Even in the digital age, finding good music can be a Herculean task. One has to sort through all of the B-grade, “underground” rappers, the poor-quality demos of aspiring country stars, and the horrible singles of rising pop stars to find the few good new artists. To help save you some time, here’s a short list of some of the best artists to check out this year.
1. Kendrick Lamar – If you haven’t heard Kendrick Lamar, then you might be living under a rock. The 25-year-old rapper established a huge internet following with his mixtapes back in 2010, but with the release of his studio album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, Lamar has become one of the biggest names in rap. He has collaborated with everyone from Dr. Dre to The Lonely Island, and Lamar has received universal acclaim for his unique voice and lyrical talent. Be on the lookout for more collaborations and a slew of awards for the young rapper.
Must-listen song: “Swimming Pools (Drank)”
2. Husky – Australian indie rock band Husky hasn’t had a hit – yet. The quartet is named for the lead singer, Husky Gawenda, whose name describes his voice. The band’s material ranges from songs with slow rhythms and soothing acoustics, to upbeat tempos and sweeping melodies, but all fall into the genre of good. This is definitely a band to watch if you like music that will make you sit down, relax, and just appreciate the song.
Must-listen song: “Animals and Freaks”
3. Angel Haze – Females rappers have been underrepresented, but recently some bright stars have risen, and Angel Haze is definitely one. The 21-year-old phenom broke into the rap scene in 2012, after she covered Eminem’s classic “Cleaning Out My Closet” – and made it better. With new collaborations and original work on the horizon, keep an eye out for Angel Haze.
Must-listen song: “Gossip Folks”
4. Florida Georgia Line – Anyone who’s listened to the radio recently has probably heard this band. The group scored a top hit with “Cruise,” off the Here’s To the Good Times LP. The band is composed of musicians Brian Kelley, from Florida, and Tyler Hubbard, from Georgia, hence the band’s name. With talent that suggests more than one-hit-wonder status, the rest of the album is worth a listen. New backing from a major country label could make Florida Georgia Line a fixture in country music.
Must-listen song: “Cruise”
5. Death Grips – It’s hard to describe Death Grips’ sound beyond the relatively uninformative term “unique.” They have described their sound as punk, mixed with hip-hop, mixed with “noise.” The group’s approach to music has garnered ample critical acclaim, with their studio album, The Money Stone, ranking ninth on Pitchfork’s Best Albums of the Year of 2012.
Must-listen song: “I’ve Seen Footage”
6. Future – Future is the second vocalist for the 2011 YC hit “Racks,” and has collaborated with big-name hip-hop artists such as Lil Wayne, Drake, and T. I.. His sound is that of a mediocre rapper, but with melodies more on point than most of the big players in hip-hop. With a new studio album, Future Hendrix, featuring Kanye West, Rihanna, Drake, Rick Ross, Jeremih, and others, it’s likely that Future will pop up in 2013.
Must-listen song: “Tony Montana (ft. Drake)”
7. Animal Kingdom – For fans of the indie alterna-rock genre, British trio Animal Kingdom delivers songs that are reminiscent of folk-rock meets Muse. The traditional guitar-drums-bass setup is accompanied by sweeping piano and synth melodies on most every track, in addition to the lead singer’s quiet voice. Although the band has been around since 2009, their latest studio effort, The Looking Away, is the one that merits attention.
Must-listen song: “Strange Attractor”
~Fiona McCarthy, staff reporter