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 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
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 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 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 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: MØ, Dua Lipa, Anne-Marie, and a strong female pop vocal.
LISTEN TO: Don’t Kill My Vibe, Strangers, Plot Twist
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 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 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 Café 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 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
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
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