Start here: “Gone,” “Green and Gold,” “Paper Thin”
Bonus recommendation: Corrine Bailey Rae, Arlo Parks, Mahalia
If you’re a fan of The Grateful Dead, then you might like Steve Gunn.
Steve Gunn has reacted to the suggestion that the Dead have had some influence on his music with a mixture of bemusement, assent, and admiration. And it’s true that whatever likenesses there are to be found in his music exist alongside a lot of other strands, from fingerstyle playing to psychedelica. But something that seems sonically akin to the Dead does quite frequently bubble to the surface — most overtly on his 2016 album “Eyes on the Lines,” but in other places as well. Look elsewhere if you seek jamming or noodling, though.
Start here: “Full Moon Tide,” “Chance,” “Drifter”
Bonus recommendation: Hiss Golden Messenger
If you’re a fan of The Cure, then you might like Desperate Journalist.
What better way to celebrate summer than with massive, foreboding guitars? British foursome Desperate Journalist, whose fourth album “Maximum Sorrow!” was released earlier this month, have steadily broadened their sound since forming in 2012, and their new music is made for blaring on too-sunny days that could use a cloud or two as a corrective. Lead vocalist Jo Bevan has a yelp as titanic as the maelstrom surrounding her, making songs like the lacerating “Personality Girlfriend” cut even deeper.
Start here: “Personality Girlfriend,” “Fault,” their churning 2020 cover of Pulp’s dread-filled “The Fear”
Bonus recommendation: Mexican shoegazers Margaritas Podridas (“rotten daisies”) revel in gloom and gauze on their self-titled EP.
If you’re a fan of Peter Gabriel, then you might like Gotye.
The 14-times platinum “Somebody That I Used to Know” was the No. 1 single of 2012. Gotye’s only other charting single peaked at No. 96. So you probably missed the 11 other songs from “Making Mirrors” that should appeal to anyone who gave in to the wide-ranging charms of Gabriel’s mega-selling “So.” Gotye uses the studio as a lab (literally, in “State of the Art”), brings along a female singer as a co-equal peer (with Kimbra’s invaluable “Somebody” turn sitting comfortably alongside Kate Bush’s angelic comfort in Gabriel’s “Don’t Give Up”) and generally uses his clear, calm tenor to marvelous effect in smart, catchy songs.
Start here: “Eyes Wide Open,” “Easy Way Out,” “In Your Light”
If you’re a fan of Lisa Stansfield, then you might like Jessie Ware.
Very few contemporary artists have been able to light up a dance floor and connect convincingly with emotionally revealing ballads like soul/pop singer Lisa Stansfield, who ruled the charts throughout the late 1980s and 1990s. Jessie Ware has been the rare exception. Over the course of four albums, Ware has combined the sophisticated, sensual sound of Stansfield’s prime with undeniable dance floor tracks. While she has yet to cross over to the kind of mainstream success Dua Lipa has found, Ware continues to make thrilling, kinetic music that’s impossible to resist. Throughout her most recent record, “What’s Your Pleasure,” the London native went full-blown throwback disco, evoking the wondrous early Stansfield years and Donna Summer’s euphoric feel-good vibe.
Start here: “Running,” “Wildest Moments,” “Spotlight,” “Soul Control”
Bonus recommendation: Amber Mark, Emeli Sandé
If you’re a fan of Lucinda Williams, then you might like Waxahatchee.
Let’s state upfront that few artists can be compared with Lucinda Williams, but Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield) is an exacting singer-songwriter with a terrific eye for detail and an honest, no-nonsense understanding of life’s little mysteries and existential confusion. Not quite as literary as Williams but with a poet’s soul, Waxahatchee started as a lo-fi artist who progressively muscled up her Americana rock. Last year’s triumphant “Saint Cloud,” inspired by her sobriety, was her most reflective and affecting album, turning down the guitars while deepening the emotional truths. She’s a bright light in pop music right now.
Start here: “War,” “Can’t Do Much,” “8 Ball,” “Tangled Envisioning”
Bonus recommendation: Kathleen Edwards, Lucy Dacus, Jessica Lea Mayfield
If you’re a fan of Erykah Badu, then you might like Shungudzo.
While often cited as one of neo-soul’s core artists, Erykah Badu can’t be constrained by genre — her fiery, playful discography is informed by a broad knowledge of popular music. The Zimbabwean-American multi-hyphenate Alexandra Shungudzo Govere, who records as Shungudzo, only recently released her debut, “I’m not a mother, but I have children,” but her wide-ranging sound and forceful point of view already recall Badu’s. Intensely personal and extremely fun, it careens from genre to genre, with Shungudzo’s searing voice and moral clarity as its guideposts.
Start here: “There’s Only So Much a Soul Can Take,” “Fatherless Child,” “Already Free”
Bonus recommendation: Guitarist and vocalist Amythyst Kiah, whose new album “Wary and Strange” features blown-out country-blues.
If you’re a fan of The Roches, then you might like The Living Sisters.
A lead-off track that wraps individual introductions into a charmingly offbeat group hello (“We,” “How Are You Doing?”). A song built around vocals that are folded into gorgeously overlapping and intersecting harmonies (“The Troubles,” “This Mountain Has Skies”). There are plenty of echoes between the debuts by folk-pop sister act The Roches and The Living Sisters (made up of indie-pop stalwarts Eleni Mandell, Inara George, and Becky Stark, with Alex Lilly joining after the first album was recorded), not least of which is how both groups are frisky, funny, and heartbreaking in constantly-shifting proportions. The Living Sisters’ sparse discography hasn’t given them the opportunity to grow and develop like the Roches did. But that just makes it all the more imperative to treasure that they happened at all.
Start here: “This Mountain Has Skies,” “Double Knots,” “How Are You Doing?”
If you’re a fan of Joni Mitchell, then you might like The Weather Station.
Tamara Lindeman, who performs and records as The Weather Station, has followed a similar trajectory to that of her famous fellow-Canadian predecessor. Like Mitchell, she has widened her musical scope from her folky origins, in her case to offer a marvelous species of urgent, orchestral pop music. What should draw fans of the folk icon in to Lindeman’s music is the combination of her lyrical and singing voices — the murmuring, understated vocal delivery with which she shapes her open-verse lyrical torrents in a manner that ends up having as much emotive force as if she were shouting.
Start here: “Tried to Tell You,” “You and I (On the Other Side of the World),” “I Don’t Know What to Say”
Bonus recommendation: Courtney Marie Andrews
If you’re a fan of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, then you might like We Are KING.
Minneapolis production duo Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were synth-R&B masters in the 20th century, helping shepherd tracks by the likes of New Edition and Janet Jackson to pop ubiquity. Amber and Paris Strother, the twins who make up We Are KING, have picked up Jam and Lewis’s mantle of making next-generation soul, with electro wizard Paris unlocking 22nd-century sonics from her extensive collection of Moogs, Nords, and other synths and keyboards, and the two siblings linking up to create otherworldly vocal harmonies. We Are KING had been mostly working behind the scenes in the years since their 2016 self-titled debut, but they rang in 2021 with a dreamy cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and recently released a plush collaboration with Air’s Nicolas Goldin.
Start here: “The Greatest,” “Hey,” the Godin team-up ”Another Side”
Bonus recommendation: Lorenzo “Zo!” Ferguson, an R&B auteur with a lengthy — and excellent — discography.
If you’re a fan of Lee Ann Womack, then you might like Aubrie Sellers.
When you first hear Aubrie Sellers sing, you can be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to Lee Ann Womack putting a little drive in her country, because it’s hard to tell the voices of the two — who happen to be mother and daughter — apart. Sellers has made two records to date, and both show her working broadly similar territory to that which her mama has been exploring in recent years — unalloyed country and rootsy relations — while injecting more rock into her roots. Their music also shares a relentless, abiding intensity that is due in no small part to the sound of those dead-ringer voices. So if you can’t get enough of Womack’s piercing, tremulous quaver, there’s more where that came from.
Start here: “Sit Here and Cry,” “Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet,” “One Town’s Trash”
Bonus recommendation: On her new album, “Ramble On,” emerging Providence singer Charlie Marie starts by declaring “classic country will always have a home” and then spends the rest of the record building it a fantastic new place to live.
If you’re a fan of Cyndi Lauper, then you might like Kate Miller-Heidke.
A singer with a cartoonish but powerful voice (complete with local accent peeking through) and equally cartoonish sense of style, capable of both frilly pop goofs and heartbreaking vulnerability, Miller-Heidke calls to mind Lauper in her riotous 1980s heyday. The fact that the United States has never been invited to participate means that Lauper has never represented her nation in the full-spectacle fantasia that is the Eurovision Song Contest, as Miller-Heidke did in 2019. (Her “Zero Gravity” took Australia to a ninth-place finish.) But you know damn well that Lauper would have.
Start here: “I’ll Change Your Mind,” “Caught In the Crowd,” “Humiliation,” “Drama”
Bonus recommendation: Lenka
If you’re a fan of George Clinton, then you might like Flying Lotus.
Flying Lotus is one of today’s top beatmakers and dance music innovators — a logical descendent of George Clinton’s cosmic slop if it was put into a time machine and filtered through 21st-century technology and sensibilities. Like Clinton, the Los Angeles native (born Steven Ellison) is one of pop’s lords of the good groove. His psychedelic dance music is often more atmospheric than greasy, but it never fails to get a room shaking. While there are few analogs to Clinton’s organic community funk with Parliament/P-Funk, the DJ/producer/musician has proven to be a kindred spirit over seven albums that are wildly dissimilar except for their originality and sublime beat-itude. Flying Lotus has taken Clinton’s solo electronic dance album “Computer Games” to an otherworldly dimension.
Start here: “Dead Man’s Tetris,” “Burning Down the House,” “Never Catch Me”
Bonus recommendation: Thundercat, Madlib