The New Astrology
IN THIS PHOTO: Sigrid/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Which Artists Can Make a Genuine Change This Year?
THIS is a sort of music Winterwatch where I look…
IN THIS PHOTO: Tom Grennan/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
around and search for the artists who will (start to) make an impression. They are not brand-new but, as I search for the artists who will make an early impression on the year; tune-yards are going to be ringing in the ears. Merrill Garbus is, essentially, tune-yards and, since 2009, she has been making some of the most innovative music around, Bird-Brains was picked up by 4AD in 2009 but, when she moved to California in 2011; WHOKILL was recorded and by 2014, with bassist Nate Brenner in association – Nikki Nack made a huge impression and signalled her out as one of the finest voices on the scene.
IN THIS PHOTO: tune-yards/PHOTO CREDIT: Eliot Lee Hazel
The latest record – and brilliantly-titled at that! – I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life – is out on Friday and is promising to be something special. Its title derives from a meditation course Garbus was enrolled in – one relating to race and white privilege. Songs like ABC 123 have gained a lot of airplay and, before tune-yards tour the U.K. in March; we have an extraordinary album to look forward to. Lyrics (on the record) explore everything from race to cultural appropriation: downbeat, serious lyrics paired with upbeat, sprite compositions.
IN THIS PHOTO: shame/PHOTO CREDIT: Dan Kendall for Loud and Quiet Magazine
Shame are, despite their name, another act that are going to kick this year off with a bang. They refute the idea the leather jacket-wearing, womanising Rockstar should be purged – it is a notion best left in the past; reserved to previous decades. Shame are an angry and fuelled band but you will not find them assuming the mantle of a beer-swilling, drug-taking band. There is, as they have said, an attraction to that lifestyle: they make music to reach the people and know modern life is not like that now. Money is tight and bands like them cannot afford that kind of existence – not that this is a bad thing! Taking inspiration from the likes of The Fall and Iggy Pop; the music you get from the Londoners is ferocious but has depth and plenty of hidden layers.
One Rizla is a song that outlines their lack of concern with reputation and technical proficiency – “My voice ain’t the best you’ve heard…But do I give a fuck?” Like tune-yards; shame are a force we need in music. The former is more about social consciousness and those weirdly original and unexpected songs: Shame are more direct and a band that summons rebellion and power – commodities that have been missing in the music industry for a while. The quintet formed when they were in their mid-teens and would play the same sort of scene as their London mates – going down their own path and establishing themselves in their own rights. Expect the boys to go far!
IN THIS PHOTO: Skelhorn/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
There is a lot of excitement around female artists – especially in Pop – and I shall come to a few I am very excited about. Skelhorn is someone who has been compared to older-days singers like Elvis Presley. He is from Liverpool and, whilst these are early days; there is a real buzz around him. That striking voice gets into the heart and he is someone who will be a big star before too long. He has been performing since the age of fourteen and been recognised by local stations (around Liverpool). He has performed and toured with three different bands and now, stepping aside, he is picking up the veins and embarking on a solo career. There are some positive vibes projected his way: make sure you check out Skelhorn and why he is being tipped as a future talent of serious note.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sudan Archives/PHOTO CREDIT: Theo Jemison
Sudan Archives is a twenty-three-year-old violinist/vocalist who writes and plays all her own music. She is a self-taught musician and, inspired by Sudanese fiddlers; R&B artists and West African rhythms – you get a brew that swirls around the brain and strikes the heart. She grew up in Ohio and, as she said, messed around with instrument around the house. Noting how violinists and fiddlers in Africa played; she wondered whether this style could be blended with Electronic music.
That fusion of Folk and Electronic was a real turning point for the America. Critics are raving – and it is easy to see why! The talented artist mixes beats – laid down on her iPad – and pairs that with traditional, warmer instruments. Sudan Archives moved to L.A. aged nineteen and has won plaudits from some big sources. Her E.P., Sudan Archives, is a confident and nuanced work from someone who is going to make a huge mark in 2018.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sigrid/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Sigrid has recently been named by BBC as their artist to watch this year. The announcement came as a shock to the Nordic artist. Debut single, Don’t Kill My Vibe, was a revelation – it gathered millions of Spotify streams and saw her a much-demanded name on the circuit scene. There is already talk she can go on and be headliners at Glastonbury one day – she has already played at the festival. Notable highlights from 2017, like playing Rockslide (Denmark) in June, have seen her music go far and wide. Thousands have seen her perform and everyone comes away with the same impression: they are witnessing someone who will go very far.
She has released a four-track E.P.; got the ear of BBC; been played on our best national radio stations – topping numerous ‘ones to watch’ polls and proof the Pop/Alternative music of 2018 is going to be a very different affair. Sigrid will play U.K. dates in March and head to Coachella in April. Since her debut single in April; that rise has been steep and heady. Who knows how far she will go?!
IN THIS PHOTO: Madison Beer/PHOTO CREDIT: Factice Magazine
Madison Beer is a Pop artist who personifies the notion of a modern-day star: she is a huge hit on Instagram and has a legion of fans. The teenager is not your average Bubblegum-Pop purveyor: she produces more mature, deep music that is backed by that honeyed, alluring voice. From chilled and floaty to zesty and precise – her music switches direction and is hard to predict. I know she will make big steps this year and, in a Pop market that is filling fast; Madison Beer stands out and has the chance to make a real difference. That fanbase, tied to her natural songwriting ability, means she will have a very busy year. I have been following her work for a little while but, from song-to-song; I can hear a development and evolution. She is growing stronger and more confident; festival and gig requests are coming in fast – I would expect worldwide dates to follow through this year.
IN THIS PHOTO: Zoee/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Zoee has worked with Pub-Pop pioneers Rhythm Method but is an artist who stands alone. The Londoner performer mixes her stunning vocals with electronic templates; there is a balance of the melancholic and minimal – a veritable blend of contrasting emotions and polemic sonics. Her debut E.P., Insecure, was a triumph and picked up terrific reviews. Songs look at everything from loneliness, miscommunication and the perils of love. One can relate to her music but never get bogged down and bored – it is always engaging, fresh and surprising. There are a lot of great female Pop artists coming through but the ones I am highlighting are beyond the limits of the mainstream. I am excited how Zoee progresses and where she can head this year. Her live performances are being highlighted: a natural performer who can hold an audience in her palm.
IN THIS PHOTO: Julia Michaels/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Julia Michaels is not as new as some of the artists I have mentioned – but that does not mean she should be excluded. She was a huge success in 2017 and has already been nominated for a Grammy; written a string of hits and co-written for some of the biggest artists on the planet (including Justin Bieber). That husky, chocolate voice makes every word resonate and stun; the lyrics stray from the ordinary and cliché; the songs cross boundaries and subvert expectations. She is someone who can talk about lust and heartache and do so in a very new and unexpected manner.
She, like Baywaves, Moaning and Tom Grennan, are artists I am expecting to do good things. I have been reluctant to back Grennan but feel, the more I hear him; there is an artist that has a unique soul and a voice that warrants further attention. There are few male solo artists that stick in my mind at the moment. Grennan differs from the pack and manages to avoid the trappings of a lot of hot-tipped artists: writing in a very safe and cautious way. His songs are bold and are far stronger than a lot of the new music being produced. Baywaves are an act I am especially keen to promote. 2017 was a busy one for them and it saw many new fans flock their way. Gliss was released back in June: a stunning single that, to me, signalled their best work. Down 4 U followed and, like Gliss, got right into the soul. There are jangly guitars, hazy melodies and Pop vibes. It is a wonderful concoction that will see the Spanish group pick up awards and gig requests.
IN THIS PHOTO: Baywaves/PHOTO CREDIT: Neelam Khan Vela
Abra Cadabra is as magic and surprising as his name suggests. The Tottenham M.C.is turning heads and offering something daring and bold. He has already teamed with industry-leading acts like Kojo Funds - and look set to set this year alight. I am looking out at the Urban scene and wondering which artists can come through - speak the truth and lead the people. There is something real and uncomplicated regarding Abra Cadabra’s ethos and ego – he is a pure artist doing his own thing; not willing to compromise an succumb to the lure of the mainstream.
IMAGE CREDIT: Getty Images
BASSETTE excites me and, like Sigrid and other stunning female artists; the hype and attention is warranted. She has a voice that has been compared to Amy Winehouse and, like the departed legend; there are hopes she could be an international star. These are early days but I know BASSETTE will go from strength to strength. Her music is among the finest I have heard in a while; that voice fills the mind and takes you somewhere magical. Another female artist I tip to do big things, and has been garnering great praise, is Catherine McGrath. She is a talented Country artist from Northern Ireland and has had a very successful past couple of years. I feel her best work is ahead and, as we look to the musicians who will do wonderful things. Her clear voice and instant songs have seen her tipped as a potential crossover artist. I expect her to go a long way and, perhaps, get a lot of U.S. dates. I am aware of what she can do but, as she gets more gigs; that sound get stronger and more astonishing.
IN THIS PHOTO: Catherine McGrath/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
MALIKA is another wonderful artist whose track, Falling (with Snakehips), was a classic R&B cut. She has, since then, released the stunning single, Run. The song featured on the E.P., Songs About C, and suggested what is to come this year. She enjoyed modest acclaim in 2017 but, as the music has had a chance to bed-in; I expect more gigs to come her way. I know she will continue to grow as the year goes on; ascend and climb the ladder and show why she is one of the most exceptional young artists around. There are a lot of great artists who are doing the same sort of thing but, when one thinks of MALIKA, you are not reminded of anyone else. I am pumped and ready to see where she can head through this year.
IN THIS PHOTO: MALIKA/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Kymberley Kennedy projects the same sort of emotions in me. Her music is really starting to gain traction and, as we progress; I expect her to get some rather notable acclaim. I can see her picking up awards and being invited to play festivals. It is exciting discovering an artist you just know will be around for many years. Few have the same passion and drive as Kennedy; the songs are exceptionally physical and emotive. You cannot listen to her with a lazy and undedicated mind: you go in with a willing heart and submit the sheer grace and potency. I am going to follow her and back everything she does.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kymberley Kennedy/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
My final act to highlight is FALSE HEADS. They are a band I interviewed last year – I know full well what they can do! Iggy Pop has already fallen for their charms and, when you listen to the Gutter Press E.P., you understand why! It is a loud and vivacious Punk offering from four lads who have a lot to say. As the world gets more fraught and unbalanced; I expect them to have a much larger role in music. It is an opportunity-laden time when they can join the likes of IDLES – another band who can get the jaw dropped – and conquer the festival circuit.
IN THIS PHOTO: FALSE HEADS/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
There is a big demand for bands who go beyond the conventional and summon something genuinely thrilling. No danger with these guys: every song bursts out of the speakers and motivates the body! I am excited by their progress already but know they go a long way still and mark themselves as one of the best British bands around. Ensure you follow them as they throw down the gauntlet this year!
I have collected a few names that are being tipped and being featured on those ‘ones to watch in 2018’ features – those that deserve the acclaim and look set to add their voices to the year. A lot of the pollmakers’ predications, I feel, are flawed or a little rash. They might proclaim an artist and then, a few months down the line; one finds the shine and promise has faded. It can be hard deciding which artists are going to do big things. These are a smattering of musicians to look out for - but there are more worth looking out for – I will throw the spotlight on as many as possible! I feel 2018 is going to be one of the strongest years for music in a long while.
IN THIS PHOTO: Yonaka/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
The solo market is still (very much) the champion: great bands are coming through but they are not getting as much time as solo acts. That is the way it’s been for a while but there stunning bands – from Anteros and Yonaka to Duke of Wolves – I have been following a while and know how good they are. The predictions thrown out by the newspapers/websites hold sway and truth. There are some great artists coming out of those articles that, I hope, will get the recognition they have been working for. It will be exciting none the less and, when it comes to some promising artists worth getting behind; the artists you see above are well worth…
IN THIS PHOTO: Duke of Wolves/PHOTO CREDIT: Violet Verigo
HANGING your hat on.