What to read, watch, and listen to now.
WORDS BY Chris Landers
Sarah Jaffe, 28, Don’t Disconnect
Jaffe was a precocious kid when she dropped her first EP in 2008, with distinctly grainy vocals wrapped around spare instrumentation. Though still haunting as ever, she’s graduated to a slicker, orchestral sound, and two singles released last year hint at a slinky strain of synth-pop in her upcoming record. (August 19)
BANKS, 25, Goddess
R&B singer Jillian Banks, aka BANKS, signed a record deal just months after she began posting material on SoundCloud but hasn’t released an LP yet. After two sultry, synth-tinged EPs and a stint opening for The Weeknd, that long-awaited, full-length album is finally here. (September 8)
Grimes, 26, Untitled
The stage name of Canadian Claire Boucher, Grimes’ brand of electro-pop can initially intimidate. But buried within the gloomy atmospherics lie clean, melodic impulses with Boucher’s falsetto cutting through the digital haze of reverb and synths. What’s been leaked from her new album has made the classic pop at the core of her songwriting more apparent, making for possibly her most accessible work to date. (September 9)
Porter Robinson, 21, Worlds
A star in the electronic scene since 18, Robinson crafted a No. 1 record after signing to Skrillex’s label in 2011. He’s been commissioned by everyone from Lady Gaga to Avicii, but his first full-length album looks to be much more personal and musical, more Daft Punk dance-pop than a party record. (August 12)
Charlie McDowell, 31, The One I Love
McDowell first became a household name after his Twitter missives to his neighbors, Dear Girls Above Me, turned into a best-selling book. Now, he’s debuted his first feature-length film at Sundance, The One I Love — an arresting film that’s much more than the boilerplate indie dramedy it appears to be. (August 15)
Miles Teller, 27, Whiplash
Even while toiling away in lowbrow comedies for years, Teller stole scenes with effortless charisma. Now, after leading turns in indie darlings The Spectacular Now and this year’s big Sundance winner, Whiplash, his next step seems to have arrived. (October 10)
Justin Simien, 30, Dear White People
Simien’s first feature film started its journey with a three-minute concept trailer last year. That led to a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign, and the film fought all the way to Sundance. Chronicling four black students at an overwhelmingly white Ivy League university, Dear is remarkably smart, remarkably funny, and much more than an angry indictment of white America — it aims at every stereotype, examining how cultures construct racial identities. (October 2014)
Shaw’s sprawling debut, the family drama Bottomless Belly Button, arrived in 2008 like a shockingly self-assured thunderclap. Chris Ware, one of the best graphic novelists of the last decade, called Dash “something of a genius,” and NPR named follow-up New School one of the best books of 2013. Shaw’s visual style — a minimalist vision full of bold, spare lines — has only grown more evocative and abstract, and he’s broken free of the navel-gazing that so often plagues young writers. (October 2014)
Taylor’s first collection — Everything Here is the Best Thing Ever, full of economical prose and perception, with a uniquely vivid eye for character — marked him a direct descendent of Lorrie Moore, one of short fiction’s Everests. At their best, his stories zig when they should zag, careening through psyches to find something deeply unsettling and deeply human. (August 19)
Valente entered the literary scene as a college student when the Washington Post published her recounting of her grandfather’s suicide. Her 2013 novel, An Elegy for Mathematics, tugged at the intricacies of the human condition with remarkable precision. That same childlike fascination with the world around us permeates her first collection of short stories. (October 14)
Featured image courtesy of all artists, authors, and filmmakers.
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