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Rising Artists: Fresh faces make their voices heard with summery anthems, intimate folk pop

(Mia Tavares/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Reid Sperisen, Ruwani Jayasekara, and Victoria Munck

July 9, 2024 4:27 p.m.

This post was updated July 14 at 5:11 p.m.

Summer is the perfect time to try new things, including making fresh additions to repetitive playlists.

In every genre imaginable, a host of new musicians and rising performers are offering dynamic tracks worth listening to. From veteran songwriters attempting to launch their own careers to folk-pop phenomenons and visionary indie bands, artists are creating songs for everyone to enjoy regardless of the climate or mood defining one’s summer.

Keep reading to learn more about some of the artists the Daily Bruin believes are ones to watch this summer and beyond.

BRONZE AVERY (center) lounges in the sun by the pool with a drink in hand and headphones over his ears on the cover of his sophomore album "HEATWAVE." The pop singer-songwriter from Orlando, Florida, has said his sound is influenced by artists such as Gwen Stefani and Charli xcx. (Courtesy of BRONZE AVERY)
BRONZE AVERY (center) lounges in the sun by the pool with a drink in hand and headphones over his ears on the cover of his sophomore album “HEATWAVE.” The pop singer-songwriter from Orlando, Florida, has said his sound is influenced by artists such as Gwen Stefani and Charli XCX. (Courtesy of BRONZE AVERY)

BRONZE AVERY

BRONZE AVERY is bending the rules of what it means to be a pop artist.

Gabriel Brown, known professionally as BRONZE AVERY, hails from Orlando, Florida, and is pushing the boundaries of genre categorization by shaking off attempts to label his work as R&B music. Instead of being put into a restrictive box, AVERY’s songs embrace the freedom that comes with concocting carefree tracks that delight as summery pop confections. He has named 2000s stars such as the Pussycat Dolls and Nelly Furtado as some of his favorite musicians and said Gwen Stefani’s “Bubble Pop Electric” prompted his passion for pop, though Fleetwood Mac, Post Malone and Travis Scott have also shaped his sound.

AVERY’s 14-track sophomore album “HEATWAVE” released June 13 and is packed full of hedonistic bangers sonically sprinkled with the dance-pop flavor of his biggest influence, Charli XCX. The new record’s cover depicts AVERY poolside with a drink in hand, true to his perspective that having fun does not mean deep emotions are not at play. By taking ownership of his sexuality and incorporating queer imagery into his lyrics and music videos, AVERY said he has been able to build more real connections with fans.

Thanks to his powerful understanding of the pleasures of pop music, BRONZE AVERY is sure to shine in the future.

– Reid Sperisen

[Related: Music preview: Summer sound landscape encompasses multiple genres, incoming, revered superstars]

Lily Fitts faces the camera while wearing a navy blue sweater and white skirt on the cover of her most recent single, "Lose You Now." The folk-pop singer-songwriter wrapped a tour opening for Michael Marcagi last month and has received praise from genre giants such as Noah Kahan and Zach Bryan. (Courtesy of Thirty Knots)
Lily Fitts faces the camera while wearing a navy blue sweater and white skirt on the cover of her most recent single, “Lose You Now.” The folk-pop singer-songwriter wrapped a tour opening for Michael Marcagi last month and has received praise from genre giants such as Noah Kahan and Zach Bryan. (Courtesy of Thirty Knots)

Lily Fitts

As folk pop rises back into the mainstream, Lily Fitts is riding the wave to the top.

The 23-year-old singer – and University of Massachusetts Amherst biochemistry and molecular biology graduate – has quickly taken the world by storm since stepping into the music scene. After going viral across social media platforms with an assortment of covers in 2022, Fitts earned praise from genre giants like Noah Kahan and later made her live debut onstage with Grammy winner Zach Bryan last summer. Her distinct raspy vocals add a viscerally emotional edge to her covers of familiar favorites such as Kahan’s “Stick Season” but pair especially well with the vulnerable lyrics of her five original singles. Fitts’ latest release, “Lose You Now,” highlights her striking tone atop warm acoustic instrumentals to detail the heartbreaking end of a toxic relationship.

This spring, Fitts captured the hearts of audiences nationwide while opening for alternative hitmaker Michael Marcagi on his United States tour, which included a stop at Los Angeles’ iconic Troubadour. Just 10 days after completing her run, Fitts announced she’d be back on the road in October supporting rising pop star Myles Smith on “The Slightly Less Lonely Global Tour” for nine performances. With a mesmerizing stage presence and discography of catchy choruses, her continued travels are sure to secure her spot among the influx of folk-inspired talents on the Billboard Hot 100.

It won’t be long until fans are screaming Fitts’ lyrics from “Boston to Barcelona.”

– Victoria Munck

Bonnie McKee kicks her legs in the air and lays across the hood of a sports car while wearing white heeled boots and sunglasses on the cover of her sophomore album "Hot City." The 40-year-old pop singer-songwriter has co-written Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers for Katy Perry and Britney Spears, and her second LP arrives two decades after her 2004 debut "Trouble." (Courtesy of Bonnie McKee)
Bonnie McKee kicks her legs in the air and lays across the hood of a sports car while wearing white heeled boots and sunglasses on the cover of her sophomore album “Hot City.” The 40-year-old pop singer-songwriter has co-written Billboard Hot 100 chart-toppers for Katy Perry and Britney Spears, and her second LP arrives two decades after her 2004 debut “Trouble.” (Courtesy of Bonnie McKee)

Bonnie McKee

Bonnie McKee may at last have the opportunity to take center stage.

The pop songstress has spent nearly two decades cowriting chart-topping hits for the likes of superstars such as Katy Perry and Britney Spears, with her resume including credits on Spears’ 2011 hit “Hold It Against Me” and five of Perry’s nine Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 singles. She has also worked with Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, Kesha and Taio Cruz, among a laundry list of contemporary hitmakers. In 2011, Rolling Stone named her music’s “Best Secret Weapon” for her prolific ability to churn out compelling pop hits.

Perhaps surprisingly, McKee’s own music career has not faced the same success. Her debut album, “Trouble,” was released in 2004, but consistent label troubles inhibited her from releasing a follow-up LP. Plans to put out new material in 2013 were scrapped, and she departed from her new label, Epic Records, shortly after. On May 31, McKee’s long-awaited sophomore album “Hot City” was independently released, and the new record delivers on escapist pop anthems evocative of the best synthy bits of the early 2010s. Like many other legendary titans in the music industry who saw successes later in life, McKee sees no reason to stop chasing her dreams now at 40.

Given McKee’s vast experience in spinning undeniable hits into gold for her collaborators, perhaps her chance to pursue her own stardom has finally arrived.

– Reid Sperisen

[Related: Concert preview: Five exciting shows arriving to heat up summer in Los Angeles]

The three members of Tiny Habits sit on the pavement of an empty parking spot and face the camera under a ray of sunlight. The folk-pop trio was conceived at Berklee College of Music in 2022 and released their debut album, "All For Something," on May 24. (Courtesy of Tyler Krippaehne, Shore Fire Media and Mom+Pop)
The three members of Tiny Habits sit on the pavement of an empty parking spot and face the camera under a ray of sunlight. The folk-pop trio was conceived at Berklee College of Music in 2022 and released its debut album, “All For Something,” on May 24. (Courtesy of Tyler Krippaehne, Shore Fire Media and Mom+Pop)

Tiny Habits

Small but mighty, Tiny Habits is taking big leaps this summer.

Intertwining euphonic harmonies with lyrical vulnerability, the folk-pop trio is leaving behind its unconventional performance venue – a dorm stairwell – for arena stages across North America. The group originated at the Berklee College of Music and found its start bringing intimate, acoustic covers of popular songs to TikTok, ranging from Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” to Djo’s “End of Beginning.” Since the group’s conception in 2022, singer-songwriters Cinya Khan, Maya Rae and Judah Mayowa have garnered the attention of industry legends including Elton John and Marcus Mumford, affirming their distinct voice within the genre.

The band’s debut album “All For Something” was released in May and stays true to its musical signature, exploring heartbreak and nostalgia through stripped-down tracks such as “Mudroom” and “Malleable.” Favoring emotion-inducing harmonies over heavy instrumental production, the record prioritizes the art of storytelling, allowing the raw lyrics and sentimental soundscape to speak for themselves. This September, Tiny Habits will bring its talents to the Hollywood Bowl, sharing its vocal prowess and sentimental harmonies with LA as it accompanies Vance Joy on his upcoming tour.

With all the potential for an impending rise to fame, Tiny Habits’ “Wishes” are coming true.

– Ruwani Jayasekara

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Reid Sperisen | Music | fine arts editor
Sperisen is the 2024-2025 music | fine arts editor. He was previously an Arts contributor from 2023-2024. Sperisen is a third-year political science student minoring in professional writing from Stockton, California.
Sperisen is the 2024-2025 music | fine arts editor. He was previously an Arts contributor from 2023-2024. Sperisen is a third-year political science student minoring in professional writing from Stockton, California.
Victoria Munck | Arts editor
Munck is the 2024-2025 Arts editor. She was previously an assistant Arts editor on the theater | film | television beat. Munck is a third-year communication student from Granada Hills, California.
Munck is the 2024-2025 Arts editor. She was previously an assistant Arts editor on the theater | film | television beat. Munck is a third-year communication student from Granada Hills, California.
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