You should know upfront that this isn’t a guarantee; the following bands — though immensely talented — aren’t a shoe-in for domestic (and international) stardom, but they possess enough ability that an ascent from purist-obscurity to commercial mega success would not be the least bit surprising.
The definition of “mega success” tends to err on the subjective side. For the sake of this article, let’s rein in this term and say that it means the band must tour worldwide, gain recognition through CHR (contemporary hits radio), and have at least one album achieve platinum-level sales. Fair Enough? Then let’s begin.
This British quartet was formed under fortuitous circumstances in 2007 when the then sophomores met at Leeds University. After graduation in 2009, they spent a couple of years honing their craft and rehearsing before signing with Infectious Records in 2011. In October of that year the band released their eponymous EP. It featured four tracks that would eventually find their way onto their debut album, An Awesome Wave, released in 2012.
Drawing comparisons to The xx and Hot Chip, the band transcends conventional sound and has combined tried and true ingredients to mix something that goes down smooth. It’s not so much how they create these certain sounds, but how they’re able to manipulate them; They gather a wide array of sounds and pour them into a melting pot that has a distinct, addictive quality that can’t be categorized under one genre. Regardless of the label, they’ve mixed a concoction that Joe Newman spikes with his unorthodox vocals. I believe they’re bound to be a success just based on their ability to captivate the listener; even in passing — when your focus is elsewhere — their songs tend to evoke a strong curiosity that will leave you asking, “Who is this?” They have the potential to be featured on CHR, evidenced by the track “Breezeblocks.” They’ve toured the U.S., won the coveted Mercury Prize for their debut album, and can be considered a legitimate threat in becoming the next “big thing” to come out of England.
The more seasoned Foals — comprised of remnants of now-defunct bands — first began making music in 2008. Their debut album, Antidotes, was a moderate success in their native U.K., but the band’s inconsistent sound forced them to toil in obscurity in the U.S. Many might see this as a curse, but this band used the time to further refine their brand of art and, in 2010, released their sophomore album, Total Life Forever. This record further cemented their style and status in the U.K. (they were nominated for the 2010 Mercury Prize); the band bore through the typically rigid confines of conventional wisdom and achieved commercial success without compromising the band’s essence in the process.
This momentum culminated in Foals’ third studio album, Holy Fire, released in autumn of 2012. Toning down on the ambient, wide-open vibe of their previous album and shoring up the layered instrumentation and eclectic lyricism, the band had expanded their influence to the international stage. This band has managed to elude a concrete definition and they’ve openly reveled in this lack of limitations: Frontman Yannin Philippakis has described the band as “schizophrenic.”
The time and pressure has done little to alter the composition of Foals; they still produce up-beat tracks that often build and accrete until they explode in a fury of musicality. This band is more than capable of cementing itself as a mainstay in the bedrock of North American markets. The band members have cast a mold that is seldom seen nowadays; one that allows them to grow on their own terms while also being recognized as a commercial success; a diamond in the rough.
3. Atlas Genius
The Jeffery brothers (frontman Keith Jeffery and drummer Michael Jeffery) of Australia teased U.S. fans with the single “Trojans” in 2011. The funky, smooth single foreshadowed the great potential of this duo and amped up the anticipation for more of their work. Atlas Genius is much easier to define than the above groups, as they fit the bill of an alternative rock band. Having offered a sample to the public, the band released their debut album, When It Was Now, in February 2013 and began touring with Imagine Dragons shortly after. Though not as critically-acclaimed as one might’ve hoped, this young duo showed enough promise to inspire optimism for their future prospects. When It Was Now features a few tracks that seem to flow together and are difficult to distinguish, but the majority of the album boasts songs that force the listener to move at the command of the band; “Centered On You,” in particular, allows the band to flex their musical muscles in Keith’s falsetto and Michael’s ability to establish intensity on the drums. We’ve seen very little from these two but the future appears to be just as exciting as their up-temp style.