For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: Jaunty alt-folk abetted by heavy beats, fuzzed-out synths and gigantic choruses
FOR FANS OF: Mumford and Sons, OneRepublic, Imagine Dragons
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: Beginning as a relatively traditional folk-rock group, Judah & the Lion have recently broken out in a big way following the release of their third album, Folk Hop N' Roll. The name of that record pretty much says it all: Rather than stowing their banjos and mandolins completely, the group incorporated drum machines, overdriven guitars and laser-like synths to create a hybrid unlike anything else going.
They've just wrapped up a tour supporting Twenty One Pilots in front of sell-out crowds in basketball arenas around the U.S. "Obviously [Twenty One Pilots] are at a way, way more massive level, but as far as the unorthodoxness of the sound, for whatever reason they kind of marry each other really well," says singer/guitarist Judah Akers. "I think [their fans] are accepting of people making honest music that's true to them."
THEY SAY: The jump from the traditional folk-rock aesthetic of 2014's Kids These Days to a more eclectic sound was quite natural amongst the members of the band. "The older you get, the more you discover about yourself," Akers notes. "Just as being a band, travelling, and being together more, that self-discovery started happening, and we discovered more about each other and our identity as a band." He adds, "All of us love hip-hop music. We like good, strong beats, but we also like the banjo, and we love the mandolin. We love the uniqueness of that and how no one is really doing that right now. With this last record, and even moving forward with new songs that we're writing now, it seems like that self-discovery is giving us more of an identity as to who we are, and we're really, really excited about it."
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: "Take It All Back" is the big single.
Top photo, credit: Sully Sullivan.