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10 Best Up-And-Coming NYC Bands And Musicians To Follow

Picture of Tanvi Malik
Tanvi Malik
Updated: 7 December 2016
Whether it’s the sounds of the subway or the streets of Brooklyn, New York City has been a place for artists to thrive as they have found solace in its chaos for decades. Today’s front-running musicians that emerge from this city are straddling the cusp of change – they are dynamic in their form and experimental in their sounds. These artists are performers in every way, whether on a stage or on a sidewalk. Here is a list of 10 up-and-coming bands and musicians to follow as they become the rhythmic game-changers of their generation.
Taylor Simone | Image Courtesy of Taylor Simone
Taylor Simone | Image Courtesy of Taylor Simone

Taylor Simone

An LA-native turned New Yorker, Taylor Simone’s soulful voice has been cultivated since her youth. Coming from a family with a musical and spoken-word background, Simone has been writing and performing since she was a child. While in New York, she attended Columbia University and performed at venues like the Nuyorican Poet’s Café.

Why Simone makes the list: soulful voice and jazz-influenced songs.

Have a listen here.

Julia Anrather | © Image Courtesy of Julia Anrather
Julia Anrather | © Image Courtesy of Julia Anrather

Julia Anrather

A true artist in every way, Brooklynite Julia Anrather has a whole spectrum of talents. Having earned her BA in drama from Vassar College, she has performed in television, film, and theater. Her musical career progressed along with her acting and she released two original songs last year. Her work lives somewhere in between Lana del Rey, Ingrid Michaelson and Amy Winehouse.

Why Anrather makes the list: sultry, smooth vocals.

Have a listen here.

Little Shaman | Image Courtesy of Little Shaman
Little Shaman | Image Courtesy of Little Shaman

Little Shaman

A band born in the streets of New York, performing at venues like Lit Lounge and Rockwood Music Hall, Little Shaman is bringing back the reggae sounds of the 1960s and blending it with 1970s dancehall and 1980s electronic sounds. Comprised of five young musicians, Little Shaman makes old sounds new again and brings a dynamic atmosphere to the local art scene.

Why Little Shaman makes the list: modern approach to multi-generational music.

Have a listen here.

Wasted Love | Image Courtesy of BenZel
Wasted Love | Image Courtesy of BenZel

BenZel

Arriving in New York by virtue of a foreign exchange program from Osaka, Japan, Umi Takahashi and Yoko Wantanabe met through an online message board about ankle socks and soon found that they also shared a passion for 90’s R&B. After discovering that they would not be the next ankle sock entrepreneurs, they decided to put their efforts towards other creative pursuits. And so, BenZel was born and has been laying down tracks that blend old school R&B with new age electronic sounds.

Why BenZel makes the list: consistent production and notable collaborations.

Have a listen here.

LOLAWOLF | Image Courtesy of LOLAWOLF
LOLAWOLF | Image Courtesy of LOLAWOLF

LOLAWOLF

Fronted by Zoë Kravitz and accompanied by Jimmy Giannopoulos and James Levy from Reputante, LOLAWOLF debuted a five-song EP early in 2014 and in response to its great reception, followed it up with their LP Calm Down in October of the same year. Their following has since grown exponentially, performing this year at coveted events such as The Surf Lodge and Afropunk Music Festival.

Why LOLAWOLF made the list: an original mix of hip-hop beats with synth blends and rap vocals.

Have a listen here.

ShoutHouse | Courtesy of ShoutHouse
ShoutHouse | Courtesy of ShoutHouse

Shouthouse

A collective of over fourteen musicians, Shouthouse blends contemporary classical music with the rawness of rap and the spontaneity of jazz to create a whole new sound. Featured on I Care if You Listen Spring 2015 Mixtape, these guys are just starting to get the attention that they deserve. Incomparable to anything existing, these young creatives are experimenting with a whole new form of expression within the realm of musical performance.

Why Shouthouse made the list: merging unique sounds into one cohesive track.

Have a listen here.

Pro Era | Image Courtesy of Pro Era
Pro Era | Image Courtesy of Pro Era

Pro Era

Pro Era, the short form of Progressive Era, is a hip-hop collective from Brooklyn. Founded in 2011 by the late Capital STEEZ, it consists of well-known rappers like Joey Bada$$ and Dirty Sanchez as well as producers such as Chuck Strangers and HansSOLO. Inspired by the time of progression in the 1900s, they focus on the portrayal of everyday life through music. The collective also includes non-musical members that work in different mediums such as art, design and comedy.

Why Pro Era made the list: dedication to documenting modernity through rap.

Have a listen here.

Amalia Watty | Image Courtesy of Amalia Watty
Amalia Watty | Image Courtesy of Amalia Watty

Amalia Watty

Far away from her hometown in Anguilla, Amalia Watty spent her youth rehearsing and performing just like so many other hopefuls in the subway stations of New York City. She has performed at venues such as The Bitter End and The Bowery Electric, lighting up rooms with her distinctive voice and classic jazz and soul influences. After catching the attention of LA-based producer/songwriter Jamie Houston, Watty has been able to write and record more music due to a growing fanbase.

Why Watty made the list: persistence and talent, even in the face of screeching subway cars.

Have a listen here.

Ionie | Image Courtesy of Ionie
Ionie | Image Courtesy of Ionie

Ionie

When Lily Allen meets Norah Jones, the result is Ionie – a San Franciscan turned New Yorker that blends pop, rock and jazz. Born to a musician father and a dancer mother, performance was always in her cards. Beginning her singing career at the age of six, her turbulent relationship with her father allowed her music to be her outlet. She moved to New York at 17 to study at NYU and released her debut album in April of this year.

Why Ionie made the list: art therapy takes on a whole new form in her lyrics.

Have a listen here.

Dominic Lord | Courtesy of Dominic Lord
Dominic Lord | Courtesy of Dominic Lord

Dominic Lord

Harlem rapper Dominic Lord is an aficionado of both music and fashion. He doesn’t just wear clothes, he designs them. He doesn’t just rap words, he performs them. Formerly part of A$AP Mob, he has since gone on to launch his solo career. Moving to Maryland in his second year of high school, Lord was able to focus on his art; however, his love for the streets of Harlem are ever-present in his work.

Why Lord made the list: a multi-media mogul who creates ahead-of-the-time sounds that are just as stylized as his funky garments.

Have a listen here.