You might be asking, “Why would we have a list dedicated to hidden gems when The Revue is about hidden gems?” That’s definitely true. This list is dedicated to those artists who really blew us away this past year with new singles or albums, and who continue to fly under the radar. Some of our favorite gems, who were once hidden like Bitter’s Kiss, have exploded this year.
Here are fifteen artists who dazzled us this past year, and who deserve your undivided attention. If you’re curious who made the list last year, you can read it here.
Our Favorite Hidden Gems of 2015
If you like Taylor Swift, you’re going to love Charly Cole! She’s a 19-year old singer from just about everywhere really. She was born in Russia and grew up in Germany. At 16, she moved to LA all by herself to pursue a career in the music industry. She is the older sister that every teenager would love to have because she “has been there, seen it, done it. If she hasn’t got the T-shirt, she’ll probably be making one of her own. ~~ Flo
French for Rabbits
French for Rabbits‘ music radiates with the majesty of their native homeland. From New Zealand’s stunning South Island, the band, which was founded by Brooke Singer and John Fitzgerald, is a modern-day Mazzy Starr. Like the famous band, French for Rabbits have captivated our hearts and minds with their blissful and enchanting dream-pop, and more people around the world are beginning to discover them following their successful jaunt through Europe. New music is expected in 2016, at which point the moniker “hidden gem” may no longer apply. ~~ Ben
I instantly fell in love with In Hoodies when I heard “She Got Caught”. This is probably one of my favourite songs I have reviewed this year. Everything about the song makes it something you’d want to listen to all the time, as different aspects work well in different moods. The melody is quite relaxing and calm, but there is a certain quality to it that is more than that, and it adds another level to the music entirely. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but you can listen for yourself and see what I mean! ~~ Flo
Should Jessie Jones be considered a “hidden gem”? She plays with California punk-pop band Death Valley Girls, and she signed with Burger Records. She, however, remains a relative unknown to the masses despite releasing her terrific and confident self-titled, debut album. Jessie Jones was intelligent, creative, and complex, where Jones introduced familiar topics but told through new and vibrant psychedelic prisms. The album was truly dazzling, and if she so chooses, it has positioned Jones to further her solo career. And if she does, she could very well be the next Neko Case or Feist. ~~ Ben
Shortly after we collectively reviewed The Dodo’s Individ back in January, we received an e-mail from a female duo out of LA (by way of Wisconsin). We listened and were quite surprised how awesome Lion’s Mouth sounded and were really impressed, so much so that we reviewed their self-titled debut here. The duo comprised of Chelsea Zareczny and Sara Wexler blew us away with their talent for combining early 90s vibes mixed in with heavy percussion reminiscent of The Dodos and smartly timed guitar riffs. Getting e-mails from talented bands like Lion’s Mouth are the reason we do this blog, the reason we keep writing and keep helping discover truly talented artists in a massive see of independent bands with little recognition or promotion. ~~ Wendy
Meadowlark could be the next electronic male/female duo that explodes onto the scene. With recent successes with Sylvan Esso and even to some extent, Phantogram – Meadowlark deserves more recognition. The Bristol based duo comprised of Kate McGill and Daniel Broadley is producing some awesome indie-poptronic tracks along with emotional songwriting. Their EP Dual was released at the end of March this year and tracks including “Fly” and “Family Tree” are stand outs worth listening. They have the perfect blend of beautiful vocals courtesy of McGill and simple yet complex production thanks to Mr. Broadley. We look forward to hearing more from Meadowlark in 2016. ~~Wendy
Optivion is Alex from the USA and Rie from Japan, creating a fascinating East-West fusion of some of the quirkiest sounds we have heard this year. For them, music has always been a “gravitation sonic wave” for political movement and environmental change. “Free Unicorn”, the title track from their 2015 album, is definitely different – symbolic, political, industrious and savvy. Optivion describe it beautifully as a “small melody from the beat of the earth, taken from a symbol of mythology that is considered to be beneficial in every culture”. We agree – what’s not to like about a “Free Unicorn”? ~~ Flo
Truly one of the best up-and-coming country musicians in the scene today is Parker McCollum, who earlier this year released his debut album, The Limestone Kid. The album has a sense of a well-seasoned troubadour, although McCollum is only 22-years old. At the heart of his album is “Meet You In The Middle”, which reflects his honest and refreshing sound. McCollum’s bluesy yet southern twang vocals further bring his music to a different, original level. The future is immensely bright, and I cannot wait to see what’s next. ~~ Zac
Homegrown Canadian Bluegrass! The Slocan Ramblers are a Toronto-based band that delivers handcrafted, bluegrass gold. Coffee Creek is the second album by the band, and it showcases some of their best and creative playing to date. Each member – Frank Evans, Adrian Gross, Darryl Poulsen, and Alastair Whitehead – could be labeled as some of Canada’s best, emerging musicians. Together as The Slocan Ramblers, they are one of the best Canadian bluegrass bands and a hidden gem to watch in 2016. ~~ Zac
Telegraph Canyon is based out of Ft. Worth and the six member band is creating awesome tracks. Think if My Morning Jacked produced an album with horns and strings and took on an Americana slant. This July the band released You From Before which we reviewed here. Each song off their newest album proves the band’s diverse talents with certain tracks focusing on heavy percussion or violin. The songwriting is smart and introspective courtesy of frontman Christopher Johnson. The band just came off of a long tour in support of You From Before and we hope to hear more new material from Telegraph Canyon in 2016. If you ever get a chance to see them live, it’s highly recommended. ~~Wendy
Although Thessa Giska‘s “Cemburu” is in Indonesian, the catchy rhythm and tune will have you singing along immediately, even if you don’t speak a word of the language. She truly is “hidden gem” right now, as “Cemburu’ is Thessa’s first venture into EDM. She’s turned “Cemburu” from vintage and simple disco into a buzzsaw of a track, which she describes as “progressive house”. Although “Cemburu” sounds happy – it’s a theme that I’d like to hear playing every time I walk down the street – I was quite surprised when I found that “Cemburu” translates as jealousy and the lyrics are quite sad and dark. The track is just a hint of the talent possessed by the young artist. ~~ Flo
Tim Watson is a singer, songwriter and a multi-instrumentalist from Toronto, and he released his powerful debut album Still a Young Man this year. Driven by Watson’s unique classically trained vocals and his rockin’ band, the record can be “elegantly haunting and mysterious” with a side of twang. The lyrics, meanwhile, range from catchy to outright poetic. There is no doubt that Tim Watson (and his band) has substantial talent. When you finish listening to the album, you repeat and listen again, and with equal amazement. Albums like this are a pure joy to find. Here’s to hoping he will amaze us for years to come. ~~ Zac
We Came As Strangers
We Came As Strangers is one of those bands you look up and wonder why they are not more well known. The UK quartet is creating awesome tracks with mesmerizing vocals courtesy of Ellem. The latest release, Eyedom is full of songs that completely bring you in with ethereal vocals backed by guitars and synth. Top tracks from the album are “Eyedom”, “Still Life” and “Adrenaline”. We Came As Strangers is comprised of Ellem, Justin, Owen and Tim who actually at one point were all strangers to each other. Their sound is now fully realized and we are curious to see what is in store for WCAS in 2016.~~Wendy
When we first heard Wesley Fuller, he had a decent-sized falling. In the six months since he was profiled as a hidden gem, his popularity has substantially increased in his home country of Australia. This shouldn’t be a surprise because his summery and dreamy psychedelic pop is a delight to the ears. His music is filled with infectious hooks and his harmonies are outstanding. By his lonesome (and with assistance from his mates), Fuller is recapturing the spirit of The Beatles while carving himself a niche alongside fellow Aussie psych bands Tame Impala and Pond. Here’s a young man set for massive stardom. ~~ Ben
Nearly a year ago, we were buzzing about Young Romance, proclaiming them to be the UK’s “next great noise-pop band”. They remain on track for big things, as their debut EP Wild was widely played by the BBC and applauded by musical outlets, such as NME and yours truly. Young Romance’s brand of noise-pop isn’t the sonic roller coaster that is Sleigh Bells. Their music, instead, is more immersive, dense, and haunting. At times, Young Romance channel the hypnotism of The xx and at other times the dark pop-rock of Pat Benatar. It’s a combination that is captivates while simultaneously blowing one’s mind. ~~ Ben
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