Class of 2014 update! It’s been a little while since I’ve done one of these, so as we wrap up the first quarter of the year now’s as good of a time as any to reflect a little bit on how things are going with some of the 10 artists I chose to significantly raise their profiles this year. Let’s break this down alphabetically, meaning we’ll start with Banks. She’s just unleashed a new single called “Goddess,” which is definitely worth checking out. It’s the title track from her forthcoming album, expected to be released on September 9th via Harvest Records. You can preorder the 18 track deluxe version on iTunes right now. GEMS continue to work on their debut LP, but seem to be spending a lot of time on the road touring as well. They’ve actually played three shows in Chicago over the last three months, including dates with Classixx and Tycho. Honestly, when I saw them in February their live show could have used some improvement, so with any luck extensive touring has only helped. As you may have seen yesterday, Kelela just put out a new track called “Want It” that’s a collaboration with Chicago’s own Tink as part of the “Songs from Scratch” series by Yours Truly. With any luck, it’s a prelude to new material that will be out later this year. Looking forward to her set at this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival as well. Speaking of live sets, while I missed Lo-Fang when he came through Chicago opening for Lorde earlier this spring, he’ll be rolling back through town this Friday night for a headlining show at Schubas. Tickets are $12 and I encourage you to join me if you can. Perfect Pussy continue their whirlwind 2014 by contributing a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Candy’s Room” to Rookie Magazine as the “theme song” for their new issue. That’s just one of many higher profile things the band has done of late. Their debut album Say Yes to Love received a wealth of positive attention, and I’ll be reviewing it myself in the next week or less. Royal Blood continue to plug away at their debut full length, but I did hear their single “Out of the Black” on the radio a couple of times in the last month or so. It’s an early sign of bigger things to come, and Lollapalooza this August will be one of them. Saint Pepsi released his Gin City EP at the end of February, and will be going on tour with Painted Palms this summer. That includes a stop in Chicago at the Empty Bottle on June 27th, which you can bet I’ll be at. Should be a lot of fun. Last but absolutely not least, there’s Sam Smith. At the start of 2014 he was scheduled to play a show in March at Subterranean in Chicago, which has about a 300 capacity. By February the show was moved to the 1,000 capacity Vic Theatre due to demand. Then SNL asked him to perform on the same night as the Chicago show, so it was postponed to the end of April. The additional exposure turned the rescheduled show into a sell out. To say the guy’s profile is on the rise would be an understatement. He’s a fantastic performer and sounds even better live than he does on record. At the Chicago show, girls were screaming like he marked the second coming of The Beatles. Most waited around to try and meet him afterwards, and eventually security was forced to turn about half of them away because it was all too much. And to think his album doesn’t come out until June! People are going to completely flip out, more than they are already. So 25% of the way through the year, how is the Class of 2014 doing? So far, so good if you ask me. Let’s keep it going for the next 9 months! Now then, as to today’s Pick Your Poison. There’s some good tracks in the mix from EVVY, The Hudson Branch, Lily and the Tigers, Sam Roberts Band and Shane Gamble. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, don’t miss streaming songs from Chance the Rapper, Donovan Blanc, Hooray for Earth, Megan Bonnell (covering Bob Dylan) and remixes from Julia Holter and Mogwai.

Animic – Hannibal (Jupiter Lion Remix)

EVVY – Haze

The Hudson Branch – New Vision of the Sun

Jamie Isaac – Blue Break (Hyetal Remix)

kimono – Specters

Lily and the Tigers – Honey

Maudlin Strangers – Overdose (Bass Science Remix)

PoP Campaign – HAME

Sam Roberts Band – We’re All In This Together

Shane Gamble – Beautiful Work

VesperTown – Royal Flash (Tokyo Hands Remix)

Yuzima – Anarchy


Boardwalk – I’m to Blame (Julia Holter Remix)

Chance the Rapper – I Am Very Very Lonely

Donovan Blanc – Hungry A Long Time

Hooray for Earth – Keys

Megan Bonnell – Not Dark Yet (Bob Dylan cover)

Yann Tiersen – A Midsummer Evening (Mogwai Remix)