Aspiring musicians are easy to come by, but the lucky ones who make it are not. Up-and-coming artists can only hope to be the next Radiohead or Nirvana, but the reality is all artists face incredible competition that makes it tough to impress. For this reason, this month’s Ultimate Ears Artists to Watch program focuses on two new artists that have truly made a splash.
Our first featured artist is Alabama Shakes, who burst onto the scene and exploded onto the charts a few months ago with their debut album Boys and Girls. It’s hard to remember that most of them are fresh out of high school, as it feels like they’ve always been here. Maybe it’s because their sound is timeless. Maybe it’s because they have that old time Janis Joplin feel to them. Or maybe it’s because they’re already opening for Neil Young at Red Rocks and playing at all the major festivals. This is a young band with an old sound. The New York Times calls them, “Raw-boned and proudly unprocessed.” The Guardian calls their music “a deep earthy pit of blues and soul and swamp, is the sort of stuff that honeys the soul and puts fire in the loins.” We just call them our latest UE Artist to Watch.
Our other featured artist for July has performed with The Roots, produced for Freeway, Jazzy Jeff, Little Brother, De La Soul & Nikki Jean, and has MC’d on production from Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, and Kev Brown. He calls himself Oddisee and while he is well loved in underground hip hop circles, his debut solo work People Hear What They See should catapult him into the mainstream. Personally, I think that he has one of the best sounds in the industry. Like Alabama Shakes, his ear is tuned to an older sound. His beats, sounds and tempo are more Marvin Gaye than Rick Ross. But don’t take my word for it — take a listen to his acoustic version of “You Know Who You Are” on Okay Player. And while you are there, scroll down and listen to his interpretations of Bon Iver, k-os, and Marvin Gaye himself. Oddisee is a true musical genius and I’m honored to have him on the program this month.
Lastly, be sure to check out the Ultimate Ears Facebook page for additional news and information surrounding the Artists to Watch program.