I’m going to put it out there: I do not like Selena Gomez. I give her a little bit of credit because she doesn’t necessarily drive me up the wall like Taylor Swift does, but I am not a fan. If you’re not into Disney-produced megastars who culturally appropriate, come take a seat down next to me. The curse of pop music is that the music is so damn catchy, but your chest tightens at the mere mention of the artist’s name.
Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could listen to music in the same vein without the aggravation of cultural appropriation and general stupidity?
I got you.
Just about half of the musicians I listen to hail from the Scottish city of Glasgow. I mean, the city wasn’t named a UNESCO city of music for nothing. The city produces quality bands (Franz Ferdinand, Belle & Sebastian, Glasvegas, Orange Juice, to name a few)—but just because Glasgow is where Chvrches is from is not the reason why the band made this list.
Chvrches, replacing the “u” with a “v” to avoid literal churches appearing in search engines, formed in 2011 in Glasgow. The three-piece band played in bands prior to forming Chvrches, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty knowing each other since university. Lead singer, Lauren Mayberry, completed a four-year law degree and a Masters in Journalism, working as a freelance journalist before forming Chvrches with Cook and Doherty. Their debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, was released in 2013.
Put it this way, you need something to dance to? Chvrches. You need to bawl your eyes out? Chvrches. You need to get pumped up for whatever? Chvrches. Chvrches is creating unique electronica that is loaded with passion and punch for anthemic singing or general every day listening.
And it’s “chur-chiz,” not “chuh-veer-chiz.”
Essential Tracks: “The Mother We Share” and “Recover”
2. Passion Pit
Passion Pit began as a one-person, lead singer, Michael Angelakos, as a Valentine’s Day gift for his girlfriend in Boston, Massachusetts, in 2007. The band lineup has changed several times throughout the years, but Angelakos has remained. Passion Pit released their first EP, Chunk of Change, in 2008—their debut album, Manners, was released in 2009 to critical acclaim.
This electronica band is bombastic in what it creates. It’s most sensitive of tracks, misleading in their quiet openings, are backed by loud synthesizers and drums. Juxtaposed with Angelakos’s high-pitched, sweet-sounding voice, it’s a combination like no other. For such a fuzzy sound, Passion Pit’s songs play crystal clear, ringing in your ears for hours afterwards, like any great pop song does. It doesn’t beg for replay, it hypnotizes you to click that infinity loop, the rewind track, whatever. Passion Pit isn’t leaving your brain that easily.
Essential Tracks: “The Reeling” and “Little Secrets”
3. Miami Horror
Miami Horror is a electronic/pop group four-piece group hailing from Melbourne, Australia. Apparently, if you want to be a fantastic electronica group, you need to be born in Australia and raised in Melbourne—any other combination simply isn’t going to work.
Miami Horror, a misleading name, I apologize, isn’t going to make you run away in horror whilst in Miami, but they will beckon you closer to your speakers. When you’re not hugging your speakers to feel the beat that much more, you’ll but running around trying to get as many people you know to listen to this group. They’re that good. Their songs are laden with influence of 70s disco and 80s synthpop—there’s nothing not to like.
If you hate fun, then this band is not for you.
Essential Tracks: “Real Slow” and “I Look To You”
4. Penguin Prison
Penguin Prison is yet another electronic act on this list. Formed in 2009 in New York, Chris Glover, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, signed to Neon Gold Records and released the EP, Animal Animal/A Funny Thing in the same year. In 2011, he released an eponymous debut record on Downtown Records.
If you’re looking for sexy synthesizers, groovy basslines (two components of good music you should always be looking for), look no further than Penguin Prison. Paired with a soulful, even sassy at times, voice, Penguin Prison will command you to dance and beat out of your head that you were ever a fan of Selena Gomez.
I listened to his track, “Don’t F*ck With My Money” on repeat after I was robbed four days into my freshman year (I go to school in the Bronx). It eased the pain while convincing me not to transfer immediately out of my school. Hooray!
Essential Tracks: “Don’t F*Ck With My Money” and “Never Gets Old”
5. Elle King
“But, Caroline!” you cry, “Selena Gomez isn’t a rock singer! I won’t like Elle King!”
“Shut the f*ck up,” I quickly retort, nearly spitting fire, “you know nothing.”
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way. Elle King, the daughter of Rob Schneider (yes, that Rob Schneider), grew up in Ohio, playing guitar by age 13. She began to busk and play gigs in New York by age 16 and attended college at the University of Arts in Philadelphia. She was signed to RCA Records and recorded her first EP, The Elle King EP, in 2012. In 2015, she released her debut album, Love Stuff, on RCA Records.
Elle King is a bluesy/rock musician who spits lyrics filled with fire, aggression, wit and sass in one clean and controlled record. There is not another female (LADY POWER) musician out there doing what she’s doing. You should be paying attention. If you need to be charged up before stepping out of your door today, feeling down and out in your luck, King will tell you to knock that sh*t off. You’re the baddest b*tch that ever did live—you just need a little kick.
Essential Tracks: “Ex’s & Oh’s” and “Under The Influence.”
Listen to these essential tracks below via Spotify.
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