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Five for Friday: Emerging Artists You Should Hear

A festival performance, standout debut album, or even a single hit track – all of which the five artists below have either had, or are well on their way to having – can be enough to send an artist soaring into the spotlight. For this installment of Five for Friday, here are five emerging artists you should know right now.

Anderson .Paak
Anderson .Paak's career crumbled in high school when both his parents were sent to jail on tax-related issues, turn of events that forced the budding producer and rapper to put his dreams aside. But by his 20s, Paak was back in the studio and working on blending his wide range of influences – think Kanye West, Otis Redding, Radiohead – into original creations. It didn't all come full circle until the release of his recent Malibu, one of the most sonically diverse and energetic albums of the year. It's available on vinyl here from Music Direct.

Day Wave
Day Wave, primarily the work of Jackson Phillips, delivers a lo-fi DIY aesthetic that results in an easy and entrancing listening experience. The mellow mood of the music places it in indie-rock territory, as Phillips' airy vocals smoothly sail over expansive and minimalistic instrumentation. To date, Day Wave has released two EPs in the form of 2015's Headcase and 2016's Hard to Read. Both are available as a two-fer vinyl LP, available from Music Direct here.

Sadler Vaden
Sadler Vaden has had several stints in various groups. He's currently the guitarist for Jason Isbell's 400 Unit and, more recently, stepped out on his own as to assume to roles of singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, engineer, and producer. The Nashville native's solo-minded skills were first showcased in 2011 on his debut EP, Radio Road. He has since released two singles that showcase his vibrant, electric sound. "Brand New Guitar" surges full-speed ahead while he slows things down for the low-key "Get You High." Both offer glimpses into – and heighten excitement for – his upcoming full-length eponymous debut, out August 12.

Whitney
The duo of Whitney is comprised of two Chicago natives and former Smith Westerns members Max Kakacek and Julian Ehrlich. Here, the two expand off of the Smith Westerns' sound, producing a beautiful and harmonious debut. Each track's delicate arrangements and lush layers support the higher-pitched vocals that deliver poignant and stirring lyrical content. Just listen to the title track, "Light Upon the Lake," from Whitney's debut. It's available on colored vinyl from Music Direct here.

Firekid
Dillon Hodges, better known by his stage name of Firekid, fuses elements of twangy, quick-picked bluegrass with catchy pop-rock. His recent self-titled debut record sees him showcase his impressive instrumental skills and smooth, Southern-tinged vocals. Hailing from the now-famous Muscle Shoals in Alabama, Hodges grew up surrounded by great music that set a high precedent for defining a sound of his own, a feat best heard on his album's hit "Magic Mountain."

August 12, 2016

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