The genre-inventing rapper aiming to take Trapanese worldwide
From: Manchester, UK
Sounds like: Dancefloor-ready hip-hop that’s as warped as it is banging.
For fans of: Travis Scott, J Hus, AJ Tracey
USP: Trapanese – Banco’s own genre, which sees him take influence from Japanese aesthetics, the domineering sound of trap, and British hip-hop.
Why you’re going to love him: As you can tell from the above, Banco is an inventive musician who draws inspiration from all over the world, but he never loses sight of his Manchester roots. In fact, he’s a healthy reminder that the UK rap scene extends beyond the M25, rapping in Manc slang and in his broad accent throughout.
Key track: ‘Can’t Stay’ (RD)
Dog-barking hardcore primed to make you bounce
From: Kentucky, USA
Sounds like: A fired up bulldog on a bouncy castle
For fans of: Every Time I Die, Beartooth, Bring Me The Horizon
USP: Like precious few others of their ilk, Knocked Loose have managed to bring hardcore to the masses like never before. Rivalled only by Turnstile in their mainstream-breaking potential, their upcoming second full-length looks set to propel them onto even bigger stages.
Why you’re going to love them: It might be heavy as hell, but a Knocked Loose show is an absolute hoot, too. Their rubbery riffing is perfect mosh-fodder, the chug-happy likes of ‘Deadringer’ bounding along like the guitarists are on pogo-sticks. Oh, also – ‘Counting Worms’ features the vocalist barking like a dog. And it’s fucking fantastic.
Key track: ‘Deadringer’ (TC)
The rising reggae star putting her Jamaican heritage back in the spotlight.
From: Spanish Town, Jamaica
Sounds like: Classic reggae rhythms with a 2019 twist
For fans of: Chronixx, Rihanna, Major Lazer
USP: Her attitude – she might still be a teenage but Mikayla “Koffee” Simpson seems more level-headed than some people twice her age, something which seeps into her lyrics and music.
Why you’re going to love her: Koffee’s music is all about good vibes – she says she wants to be a positive force for change in the world and you can hear that in her songs. ‘Burning’ is an ode to not giving up when life disappoints you and ‘Toast’ finds the 18-year-old grateful for her friends, opportunities, and more. It’s not hard to get swept along with it all, especially when it’s backed by bright, loping reggae sounds that practically radiate sunshine.
Key track: ‘Burning’ (JB)
The Irish rapper with a social realist rhymes set to silky hip-hop
From: Dublin, Ireland
Sounds like: Irish hip-hop: dispatches from the fringes of society shared through smooth tunes.
For fans of: Hare Squead, Loyle Carner, Rejjie Snow
USP: With track titles such as ‘Eviction Notice’, Kevin Smith weaves social realist tales that pull no punches, yet his delivery is caramel smooth, more Loyle Carner than Slowthai’s rapid fire flow.
Why you’re going to love him: Ireland, not historically a hotbed for hip-hop, has gifted us with some real rap talent in recent years – the likes of Rejjie Snow and Hare Squead are redefining the country’s music scene. Kojaque had ridden this trend to positive effect, his palatable sound a Trojan horse he uses to express disaffection at the state of the nation; on the austere, delicately beautiful ‘White Noise’, he raps “give tax breaks to smarmy fucks in grey suits / Leave me starvin’ tryna find a source of income”.
Key track: ‘White Noise’ (JB)
From: East London, UK
Sounds like: Lukewarm tinnies in the park slap bang in the middle of a heatwave
For fans of: Yellow Days, Rex Orange County, Loyle Carner
USP: Dreamy and effortless, Leyma’s soft, half-spoken delivery creeps up on you
Why you’re going to love him: With a microscopic eye for observational details, Max Hanley’s lyrics paint bigger pictures with the small scraps of life that get overlooked: ‘Bumpintheroad’ is a smooth, jazz-flecked banger about getting your keys out your pocket and unhealthy dependency at the same time.
Key track: ‘Lavender’ (EH)
From: Glasgow, UK
Sounds like: The kind of band that have rock’n’roll coursing through their veins
For fans of: Black Honey, The Big Moon, Catholic Action
USP: Strutting rock’n’roll that makes you feel like the biggest badass on the street.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve got big songs and even bigger attitude. Whether it’s front woman Lucia Fairfull howling “Why do you hate me?” on ‘Melted Ice Cream’ – a song about a broken friendship – to the swaggering riffs of latest single ‘Cheap Talk’, they know how to get your attention and keep it in a vice-like grip.
Key track: ‘Melted Ice Cream’ (RD)
The teenager straddling hip-hop and pop but always ready to get the party started
From: Brisbane, Australia
Sounds like: Looking down at the earth from 40,000 but still being able to see all the details in crisp HD
For fans of: Charli XCX, Middle Kids, King Princess
USP: Her perspective, which veers from head-in-the-clouds to precise, often within a few lines of each other.
Why you’re going to love her: Mallrat takes seemingly mundane topics like getting groceries (‘Groceries’) or not wanting to go to the party (‘Uninvited’) and breaths life into them until they become fascinating, beautiful beings of their own. Couple that with her sometimes DIY, sometimes skyscraping production and you’ve got one special artist.
Key track: ‘Uninvited’ (RD)
From: South London, UK
Sounds like: A dexterous verbal gymnast dodging trip-lasers with ease
For fans of: Bakar, 67, Section Boyz
USP: A prolific collaborator, Master Peace has close links with the Cosmo Pyke-featuring collective Ammi Boyz, as well as his brother YSTekDinner. Collectively, they represent an exciting new wave of UK grime.
Why you’re going to love him: Playful and quick-witted, it’s never clear where a Master Peace track will swerve. A stand-out quip? “She wanna buck me, I’m not down for cuddling”.
Key track: ‘Buck Me’ (EH)
The rising rapper who wants “to be the Kate Bush of grime”
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Experimental grime that’s both wonky and wonderful.
For fans of: FKA Twigs, A$AP Rocky, Skepta
USP: His mission statement, as told directly to NME at our shoot, is “I want to be the Kate Bush of grime”. He might be well on his way if his upcoming album is anything to by.
Why you’re going to love him: He’s already been given a co-sign by JME and recently supported British hardcore band Chamber on tour, proving that his inspirations come from both the familiar and unexpected. His ‘Heaven Is Black’ EP, and standout moment ‘Afropunk, Atlanta’ is further proof of an artist placing no barriers on his influences to startling effect.
Key track: ‘Afropunk, Atlanta’ (TS)
The electro magpie who won our hearts in 2018, and now she’s coming for yours
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Pulsing club-ready pop bangers as dark and devious that the nights that inspired them.
For fans of: Robyn, Grimes, Maggie Rogers
USP: At just 18, she already landed a track in NME’s Tracks Of The Year list (‘The Shadow’). We suspect that this the first of many.
Why you’re going to love her: She’s a pop magpie, dropping jewels from the best electro-pop of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and now into her well-crafted songs. Stand back as she delivers a few timeless classics of her own.
Key track: ‘The Shadow’ (AT)
Dream-pop prodigy with a decidedly more soulful edge than most
From: Toronto, Canada
Sounds like: Trippy psych-pop with an almost MJ-like vocal
For fans of: Prince, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Tame Impala
USP: Where most dreamy indie-poppers might retreat into their bellybuttons when it comes to vocals, MorMor’s not ashamed to belt It out. His huge, R&B-like voice lifts even the spaciest of numbers out of the clouds.
Why you’re going to love them: Tracks like ‘Whatever Comes To Mind’ feel primed for summery escapism, MorMor’s jazzy numbers feeling almost freeform as they slip and slide all over the place. Half classic, 80s-inspired R&B, half dreamy indie-pop, MorMor’s sound is one that’ll prove ideal soundtrack to days far sunnier than these.
Key track: ‘Whatever Comes To Mind’
The Night Cafe
Rabble-rousing indie that pulls zero punches
From: Liverpool, UK
Sounds like: A sloshing pint of snake-bite held aloft in a sea of spluttering lighters and boisterous arms
For fans of: Blossoms, Circa Waves, The Wombats
USP: Formed during music class at school, The Night Cafe have been playing together as long as they’ve been mates. It shows, too – they’ve got an old-school ‘us against the world’ mentality that’s always endearing.
Why you’re going to love them: Their music doesn’t mess about; there’s not hint of excess waffle. Whether they’re singing about hopeless crushes (‘Felicity’) or head-spinning confusion (‘Mixed Signals’) they bring a joyous slant to the whole thing; crisp indie-pop at its best.
Key Track: ‘Felicity’ (EH)
From: Manila, Philippines, now based in London, UK
Sounds like: Crispy, bouncy, floaty pop
For fans of: The 1975, Mitski, Drake
USP: Familiar to fans of The 1975 for his appearances in recent videos, co-write on ‘TooTimeTooTimeTooTime’ and collaborative single ‘Narcissist’, No Rome – aka Rome Gomez – is the Matty Healy protégé who’s quickly becoming the fifth member of The 1975.
Why you’re going to love him: No Rome’s is an ultra-modern type of pop drawing from house, R&B and hip hop alongside some unexpected influences – he cites UK shoegazers Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. And he dresses better than anyone we know, too.
Key track: ‘Seventeen’ (DS)
From: Vancouver, Canada
Sounds like: Listening to early Foals after a hefty pinger
For fans of: Foals, Talking Heads, Shame
USP: N0V3L’s guitar lines are a wonder to behold. More tangled than a pair of headphones left in your pocket overnight, their math-rock-esque dedication to complexity lends N0V3L an intelligent edge.
Why you’re going to love them: If you’re after your indie with a little more intellectualism, N0V3L are your best bet. The group bring an art-rock swagger back to guitar music, infusing their crispy garage-rock with a mathematical intelligence – but never veering too far from danceability.
Key track: ‘Suspicion’ (TC)
From: London, via Lille, France
Sounds like: Commanding, gritty and mood-driven melodic rap over a melting pot of sub-genres, from uplifting house to belligerent drill.
For fans of: Dave, Krept & Konan, Bryson Tiller
USP: Definitely not that he once won a scholarship to the prestigious Brit school, that’s for sure (“I don’t believe you can teach someone to be creative,” he recently said about his experience at the divisive institution). His music is shaped by a challenging upbringing which included periods of homelessness and a tumultuous relationship with his mother.
Why you’re going to love him: Octavian’s confessional style sees him rap from the soul – and it’s a hugely affecting listen every time he gets on the mic.
Key Track: ‘Party Here’ (SM)
Languid dream-pop from a pair of childhood pals
From: Brussels, Belgium
Sounds like: A spaced-out tour through
For fans of: Mac DeMarco, Grizzly Bear, Beach Fossils
USP: The two members of Oracle Sister, Lewis Lazar and Christopher Willatt, are a painter and a mathematician respectively. Though their day jobs might be from different sides of the creative spectrum, together they make effortlessly slick beach-pop, proving there’s creativity to be found in even the most academic of careers.
Why you’re going to love them: Whlie Oracle Sisters’ sound might be heavy-eyed and spaced-out, don’t let that fool you. There’s a pop core to the heart of tracks like ‘Always’, and a cheeky smile to its accompanying video, which follows the band on a ‘fake’ tour of Finland, tongue placed firmly in cheek.
Key Track: ‘Always’ (TC)
From: London, UK
Sounds like: If a ‘Tranquil Jazz Relaxation’ CD from the local garden centre wound up on the back seat of a deserted night bus
For fans of: King Krule, Bonobo, Loyle Carner
USP: Fabiano Lewis has a gift for ho EHpefulness, carving out a pocket of calm in the frantic capital.
Why you’re going to love him: Clashing more inventive textures than a blazed Anna Wintour, Osquello’s sonic palette mixes soul, jazz, hip-hop, and smooth, hardly-trying delivery. Keep an ear out for his debut EP ‘Good Morning Simulation’ in January.
Key track: ‘Tired Creature’ (EH)
Globetrotting DJ bringing bi-lingual house bangers
From: Seoul, South Korea, now based in Berlin, Germany
Sounds like: Feelgood house music for club and/or pool
For fans of: Disclosure, Parcels, Caribou
USP: Born and raised in Seoul but in thrall to the club culture of her latter-day home, Berlin, Peggy Gou is the DJ who does it all – plays, produces and sings lead vocals, often in her native tongue. FIFA ’19 fans will already be familiar with one of her tracks – she’s on the soundtrack.
Why you’re going to love her: Gou’s DJ sets are an utterly joyous experience. Attend and join the crowds chanting “Peggy, Peggy, Peggy fucking Gou!”
Key track: ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’ (DS)
The lofi bedroom pop producers making slick ‘80s-style tunes
Sounds like: Sinking under the bath water while you listen to the Drive soundtrack.
For fans of: Ladyhawke, College, Washed Out
USP: This is lo-fi British bedroom pop that sounds like it was recorded on the West Coast of America in 1987. Throbbing synths, ethereal vocals, slow, melancholic percussion – it’s a real DeLorean ride.
Why you’re going to love him: Everyone loved ‘San Junipero’, the Black Mirror episode set largely in the ‘80s, and Pizza Girl – aka Liam Brown, not actually a girl – would have slotted in very nicely on theme tune. It’s at once upbeat and melancholy, the kind of music you listen to while you pensively watch rain lashing your bedroom window (and wonder what kind of pizza to order).
Key track: ‘Favourite Song’ (JB)
The gruff punks about to turn the country into a sweaty mess
From: Falkirk, UK
Sounds like: Ramshackle and rough punk that drags you on a rollercoaster ride by the scruff of your neck
For fans of: Iceage, IDLES, King Krule
USP: Singer Euan Purves’ thick rasp, which makes everything feel 10 times more urgent and raw.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re the kind of band that make you want to leave your inhibitions at the door and go flying around a dingy, sweaty venue, propelled only by your fellow gig-goers outstretched hands. It’s wild, potent, and full of stomping riffs spurring you on to a complete loss of restraint.
Key track: ‘Concrete Lips’ (RD)
A politically-charged soul for the new age
From: South East London, UK
Sounds like: Assured neo-jazz that’s thoughtful, intelligent and relatable. One for your revision playlist, then
For fans of: Nao, Kali Uchis, Amy Winehouse
USP: Last year’s ‘Femme’ EP takes a classic painting by French impressionist Henri Rousseau – The Dream – and reimagined the ways in which the original fetishised women of colour. Ajudha’s music dissects otherness with sharpened scalpel; making musical magic while the male gaze turns the other way. “You’ll take your time to see/ While we make history” she quips on ‘She is the Sum’.
Why you’re going to love her: Ajudha recently teamed up with Tom Misch on ‘Disco Yes’. A tangle of fidgety guitar, it’s like if the eternally catchy ‘Uptown Funk’ took a trip to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Proof that her she’s able to make lasting impression on her own tracks and her mate’s.
Key Track: ‘Love Falls Down’ (RD)
The Glasgow punks telling the story of the city’s grimy underbelly
From: Glasgow, Scotland
Sounds like: If The Clash were raised on Buckfast…
For fans of: The Clash, The Buzzcocks, Shame
USP: Their brand of old-school punk is laced with witty and sentient reflections on life in Glasgow, where the community spirit is lifting up them and a whole new scene. None are poised to breakout as explosively as this lot.
Why you’re going to love them: In a time of carefully-controlled press roll-outs and major label funding, Rascalton’s party-hard and fast-living anthems are breath of fresh air. Debut EP, ‘C S C’, and the bolshy ‘Told You So’ is full of that chaotic and electrifying spirit, while ‘Police’ offers potent reflections on the abuse of power from those in charge.
Key track: ‘Told You So’ (TS)
Hypnotic R&B with psychedelic licks
From: Chicago, USA
Sounds like: Chill R&B threaded through with the 19-year-old’s accomplished, unpredictable vocal
For fans of: Noname, SZA, Ray BLK
USP: The musician has been working with hotshot American producer and Internet member, Steve Lacy, a partnership that has already been compared to that of legends Timbaland and Aaliyah and Pharrell and Kelis.
Why you’re going to love her: Lenae’s vocal is truly remarkable, combination of SZA’s melding of notes and rising British artist Ray BLK’s sassy croon. This is poppy R&B with an enormous amount of soul, whether the singer is addressing the pain of long-distance relationships (‘Computer Luv’) or the excitement of getting ready for a night out (‘The Night Song’).
Key track: ‘The Night Song’ (RD)
The super-smooth lad making R&B with a social conscience
From: Portland, Maine
Sounds like: Super-smooth R&B so sexy and saucy it would make Prince blush in his satin sheets.
For fans of: Frank Ocean, James Blake, Rex Orange County
USP: Solo artist Tucker Pilsbury combines sexed-up slowjams with frank admissions on mental health.
Why you’re going to love him: These lush, often sparse R&B tracks are ideal for both the activity once known as ‘Netflix and chill’ and feeling reflective about your place in the universe. No mean feat – though Pilsbury’s work never feels overwrought or heavy; his lightness of touch means these shimmering guitar lines and live percussion also amount to great understated pop songs.
Key track: ‘Never Give Up’ (JB)
The Spanish star making flamenco cool
From: Barcelona, Spain
Sounds like: A visit to a traditional Spanish tablao being hijacked by electronic producers
For fans of: Bad Gyal, J Balvin, Jamie xx
USP: Mixing the analogue features of the past with the glitchy, future-facing techniques of now.
Why you’re going to love them: Rosalía’s music might be rooted in the old but, by mixing flamenco with modern production and beats, she makes it sound completely, vitally fresh. There’s everything you’d expect from flamenco – drama, sultriness, and insistent rhythms – taken to slick new heights.
Key track: ‘Malamente’ (RD)
The singer-songwriter lacing confessional indie with abrasive guitar
From: New South Wales, Australia
Sounds like: Rediscovering the childhood wonder that adulthood got in the way of; tender and unadorned by irony
For fans of: Kurt Vile, Snail Mail, Courtney Barnett
USP: In the age of fake news, a generation of young singer-songwriters has emerged determined to share searing, unvarnished truths, breathtakingly honest admissions set to minimalist guitar. Fields is one of them.
Why you’re going to love them: Where forerunners such as Nashville’s Soccer Mommy and Maryland’s Snail Mail draw the listener in with scratchy, hushed guitar melodies, 19-year-old Ruby Fields combines subtlety with unexpected blast on noise, the release cathartic and bracing – especially when combined with emotionally raw lyrics such as “I’ve been more to more funerals in my life than weddings”.
Key track: ‘Dinosaurs’ (JB)
The all-female crew taking over Iceland’s hip-hop scene
From: Reykajvík, Iceland
Sounds like: Bass-y, bouncy, and darkly powerful rap ready to shake misogynistic out of society
For fans of: M.I.A., Grimes, Cardi B
USP: Doing what rap’s men do (but with 10 times more attitude).
Why you’re going to love them: They’re delightfully filthy – one of their best tracks ‘Pussy Pics’ features the word “pussy” at least 30 times – and have no qualms about bragging about their many qualities. But they also use their music to highlight issues like sexual violence, making them both an empowering force and an important one.
Key track: ‘Pussy Pics’ (RD)
The perky vlogger turned gnarly thrash-punk rapper
From: Wolverhampton, UK
Sounds like: Abrasive, atonal, electro-clash gutter-punk, the kind of music you’d hear if you lived in Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome.
For fans of: Vein, Eminem, Jaden Smith
USP: He’s an angry dude who used to be a perky YouTube vlogger! Proof that people are multifaceted, your adolescence is now encapsulated online forever and sometimes #ad leads to #rad.
Why you’re going to love him: Because Scarlxrd – real name Marius Lucas-Antonio Listhrop – is totally uncompromising, his sound that of an artist who, in keeping with his generation, has no regard for genre, drawing equally on Eminem and Slipknot to create something brand new.
Key track: ‘KING, SCAR’ (JB)
The indie heroes poised for festival greatness
From: Leicestershire/Kent, UK
Sounds like: Straight-up indie bangers that pull from the past, present and future
For fans of: The Strokes, Blossoms, The Killers
USP: They’re one of the few guitar bands with a fighting chance to catapult themselves up the festival line-up bills in no time. It’s going to be sweaty, chaotic and a whole lot of fun.
Why you’re going to love them: Sea Girls know their way around a bloody tune. ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ sounds like it could fit on ‘Is This It’ with ease, while ‘Heavenly War’ and ‘Too Much Fun’ are crowd-baiting, mosh-pit inducing hits to throw your own pint over your head.
Key track: ‘All I Want To Hear You Say’ (TS)
One of British rap’s most charismatic new voices
From: North London, UK
Sounds like: Snatches of soul, rap and beyond blaring out of car windows racing through the night
For fans of: Cardi B, Ms Dynamite, Jorja Smith
USP: Karthage’s sharp and witty storytelling captures all the facets of her hometown, London; the gaudy colours, the occasionally ridiculous characters, and the musical eclecticism.
Why you’re going to love her: “I’m gunna be a ruler and that,” she grins in her debut video for ‘Ruler’. At the same time, she’s thoughtfully munching on a banana, and waving it to the beat. It’s a typical blend of playfulness and ambition – the self-described “human cartoon” wants to take her sense of humour all the way to the top.
Key Track: ‘Ruler’ (EH)
Idiosyncratic indie-rock to capture your imagination
From: Boston, USA
Sounds like: Unconventional, unpolished DIY that feels like a map of life’s anxieties.
For fans of: Girlpool, Diet Cig, Frankie Cosmos
USP: Self-deprecating and whip-smart lyrics that make Sidney both her own target and a beacon of relatability.
Why you’re going to love her: Sidney makes everything, even the things that might seem serious, a whole lot of fun. Whether its her serenading her rabbit on the new wave-y ‘Not But For You, Bunny’ or chiding herself for pronouncing a Greek goddess’ name wrong on ‘Persephone’, Sidney’s latest collection ‘No Dogs Allowed’ puts her tongue-in-cheek humour front and centre.
Key track: ‘Sin Triangle’ (RD)
The chaos-starting MC questioning the state of the nation
From: Northampton, UK
Sounds like: A big, heavy boot kicking down the door to show you the horrors of the outside world
For fans of: Dizzee Rascal, D Double E, Jamie T
USP: His punk attitude, which extends to everything from screaming “Fuck the Queen” on stage to his refusal to be pinned down by genre.
Why you’re going to love them: He’s a firebrand artist who says it like it is but also imbues his tunes with a sense of macabre drama, whether that’s in his dark beats or his sharp, evocative lyrics, which take direct inspiration from his life growing up on a council estate in Northamptonshire. It all adds up to something frenzied, anarchic, and very real.
Key track: ‘Drug Dealer’ (RD)
The eclectic producer combining jazz and garage rock
Sounds like: Miles Davis parping away in an underground rave while the lad from This Is England raps over the top
For fans of: Arab Strap, Baxter Dury, King Krule
USP: Witty, dour lyrics meet unusual and inventive sounds. This is experimental dance music from a producer who keeps his identity under wraps, so the music does all the talking. And – oh boy – do these tunes have a lot to say, combining louche jazz instrumentation with clattering live percussion and world-weary spoken-word (“I’m getting old / Better settle down”).
Why you’re going to love them: He’s riding the 2018 jazz wave and taking it in a more indie, beat-based direction.
Key track: ‘Tick, Tick Tick’ (JB)
The Nordic punk powerhouse with a no-bullshit approach to noise
From: Oslo, Norway
Sounds like: Punky post-hardcore hooks and anthemic angst delivered at breakneck speed
For fans of: Japandroids, Rise Against, Cloud Nothings
USP: Do you know any other bands whose name came from a shared love of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind? Didn’t think so.
Why you’re going to love them: We’ve heard their upcoming debut album ‘This Is Not The End’, out in February, and it’s really fucking ace. It’s a violent act of teenage abandon one that deals in hope, love, anxiety and beyond via pulsating and emotional rock anthems.
Key track: ‘We Are All Going To Die’ (AT)
Sarcastic, southern English indie with its eyes on arenas
From: Cambridge, UK
Sounds like: Necking ten pints in a Wetherspoons and then piggybacking your mates home
For fans of: Pulp, The Magic Gang, Pavement
USP: They booked London’s 800-cap venue Scala when they had about seven actual real-life fans and then went on to sell the whole-damn thing out. Now, Sports Team have set their sights on even grander prizes – they’ve actually got in contact with Wembley, to try and book the thing out for 2021. No, really.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s an oh-so-British wit to Sports Team’s every move – be it booking out venues far too large for them and then spending months talking about ‘gentlemen’s sellouts’, or the cheeky references to everything from seaside towns to flip-screen phones in their lyrics, they bring to mind the glory days of Britpop, ‘fake’ beefs with fellow indie bands and all.
Key track: ‘Stanton’ (TC)
Frenetic and thrilling post-punk that frequently spirals into freaky breakdowns
From: Brighton/London, UK
Sounds like: Vigorous post-punk that winds itself into tight coils before springing apart
For fans of: Foals, Yak, Shame
USP: Making songs that clock in at over five minutes long but, somehow, sound as fresh and exciting at 4:56 as in their very first second.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve got the whole urgent, propulsive post-punk thing nailed, and a barking frontman ready to harass your eardrums on top. They’re also very good at switching things up while still sounding like themselves – ‘The Dial’ is like a more guitar-focused LCD Soundsystem, while ‘I I’ is far calmer, imbued with the lethargic daze of The Velvet Underground.
Key track: ‘The Dial’ (RD)
The singer-songwriter making social commentary for a post-Weinstein world
From: Perth, Australia
Sounds like: Pillow-soft folk songs to soothe you through the big, bad world
For fans of: Laura Marling, Courtney Barnett, Kevin Morby
USP: Defiant songwriting, even when she’s singing about some of the most harrowing things around.
Why you’re going to love them: Stella might have made a name for herself by writing stunning but solemn songs that deal with serious subjects like rape, victim blaming, and sexual harassment, but there’s a lighter side to her as well. Go to her shows and you’ll be met with a performance that’s full of self-deprecating comedy, keeping you in a constant flux between laughing and crying.
Key track: ‘Boys Will Be Boys’
The Brooklyn punks who aren’t afraid to get wild
From: New York, USA
Sounds like: Furious punk rock to stir your social anger
For fans of: Black Lips, Dead Kennedys, Misfits
USP: Their no-holds-barred, unifying live shows that regularly feature will leave you wondering what on earth you just witnessed.
Why you’re going to love them: Surfbort are a band for the rejects and the weirdos in the way punk bands have always been, but rather than preach an “us vs them” ideology, they’re all about inclusion. Their debut album ‘Friendship Music’ might often rail against the darker sides of society but it also has moments of love and lightness, and makes you feel like, at the very least, we’re all in this together.
Key track: ‘White People’ (RD)
The south London jazz sensation
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Dramatic neo-jazz that would make any Bond film sound even more thrilling.
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Lana Del Rey, Jorja Smith
USP: Bringing a modern, urban edge to something typically elegant and classic.
Why you’re going to love her: Tara Lily’s voice is as powerful as they come – her rich, soulful voice will give you goosebumps whether she’s crooning or crying.
Key track: ‘Who Saw Who’ (RD)
Leeds troupe ready to make band uniforms a thing again
From: Leeds, UK
Sounds like: The huge closing anthem as the credits roll in an ’80s high school flick
For fans of: Warpaint, Throwing Muses, Lush
USP: Embedded in the Leeds DIY scene, Team Picture cite John Hughes’ cult teen movies and British film star Tilda Swinton as two big inspirations.
Why you’re going to love them: Producer Matt Peel – who has also manned the decks for fellow locals Eagulls and Pulled Apart By Horses – worked alongside the six-piece on their mini-album ‘Recital’. It’s a precise taster of the band’s fuzzed up potential, which’ll leave you longing for more.
Key Track: ‘(I Have a Little) Secret’ (EH)
The Murder Capital
Irish bruisers putting to-the-bone honesty front and centre
From: Dublin, Ireland
Sounds like: Ten pints and a shouting match down the local.
For fans of: Shame, Fat White Family, Protomartyr
USP: With only a single live session online, they’ve already begun selling out increasingly bigger venues in their Irish hometown. Old-school word of mouth is the name of the game here – with a decidedly shoutier edge than before.
Why you’re going to love them: If you’re into your post-punk brutal and bolshy, The Murder Capital have got you sorted. In that aforementioned session, frontman James McGovern comes off like a man you’ve give a wide berth on a dark night. Eyeballing the non-existent crowd like he’s searching for a soul to crush, it pits The Murder Capital as one of those most oddly entertaining prospects – a punk band that can truly instil can’t-look-away levels of captivation.
Key track: ‘More Is Less’ (TC)
The rapper bringing good vibes to drill sounds
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Drill that’s chart-friendly but, improbably, also retains the genre’s hard-boiled spirit
For fans of: Giggs, 67, Headie One
USP: His smash-hit single ‘Homerton B’ takes the genre’s typical – touchstones – stabs of minor-key piano, tinny percussion – but also features a catchy chorus about hooking up with someone, a welcome break from drill’s nihilism.
Why you’re going to love him: The extremely DIY video for ‘Homerton B’ has racked up more than 10 million views since last summer and he’s now signed to Universal, with all signs pointing to the possibility that Unknown T may just take drill mainstream this year.
Key track: ‘Homerton B’ (SM)
The fearsome Boston bunch fusing clattering drum n’ bass with heavy-as-hell hardcore
From: Boston, USA
Sounds like: Breakbeat- and breakdown-packed nu-hardcore.
For fans of: Converge, Slipknot, The Dillinger Escape Plan
USP: Their live shows are pure chaos – at their UK debut as part of last year’s Outbreak Fest, someone ended up taken away in an ambulance. Everything was fine in the end, though.
Why you’re going to love them: Vein’s debut album ‘Errorzone’ is a fearsome prospect. Capturing chaos in a way not managed since hardcore’s inventive early-00s breakthrough, they take the spasmodic energy and mental catharsis of bands like Converge and push it into a digitised, Matrix-esque new realm. The result is a group that takes the darkest thoughts of their collective psyche and shreds them, stitching them back together in a Frankenstein’s monster of sound and fury.
Key track: ‘Doomtech’ (TC)
Slinky electro-folk that fuses jazzy, freeform melody with huge chorus lines
From: London, UK
Sounds like: An acoustic troubadour sent to the year 3000 and has returned with these enlightening gifts
For fans of: Bon Iver, Arthur Russell, Rex Orange County
USP: Westerman’s exploratory sense of melody aligns him with the avant-garde greats. However, far from being a niche prospect, his background as a folk artist keeps the stories relatable.
Why you’re going to love him: From ‘Confirmation’s tale of twisting your own mind into knots, to ‘Easy Money’’s crippling self-doubt, Westerman takes millennial self-deprecation and twists it into brilliant, jazzy pop. With his co-producer Bullion behind the decks, the one-time folkster now sounds more like a future-pop prodigy, the twisted electronics that back his tales making him one of the country’s most intriguing and idiosyncratic new sounds.
Key track: ‘Confirmation’
Rousing indie from Irish group with a fan in Bono
From: Limerick, Ireland
Sounds like: Sparkling indie pop to shut out the world with.
For fans of: Peace, Wolf Alice, The Magic Gang
USP: Singer Aoife’s thick Limerick brogue, which adds even more charm to songs that already strain under the weight of it.
Why you’re going to love them: They ooze pop brilliance at every turn, whether they’re dealing in stripped-back acoustics (‘Sleeper’) or making anthems for the indie disco (‘Pretty Pure’). They’re especially good at the latter and are already a dab hand at writing choruses that get stuck in your head whether you invite them in or not.
Key track: ‘Pretty Pure’ (RD)
Wicca Phase Springs Eternal
The gothic rapper pushing the genre into gloomy new realms
From: Pennsylvania, USA
Sounds like: Drawling semi-rap performed atop an emo instrumental backdrop
For fans of: Lil Peep, Lil Uzi Vert, Kid Cudi
USP: Wicca Phase Springs Eternal is the de facto head of Gothboiclique – the collective that once homed Lil Peep. United more by their aesthetic similarities than a calling-card sound, their arcane imagery and muted aggression are quickly becoming the new sound of the underground.
Why you’re going to love him: Wicca Phase Springs Eternal’s name might be a slight tongue-twister, but his music couldn’t be more immediate. The brightest star of the gloomy new world of gothic rappers, his upcoming debut album proper showcases both his personal past as an emo-rock semi-star, and his future-facing dedication to fusing trap atmospherics with the open-hearted honesty of emo and indie-rock .
Key track: ‘Corinthiax’ (TC)
The emo rappers brining tenderness to drill
Sounds like: Emotional synth-rap that’s led some to peg them as the UK’s answer to Chicago’s rising emo rapper Juice WLRD; trap beats, chilly atmospherics and introspective rhymes
For fans of: Juice WRLD, Wicca Phase Springs Eternal, 67
USP: Worstworldproblems, comprised of producer nomorewillroam and vocalists teenslasher91 and gargoyle, take the ice sounds of drill and weave in lopsided, skewed vocals that deal with disaffection and loneliness, swapping front and braggadocio for vulnerability.
Why you’re going to love them: Juice WRLD has managed to infiltrate a mainstream transformed by SoundCloud rap, and in 2019 worstworldproblems may do the same.
Key track: ‘NAME_PASSWORD’ (JB)
WWWater / Charlotte Adigery
The Soulwax collaborator with the voice of an angel
From: Ghent, Belgium
Sounds like: Adventures in electronica pinned down by a singer full of charm, elegance, and warmth
For fans of: Solange, serpentwithfeet, FKA Twigs
USP: Her heavenly voice, which can go from as smooth and pure as the water in her moniker (‘Pink Letters’) to full of pent-up frustration and rage (‘Screen’).
Why you’re going to love them: WWWater mastermind Charlotte Adigery is a real genre-hopper, darting between minimal electro, slick R&B, fuzzed up synth-rock and more. She keeps you on your toes and rewards you with treats both beautiful and electrifying. Find electro-punk on her work as WWWater and more conventional dancefloor rhythms on her work under her real name. Both a treat.
Key track: ‘Screen’ (RD)
The grime artist proving Lewisham’s still got it
Sounds like: Fellow Lewisham rapper Novelist and P Money, but with more frenetic rhythms and a consonant-heavy, rapid-fire flow that recalls Wiley’s muscular, knock-out delivery
For fans of: Novelist, P Money, Wiley
USP: The 18-year-old is a grime connoisseur, having audibly dug deep into the genre, evoking its first wave rather than the genre renaissance that took hold of the mainstream in 2016.
Why you’re going to love him: Last year, some suggested grime may have reached its commercial apex, but Yizzy, an 18-year-old who runs buoyant rhymes over old-school samples and bass-heavy beats as though it’s ever been done more; his enthusiasm’s catching.
Key track: ‘S.O.S’ (JB)
Young T & Bugsey
Effortlessly sleek and refreshingly unique rap duo from Nottingham
Sounds like: Invigorating, hook-laden and expansive – largely thanks to the musical influence the duo knowingly draw from their respective Nigerian and Jamaican heritages, which they mix with the very best attributes of UK rap.
For fans of: J Hus, Not3s, Young Thug
USP: The Nottingham rap scene in particular is now receiving nationwide recognition thanks to this pair, with Bugsey recently declaring that they’ve already blazed a trail for the city: “To be honest, I want it to be a thing where we take it as far as possible and the next yout smashes it.” Sleaford Mods they ain’t.
Why you’re going to love them: While London is still considered the epicentre of UK rap and grime, Young T & Bugsey’s fresh and exhilarating sound is actively demonstrating that other cities have a voice, too – and it’s all the more exciting a prospect as there seems to be no cap on the duo’s creative ambition.
They say: “We cover everything so we have a universal sound. When we’re trying to make a chorus it has to be one that everyone will understand.”
Key track: ‘En Route’ (SM)