Festival season continues at a rapid pace, featuring big performances from all of the beloved stars as well as scene-stealing sets from small names that will break big in no time flat. There’s just something about this season that makes that predictive part of the process so much more fun, guessing which small font name on the poster will wind up headlining down the road. Our list this week features a few names from both of those categories, particularly young punks and up-and-coming rappers vying for the big time — and with tracks like this, they’ll reach that tier sooner than later.
10. Devendra Banhart – “Middle Names”
Back when freak folk tried its luck and Mac DeMarco had yet to be a household name, Devendra Banhart was making hikers and college kids everywhere swoon. It’s been more than three years since his last release, but now the folk fella is back with “Middle Names”, the opening track off Ape In Pink Marble, out September 23rd via Nonesuch. Forget his weirder past. If this track is any indication, he’s found total peace of mind. “Middle Names” watches rain slide down his skin while a simple acoustic guitar line dabbles about. It’s hushed and pretty — the type of work Jose Gonzalez became famous for — as if suggesting he’s finally (gasp) grown up. Banhart meditates through his arrangements and lyrics here. Consider it a first that’s more than welcome to repeat itself in the near future. —Nina Corcoran
09. Black Dice – “Big Deal”
Since their formation in the late ‘90s, Black Dice have experienced a number of creative eras. “Big Deal” ends a relatively silent four years for the trio, not having released any new records since 2012’s Mr. Impossible. No longer charged by the intensity of their twenties, Black Dice’s heavy noise/industrial exploits have taken a turn toward more freewheeling experimentations. A cacophony of quirky garage rock motifs pulled from the last four decades and Eric Copeland’s unintelligible vocals, “Big Deal” doesn’t define a new sound for the group but seems to serve as a precursor to Black Dice’s next discernible era. Grab the forthcoming two-song EP Big Deal July 4th via L.I.E.S. and keep an ear open for more freak-outs. —Derek Staples
08. Trentemøller – “River In Me”
In its debut state, the Jehnny Beth-featuring “River In Me” is a coldwave single proud of its retro edge. “I wanted the musical universe to have more space,” explained Denmark’s Trentemøller on the creation of “River in Me” and the forthcoming 12-track Fixion LP. The multi-instrumentalist and talented live producer’s new minimal approach offers him the opportunity to treat “River In Me” as a living work of art — promising ongoing edits when he eventually supports the September 16th release on the road. Quick to test a second take of the track, Trentemøller has already revealed his own remix, intensifying its dystopian feel with psychedelic filters and a darker low-end punch. —Derek Staples