Slingshot, VuHaus public radio stations and NPR Music’s emerging artist series, spotlighted 40 artists over the course of the past 10 months and you can vote for your favorite new musician of 2018 here.
Air Credits is a futuristic hip-hop project of Chicago rapper ShowYouSuck and producer STV SLV (aka Steve Reidell) of The Hood Internet. Their music imagines a dystopian post-war future where scarce natural resources are controlled by corporations.
Listen to their latest EP, GREEN/376, on Bandcamp.
Anna Burch writes cloudless pop songs, jangly slacker-rock anthems, even starlight country ballads defined by cascading layers of guitars and three-part harmonies.
Hints of Southern country music and soft, rustic folk fuse with delicate finger-picking and Bedouine‘s smooth, soothing voice. Her lyrics showcase poetic reflections on love, solitude and the freedom that comes from self-knowledge.
Bird Streets crafts songs that are bright, optimistic and poppy without overdoing it. The hooks are infectious and the vibes are right in the pocket. Listen to just one song and you’ll find yourself humming along for the rest of the day.
Listen to his album, Bird Streets, on Bandcamp.
Black Belt Eagle Scout
The latest chapter of Pacific Northwestern music is being written by Katherine Paul, the Portland, Oregon-based multi-instrumentalist and producer who records as Black Belt Eagle Scout. Inspired by a childhood that included both Swinomish music at family pow-wows and bootleg VHS tapes of Nirvana and Hole, Paul’s music is a stirring interpretation of multiple lineages of music.
Listen to her album, Mother Of My Children, on Bandcamp.
Boy Pablo has a knack for earnest, catchy songwriting that’s sure to strike a chord even among the most jaded hearts. Nicolás Pablo Rivera Muñoz is a young Norwegian Buddy Holly that conjures an innocence that is vulnerable and rare.
Listen to his latest EP, Soy Pablo, on YouTube
Brent Cowles is one of those musicians you can’t help but root for. His genre-blending music is a result of his upbringing, in Colorado Springs, Co. as the son of a preacher, who swayed Cowles towards the spiritual side of music, but also encouraged him to explore. The result is an original sound based on the classic tradition of high-energy, thoughtful rock ‘n’ roll.
After Cautious Clay‘s triumphant Tiny Desk Concert Bob Boilen said, “There’s good reason why I’m so certain that this little-known artist will be well-known in the coming year: He’s a bright talent, exploring music with a curiosity and invention that is genuine, without pretense and with intentions that aren’t aimed at fame but rather meant for friends.”
Born Constance Power, the twenty-something London artist Connie Constance has the ability to blend modern U.K. sounds — trip-hop, guitar-based artists like The Smiths and The Stone Roses — and match them to her voice, smooth and billowing and seeming to use every last store of oxygen by the end of every line.
Listen to her latest single, “Fast Cars,” on YouTube.
It takes less than a minute for Dermot Kennedy‘s “Moments Passed” to pull listeners all the way in, as virtually indecipherable looped growls give way to the Irish singer-songwriter’s bold, rich rasp. The powerful singer’s ability to thoroughly captivate an audience is awe-inspiring, and seeing him perform is a monumental event.
Listen to his latest EP, Mike Dean Presents: Dermot Kennedy, on YouTube.
The young American pianist George Li has a winning smile that can light up a room — or better yet, a concert hall, like the famed Mariinsky in St. Petersburg, Russia, where his debut recital album was recorded. The 22-year-old’s Haydn sparkles, his Chopin is passionate and he plays blockbusters, like Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2,” with the heart-on-sleeve swagger of the old-school masters like Vladimir Horowitz.
Watch his Tiny Desk Concert.
Gracie and Rachel
Gracie Coates and Rachel Ruggles are a duo with contrasts, Gracie with a pop sensibility on keyboards and vocals and Rachel with her textured, classical-leaning violin sounds. Together, Gracie and Rachel made a debut record they call “a giant note to self to quit suppressing anxiety and start celebrating it for the beauty it can be in you.”
Listen to their latest single, “HER,” on Bandcamp.
One of Portland, Ore.’s most intriguing new songwriters, Haley Heynderickx has been attracting notice for her live shows for several years. Her songs often combine small observational details, delivered in a guileless voice. She jokingly calls her music “doom folk.”
Listen to her album, I Need To Start A Garden, on Bandcamp.
At a time where 1990s throwbacks are becoming more prominent, the shimmering sounds of Brisbane, Australia’s Hatchie really stand ahead of the pack. While the aptly titled Sugar & Spice EP could have rested comfortably on indie rock playlists from 20 years ago, Harriette Pilbeam’s band is anything but a nostalgia act. The songs overflow with brightness, like a sun-facing window with the curtains pulled back.
Listen to her EP, Sugar & Spice, on Bandcamp.
Hello June developed its danceable indie-rock sound in the nurturing arms of Morgantown, W.V., where guitarist Sarah Rudy and drummer Whit Alexander first made music together. Rudy makes everything count — each sustained chord, each riff, and most impactfully, passages where there’s no playing at all — all in the service of its cathartic ebbs and flows.
Listen to their latest single, “Candy Rain,” on YouTube.
Hembree‘s principal songwriter and frontman Isaac Flynn grew up with a studio in his basement — his father played guitar for Martina McBride during her pre-country, Midwestern rock club beginnings. So it makes sense that Hembree’s EP begins with recordings made in the bedroom of Flynn’s downtown Kansas City loft.
Listen to their EP, Had It All, on Bandcamp.
He grew up in Nairobi partially learning English by listening to Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Bob Dylan. Now he’s living in Dylan’s home state of Minnesota and singing songs about America through his unique perspective and stunning voice.
Listen to his latest single, “Lebanon,” on YouTube.
The 20-year-old U.K. singer-songwriter earned well-deserved buzz in the wake of her debut EP, Something American. Having honed her craft from an early age — schooling herself in traditional American blues and cry-in-your-whiskey honky-tonk — she won herself a whole new legion of stateside fans on her North American tour.
Known mostly for his production skills, most of us first noticed Knox Fortune when he came appeared on the chorus of fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper’s mega-hit “All Night.” On his album Paradise, breezy tunes, paired with his inventive production style, make for catchy earworms.
Lawrence Rothman is a genderfluid artist, reflecting several personas through songs on their debut album, The Book Of Law. With meticulous production, interesting guests and creative affiliations, and a knack for slick pop songwriting, the album captivates from beginning to end.
Listen to their latest single, “Decade,” on YouTube.
Liz Brasher is a newly-minted, Good-God-Hallelujah, shining example of the great American melting pot. Born in North Carolina to parents of Dominican heritage, the blues, soul and gospel are steeped deep within her. She currently lives in Memphis, and the city’s rich musical heritage — namely, Stax and Sun Records — also informs her brand of R&B.
Listen to her EP, Outcast, on Bandcamp.
A self-described “angry black boy who’s lucky enough to talk about it,” McKinley Dixon found his voice through rap. The Richmond, Va., native’s debut mixtape, 2016’s Who Taught You To Hate Yourself?, tells the story of a young boy inundated by harsh realities.
Listen to his latest album, The Importance of Self Belief, on Bandcamp.
The founding members of Philly-raised, L.A.-based Mt. Joy — Matt Quinn (vocals/guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar) — bring together elements of old-school classic rock and Americana with well-crafted songs that drip with nostalgia, and lots of well-placed singalong moments.
Listen to their album, Mt. Joy, on Bandcamp.
Smoky, subtly emotive, and underpinned by a gorgeous falsetto that cracks on command, Nilüfer Yanya‘s voice is a stunning instrument. And it pairs incredibly well with the English singer’s minimalist pop music, which revolves mostly around jazz and r&b-influenced guitar arrangements.
Listen to her EP, Do You Like Pain?, on Bandcamp.
Octavian, an electric 22-year-old rapper from East London, is committed to broadening the idea of U.K. hip-hop, a sound he says often gets oversimplified as grime or overlooked completely. His breakthrough single “Party Here” earned him a Drake co-sign on Instagram.
Listen to his mixtape, SPACEMAN, on SoundCloud.
Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers released her debut album, Stranger In The Alps, in the fall of 2017. Her vocal inflections power astute observational lyrics that cut deep and weigh heavy. Deadpan humor and even eloquently-selected puns occasionally lighten the bleakness.
Listen to her album, Stranger In The Alps, on Bandcamp.
Melbourne-based Sam J. Nicholson wrote most of Quivers’ impressive debut album, We’ll Go Riding On The Hearses, as a means of coping with his brother’s death during a diving accident. Nicholson turned an unimaginable tragedy into a celebration of spirit that ranks among the year’s better rock albums.
Listen to their album, We’ll Go Riding On The Hearses, on Bandcamp.
The pull of Raveena is enchanting. With every tranquil, forlorn and slyly seductive note, the New York-based R&B singer crafts a radiant sanctuary. Usually aided by twinkling percussion, soft piano and even the occasional saxophone, Raveena’s voice belies astute songwriting chops.
Listen to her latest single, “Temptation,” on YouTube.
Ruston Kelly didn’t arrive at his own thing until after he’d achieved modest successes as a Music Row songwriter and weathered a bit of a lost period. But his debut full-length Dying Star, spun the introspection and self-deprecation of a beautiful loser into melancholy, meticulously crafted, singer-songwriter gold.
Sidney Gish a thoughtful, inventive singer-songwriter and full-time student in Boston. She’s been recording and releasing her own work since 2015. Her sound and brand are all homemade, and she takes pride in her “learn as you go” approach.
Listen to her album, No Dogs Allowed, on Bandcamp.
On Snail Mail‘s debut album, Lush, Lindsey Jordan makes a sort of gauzy reinterpretation of contemplative late-’90s indie rock. There’s no rehearsed-sounding singalong, only wry sarcasm and disarming self-awareness. The production is warm, the drums and bass heavy, but they don’t overpower Jordan’s clear and plaintive voice.
Listen to her album, Lush, on YouTube.
This young Australian talent is already a pro at wielding her significant skills with deftness and cunning. She knows that the tools she holds can be weapons, and her deceptively soothing delivery is a defiant and powerful take-down of aggressors like rapists and cat-callers.
Listen to her EP, Thrush Metal, on Bandcamp.
Whether she’s hitting the wood of her bow against violin strings or slapping her bare hand on the instrument’s wood surface, Sudan Archives creates effects you don’t often hear in R&B. She backs modal African harmonies with bold beats, complementary pizzicati and bowed combinations that ground her sultry vocal style.
Listen to her EP, Sink, on YouTube.
Tash Sultana started playing guitar at 3, cut their chops busking in their home country of Australia and, through the viral success of a live bedroom recording of their song “Jungle,” became a one-person band capable of selling out shows and filling stadiums.
Listen to their album, Flow State, on YouTube.
The Hogan Brothers
The Hogan Brothers (Colin on keyboards, Steve on bass and Julian on drums) fall right in step with other bands expanding the sound of jazz these days. Deep grooves and prodigious chops make it all look and sound effortless.
Listen to their latest release, “St. Rama’s,” on YouTube.
The self-titled debut EP from New York City’s The Shacks feels like floating in a delicious dream — you can almost feel Shannon Wise’s mesmerizing voice whispering directly into your ear. The Shacks’ music is fresh, yet familiar; intimate, yet friendly.
Listen to their album, Haze, on YouTube.
Thunderpussy spent the last two years refining its sound in Seattle, and it paid off. Thunderpussy is everything you want in rock — raw, spontaneous, bombastic, outrageous — and they’ve got the look, songs, musicianship and dynamic live show to take your breath away.
Fifteen songs, 15 videos, 15 minutes: That’s Tierra Whack’s debut, Whack World. In the visual version of the album, uploaded straight to Instagram, one moment she’s plucking pearls off a model’s body with a pair of chopsticks in a foam hippopotamus visor — and the next, she’s singing a bouncy trap-gospel ode to a late dog.
Watch her mini-album, Whack World, on YouTube.
Tonina (Saputo) continues the legacy of her uncle, musician Tony Saputo, who died when a plane chartered for Reba McEntire crashed in 1991. Tonina’s parents met at the crash site and she was named for the uncle she never knew. Tonina’s soulful voice glides with assertion around each note she sings atop her upright bass phrases.
Listen to her album, Black Angel, on YouTube.
WebsterX — recipient of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s No. 1 album of 2017 and the Critics Choice album of the year at the Radio Milwaukee Music Awards — WebsterX comes from a city that loves him. He also performs with the New Age Narcissism collective, a rotating cast of musicians, dancers and creatives.
Listen to his latest single, “Everfeel,” on Soundcloud.
ABOUT NPR SLINGSHOT 2018
The inaugural class included Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon. As the three artists traveled around the country, public radio stations produced videos, conducted interviews and recorded live performances, both on-air and on NPR.org/Slingshot.
In 2018, each music member station selected one Slingshot artist in January and will add more to the list throughout the year. Many, like WebsterX (nominated by Radio Milwaukee) and Haley Heynderickx (nominated by opbmusic), are important players in a station’s local music scene. Others, like Jade Bird (nominated by KXT), are rising stars from abroad. Keep an eye out for new additions throughout the year on our 2018 page.
2018 SLINGSHOT ARTISTS
Air Credit (Chicago, IL)
Bedouine (Los Angeles, CA)
Brent Cowles (Colorado Springs, CO)
George Li (Lexington, MA)
Gracie & Rachel (Brooklyn, NY)
Haley Heyndrickx (Portland, OR)
Hello June (Morgantown, WV)
Hembree (Kansas City, MO)
Jade Bird (London, U.K.)
Knox Fortune (Chicago, IL)
Lawrence Rothman (Los Angeles, CA)
Liz Brasher (Memphis, TN)
McKinley Dixon (Richmond, Virginia)
Mt. Joy (Los Angeles, CA)
Octavian (London, U.K.)
Phoebe Bridgers (Los Angeles, CA)
The Shack (Queens, NY)
Sidney Gish (Boston, MA)
Thunderpussy (Seattle, WA)
WebsterX (Milwaukee, WI)
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