Ladies First

Have you ever seen an obscure car, style or trend for the first time, and then noticed how you can’t walk one block without seeing it everywhere?

That’s usually the aftermath of seeing something striking or unusual that’s beginning a trendy journey into mainstream, and following my previous post about seeing the current influx of edgy, new-age female artists who have both a little depth and dangerous glamour mixed into their emerging personalities – it seems as if these boundary-pushing chicks are flocking together moreso than before.

The music of 2012 is at a sort-of-sleepy stage right now – that point in the game where rumblings of new singles, mixtapes and LPs are laced into conversations, rumoured collaborations are at their highest heights and tours are on their first foot. So, it seems only right to unveil some more of the fascinating female creatures who are stepping up to the plate in this first inning of the year in music, swinging hard at any not-so-worthy competition in their way. So, plug in the earbuds and check out a few more of these ladybirds who are going to keep us on our toes as the months unfold:

Hot off the press! Selah Sue is in for a long, successful ride. With the combined coolness of her raspy vibrato, hard-hitting ragga-funk sound and icy blue eyes, this European superstar cherub is only in the infancy of what I think will be an extremely worthwhile growth to observe. Born to Belgium in 1989, her scat-sing-rap talent is beyond her years, taking notes from the ghetto-fab tune of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill or Erykah Badu’s early works, and proving that her producer team of Wyclef Jean and Dr. Luke are fulfilling her every capability. Pick up her latest album Raggamuffin for the kind of fly beats and soulful acoustics you can’t get from any other 22 year-old in town.


 Not to be confused with Santogold, the rock-rap sensation who got her start in early 2008, Santigold is waiting to reveal the latest of her “genreless” sound with the release of Master of My Make-Believe in late April. OK, I lied – it really is the same girl, only with a one-letter name difference, but the fact that she’s taken a four year recording hiatus, during which she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and collaborated with the Beastie Boys and N.E.R.D., there isn’t a chance in hell she’s going to come back spitting the same rhymes and tune she did before dropping the “o”.  An artist as complex, fascinating and diversely influenced as Santi White won’t play an ordinary card after her first runaway album that floored the industry – and the leaked sample of her newest fearless beats, in the form of “Disparate Youth”, is evidence she’s been dealt quite a hand this time around.

Let’s change the tune a little bit, but not the pace – because this country chick is going to blow up just as much as (if not more than) the first two mentions. I had the pleasure of interviewing this darling songbird from her Nashville, Tennessee home last week – and let me say, I was flabbergasted at her unawareness of exactly how good she is. Originating in Toronto and paying her near-decade-long dues as a struggling artist, this rockabilly bluegrass phenomenon is vocally unbeatable and melodically advanced in every way – reminding the entire game that a new Dolly Parton or Emmylou Harris is in town with guns blazing. Wildly catchy rustic tunes and heartbreaker lyrics are the perfect pairing to her mind-blowing yodel, and you just wait and see – Canada will be very, very lucky to say we had her first.

Something, just something – a little musical tingle or intrigue within me –  tells me that this recent music grad will in no way be a MySpace or summer festival fleeting appearance on the music scene. Her soothing, dreamy sound is anything but normal; sonic melodies and pure Aimee Mann-reminiscent howls that lay low before rising along with the ambience of her songs. The warm earthiness heard in Ekstasis’ night time lullabies might not be fit for the mainstream, but is certainly appropriate for anyone looking to take a little journey in their headphones away from generic indie noise.

Listener discretion – this little Harlem firecracker doesn’t rap or sing for the faint-hearted. She’s a self-proclaimed “rude b**ch*”, a former theatre kid and has a mouth like a sailor, but one thing is absolutely for sure – the 20 year-old hip-hopper has a voice and a half. She’ll toss down a beat impossible not to shimmy to, musically berate you and make you flip from track to track, if anything, out of mere curiosity. The airwaves will need to dub her cocky house-rap tunes for public consumption, but in the mean time, the candid wild child and her earmuff-necessary jams are making splashes left, right and center in the online sphere – and once the multi-talent’s club tracks gain a little momentum, waves are in the works. Oh, and Chanel’s creative director/pop-culture guru, Karl Lagerfield, invited Banks to perform at his Paris home…enough said.

*Warning: explicit lyrics

If you’ve set foot in Urban Outfitters or any other hipster-haven in the past month, you’ve undoubtedly heard the pixie-like croons of this quirky Montreal-based/Vancouver-born artist. Futuristic synth riffs, eccentric clangs and her ethereal holler are only one half of her peculiar persona; the other side being a sprite-like frame, oddball dance moves and lady-Skrillex hairdo. The 23 year-old’s most recent album Visions has led to her being hailed as the next big thing by Pitchfork media, and although intriguing, once the current hip-synth gig gets a little tired, I think we’ll hear a more mature, experimental and interesting tune out of this dream-pop newbie.


Happy listening!

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