ABOVE: BANKS. IMAGE COURTESY OF JOHN MICHAEL FULTON
These days, music truly lives online, with an infinite number of websites dedicated to hosting tunes for the laptop-wielding masses. However, the web’s bottomless pit of blogs isn’t the only place to troll for mp3 treasures—some of the most new and exciting (Internet-friendly) artists can be sought out via Soundcloud, the online stage that allows musicians to promote and distribute their music to fans and friends across the globe. In this weekly column, expert Internet sleuth Alex Chapman goes deep into the depths of the music-sharing site, in hopes of shedding light on emerging acts, as well as sharing some digital diamonds in the rough.
As avid music listeners with short attention spans, we here at Soundclouds of the Underground dabble in nearly every genre imaginable, bouncing from one style to the next in a moment’s notice. But admittedly, more than anything, we love a good lady voice. There is something about a solid female vocal that forces us to take our time with a track, and we hope this week’s song selection will prompt a similar reaction from you.
Banks: “Before I Met You”
Who: Soulful with dark, electronically influenced production, Banks could be the female answer to artists like The Weeknd—the LA-based crooner (who recently inked a deal with IAMSOUND) is sullen, sexy and mysterious, armed with a pop edge that will keep her hooks in your head for days.
The Song: Released to extreme fanfare, Banks’ month-old, beguiling track is bare in the best way, leaving the singer’s more than capable vocals (which, with her husky, haunting tone, are difficult not to compare to Fiona Apple’s) to lead the charge. “Before I ever met you, I never knew I could be broken in so many ways,” Banks sings with an alluring, quiet honesty.
Current Project: Banks’ only two available songs at the moment (not including “Work,” her collaboration with Lil Silva that started all the buzz) are on her EP, which, along with more info on the emerging artist, can be found here.
WALL: “Left to Wonder”
Who: WALL is Lyla Foy, a talented singer/producer who’s most recently been touring Europe as support for big-time indie outfit Local Natives. Foy’s sound is near-perfect in its simplicity, her hushed singing effortlessly intertwined with nostalgia-inducing instrumentation that’s epic by way of its subtlety.
The Song: “Left to Wonder” is a prime example of Foy’s formula, the muffled, programmed drums transforming into a breakbeat layered with synth strings once the chorus hits, none of the sounds ever reaching an overwhelming volume. Yet the song finds its fullness in its construction, each piece coming together to make a bittersweet, mid-tempo ballad for which Foy’s voice is perfectly suited, a testament to her ability as a producer and vocalist.
Current Project: WALL’s new EP Shoestring (“Left to Wonder” is its single) is set for an April 2 release, but Foy will also be touring for a chunk of March—find out details via her Facebook page.
Who: The blogs are abuzz with this New Jersey native’s pseudonym (which acts as a clever Wu-Tang reference), and after one listen it’s easy to see why—SZA’s voice is a multi-faceted powerhouse, and her music is full of raw emotion. In addition, SZA’s aesthetic seems naturally hip, a jazzy, oftentimes almost ambient culmination of classic and experimental R&B.
The Song: Produced by Felix Snow (who’s worked with the likes of Gyptian and Shaggy) and Patrick Lukens, “ICE.MOON” is a moody ballad with big bass that spotlights SZA’s impressive pipes, which maintain a simultaneous sensuality and strength (not to mention a damn good range). If the chillingly beautiful track is a sign of what’s to come, there’s no question SZA gets our stamp of approval.