tours with Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci, Modest Mouse and The Shins, Fruit Bats signed with Sub Pop in late summer 2002, recording their second album, 2003’s Mouthfuls, which included new bandmate Gillian Lisee.
After relocating to Seattle, the group released their third album, Spelled in Bones, in 2005. Afterward, Eric D. Johnson played with The Shins and Vetiver. In 2008, the Fruit Bats began working together again, with revised membership of Johnson, Christopher Sherman, Ron Lewis, Graeme Gibson, and Sam Wagster. In 2009, they released The Ruminant Band.
For fans of: Blitzen Trapper, Here We Go Magic, Mates Of State, The Cave Singers
We Are Augustines is the brainchild of Brooklyn-based musicians Billy McCarthy and Eric Sanderson. Their album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ was released in 2011. They have given stunning performances at both CMJ and SXSW, and have been on tour as opening support for Band Of Skulls. Make sure to read their entire bio, the lead frontman has gone through enough personal tragedy to make a movie out of.
For fans of: Heartless Bastards, Boy & Bear, Dry The River, We Were Promised Jetpacks
Rarely does an artist explode onto the music scene with the force and impact of a comet. But when it does happen — as it did when 26-year-old singer-guitarist Gary Clark Jr. delivered an incendiary debut performance of his song “Bright Lights” at Eric Clapton’s 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival last June — the result is magical. Funky, hip, and badass, Gary Clark Jr. is a rocking soul man for a new generation. Weaned on John Lee Hooker, Lightnin Hopkins, and T-Bone Walker, Clark fuses his deep blues influence with a love of classic hip-hop and contemporary soul. His voice weaves between a melodic lilt and a seasoned blues howl with his guitar licks dancing and dodging between and behind the beat as if the essence of Snoop and Dre loom in his head by way of the Mississippi Delta. The virtuosity Clark displays, and the tone he rings from his cherry-red Epiphone Casino guitar, put most modern rock shredders to shame. Born and raised in Austin, TX, Clark began playing guitar at age 12. He performed small gigs throughout his early teens before popping up on the radar of legendary promoter Clifford Antone, owner of Austin blues club Antone’s. Through Clifford’s connections, Clark was soon sitting in with and learning from an array of musical icons, including Jimmie Vaughan. Vaughan, and others in the Austin music community, mentored Clark along his path, facilitating his steady rise on the Texas music scene. His peers have showered him with acclaim for his galvanizing live performances. In 2001, Austin’s mayor, Kirk Watson, declared May 3rd to be “Gary Clark Jr. Day.” Clark was 17 years old.
Clark went on to win the Austin Music Award for Best Blues and Electric Guitarist on three separate occasions, in addition to receiving awards from various blues magazines and associations around the country. After playing the nationally televised show Austin City Limits and touring with such artists as Jimmie Vaughan, Pinetop Perkins, and Doyle Bramhall II, Clark released two self-produced albums, and composed the original score for the film Full Count. Clark’s creative versatility and love for not just blues, but also soul, hip-hop, classic rock, and jam bands, has allowed him to transcend his own musical talents. He starred alongside Danny Glover and Stacy Keach in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper. In 2010, Clark was the only young newcomer to be selected by Eric Clapton to perform at the Crossroads Guitar Festival, where he performed with Doyle Bramhall II and Sheryl Crow. A DVD of the show, released last November, led to Clark’s signing with Warner Bros. Records for whom he is currently working on his major-label debut album. Clark’s singular talent has also attracted a bevy of artist support, including accolades from Sheryl Crow, Citizen Cope, Damian Marley, Ron Wood, and Questlove. As the latter recently Tweeted after witnessing a December performance at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl: “I don’t think y’all understand the greatness that is in front of you. Gary Clark Jr. is kickin’ ass and takin’ names.”
For fans of: Portugal. The Man, Alabama Shakes, Jack White, Delta Spirit
EMA is Erika Anderson of the recently broken up long running American west-coast band Gowns. Using solo guitar, piano, voice and tape collage her music could not be blessed with more heartfelt beauty, it seems almost impossible the amount of intimate feeling in the sounds, taking on the piece of music as an instrument in and of itself to accompany Erika’s amazing voice and lyrics.
For fans of: Grimes, War On Drugs, Perfume Genius, K. Flay
This young 20 something is an up and coming artist who moved from Tacoma to Brooklyn. 2012 is shaping up to be a big year for Oberhofer, who is hitting soon in support of the fantastic new LP Time Capsules IIout on March 26th on Glassnote. What a record, what a performer, what a star in the making. The record was produced by Steve Lillywhite in Brooklyn and the quality and experience of such a producer shines through, that combined with Brad’s youthful energy and clever songwriting makes for a record which young and old, boys and girls, and everyone else in the middle will enjoy and relate to. He has already received attention from Spin, Stereogum, and Pitchfork, and should be on your radar by now. Oberhofer has played at Bowery Ballroom, SXSW, 35 Denton Fest, Coachella, and will be at Lollapalooza as well. Quickly building buzz lately, Oberhofer also made their television debut recently on the Letterman show.
For fans of: Craft Spells, Sundress, Tanlines, Baths
First introduced to us by fellow Austinites The Bright Light Social Hour, White Denim is a bluesy, jazzy, garage-rock trio. According to vocalist/guitarist James Petralli, White Denim’s songs are the musical manifestations of abstract paintings or philosophical tracts. He explained to UK music magazine the NME: “The things that I like to read are generally abstract. I like patterns, I like reading poetry and avant-garde prose and I’m more interested in musical patterns in literature than I am in long-form narratives. I look at paintings and try to visualise an object or image, then assimilate how that makes me feel into a series of phrases and try to make it musical.” Having previously headlined last year’s inaugural Gorilla Vs. Bear festival, this will be their first major festival circuit appearance. It is a huge opportunity for the guys who have just returned from touring Europe.
For fans of: The Duke Spirit, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Real Estate, Lower Dens, Bright Light Social Hour
7 K. Flay
You may not expect one of the most compelling new voices in hip hop to wield dual psychology and sociology degrees from Stanford University or find inspiration in the buttoned-up world of indie rock, but for K.Flay, defying expectations is simply part of the game.
Kristine Flaherty grew up outside of Chicago, devouring her father’s classic rock records and staying up late dancing to Parliament-Funkadelic in the living room. It was this same musical open-mindedness that would later spark her artistic development. She found her musical voice in college, fusing the eclectic power of the Bay Area hip hop scene with her own unique presence, inspired by strong, independent female artists ranging from Missy Elliott and Lauryn Hill to Fiona Apple and Liz Phair.
On stage, K.Flay is a one-woman whirlwind: whether she’s creating beats, singing, rapping or playing guitar, her wit and acerbic charm shine through. Her talents have led her to share the stage with artists including Snoop Dogg, Grieves and Budo, Ludacris, and 3OH!3, where she quickly won over audiences who hadn’t seen anything quite like her before. Further setting her apart from the pack, she serves as her own producer in the studio, methodically infusing her hip hop swagger with a dose of sonic exploration.
Hard to the core, core to the rotten, she grew up when Jordan and Horace grant ruled the world, when getting to 999 on your skip-it was a life goal, and when people still called 1-800-collect. She moved to CA and started making music in a dorm room. Now she makes music in studios, apartments, and the front seat of her car. She calls sneakers gym shoes and eats large quantities of cheerios on a daily basis.
For fans of: Azealia Banks, MC Lars, Fat Tony, Bad Rabbits, Moon Taxi
8 Mariachi El Bronx
Mariachi El Bronx is the mariachi side project of Los Angeles hardcore punk band The Bronx from Los Angeles. Their debut album ‘El Bronx’ was made available worldwide on August 17, 2009.
For fans of: Off!, White Denim, Fucked Up, Every Time I Die
The Lonely Forest - the pride of Anacortes, Washington – have taken the Pacific Northwest by storm recently. The four piece rock band has developed a rabid fan-base in the area culminating in sold out shows at Seattle’s Showbox Theatre, a coveted slot at Sasquatch! in May, and now a record deal with Chris Walla’s new label, Trans. Walla, guitarist and producer for Grammy-nominated rock band Death Cab for Cutie, made The Lonely Forest his first signing when he launched Trans in conjunction with Warner Music Group’s Independent Label Group.
The Lonely Forest has toured with bands like Margot & The Nuclear So and So’s, as well as Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Death Cab For Cutie, and Minus The Bear. From the outset The Lonely Forest -singer/guitarist/keyboardist John Van Deusen, guitarist Tony Ruland, drummer Braydn Krueger, and bassist Eric Sturgeon- has been about inclusion. At its core, the music features Van Deusen’s soaring vocals and keyboard melodies wrapped tightly around Ruland’s expansive guitar anchored by a heavy yet nimble rhythm section. The contrast of brilliant pop songs featuring lyrics about spiritual longing wedded to an almost prog-rock sensibility appeals to a broad swath of listeners, from wide-eyed teenagers to jaded indie scenesters.
For fans of: K. Flay, Portugal. The Man, The Globes, Margot & The Nuclear So &So’s
10 Major Lazer
Diplo and Switch certainly live the life. Hugely successful DJs/producers in their own right, last year they joined forces and headed to Jamaica to explore their Rasta roots. The locals were a bit dubious about their dancehall credentials—Diplo, being a skinny white kid from Philly, and Switch, being a baldy, beardy ginge from Birmingham—but the pair proved their worth in the studio and have recorded with artists like Elephant Man, Gyptian, and T.O.K. We saw a live performance ourselves at last year’s Fun Fun Fun Fest in Austin, trust us on this one.
For fans of: Kid Sister, Flying Lotus, Diplo, Santigold
SBTRKT is Aaron Jerome, a producer based in London. He performs behind a mask every time he plays, and has already been featured in Spin magazine. He has worked with Little Dragon before. He was at this year’s SXSW.
5 things about SBTRKT:
1) His live show includes his main collaborator Sampha on vocals and keyboards.
2) The name came about to create a musical identity separate from any single person.
3) Much of the music being played is electronic based but some recent material is live.
4) First gig was at fabric in Room 1 at Get Familiar (amazing sound/vibe!).
5) SBTRKT is pronouced ‘Subtract’.
For fans of: Little Dragon, I Break Horses, James Blake, M83, Metronomy
12 Here We Go Magic
Here We Go Magic is an indie rock group which formed in Brooklyn New York, United States in 2008. Originally the solo project of singer/songwriter Luke Temple (vocals, guitar), the band has since expanded to include Kristina Lieberson (keyboards), Michael Bloch (guitar), Jennifer Turner (bass guitar), and Peter Hale (drums).
Developed over a two-month period of stream-of-consciousness recording in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Luke Temple’s self-titled debut under his new moniker Here We Go Magic is a remarkable departure from his signature singer-songwriter material. Luke recorded the album at home using analog synths, a cassette 4-track, and his trusty SM-57 mic, coloring the sound with warmth and creating textures you want to wrap yourself in.
Later in 2009 Temple expanded the project into a fully fledged band with keyboardist Kristina Lieberson , guitarist Michael Bloch , bass guitarist Jennifer Turner and drummer Peter Hale. The second album Pigeons was recorded surrounded by mountains in Catskills, New York in the fall of 2009 and was released by Secretly Canadian on June 8, 2010. Their brand new record A Different Ship was just released in May.
For fans of: Caveman, Lower Dens, Bear In Heaven, Fruit Bats, Father John Misty
This is one of those bands that I am still surprised by how many people don’t yet know. Grouplove is an indie pop band which formed in 2009 in Los Angeles, California, United States. The band consists of Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Hannah Hooper (vocals, keyboards), Andrew Wessen (vocals, guitar), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), and Ryan Rabin (drums). The band released their debut album, Never Trust A Happy Song, in September 2011. The album was produced by the band’s drummer Ryan Rabin, who is the son of former Yes guitarist and film composer Trevor Rabin. They played SXSW 2011, and have been touring in support of Young The Giant recently.
For fans of: Walk The Moon, Of Monsters & Men, Givers, Sleeper Agent
Santigold (born Santi White on September 25, 1976) is a musician, songwriter and producer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA who formerly went under the stage name Santogold. She is perhaps best known for the song L.E.S. Artistes which became a hit in the UK and on American alternative radio. According to Songfacts, she was originally nicknamed “Santogold” by a classmate back in the 1980s because of her sister-girl style. In February 2009, she officially changed her stage name to Santigold as a result of infomercial jeweller Santo Gold threatening legal action against White and her label Downtown Records. Her new album “Master of My Make-Believe” became available in April.
For fans of: Kimbra, Charli XCX, Sbtrkt, Azealia Banks, M.I.A.
Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott are the Detroit based duo Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. They have released both The Horse Power EP, and their first full length album, It’s a Corporate World, was released in 2011. We saw them last year at ACL 2011, when their set included both bubble machines and even free Popsicles tossed to the overheated masses. They also played last year’s Lollapalooza fest.
For fans of: Danny Brown, Gary Clark Jr., Reptar, Yellow Ostrich, Hooray For Earth
16 Delta Spirit
Delta Spirit is a band from San Diego, California, United States, beginning in 2005. “The raw spirit of indie rock. An amplified, rocking version of ’60s protest folk. The soulful passion of the Violent Femmes and The Waterboys.” All of these comparisons have been made in attempts to describe Delta Spirit, the southern California five-piece who might just be one of the most important new bands of the decade. Each description contains elements of the truth, but the real answer to the question “who is Delta Spirit?” lies within Ode to Sunshine, the band’s captivating debut. The group’s DIY ethic shines throughout the album, with songs honed razor-sharp over a year of non-stop touring across America. Opening sold-out tours for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Cold War Kids, and Dr. Dog, the band developed a riveting live show and gained a loyal following amongst tastemaker music fans, earning them invites to national festivals like Austin City Limits, Noise Pop and Sasquatch. So it would not be an understatement to call Ode to Sunshine one of the year’s most highly-anticipated debuts. But don’t take our word for it; in the words of Delta Spirit: “If you’re feeling what I’m feeling come on, all you soul searching people come on.” You can read a recent live show review we did on them from Dallas here.
For fans of: The Lumineers, Fruit Bats, Dawes, Blitzen Trapper, The Head & The Heart
17 Das Racist
Das Racist is a hip hop group, formed in 2008 and based in Brooklyn, New York, comprised of Queens-born Himanshu Suri and San Francisco-born Victor Vazquez. Suri and Vazquez met in 2003 at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut where Victor was Himanshu’s resident advisor in a “Students of Color for Social Justice” theme dormitory. Suri was a member of the Eclectic Society and is also an alumnus of School of Oriental and African Studies. Vazquez is also a member of Boy Crisis. The duo was later joined by hype man Ashok Kondabolu, known as Dap, for live performances and in music videos.
Known for their use of humor, obscure references, and unconventional style, Das Racist has been both dismissed as joke rap and hailed as an urgent new voice in rap. Spin magazine picked Das Racist as one of 50 acts to watch at the 2010 SXSW festival, and in April 2010, MTV Iggy selected Das Racist as one of the “25 Best New Bands in the World”. Rolling Stone declared the song “hahahaha jk?” from Sit Down, Man one of the fifty best singles of 2010.
For fans of: Childish Gambino, Shabazz Palaces, Killer Mike, Danny Brown, Girl Talk
Alabama Shakes is an American rock band formed in Athens, Alabama, United States in 2009. The group consists of lead singer Brittany Howard, guitarist Heath Fogg, bassist Zac Cockrell, and drummer Steve Johnson.
The R&B-inspired Rock band Alabama Shakes originated when lead singer/guitarist Brittany Howard approached bassist Zac Cockrell during a high school psychology class in Athens, Alabama and the pair began meeting after school to write songs. They have also played the HangOut Music Fest recently.
For fans of: Jack White, The Lumineers, Dry The River, Of Monsters & Men
19. Childish Gambino
Donald Glover is an American actor, writer, comedian, musician and rapper who is not related to the actor named Danny. Glover first came to attention for his work in the sketch group Derrick Comedy and is best known for his role as community college student Troy Barnes on the NBC comedy series Community.
Glover was born on Edwards Air Force Base, California, and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia. He graduated from New York University with a degree in Dramatic Writing in 2006. Glover is known for his work on the NBC show Community alongside Joel McHale and Chevy Chase. He was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, and also played both Fun Fun Fun Fest last year, as well as Coachella this year. Recently working on a new EP including a single with Beck, don’t be surprised to see guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar and Danny Brown. Having previously performed in a small tent last year, expect a large crowd to be gathered for what should be an epic performance.
For fans of: K. Flay, Reggie Watts, Drake, Danny Brown, Odd Future
MiM0SA, aka Tigran Mkhitaryan, is an Armenian born electronic music producer who spent most of his life in Oakland & Los Angeles. He’s albums are Hostilis, Flux for Life, Psychedelic Stereo, Silver Lining, 58 Degrees, and Sanctuary. His EDM style will win over whoever experiences his set.
For fans of: Big Gigantic, Paper Diamond, STS9, Bassnectar
21 The Kooks
British indie rock band – formed in Brighton, England, United Kingdom in 2004. The band currently consists of Luke Pritchard (vocals, guitar), Hugh Harris (guitar), Peter Denton (bass) and Nick Millard (drums). Nick is currently filling in for Paul Garred due to a recent arm injury. They have released three studio albums; their 2006 debut Inside In/Inside Out peaked at number two on the UK Albums Chart, and their 2008 follow up Konk reached number one. Their newest record, Junk Of The Heart, came out last year, and they have currently been on tour with Kimbra opening for Foster The People. We just witnessed them live last week, you don’t want to overlook this group.
For fans of: The Clash, Arctic Monkeys, The Wombats, The Strokes
22 Danny Brown
Born Daniel Sewell on March 16, 1981, Danny Brown is a hip hop artist from the Dexter-Linwood area of Detroit, Michigan.
Danny is an unconventional hip hop artist employing multiple flows and cadences thus the moniker of “The Hybrid”. His style varies from low pitched gravelly tones to a manic, high pitched, squawk.
His lyrics, often dealing with the truth of living in Detroit; poverty, drug abuse, desperate circumstances, etc and his own experiences in the motor city, from selling drugs to underground parties in Detroit’s rave scene juxtaposing those topics with a humorous narrative told ferociously over avant-garde production choices. He was on the XXL Freshman list this year, and has been on tour opening for Childish Gambino. He recently did a mini documentary with Pitchfork.
For fans of: Black Milk, Killer Mike, Death Grips, Childish Gambino, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
23 Blind Pilot
We Are The Tide, the sophomore album from Portland-based band Blind Pilot, will be released September 13. The album follows the band’s grassroots debut, 3 Rounds and a Sound, which has garnered them critical attention on NPR, which included them in their “Best Music of 2008” roundup, stating, “a roots-pop duo which bathes its terrific songs in ingratiating harmonies and understated instrumentation. The result…is endlessly engaging: There’s not a dud on 3 Rounds and a Sound, and a ludicrous abundance of replay-worthy ringers.” Moreover, the album also received praise from USA Today, the Boston Globe, the New York Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer, which called the music “…a rustic reverie.” Blind Pilot began in 2007 when Israel Nebeker (vocals, guitar) and Ryan Dobrowski (drums) embarked on a West Coast bicycle tour playing mostly to unfamiliar listeners at small-town venues. The band now exists as a 6-piece ensemble featuring fellow Oregonians Luke Ydstie (upright bass, backing vocals), Kati Claborn (banjo, dulcimer, backing vocals), Ian Krist (vibraphones) and Dave Jorgensen (keyboards, trumpet). In the years since it’s inception, the band has toured with various world-renowned musicians and have appeared at the Sasquatch! Music Festival, Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and the Outside Lands Music & Arts Festival.
For fans of: Delta Spirit, The Avett Brothers, Of Monsters & Moon, The Head & The Heart
Fitz and the Tantrums are an American soul group from Los Angeles, California. The group was founded in 2008 by Michael Fitzpatrick, who had begun writing soul music for a solo project on an old church organ he had purchased. He added friend James King to the group as an arranger and soon after expanded the band to a seven-piece, including several horns. Fitzpatrick shares the vocal duties with Noelle Scaggs. Other members include Joseph Karnes, Jeremy Ruzumna, and John Wicks. They have just released a new EP, and just played another fest last weekend with The Flaming Lips, St. Vincent, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah.
For fans of: Gary Clark Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Dawes, Mayer Hawthorne, The Head & The Heart
I remember discovering this one the old school way: from a friend! I was lucky enough to come across them way back in 2007. Little Dragon is an electronic music group formed in 2006 and based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The band is made up of Yukimi Nagano (vocals), Fredrick Källgren (bass), Håkan Wirenstrand (keyboards) and Erik Bodin (drums). To date, they have released three studio albums: Little Dragon (2007), Machine Dreams (2009) and Ritual Union (2011).
For fans of: Santigold, Sbtrkt, Yacht, Phantogram, Miike Snow
The Civil Wars consists of John Paul White, hailing from Florence, AL and Joy Williams, originally from Santa Cruz, CA, but now residing in East Nashville. The duo’s chance meeting fueled an immediate songwriting chemistry and creative synergy. Their second show ever, performed at a sold out Eddie’s Attic, was recorded and released as a free digital album.
Barton Hollow, the full-length debut from The Civil Wars, was released February 1, 2011 (Sensibility Music). According to the Barton Hollow Songfacts, it debuted at #1 on iTunes’ album sales chart and at #12 on the Billboard 200. The album came on the heels of a breakout year for the duo, whose remarkably successful free/live album has been downloaded over 100,000 times. Additionally, their 2009 four song EP, Poison & Wine, debuted at #4 on the iTunes Singer/Songwriter Top Albums chart. The EP’s title track and first single was played in full on “Grey’s Anatomy” (episode 609, “New History”) and its accompanying music video has been viewed over 1,411,229 times on YouTube. The band won the Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance and Best Folk Album in 2012.
For fans of: Delta Spirit, The Avett Brothers, Of Monsters & Moon, The Head & The Heart, Fitz and the Tantrums
Michael Wayne Atha, better known by his stage name Yelawolf, is an American rapper currently signed to Shady Records, Ghet-O-Vision Entertainment and Interscope Records. He is co-managed by Redd Klay Entertainment along with his personal manager Jeremy “J Dot” Jones, and was discovered by Eminem.
Raised in Gadsden, Alabama, and overcoming a battle with drugs, Atha appeared on the reality series The Road to Stardom with Missy Elliott and released his independent debut album Creek Water in 2005. Two years later, Atha signed to Columbia Records and released the single “Kickin’” from his unreleased first studio album, before being released from the label later that same year. His debut record, Radioactive, came out last year. He was on last year’s Vans Warped Tour, and has appears at SXSW. Speaking from personal experience, he puts on an amazing live show you don’t want to miss.
For fans of: Rittz, Tech N9ne, Eminem, Machine Gun Kelly, Royce Da 5’9″
The Joy Formidable are an indie rock band formed in 2007 in North Wales, United Kingdom, currently located in London, England. The group members are Ritzy Bryan (vocals, guitar), Rhydian Dafydd (bass, backing vocals), and Matt Thomas (drums). Their music has been described as “primal epic grunge rock à la The Breeders, Arcade Fire and Yeah Yeah Yeahs”. They will soon have a new record out. We saw them at last year’s Fun Fun Fun fest and were blown away.
For fans of: Brahms, Dead Sara, Phantogram, Silversun Pickups
Battles is comprised of drummer John Stanier of Helmet and Tomahawk, guitarist/keyboardist Ian Williams of Don Caballero and Storm & Stress, guitarist David Konopka of Lynx. All members bring their honed-in musical skills of past glory to Battles. The Tras and EP C EPs were both released in June 2004 on Cold Sweat and Monitor respectively. The B EP followed on Dim Mak in September 2004. The Atlas EP followed in early 2007, followed in turn by the band’s proper full-length debut, Mirrored, in May 2007. They released the acclaimed Gloss Drop in 2011, followed up by an EP of that same album remixed called Dross Glop. They played last year’s Pitchfork Festival.
For fans of: White Denim, Animal Collective, Explosions In The Sky, Mogwai, St. Vincent
Yet another artist we watched last year at Fun Fun Fun. “Ms. Garbus has a ferocious voice, somewhere between Aretha Franklin and Yoko Ono. At times it’s a roar, and at times it’s coy, but her ability to modulate it show off a rhythmic and artistic intelligence that echoes Bjork, and even to a degree M.I.A.” – New York Times
The brainchild of Merrill Garbus, tUnE-yArDs began life as dictaphone recordings which were then painstakingly mixed down on GarageBand to create the opening gambit, her debut album BiRd-BrAiNs. Initially released on a limited LP run through Marriage records with screenprinted sleeves recycled from thrift store bargain bins, it wasn’t long until others took notice and she soon signed a worldwide deal with 4AD. The album was formally released in late-2009, having been remastered and with four more tracks added. The Guardian, whilst awarding it 5/5, called her “the find of the year.” In 2011, that rings as true.
Alongside the record, she also started to build quite a reputation for her live performances. Using loop pedals, two mics, a snare drum, a ukelele, her distinctive voice (she’s spent time teaching singing in Kenya) and crucially, a second band member, Nate Brenner on bass. Together, things started to happen when they took to the road with kindred spirits, the Dirty Projectors, on both their US and European tours. As word of mouth spread, the venues they were playing in were filling up earlier than usual as people heard of their genius. Anyone who has seen them live will attest to them being nothing short of incredible live. It comes as no surprise then that at this year’s SXSW, they were one of the biggest draws.
The new album, w h o k i l l, was released on April 18th on 4AD and marks a time when everything came together in to one cohesive whole. Recorded in a studio and influenced heavily by her moving to Oakland, California, she and Nate have made an album that delivers on her early promise. Lyrically Garbus explores constructs of femininity and sexuality with the threat of violence that lurks on the streets where she now lives, while the energy of their show has been translated perfectly to record. She has been on tour opening for St. Vincent.
For fans of: Wild Flag, Battles, St. Vincent, Dirty Projectors, Yacht