Tracks from artists you may not know

by Victor Wu | 10/21/16 12:00am

The songs listed below are some of the newest tracks released by some less well-known artists.

“Blood Sweat & Tears,” BTS, “Wings”

While the Bangtan Boys may not be well known in the United States, they are quickly becoming one of the biggest international boy band groups in Asia, Europe and South America. Hailing from South Korea, this seven-member boyband has been able to subvert the often manufactured K-POP machine to tackle important social topics, even in a conservative country.

Their latest song, “Blood Sweat & Tears,” sees the group shed its previous adolescent boyband image for a more mature and artistic transformation. The song’s melancholic and electronic-dance vibe has drawn comparisons to the sounds of Western artists like Major Lazer and Justin Bieber. The accompanying high-production value music video is complete with wacky costumes and backdrops. The video and the lyrics of the song, in a twist on this seeming-perfection, bring up metaphors about the impossibility of perfection. In a K-POP industry that holds celebrities up as the ideal partners without any flaws in looks, personality or talent, that message is important.

“Picking Cotton,” Cupcakke, “Audacious”

Elizabeth Eden Harris — known by her stage name Cupcakke — is a rapper from Chicago best known for her explicit music videos featuring sex-positive imagery and lyrics. But don’t dismiss her for her fun and raunchy anthems; she’s shown herself to be a songwriter of immense talent who raps about deeply personal topics. And people are taking note. In fact, Pitchfork highlighted her as one of the nine essential rappers to not miss this year. Rolling Stone named her second album S.T.D. as one of the best rap albums of 2016.

“Picking Cotton” is one song off her latest album “Audacious” that shows just why Harris is one of the most exciting up-and-coming emcees. “Of course, there’s no remorse / Upon the force, freedom of speech till I’m hoarse,” she raps in a statement for racial justice. She joins the voices of other female black artists this year, including Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, tackling issues of racism, slavery and police brutality. But unlike them, Harris is unrestrained by the burdens of fame, allowing her to be direct and cutting without the fear of controversy. Who knew one of the most salient voices of 2016 would come from such an unexpected artist?

“Same Old Blues” and “You’re Mine,” Phantogram, “Three”

Phantogram is an electronic-pop duo from Greenwich, New York. They self-describe their music as street beat pop with influences including the Flaming Lips and David Bowie.

“Same Old Blues” and “You’re Mine” make up the one-two punch from their latest album “Three” released on Oct. 7. While “Same Old Blues” features a gospel choir framed with synths and a roaring chorus, “You’re Mine” is a more rock influenced song exploring a passionate and possessive relationship. Both songs are bangers, with uptempo beats and productions. The sonic contrasts between the songs showcase the duo’s range and also make for a hypnotic listen.

“Learning to Fly,” Deep Sea Arcade

Deep Sea Arcade is a psychedelic indie band hailing from Australia. Featuring two members, Nic Mckenzie and Nick Weaver, the band has toured with the likes of Noel Gallagher and the Charlatans.

Currently preparing for their second album, Deep Sea Arcade recently released a single called “Learning to Fly” featuring both psychedelic and electronic influences. Staying true to its namesake, the song feels like the wind blowing in your hair with your arms outstretched, conjuring up the image of Jack and Rose standing on the bow of the Titanic. Featuring a soaring electric guitar and layered vocals, the song is a blissful five-minute listen perfect for riding your bike or, more obviously, flying.