Globetrotting (Part One):
IN THIS PHOTO: Laurel
Ten Artists to Watch
THE debut offering of a new feature is always hard to get right.
IN THIS PHOTO: Def.sound
One has to make it interesting, to an extent, but modest – if they wish to publish further instalments. That is the aim here and so, as I look at ten artists who have the potential for big things in the coming months, I have hand-picked musicians from around the globe. I have a heavy leaning towards female artists: a few from the U.K. and U.S. in there. I will diversify it for future editions – I hope to put quite a few out – but wanted to recognise some of the amazing talent that is recording music right now. One or two of the artists have been quiet for a bit: I predict they will be back soon and preparing a fresh assault.
It is without further ado I provide a few musical names everyone should be keeping an eye out for…
Location: Stockholm, Sweden; Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Genres: Soul; Alternative
Essential Song: In Your River (Don’t Explain)
Reasons to Watch: Boi-1da borrowed her vocals (from her track, Time) for More Life’s closing track, Do Not Disturb. The Swedish-born, L.A.-based artist has that Drake credit to her name but is a stunning artist in her right. Comparisons have been made to Lana Del Rey in terms of her gorgeous, silky vocals and cinematic scores. It only takes a few bars of her album, Don’t Explain, to know she is a unique artist who owes a debt to nobody. A stunning songwriter who is sure to make huge headway in the coming months.
Location: Mississippi/Nashville, U.S.A.
Essential Song: Gold Don’t Rust (Easy)
Reasons to Watch: Like Snoh Aalegra; the boys of The Weeks are not new to the world of music. The brothers have concocted a potent mix of Rock that has Southern cores and a spicy element of foot-stomping and good times. Their recent album, Easy, is defined by its glorious tunes and memorable moments - from an American band who would find a lot of loving fans here in the U.K. I am watching their rise with great interest!
PHOTO CREDIT: Melissa Madison Fuller
Location: Nashville, U.S.A.
Genres: Folk; Bluegrass
Essential Song: Takin’ Over
Reasons to Watch: The Bluegrass is modern but has some vintage touches; the Folk romantic but imbued with a distinct forwardness. Justin Wade Tam leads the band with warming, intelligent and nuanced lyrics. The band comprises a Soul-singer, sociology professor and composer (among others) and, since their eponymous debut album in 2012, the group have built a solid core of fans in the U.S. Another one of those bands who has a fanbase in other nations but not, necessarily, the big festival bookings they deserve. New single, Takin’ Over, shows they are getting stronger and more intent with each track – without compromising the sound that won them so many hearts.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jonny Finni
Location: London, U.K.
Genres: Alternative; Alternative-Rock
Essential Song: Miss You in the Dark
Reasons to Watch: The London-based female duo, like the guys of Humming House, seem to grow more intent and confident with each song. Miss You in the Dark is the latest epic tune from Collette Williams (Percussion and Vocals) and Shauna Tohill (a Belfast-born musician on Guitar and Lead Vocals) and, together, they are a superb force getting huge gigs and festival bookings. At the root of their music is a sisterhood and shared love that propels their immediate and punchy songs to the next level. One of those acts who is going to ascend to the mainstream and carve up a huge slice of land for themselves – one of the most exciting British acts of the moment.
Location: London, U.K.
Genres: Alternative; Singer-Songwriter
Essential Song: I Don’t Need Another Lover (EP 000100)
Reasons to Watch: It is hard to believe the young London treasure Billie Black is unsigned! There has been some social media dormancy over the past couple of years but, if Instagram posts are to be believed, there could be new music in the works. Music infected her from a young age and she soon got hooked on Jazz – taking part in the Guildhal Jazz Course and gaining entry into the BRIT School. Assimilating underground Electronic tones into that Jazz teaching: she is still putting material together and building her name but I feel this is the year she announces her presence to the world.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andreas Öhman
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Genres: Alternative; Rock; Soul
Essential Song: The Deer or the Hunter (EP No. 1)
Reasons to Watch: It is hard to categorise and define someone as varied and cross-pollinating as MIYNT. Her songs range from the affecting romance of The Strangest Game and The Deer or the Hunter to the cool-ass-yet-wary grooviness of Cool – to the Rock-laden sentiments of After the Gold Rush. More work is forthcoming but, on the strength of EP No. 1 alone, it is clear there are no boundaries and confinements for a curious and hungry artist who has a lot more to say.
Location: Manchester, U.K.
Essential Song: Tempest
Reasons to Watch: A daring and original songwriter whose reverb-heavy songs are bustling and brimming with passion and intensity. Her debut E.P., To the Sun, was met with acclaim and marked out as an artist to keep an eye on. Her new single, Tempest, is made for dark evenings and contemplation. She makes music, as she claims, that is best heard in the dark – a strange aura and mysticism emanates from her sound. In a music scene that can be quite dull and predictable: there is nothing average or uninteresting about the young British songwriter.
Location: Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Genres: Progressive-Rap; Contemporary Art
Essential Song: BL▲CK . MIRROR (S)
Reasons to Watch: Many have highlighted the impulsiveness of def.sound off the back of recordings like Kings of Neon (2015). He is a polymath and multi-talented poet/songwriter who pours his soul into his work. Documenting turmoil, triumphs and conquests: there is something alluring and captivating about the America. He has the confidence of Kanye West without the ego; the skills of Kendrick Lamar without the acclaim – he is a unique soul but one who warrants future success and worldwide acclaim.
Location: Southampton/London, U.K.
Genres: Alternative; Pop; Soul
Essential Song: Maybe Baby
Reasons to Watch: It is the voice that compels and seduces: few have the gravitas and allure of Laurel. One could compare her to say, Amy Winehouse, but that would be an easy (and lazy) resemblance. What the London-via-Southampton artist does is create her own unification of older-days smokiness and modern-day sexiness. Her earliest recorded were laid down in her East London bedroom studio: one suspects modern studios and big recording spaces await her in years to come. Right now, she embarking on tour dates – she is in Switzerland at the moment – and, one suspects, provide the music world with some fresh sounds. One of our brightest and most intriguing young talents.
Location: Toulouse/Paris, France
Genres: Pop; Alterative
Essential Song: Makeba
Reasons to Watch: Like many of the names on this debut list; it only takes a few breaths from JAIN to know she is a very special artist. Her phenomenal album, Zanaka, hopped the globe and introduced a range of sounds into the mix. Few artists are as bold and authoritative when blending so much into a record – it almost seems easy for the French songwriter. Right now, she is performing in France but has dates in the U.S. later in the year. I hope she has chance to come to the U.K. at some point because she is getting into the hearts of critics and music-lovers alike. A loveable, worldly and astonishing talent who is primed for the big leagues.