If there’s anything certain for 2017 it’s that the music industry is about to be stormed by a handful of up and coming artists who are just about to break it. Last year’s list featured artists like Blossoms (who went on to pretty much own 2016), Rat Boy and The Japanese House, all of which have gone on to have huge success. There are hundreds of bands and artists I could write about (and I’m still planning a huge master post of them all), but here are a selection.
Sundara Karma– I featured Sundara Karma on the list last year and they’ve done a lot since then (toured constantly, played Reading Festival, Glastonbury etc), however I think 2017 is going to be their year. They released their debut album, Youth is Only Fun in Retrospect, at the beginning of January and are about to go on a UK headline tour (featuring a date at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire) and support indie giants Two Door Cinema Club. There’s no doubt that the band will probably play all the festivals (John Peel or The Other Stage at Glastonbury maybe?) and they’ve probably got a few more tour dates up their sleeves (a huge Brixton show would be brilliant?!). You’d be mad not to catch them. I’ve been saying it for the last couple of years, but Sundara Karma are a band with songs that could easily fill arenas. Their songs are catchy, upbeat and powerful. I can’t believe it’s taken so long to get the recognition they deserve.
FOR FANS OF: Two Door Cinema Club, Circa Waves and (mainly) easy listening, feel good indie rock.
HAVE A LISTEN TO: She Said, The Night and Flame
Rag ‘N’ Bone Man– Rag ‘N’ Bone Man- whose real name is Rory Graham- is set to become one of the most successful up and coming artists of 2017. Graham started as an MC and some of this still seeps through into his current material- take ‘Wolves’ for example (a collaboration with Stig Of The Dump) or ‘Rain’ (with Kate Tempest). He has the most stunningly beautiful blusey voice. It’s deep and powerful. It’s another George Ezra effect, you don’t expect the man singing to look how he does but in all honesty it tops it off perfectly. Brighton based Rag ‘N’ Bone Man has already won 2017’s Brits Critic’s Choice Award, following in the footsteps of Adele and James Bay (amongst others). There’s actually nothing quite like him. His voice is so powerful. He’s already confirmed to play Isle of Wight Festival and Wild Life Festival.
FOR FANS OF: Something unique and soulful, blusey, powerful voices.
HAVE A LISTEN TO: Wolves, Human and Hell Yeah
Declan McKenna: Newly turned 18 year old Declan McKenna is already taking the music world by storm. Having toured with the likes of Blossoms and Cage the Elephant, performed on Later Live With Jools Holland and having won the 2015 Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition he’s definitely someone you should know about. His music has a laid back quality, whilst still remaining witty in lyric and incredibly catchy. McKenna is a brilliant example of what the future has in terms of music. He’s got something important to say, too. His song ‘Paracetamol’ was inspired by a transgender girl, Leelah Acorn, who committed suicide in late 2014 and the media’s representation of the LGBQT community, incredibly infectious ‘Brazil’ is all about the corruption within FIFA and the effects of the World Cup on Brazil and ‘Isombard’ has hints of extreme right wing views trying to be justified by those with power without proper understanding and a total disregard for those who it affects (ignorance I suppose). Declan McKenna is important and necessary in today’s world and I couldn’t be happier that people like him are leading the way for my generation. McKenna has just finished on a UK tour and has just released his latest single, “The kids Don’t Wanna Come Home”.
FOR FANS OF: The View, music with a message and brilliant indie-rock.
HAVE A LISTEN TO: Brazil, Bethlehem and Isombard.
VANT: “We’re VANT from planet Earth” is what Mattie Vant (lead singer) introduced the band as. It’s something I’ve remembered. This is a significant statement; they don’t believe in world boarders. VANT are a politically driven band producing today’s version of protest music. They stand proud for what they believe in and aren’t afraid to fight for it. Their music is loud and unbelievably catchy. It’s a breath of fresh air on the indie-rock scene. The music creates a hybrid across genres, too. They’ve toured with the likes of You Me At Six, regularly feature in Kerrang, they’re an NME favourite, they’ve already triumphantly conquered Glastonbury and Reading Festival AND they’re due to release their debut album this Feburary. Their music is universally relevant and something you should check out.
FOR FANS OF: Spring King, Palma Violets and music with a message.
HAVE A LISTEN TO: KARMA SEEKER, FLY-BY ALIEN and DO YOU KNOW ME? (yes, they’re all brilliantly capitalised)
The Big Moon– The Big Moon are a dreamy all-female four piece indie-rock band from London. Their music sounds like the firey remains of their 90s predecessors and their melodic tunes are nothing but a treat. I first heard of the band because they were supporting The Maccabees on their January 2016 UK tour and I’ve been hooked since. Their music is so easy to listen to and unbelievably catchy and their live shows are frill-free and fascinating. They’re set to release their debut album, Love in the 4th Dimension, this year too.
FOR FANS OF: Haim, Spring King and Sundara Karma
LISTEN TO: Sucker, The Road, Cupid and Silent Movie Susie
Blaenavon– I can’t quite describe how much I love Blaenavon. Their music is the type of music you want to fall in and out of love to, look dramatically out of bus windows on drizzly days to and dance to, simultaneously (or maybe that’s just me). Their music has this sophisticated, laid-back indie vibe and it’s something you don’t see a lot at the moment. Their EPs are each stunningly composed with absolute bangers, from the loud ‘Hell is in my Head’ (which I first heard in a supermarket car park on Annie Mac’s BBC Radio 1 show) to their latest single ‘Orthodox Man’, which you can help wanting to sway to. They’ve done a lot of supporting over the last year (from Sundara Karma to The Hunna) and I think it’s paid off. Blaenavon are a gem and shouldn’t be missed. Their debut album, That’s Your Lot, is out in April (and their EP and album artwork is brilliant too).
FOR FANS OF: Swim Deep, Peace, Circa Waves and Sundara Karma
LISTEN TO: Let’s Pray, Orthodox Man, Hell is in Your Head and Prague
Cabbage– Cabbage are Manchester’s answer to the universe. Their music tells the truths of Tory Britain, struggles of modern day life and are a beacon of truth for many of Britain’s youth. Again, their music has something significant to say (and something that shouldn’t be ignored). They definitely don’t want it written about in The Sun though. It’s not something your parents will love (and that’s the point). They join the NME tour with Blossoms later this year and you should probably prepare to see them at pretty much every festival going.
FOR FANS OF: Slaves, Palma Violets and The Libertines
LISTEN TO: Fickle, Terrorist Synthesiser and Dinner Lady
Will Joseph Cook– Nothing but feel good indie rock from a chilled out teenager who knows how to write a killer tune. Ugh, it doesn’t get much better than ‘Take Me Dancing’. It’s the epitome of euphoric music. Will Joseph Cook goes on tour supporting Sundara Karma this month.
FOR FANS OF: (a toned down) Everything Everything, Cage the Elephant and Viola Beach
LISTEN TO: Take Me Dancing, Sweet Dreamer and Girls Like Me
Clean Cut Kid– I don’t really know how Clean Cut Kid aren’t huge. They’re here, there and everywhere at the moment and have been firm festival favourites, supported bands like the Courteeners and have released a handful of brilliant EPs brimming with feel good hits. The band offer something unique that works, but also something that remains quite classic. I can’t wait to see where this year takes them.
FOR FANS OF: alll the indie music and something a bit different
LISTEN TO: We Used to be in Love, Vitamin C and Runaway
The Amazons– The Amazons are one of those bands on the cusp of success. They’ve been around for a couple of years, but they’re just starting to make their mark on an ever evolving industry. Their area sized songs echo that of successful bands that have come before them. They’re going to be a band you hear about a lot over the next year. Watch this space.
FOR FANS OF: Sundara Karma, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Viola Beach, The Sherlocks and Blossoms
LISTEN TO: Ultraviolet, Stay With Me, In My Mind and Night Driving
Of course, there are many other artists who could’ve been featured on here and I’m still planning a huge post with them all on, but for now these are my essential ones to keep an eye on. This year’s future big names are mainly young people with message who write music with meaning. Long are the days where music is all about ex-lovers and turbulent relationships. It’s all about making the world a better place and fighting for what you believe in.