Baeble's motto is "Know who's next." We pride ourselves on having our ears to the ground floor of the most exciting acts working today and championing their music before they inevitably blow up. And throughout the year, we've kept tabs on the acts we felt displayed the most potential and who continued to grow in new and exciting ways all while presenting themselves to larger and larger audiences. And so, without further ado, here are Baeble's top 10 breakthrough acts of 2015.
I got to catch Slothrust open for another band on this list at Baby's All Right back in April
, and when I found out we were shooting Slothrust as part of a series of concerts we covered at Brooklyn Bowl over the summer, I already knew what everybody in the office was about to discover. Leah Wellbaum can shred on the guitar. Even if there were no vocals, you could listen to Leah Wellbaum play her guitar all night. She's got that much talent. Be sure to catch Slothrust's fusion of post-hardcore and Southern guitar licks the next time they come to your town. You won't be disappointed.
9. Tobias Jesso Jr.
In a year that saw the return of the 70s style singer-songwriter, few more deliberately evoked performers like Harry Nilsson and Jim Croce than Tobias Jesso Jr. (who would also go on to co-write a song for Adele which is about as much a sign as exists that you've made it in the contemporary music scene). Dig into his record Goon
the first chance you get. You won't be disappointed.
8. Natalie Prass
Speaking of old fashioned singer-songwriters, Natalie Prass deliberately evoked a different sort of nostalgia than many of her peers. Rather than treading the waters of 70s soft rock/70s folk, Prass embraced the theatrical and her most obvious peer is Sondheim, not Carole King. And her self-titled debut remains one of the most beautiful records of the year.
7. Vince Staples
When Vince Staples album Summertime 06
was released earlier this year, it was impossible to not get eerie flashbacks to 2011 when Section.80
dropped and turned Kendrick Lamar into a hip-hop superstar over night (with good kid, m.A.A.d. city
acting as his ultimate coronation into the mainstream). Vince Staples has made the monumental initial impact. Now it's time to capitalize on this momentum.
6. Hippo Campus
In what will be a minor theme on this list, Hippo Campus was a band we first saw opening for a more established act
. But the youthful (and they are very young) Minnesota rockers not only held their own that night, they came close to walking away with the whole show. And to prove they weren't just a flash in the pan, they just dropped one great single and video after another this year. 2016 could very easily be the year that everybody knows Hippo Campus's name.
Bully was the band that Slothrust was opening for earlier in this list, and when I caught Bully at Music Hall of Williamsburg a couple months later, they became the only two bands that I saw twice in one year. That's about as high a compliment as I can give to a young act. Bully live is not something that you can afford to miss.
4. Robert DeLong
Few artists are shaking up preconceived notions of what a live EDM show should be than dance music wunderkind
Robert DeLong. We shot Robert earlier in the year for one of the final Bands & Brews sessions at the old Baeble HQ before his second full-length record, In the Cards
, was released, and now that it's out and we've had the chance to see DeLong tour with the new material, it's clear he's going to keep conquering dance floors across the nation for a long time to come.
3. Years & Years
Considering "King" wound up our #2 song of the year
, it shouldn't be any surprise that the British trio have wound up on this list. "King" is a undeniably smash and is something we'll be bumping for a long time to come, but Communion
is a great album of synthpop as a a whole, and Years & Years only have room to grow.
2. James Bay
James Bay became one of the faces of Apple Music this year. Considering he was buzzing in his native England last year but hadn't yet crossed over into the States yet, that's a massive amount of growth. And he's only continued to dominate the folk rock market like his UK brethren Hozier over the last year. We don't see James Bay slowing down any time soon.
1. Courtney Barnett
What can we say? The Australian rocker was generating endless waves of buzz even before she had released her debut record, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes Just Sit
, earlier this year, and when it finally came out, we were only talking about her more. Courtney Barnett's massive success -- which included opening for Blur at the Hollywood Bowl and Madison Square Garden in addition to her own raucous tours -- should be the final nail in the coffin in the notion that rock is just another boy's club. Because in terms of pure rock records of the year, it was hard to top Courtney Barnett. Expect her to secure main stage slots at music festivals around the world for a while to come.