There have already been quite a few festival line up announcements for this year already, including Bonnaroo, Boston Calling, Coachella, Governor’s Ball, Hangout Festival, New Orleans Jazzfest, and Shaky Knees, and Sasquatch will be coming out in February. The almost complete list for SXSW is out as well, too. If we could curate our own festival, there would no likely not be any massive hype or people waiting for the lineup to be announced – we would just have it for ourselves to witness some really great not-so well known talent and hope that others would want to discover some really great musicians that in our opinions can even rival some of these big name line ups. Ok, maybe there would be some hype with a few of the artists, but the underbill would be full of emerging bands that deserve people’s attention.
Our lineup, of course, would be wishful thinking. We hope you enjoy the list and if you aren’t familiar with some of these bands, we hope you have discovered something new today. Out of this list we are including our 10 favorite Hidden Gems of 2014 and some from our Most Anticipated Albums of 2015. We even made a playlist for our fake festival, which you can find at the very bottom of the page. And click on the names of the bands to get more information on either past albums or to be connected to their Facebook page.
While they have only produced one full-length album, The Alabama Shakes have established an incredible following. A number of reasons could be given – the honesty found in their songwriting, the blissfulness of every note and melody, or their “aw-shucks” genuine attitude. Whatever the reason, the Athens, Alabama band have earned every accolade, and we’re honoured to have them with us for the weekend.
Making dark yet dreamy music like Daughter, Alea Rae are trio from Westminster, British Columbia who are ready to captivate the hearts and minds of a new audience. Don’t miss one of 2015’s breakout stars.
The Barr Brothers are a great folk quartet from Montreal, and we would love to have their eclectic sound played live, especially after hearing their solid release of Sleeping Operator last fall. In such an intimate setting, expect some dancing and merriment much like what you find in the old days at barnyard dance.
Making their home in the indie hot bed of San Francisco, Be Calm Honcho have carved out their own niche with their laid-back, smooth, indie-pop melodies and clever songwriting on Honcho Dreams. With their engaging personalities, they are sure to be a hit during the weekend. And walk around because you never know where they’ll pop up.
Ben Howard could be a co-headliner with the following he has continued to gain due to his great songwriting and singing. His 2015 American tour is selling out all over the place and he has expanded some of his dates already. This UK native is definitely making waves over in North America and it is well deserved. Discover why when he hits the stage at our little festival.
The Besnard Lakes have dazzled audiences with their take of 70s-era rock, from the dreaminess of the LA music scene to the epic nature of southern rock. And you never know what the Montreal-based band may cover during their live shows, creating a campfire-like atmosphere as the audience joins in for the chorus.
More than just home to Middle Earth, New Zealand is becoming a factory of great music, among them is dark, synth-pop trio Black City Lights. Based out of Wellington, Black City Lights are guaranteed to mesmerize and could be the most talked about act at the end of the weekend.
From London to New York City, Cariad Harmon has fully embraced the historical sounds of her new homeland. Whether dabbling in folk, Americana, blues, or jazz, Harmon’s delicate voice and engaging on-stage demeanor will have audiences eating out of her hands.
The meteoric rise of 26-year old Courtney Barnett has been nothing but startling and impressive. But it’s no surprise that music fans young and old, women and men, boys and girls, have gravitated to the Melbourne-based singer-songwriter. She’s affable, funny, and down-to-earth, but onstage she rocks with the best of them and songs are some of the most clever and amusing around.
To get Dan Bejar – a.k.a. Destroyer – is a treat. Without question one of the best songwriters of our generation, Bejar easily moves between witty lyricism and engaging social commentary. And onstage, you never know what you might get, so expect the unexpected because something memorable is likely to happen.
With one of the most underrated and overlooked albums of 2014, Eagulls’ self-titled albums wowed us with their electrifying post-punk album. However, their live shows are legendary. Get ready to have your faces melted by the Leeds, UK quartet.
The LA rocker is totally underrated in our opinion. With a new album release, Moonlight, only a few days away, El Khatib is set to remove the word “underrated” next to his name to full-blown star. He has a UK tour coming up for all of you international readers, and his live set is not one to be missed.
It’s a rarity for a band to release four albums and not to have a single dud among its discography. Heartless Bastards are one of those unique bands, who have made incredible albums for the past decade. We fully expect 2015 to be the year that the Cincinnati, Ohio quartet are finally given the recognition they deserve – as one of indie rocks’ great bands.
J. Roddy Walston & The Business have been on the festival circuit as of late, and it’s well deserved with their crunchy, roaring rock sound. The Baltimore natives are starting to record their next album. and with the success of 2013’s Essential Tremors, we are definitely looking forward to new material from these guys.
Jason Isbell might be one of the world’s most gifted yet underrated songwriters, but after one listen to any of his material, you’ll see why he deserves to be a co-headliner. Already established from his 6-year stint with Drive-By Truckers, he has had well deserved success with his solo career. His hybrid sound of alt-country and southern rock would be a perfect mix for our little made up festival.
His father is the legendary Steve Earle, but Justin Townes Earle is talented in his own right. His recently released album Absent Fathers, which was somewhat of a companion piece to 2014’s Single Mothers, showcase his talent for songwriting and guitar playing. In typical JTE fashion, he mixes country and southern blues influences with great success. A one-two punch of Isbell and JTE to close out one day of the festival would be mind blowing.
She’s performed with a number of great artists and bands, including Neko Case and The Decemberists, but Laura Veirs in her own right is one of today’s best singer-songwriters. Often using allegory as a means to communicate her message, Veirs paints vivid landscapes in her songs, taking the listener away to places never before experienced.
People, get ready for Leon Bridges, the next great singer-songwriter and guitar player whose soul-rock-blues is made for all seasons and all times. We can’t wait to see Bridges and his talented band capture the hearts of the audience and hear comparisons to Al Green and Otis Redding streaming from the crowd.
With a handful of captivating singles under their belt, Life Model are on pace to be the next big buzz band out of Scotland. A little like CHVRCHES and Coves, the Glasgow, Scotland band make some deliriously good dream-pop. You’re sure to leave their show with a permanent smile on your face.
The Lone Bellow coin themselves as “Brooklyn Country”, but we would say they definitely have many more elements and genres than just country. Regardless of how you describe their sound, 2013’s self titled album was very solid and we are only a week or so away from their new album release titled Then Came The Morning. We can’t wait to see them perform once again.
METZ’s live show can only be described as follows – it’s like a heart attack waiting to happening. Pulsating, rocking, and full-blown energy, METZ’s post-punk isn’t for the faint of heart, but at the same time it is guaranteed to be memorable.
Moats had their US debut last fall at the Austin City Limits Festival and seeing their live set first hand, we are honored for this UK rock band to play for us. Their new EP, Rough, will be out very soon, but these English rockers have plenty in their arsenal to have music fans satisfied if not wanting more.
Nadia Reid is another in the wave of gifted singer-songwriters coming from New Zealand. A little like Sharon Van Etten and TORRES, Reid takes a very personable approach to her songwriting, touching the hearts and souls of all those who hear her lovely and heartbreaking stories.
There are only a handful of indie rock acts that can make beautiful and dazzling indie rock. Phosphene is one of them. The Oakland, California duo are following in the footsteps of The National and Sharon Van Etten to create music that can be foreboding at times but also hopeful.
He might be best known for being on the cover of Justin Townes Earle’s Single Mothers, but Sammy Brue is one extremely gifted musician, and he’s already being recognized as one of music’s great, future guitarists. The thing is, Brue is only 13-years old. Catch this prodigy in action.
We’ve always had a soft spot for Shelby Earl. She has a voice that is tender yet soothing. She has had experiences that many of us have had – from broken relationships to taking wrong paths to finding one’s calling later in life than most. Her second album, Swift Arrows, was among the very best of 2013, but she’s been a secret only known to Seattle. Well, not any more.
Ten years. Ten years! We never thought we would see the day when rock legends Sleater-Kinney would record a new album, but here we are in 2015 and Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss are back. Despite a decade between albums, the trio sound as great as they have before. For that matter, No Cities to Love might just be their best effort. Stay to the end of the festival to watch these three ladies close the festival with a bang!
It’s one thing to get Steve Gunn, Kurt Vile, and Mary Lattimore performing solo or with their own bands – but it’s a tremendous treat to have them collaborating on an album and performing together live. This is a show not to be missed because who knows when such a power, indie trio will again arise to record and perform an album of fully original music.
Another hidden gem of our and a secret that only a few know, Sumeau create indie pop that will take your mind to a whole different stratosphere. It’s easy to get lost in their music, and you just might fall in love with Kat Primeau and Chris Sousa during the show. And like The Besnard Lakes, expect a few covers that will have you singing a long.
Post-punk-rock with a touch of pop – that’s Philadelphia’s Swearin’. With two albums under their belt, including the excellent Surfing Strange, the quartet fronted by Allison Crutchfield are sure to put on an energetic and awesome show regardless of time of day. And who knows, maybe there will be some special guests.
Indie folk hasn’t sounded this dreamy probably never. On Blind and Brave, California’s The Wild Reeds crafted an album that was one half innovative and refreshing, taking dream-pop textures and interlacing them with folk arrangements. On the other half, they paid tribute to the great folk music of the past, as far back as 1940s. Their show will be a trip through music history.
New Jersey’s Titus Andronicus are one of the most talented and devastating post-punk bands around. They’re sound is relentless. Their live shows are jaw-dropping and unbelievably good. They’ll have you sweating when it’s all said and done, but leaving you with the desire to hear more.
To Kill A King is considered in the genre of folk, but they have a definite rock element going on. They released a great album in 2013 titled Cannibals with Cutlery and a nice little EP last fall. The UK natives are now releasing a self-titled album on March 2nd, and their performance at RevueFest is an opportunity to hear their full library of music – new and old.
With a new sound, Katie Crutchfield – a.k.a. Waxahatchee – is once again reinventing herself, adding new layers and textures to accentuate her intelligent and honest songwriting. But where she succeeds the most is in the delicate elements of her songs, where the quietest moments are the ones that are most heard and remembered. With her new album Ivy Tripp, this is the year when Crutchfield’s imprint on indie music will be cemented for a long time.
Based out of Hamilton, Ontario, husband-wife duo Whitehorse have long amazed audiences north of the border. With Leave No Bridge Unburned, Luc Doucet and Melissa McClelland are set to make waves in the US and beyond. In addition to being excellent songwriters, the two are immensely gifted guitar players. For any aspiring guitarist, this is a show not to be missed.
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