Ones to watch 2013
One of the few things guaranteed to pull us through the post-Christmas slump is checking out the up-and-coming musical talent set to make a splash in the next 12 months, and looking forward to big new albums from established acts.
Below you’ll find our top tips for 2013, broken down into bands, solo artists and producers.
Our tip for the top
If we were in the betting business, we’d advise you to stick a pony on this pair of Londoners being the breakthrough act of 2013. Let’s survey the evidence: they were nominated for the Brits’ ‘Critics’ Choice’ award, they’ve been long-listed for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 prize and they specialise in the kind of wonky, R&B-influenced, electro-pop that’s white-hot right now. If you’ve not had the pleasure yet, check out ‘Your Drums, Your Love’, ‘You Know You Like It’ or ‘Just A Touch’, and then join us in impatiently awaiting their full-length debut.
What started out as the solo musical pursuit of Elena Tonra, has since become a fully-fledged band. Nevertheless, it was Tonra’s heart-meltingly beautiful vocals that first won us over, and she remains the driving creative force in Daughter. Three EPs of fragile torch-songs and one superb single later, we’re hooked on their tear-stained indie-folk.
Indie-rock and 90s R&B don’t sound the most natural of bedfellows, but California’s Haim sisters succeed in synthesising their eclectic influences into melodic, vocal harmony-heavy pop. This summer’s single ‘Don’t Save Me’ sounded how Stevie Nicks might, had she been raised on a diet of TLC and Destiny’s Child, so we have high hopes for the album.
Probably the world’s first glitch-pop supergroup, Atoms For Peace features Thom Yorke, Flea, Nigel “OK Computer” Godrich and Beck/R.E.M.-collaborator Joey Waronker. Their debut album, Amok, is out at the tail-end of February. We’re excited.
Featuring an ex-touring member of The Twilight Sad and the former lead guitarist of Aerogramme, CHVRCHES are widely acknowledged to be Glasgow’s hottest new band. Their breakthrough single, ‘The Mother We Share’, was ostensibly electronic-pop, but beneath the bouncing bleeps and Lauren Mayberry’s sugar-sweet vocal delivery, lurked a tale of estrangement and discontent… And even a sneaky F-bomb.
From The Strokes to The Libertines, the folks at Rough Trade Records have a knack of spotting the guitar stars of the future first. Their latest signing is Palma Violets, a garage-rock quartet from South London, who met at Reading Festival 2011 and recently had their debut single named Track of the Year by the NME.
Sure, it isn’t the most memorable of monikers, but the atmospheric alt-rock Wild Swim make means they linger longer in the mind-tank than most young bands. Mingling electronic textures with math-rock rhythms, the prog-pop melody of their debut single was like a glorious cross-pollination of Foals and Wild Beasts. If they can keep that calibre of songwriting up, 2013 is theirs for the taking.
Hailing from England’s second city, Peace are in the business of guitar music. Sometimes it’s of the baggy variety, sometimes there’s a post-rock feel to proceedings, but more often than not it’s straight from the Two Door Cinema Club school of choppy, hook-heavy, indie-rock. The Brummy boys are booked for the NME Awards Tour in February, so we imagine you’ll be hearing a lot more about them in 2013.
Believe the hype: Michigan-born, Brooklyn-raised rapper Angel Haze was one of the most exciting things to happen to hip hop in 2012. On recent mixtapes Reservation and Classick, she used uncompromising rhymes to tackle her troubled past head-on, making for music that was brave, brutal and brilliant. As a route in, check out ‘New York’, which sees her unleash her rapid-fire flow over the syncopated handclaps of Gil Scott Heron’s ‘NYC Is Killing Me’.
Signed to Lily Allen’s label, this West Sussex-born singer-songwriter’s already appeared on ‘Later… with Jools’ and opened for Michael Kiwanuka and Mumford and Sons. Add to that the fact he’s just become the first male winner of the BRITS’ ‘Critics’ Choice’ award, and been long-listed for the BBC’s Sound of 2013 prize, and you’ll see why we think 2013 might be his year…
Having trained at Birmingham’s Conservatoire, this 26 year-old brings more to the table than your average soul singer. Mvula put her classical background to good use on debut EP She, offering up a kind of baroque-pop/R&B hybrid, driven by unusual arrangements, and capped-off with a voice that falls somewhere between Billie Holiday’s and Amy Winehouse’s.
From Adele and Amy Winehouse to Kate Nash and Imogen Heap, Croydon’s BRIT School is renowned as a hotbed for female songwriting talent. If all goes to plan, multi-instrumentalist Archy “King Krule” Marshall might just redress the gender balance in 2013, with music that sounds how Jamie T might, if his influences included Gene Vincent, Fela Kuti and Penguin Café Orchestra.
You might remember Roses Gabor from her turn on SBTRKT’s ‘Pharoahs’, but did you know she’s sung with RedLight, Shy FX and Gorillaz too? It was only a matter of time ‘til the Londoner sought star-billing and, following an acclaimed mixtape, she released her debut single ‘Stars’ in October 2012, on Toddla T’s Girls Music imprint.
Ok, so we know Azealia was the one to watch in 2012, but one EP and 12 months later, we’re still waiting on her full length debut. Broke But With Expensive Taste is scheduled to land in February and we can’t wait to hear if there’s anything on it to rival ‘212’.
Indians is the nom de plume of Søren Løkke Juul, the latest singer-songwriter to be signed to illustrious indie imprint 4AD. Like label-mates Efterklang, Juul hails from Copenhagen, and his forte is atmospheric indie-folk, constructed from a mixture of analogue and synthetic sounds. His debut album, Somewhere Else, drops on 28th January 2013.
Fresh from working on Jessie Ware’s Devotion this year, The Invisible’s Dave Okumu launched straight into producing the debut album of this soon-to-be star from “Newcastle pon de Tyne”. We’re yet to hear the fruits of those particular recording sessions, but the beat-laden soul on last single ‘Be Safe’ certainly augers well for the full-length.
If you enjoy Gold Panda’s beatific glitch-collages or Hudson Mohawke’s wonky, electronic hip hop, Harley “Flume” Streten’s debut should make you as happy as it’s made us. Already trouncing One Direction in the charts back home, the Sydney-born producer’s now set on conquering our shores with this eclectic, sun-warped set.
At a mere 15 years of age, Leeds’ Samir Alkhanizadeh may be too young to legally set foot in a club, but his instinct for what will sound good through Fabric’s soundsystem is as acute as any of your superstar DJs. This year he’s been championed by Mary Anne Hobbs, remixed Four Tet and unleashed his awesome split-single debut, ‘Beat Of The Drum/Bring It Back’. In-between cramming for GCSEs, we’re hoping Happa finds time to deliver more bass-heavy tech-house in 2013.
South London-born siblings Guy and Howard Lawrence first started sneaking their soul-laden bass music into clubs at the tender ages of 16 and 18 respectively. Two years since they went pro, this precocious, post-dubstep duo have built-up a smitten following, which includes Radio One’s Annie Mac and boutique, Berlin-based, electronic label Greco-Roman, who released their latest EP, The Face.
‘Ones to watch’ features aren’t all about precocious upstarts, y’know. After five years drip-feeding us moments of electronic, post-industrial genius, Factory Floor are set to unveil their first full length offering in 2013, through James Murphy’s legendary DFA imprint. If any of it’s even half as good as minimalist, techno masterpiece ‘Two Different Ways’, we’ll have a contender for album of the year on our hands.