2018- Ones to Watch

As the class of 2017’s Ones to Watch graduate onto big things, it makes sense to start the year off with a fresh batch of up and coming talent who are soon to be making waves within the music industry. Last year’s bands included: Sundara Karma (who went onto headline a show at Brixton’s O2 Academy and release their debut album), Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Declan McKenna, VANT, The Big Moon (who went on to be nominated for this year’s Mercury Prize), Blaenavon, Cabbage, Will Joseph Cook, Clean Cut Kid and The Amazons, all of which have gone on to do exciting things, whether it be releasing their debut album or collecting an array of prestigious awards. This year’s list could go on forever, but I’ve picked out my highlights.

The Magic Gang

Brighton’s The Magic Gang have been about for the last few years. They’ve supported countless bands and played multiple day time festival slots, but now it’s their turn to take to the big stage. They’ve taken their time putting out gloriously upbeat, alternative singles and- hopefully- are preparing to put out a full length record in the near future. Regardless, they’re definitely worth a listen.

FOR FANS OF: Sundara Karma, The Big Moon, Circa Waves

LISTEN TO: Jasmine, How Can I Compete, Your Love, All This Way

 

Pale Waves

Pale Waves are one of the latest great bands to come from the hit-making record label Dirty Hit. In the last year or so they’ve already played Madison Square Garden, had singles produced by label mate Matty Healy (The 1975) and toured the UK a handful of times on their own. Their sound is similar to that of The 1975s, with its dark, sugar coated outside and classic indie-rock core. Oh, and they’ve already got matching band tattoos, so they’re in it for the long run!

FOR FANS OF: The 1975, The Japanese House, Swim Deep, Fickle Friends

LISTEN TO: There’s A Honey, Television Romance, New Year’s Eve

 

Billie Eilish

Straight out of LA, 16-year-old Billie Eilish is already making waves in the world of music. Her soothing indie-elctropop spell tales of teenage love and loss, in ways which are mature beyond her years. The tracks themselves are effortlessly easy to listen to, with hints of artists such as Lana Del Rey seeping through. In 2017, Eilish released the EP stylised as dont smile at me,¬†which includes a successful collab with Vince Staples (which echoes singles ‘watch’).¬† The EP has the youthful optimism of Lorde’s Pure Heroine, with a cool edge. I can’t wait to see Eilish live eventually, with a sporadic selection of sold out worldwide dates popping up all over the place as we speak.

FOR FANS OF: Lana Del Rey, Lorde

LISTEN TO: Watch, idontwannabeyouanymore, Party Favor and Ocean Eyes

 

Ten Tonnes

Ten Tonnes is an exciting up and coming singer/songwriter who plays upbeat, easy to listen to alternative tunes on his electric guitar. The songs ooze an air of cool, with catchy chorus’ galore. He’s also brilliant live, with a natural, relaxed and collected stage presence, and is about to embark on a UK tour as support for RatBoy, with fellow 2018 up and coming trailblazers Bad Sounds.

FOR FANS OF: Tom Grennan, Will Joseph Cook, and feel good pop songs.

LISTEN TO: Lucy, Cracks Between, Born to Lose, Love Me To Death

 

Tom Grennan

Tom Grennan is undeniably one to watch. His voice is timeless, with a maturity many take years of graft to grasp. Grennan’s polished pop songs are a masterclass in how to write a modern classic and his soulful, blusey voice is tireless.

FOR FANS OF: Soulful strong male vocals

LISTEN TO: Found What I’ve Been Looking For, Royal Highness, Praying, Something in the Water

 

Rex Orange County

Rex Orange County’s is a British singer/songwriter, whose songs possess the lyrical wit of that of The Streets and are fused with hip-hop, pop and jazz influence. He’s already has a large following of famous fans, including Tyler, The Creator, who featured Rex Orange County on his latest album and has been tipped by BBC Music on their Sound of 2018 list, in which he came second. His music is effortlessly cool and clever. It’s something unique and special.

FOR FANS OF: The Streets, Rat Boy, Declan McKenna

LISTEN TO: Best Friend, Loving is Easy, Television/So Far So Good

 

Sigrid

Sigrid is set to be one of the most exciting solo artists of the year. The Norwegian singer’s feel good pop tunes are infectiously catchy and are set to soundtrack the Summer of 2018. She shot to fame after releasing the Don’t Kill My Vibe EP in 2017 and has been unstoppable since, with a sold out UK tour coming up and plenty of big festival sets already under her belt. What’s more, she’s recently been crowned the winner of BBC Music’s Sound of 2018. Watch this space!

FOR FANS OF: M√ė, Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie, and a strong female pop vocal.

LISTEN TO: Don’t Kill My Vibe, Strangers, Plot Twist

 

Sam Fender

Sam Fender is just beginning to emerge in the music industry. He’s insanely talented and provides an essential “woke” (if you will) narrative of the world. The soulful singer songwriter writes politically and socially aware tracks, which take on the topics of sexual harassment and the government’s role in society. Fender’s guitar lead music doesn’t become tiresome either and with four singles released thus far, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

FOR FANS OF: Tom Grennan, Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, Declan McKenna, The Amazons

LISTEN TO: Play God, Start Again, Greasy Spoon

 

Superorganism

Superorganism are out of this world. Literally. They’re a fascinating band who experiment with sound in a unique and exciting way. Whilst their core is that of indie rock origin, they throw curveballs in the form of samples and sound effects. Their sound is refreshing to listen to, whilst their live set up is equally as exciting.

FOR FANS OF: Something totally unique, slightly out-there and with a pretty open-mind!

LISTEN TO: Something For Your M.I.N.D, Everybody Wants to Be Famous

 

Tom Walker

Tom Walker is a self taught musician, who has a degree in songwriting and he’s insanely brilliant at all of it. Singer/songwriter Walker fuses eclectic samples with bold beats and catchy hooks. Hip-hop and pop influence seeps in, whilst traditional songwriting remains at core. His voice is incredibly soulful and easy to listen to. He’s also set to tour the UK in March and is definitely not one to be missed.

FOR FANS OF: Jack Garratt, James Bay, Saint Raymond

LISTEN TO: Leave a Light On, Just You and I, Fly Away With Me

 

The Night Café

The Night Caf√© are a brilliantly traditional indie-rock, alternative band. They’re pretty refined in their genre and their tracks could easily excite the toughest of audiences. They’ve supported Blaenavon on a couple of their tours and are playing the odd show around the country in their own right. They’re a band just on the cusp of making it big and I can’t wait to see them grow and mature into something huge.

FOR FANS OF: Blaenavon, Sundara Karma, The Magic Gang

LISTEN TO: Mixed Signals, Addicted, Felicity

 

FEET

FEET are one of the first bands to come out of Yala Records- the brainchild of The Maccabees Felix White. Their indie-rock, alternative sound is laced with elements of raucous punk. Whilst they’ve only officially released two songs I think they’re going to go on to do really great, big things. Watch this space.

FOR FANS OF: Slaves, Palma Violets, Cabbage, Wolf Alice

LISTEN TO: Petty Thieving, Macho Macho

 

King Nun

I remember the first time I saw King Nun. It was a boiling hot summers day at a market in Kingston in 2015 and the audience consisted of passers by and- mainly- band family members. I don’t remember how I wound up to be there, but the band played a memorable set. Two year’s later and the band have been signed to Dirty Hit Records- the record label behind The 1975, Wolf Alice, Superfood etc.- and have since put out a few singles and EPs. Their sound is loud and raucous. It’s gritty and raw and they play an electric live set. With the nurture of Dirty Hit, they’re certain to flourish into something big.

FOR FANS OF: VANT, Slaves,

LISTEN TO: Tulip, Sponge, Speakerface

 

Bad Sounds

Brothers Ewan and Callum started Bad Sounds a couple of years ago, fusing hip hop influences with cool indie-pop. They’re experimental with sound and sampling and electronic beats run deep throughout all of their tracks. They put out a couple of EPs last year (PHRESSSH and Mixtape One) and have already embarked on their maiden tour of the UK. What’s more, they’re due to join Rat Boy on his early 2018 tour- along with the formidable Ten Tonnes.

FOR FANS OF: Superfood, something totally different.

LISTEN TO: Wages, Are You High?, Avalanche

 

 

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2018- Ones to Watch

September 2017- What I’ve Been Listening To

This year’s Mercury Prize awards took place on the 14th September 2017 at The Eventim Apollo in London. Amongst this year’s nominated ‘album of the year’ contenders there’s the likes of Glass Animals, Blossoms, Kate Tempest and Loyle Carner. The list includes seven debut albums and five albums by artists from South London- that’s just under half of all the nominees. This year’s Mercury Prize was awarded to Sampha, for his stunning debut album Process. The South London singer won ¬£25,000 alongside the award.

Brighton’s The Great Escape Festival have announced the first 50 acts performing at the festival. Ten Tonnes, King Nun, The Orielles, Stereo Honey, Feet, Sam Fender and Dan Stock are amongst the first 50 to be announced, with many more up and coming artists still to be announced. The 50 acts will play in bars and clubs across London from the 21st-23rd November.

Bedford born Tom Grennan has announced a huge UK tour alongside an album announcement. The album Lighting Matches¬†is due to be released on the 9th March next year. It includes the latest single ‘Royal Highness’, ‘Praying’ and ‘Something in the Water’. Grennan is set to tour the album in March next year.

Noel Gallagher (and his High Flying Birds) have also announced a new album, called Who Built The Moon?,¬†which is due for release later this year. Allegedly the album is inspired by French Psychadelic pop, which sounds fascinating.¬† The album is a collaboration between Gallagher and David Holmes and is set to feature some iconic musicians, such as Paul Weller and Johnny Marr. The announcement came with details of a new single, ‘Holy Mountain’, which is released on October 9th. The news didn’t stop there, Gallagher also announced a whole host of 2018 UK tour dates, including a huge show at London’s SSE Arena.

Jake Bugg is expanding his 2018 acoustic tour in support of his latest album. Bugg has announced dates in Brighton and London, amongst others, in ‘intimate’ venues which are set to make a spectacle of his solo show.

In other news, the BBC are bringing music back onto prime time TV- finally! Yes, we have Jools Holland, which is absolutely massive in terms of breaking new artists and showcasing some of the most uniquely talented artists from across the world, but the new show Sounds Like Friday Night is set to reach a broader audience. The programme, which will air on Friday nights, will be presented by Radio 1’s Greg James and Dotty. It will air for the first time on the 27th October and will feature a different artist as a host each week. On the first episode Jason Deurlo will co-host. The show is set to show live performances from successful bands and artists and also show sketches featuring some famous faces too. I’m looking forward to it because I think it’ll be interesting to see how the BBC are attempting to bring music back onto television, which is something we’re missing.

This month’s playlist features loads of Haim and Glass Animals, who I have been loving since Reading Festival last month (you can check out my review of it here). It also features songs from Superfood’s absolutely massive new album, Bambino, which was also released this month, as well as tracks from Ten Tonnes, Khalid, Pale Waves and Lorde. There’s a few tracks from Wolf Alice’s stunning second album thrown in too.

Next month I can’t wait to see Declan McKenna on his upcoming UK tour and I can’t wait to celebrate BBC Introducing’s 10 year anniversary with them at the O2 Brixton Academy.

 

September 2017- What I’ve Been Listening To

Reading Festival, 25th-27th August 2017 (Festival Review)

So Reading (and Leeds) Festival is over for another year and this year’s festival was a huge success. The event, held at Richfield Avenue, took place from Friday 25th August to the 27th August and was headlined by Kasabian, Eminem and Muse. There were a couple of (not so) secret sets over the weekend too, including appearances from Wolf Alice and Queens of the Stone Age (who will no doubt be back next year, perhaps the latter as headliners).

Here are my highlights:

Friday

The Magic Gang¬†played a triumphant late morning set on the BBC/NME Stage to set off an exciting weekend of live music. The Brighton band played an enthusiastic and energetic set, filled with previously released songs- including ‘All This Way’ and ‘Jasmine’- as well as their latest single ‘Your Love’.

If you haven’t seen Declan McKenna¬†in 2017 then I don’t know where you’ve been! He’s played pretty much every UK festival and Reading and Leeds was no exception. The 18-year-old played his first ever Reading and Leeds set (having attended Reading for the past two years) on the BBC/NME Stage to a packed out audience. McKenna sang songs from his debut album- What Do You Think About The Car?– and jumped into the audience a few times in the set, with the first time unsuccessfully ending up in the middle of a mosh pit. McKenna laughed off forgetting the words to ‘Paracetamol’ and continued to gleefully run around the stage as the audience sang, cheered and clapped along. Declan McKenna knows how to excite an audience.

Anne-Marie might not have seemed an obvious choice for Reading Festival, but by the sheer amount of people who turned up to see the ‘Rockabye’ singer she’s clearly a popular one. The singer played a mixture of singles, including ‘Do It’ and ‘Alarm’, and lesser known songs, before ending with the hit-singles ‘Ciao Adios’ and a stunning version of Clean Bandit’s ‘Rockabye’, which she features on. The audience were in awe as she sang pitch perfect songs and as she jumped into the crowd to take selfies with the audience.

It’s been quite a year for Two Door Cinema Club. Last year they headlined the BBC/NME Stage and now they’re creeping up the Main Stage line-up, with a new album and countless tours under their belts. Two Door Cinema Club know how to put together a good setlist, which featured hit after hit and a copious amount of fan favourites. They always put on a good, feel-good show.

Bastille brought the Wild Word tour to Reading Festival, with brilliant visuals and stories of politics and life laced throughout. The band played songs spanning their back catalogue and the radio-hits from their latest album. The drumming on Pompeii was an obvious highlight, as the audience loved singing along.

British rock band You Me At Six¬†closed the first day of the BBC/NME Stage. The set- which featured huge pyrotechnic displays- was plagued by technical difficulties, which prompted a spine-tingling acapella rendition of ‘Lover Boy’ from the album Sinners Never Sleep. The band played under a sea of mobile phone lights and lighters during ‘Take On The World’, before bringing guitar lead rock hit after hit to the Reading Stage. The band treated fans to songs from their debut album- Take Off Your Colours– ahead of its 10 year anniversary next year, with front man Josh Franceschi telling his desires of wanting to do an anniversary tour next year. The band were on top form that night.

Saturday

The not-so-secret secret act Wolf Alice¬†played to dedicated fans and festival goers at 11:00am on Saturday morning. The set was incredibly lively with famous fans, label mates and onlookers (including The 1975’s Matty Healy and Slaves’ Isaac Holman) stood side of the stage. The band played songs from their 2015 debut album, My Love Is Cool, and showcased new songs from their forthcoming second album, Visions of a Life,¬†including the singles ‘Yuk Foo’, ‘Beautifully Unconventional’ and ‘Don’t’ Delete The Kisses’. The atmosphere was incredible.

Blaenavon¬†played the BBC/NME Stage early on in the day. The band brought That’s Your Lot to Reading Festival and treated the crowd to their mature, alternative music. The band played songs including ‘Orthodox Man’, ‘Let’s Pray’ and the stunning ‘Prague’ before front man Ben Gregory jumped into the crowd.

Dan Stock¬†played on the BBC Introducing Stage. Singer songwriter Dan Stock stood solo centre stage and played as if he were playing to an arena. His lyrically clever and satisfying songs echoed that of Alex Turner and his assured stage presence commanded the respect of Jake Bugg, Declan McKenna or Liam Fray. With the aid of a band (eventually) he could become pretty huge. He’s definitely one to watch.

A couple of weeks before Superfood¬†released their triumphant ‘comeback’ album Bambino¬†the band played Reading Festival. The festival gave a platform for the band to showcase songs from the upcoming album, including ‘Where’s The Bass Amp?’, ‘Double Dutch’ and ‘I Can’t See’, throughout which they encouraged the audience to dance. The band also played tracks from their 2014 debut album Don’t Say That, including the song ‘Superfood’.

Ahead of their biggest UK tour to date (which features shows at London’s O2 Brixton Academy) Sundara Karma delighted the Reading audience to a spectacular homecoming show. The Reading band played a no-gimmick set filled with tracks off of their (now extended) debut album, Youth is Only Every Fun in Retrospect, which was released earlier this year. The band opened up the Main Stage at Reading Festival last year in what turned out to be a career defining performance and this felt like a triumphant progression. Sundara Karma are continuing to make waves with their effortlessly cool, alternative music and the fans sure are loving it.

Everything Everything¬†played a lot of their new album A Fever Dream¬†at this year’s Reading Festival. The band’s set featured heavily a lot of new tracks, including the single ‘Can’t Do’, with the odd fan favourite peppered in to the audience’s excitement. The highlight of the set was the weirdly wonderful ‘No Reptiles’, with its absurd, yet clever lyrics and infectiously catchy nature, with songs like ‘Distant Past’, ‘Kemosabe’ and ‘Spring Summer Winter Dread’ also loved by the fans. It’s great to see Everything Everything back with refreshing new material though, even if it seems relatively toned down compared to what came prior to it.

Glass Animals¬†are a band so powerful that they brought on an entire pineapple ban at this year’s festival. The Oxford band brought How To Be A Human Being to Reading with it’s chilled out, psychedelic (almost) tracks and performed in front of the world’s largest golden pineapple disco ball and a plethora of pineapples and cacti on stage. The ban on pineapples did not stop fans from smuggling the odd pineapple in, as those successful sat holding their prize goods high on top of the shoulders, commanding proud applause. The band opened up with the gloriously energetic ‘Life Itself’ and closed with the song that brought on an entire fruit ban, ‘Pork Soda’. Front man Dave Bayely even performed the entirety of ‘Gooey’, from their debut album, stood in the crowd. It was a sight to behold.

Sunday

Ten Tonnes played to a packed out tent full of festival goers on the Festival Republic Stage. The singer songwriter graduated from The BBC Introducing Stage, which he played last year, onto the Festival Republic Stage in a move that felt fitting with his growing audience. Ethan Barnett- as he’s formally known- is gathering momentum, with his catchy, easy to love, feel-good songs.

Up and coming London band¬†King Nun¬†played a raucous Sunday afternoon set on the Festival Republic Stage, where they showcased previously released singles including ‘Speakerface’ and ‘Tulip’. Their punk riddled indie-rock music proved popular with the young crowd who jumped, danced and moshed accordingly.

The Sherlocks returned to Reading Festival for the third year, having progressed up to the BBC/NME Stage this year. The tent was filled with fans and flares and had a similar feeling of excitement to that of a Courteeners concert. This came a week after their debut album, Live For The Moment, was released, so the band treated fans with hit after hit from the album.

Will Joseph Cook¬†brought his gloriously, sun-kissed indie-rock tunes to a blissful Reading Festival late on a sunny Sunday afternoon. His set rivalled Giggs’¬†on the Main Stage- who brought pop/hip-hop sensation out Drake– and the atmosphere in the tent was chilled out in comparison. He played a whole host of songs from his debut album, Sweet Dreamer, and also treated fans to songs from his earlier EPs.

Blossoms¬†played a tricky set before Liam Gallagher on the Main Stage. Blossoms are a band completely capable and worthy of playing huge stages, but this felt as though they were swimming against the tide, with crowds refusing to participate, Muse fans sitting about in preparation for the evening, huge lack of singing, support and engagement with the audience. The band seemed to pick up on this and it all felt a bit depleting. Having said this, the Stockport lads delivered a set full of the hits- with everyone going crazy for biggest hit ‘Charlemagne’- from their debut self-titled albums, with the usual gimmicks thrown in for good measure. I could probably recite the whole set by this point; it’s quite predictable now!

Liam Gallagher¬†performed a gallant set on the Main Stage at Reading Festival before headliner Muse. The icon, clad in his usual green trench coat, sunglasses and iconic haircut, sang Oasis hits (including ‘Morning Glory’ and ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Star’) and songs from his forthcoming debut album, As You Were,¬†which is due for release in October. Gallagher ended his set with the indie classic and obvious anthem ‘Wonderwall’, which saw fans of all ages united in song. Liam actually sounded top of his game though and seemed as happy as ever.

Halsey played the BBC/NME Stage whilst her North American tour mate Charli XCX brought her iconic pop hits and bubble-gum pop to the Dance Stage. Charli XCX played surrounded by pink confetti, dancing blow up ‘people’ (I suppose) and her all-female band and brought the party to the festival. The tent overspilled with people jumping and dancing all around. Definitely a highlight.

Haim closed the BBC/NME Stage at Reading Festival with a spectacular headline set. The band’s performance was a year over-due, as they cancelled their headline slot last year due to wanting to finish up their new album, but it was definitely worth the wait. The band played hits from their first album- Days Are Gone – and their latest album, Something To Tell You. The set featured a lot of dancing, bursts of humorous chat, a bucket full of bass face and the most captivating drumming display ending. Definitely a huge highlight over the weekend.

Overall, it was another great Reading Festival and the strong line-up proves why the festival is still going so strong after so many years. The good festivals do it properly and well, setting them miles apart from the rest.

 

Reading Festival, 25th-27th August 2017 (Festival Review)

New Artist of the Month (August 2017)- Ten Tonnes

This month’s up and coming artist of the month is Ten Tonnes.

Ten Tonnes- also known as Ethan Barnett- has previously released two EPs, Lucy (2016) and Born to Lose (2017) and has the most soulful indie-rock voice. This, paired with his fascinatingly written lyrics, makes him undoubtedly one to watch. A BBC Introducing graduate (like his older brother George Ezra), he has already toured across the UK and played at major UK festivals, including Reading and Leeds. His track ‘Silver Heat’ (a track about flashbacks to old memories, many of which about an ex girlfriend), from his 2017 EP Born to Lose, was produced by The Maccabees’ Hugo White.

He played a triumphant set at this year’s Reading Festival to an eager audience, which saw Barnett bring his sun-kissed, soulful indie-rock to the Festival Republic Stage (a leap from the BBC Introducing Stage which he played in 2016). He played the singles ‘Lucy’ and ‘Born to Lose’.

He is set to release his latest single, ‘Cracks Between’, on the 1st August 2017, which was originally broadcast on Huw Stephen’s BBC Radio 1 show on the 30th August.

New Artist of the Month (August 2017)- Ten Tonnes