1. Ryn Weaver
Sounds like: Jem + Ellie Goulding
Sound bite: When most people make music with their friends, it’s a cute little hobby. In Ryn’s case, her friends are much-buzzed-about producers Benny Blanco and Cashmere Cat. Two months after the singer-songwriter uploaded her debut track “OctaHate” to SoundCloud, the underground song of the summer is close to reaching two million listens. Ryn’s four-track EP, Promises, is out now on Blanco’s indie label Friends Keep Secrets.
Sound: Pop you can play at a bar.
Sounds like: The Avett Brothers + Gavin DeGraw
Sound bite: The piano-driven pop-rock band from South Florida sounds like The Avett Brothers imitating The Beatles in the best way possible. The trio, led by frontman Jacob Jeffries, have performed coast to coast and received recognition from established artists like Coldplay, Allen Stone, and Sara Bareilles.
Sound: The type of music a Williamsburg hipster claims they like.
Sounds like: Mumford & Sons + Alabama Shakes
Sound bite: The Last Bison describe their sound as “Mountaintop chamber music from a seven-member band.” Let’s hope they have a big van, because the septet will be going on tour this fall, starting in their home state of Virginia. You can preorder their new album, VA, that they are releasing independently.
4. Zella Day
Sound: Lullabies you can dance to.
Sounds like: Lykke Li + Feist
Sound bite: Growing up in a log cabin 7,200 feet above the Phoenix valley, Zella grew up with an acoustic guitar as her BFF. Fast-forward to this past April, Zella now lives in Los Angeles where B3SCI Records independently released her debut single which now has over 5.5 million plays on Spotify!
Sound: Future funk.
Sounds like: Aloe Blacc + Flume
Sound bite: At only 20, Brayton has already caught the eyes (and ears) of established artists like JoJo and MNEK through his SoundCloud page. The singer-songwriter, who finds inspiration in everything from Amy Winehouse and Stevie Wonder to “twerkage” and “stank,” will start playing shows in early 2015.
Sound: Soul-ectronic jam band.
Sounds like: CHVRCHES + The Veronicas
Sound bite: Brittney Shields and Cory Scott Layton — the duo that comprises Oh, Be Clever — were once members of rival bands. After the bands’ contention resulted in physical violence after a show, Brittney and Cory — who’ve always admired each other’s musicianship — decided to leave their respective bands and collaborate on Oh, Be Clever.
Sound: Theater kids that started a band.
Sounds like: Two Door Cinema Club + The Ting Tings
Sound bite: Barely one year old, the band performed their first show in February, leading to their signing with indie label Photo Finish Records. Four million Spotify streams later, the trio premiered their first music video for “Reflections” on BuzzFeed. Recently, MisterWives caught the ear of Republic Records, which has started stepping in to help out as the band’s stardom continues to rise.
8. Devan DuBois
Sound: Phonic blues rock.
Sounds like: Jack White + The Black Keys
Sound bite: An LA transplant from Nashville, Devan got his big break when his song “Too Many Aces” landed in a major commercial. This past August he released Le Fou — his first EP — and the music video to its first single, “Long Live.”
Sound: Good ol’ bangin’ folk music.
Sounds like: KT Tunstall + Kate Nash
Sound bite: After releasing two full-length albums with a record label, Elizabeth & the Catapult are back to making music on their own terms. The band’s front-woman, Elizabeth Ziman, has gone on tour with the likes of Sara Bareilles, Lenka, and Kishi Bashi. This past year, Elizabeth & the Catapult released their third full-length album, Like It Never Happened.
10. Smoke Season
Sound: Intergalactic Americana.
Sounds like: Grimes + Band of Horses
Sound bite: Smoke Season, aka Gabrielle Wortman and Jason Rosen, bring indie rock to the year 3014 in their brand-new EP, Hot Coals Cold Souls. The duo has also established a residency at LA’s Echoplex — the same residency that helped launch the careers of The Airborne Toxic Event, Active Child, and Foster the People.
11. Grace Weber
Sound: Old soul with new boogie shoes.
Sounds like: Lianne La Havas + Kimbra
Sound bite: This Brooklyn-based indie soul sister is about to release her second full-length album, The Refinery, independently. If Grace looks familiar, you might have previously seen her on Oprah, Showtime at the Apollo, or SXSW.