From: West London
Sounds like: Club-orientated grime with US appeal
For fans of: Skepta, Novelist, Section Boyz
Grime has always been a very British sound, strongly reflecting its London roots, with lo-fi elements inherited from pirate radio, the in-your-face nature of UK garage and a party atmosphere reminiscent of rave culture. But here’s one of the scene’s new wave who has his sights set on prospects across the pond.
Buoyed by the growing popularity of grime over in the States (thanks, in no small part, to recent cosigns from the likes of Kanye West and Drake), 22-year-old Ladbroke Grove native AJ Tracey says he’s ready to “bridge the Transatlantic gap a little bit”. So far, he’s been laying down the right kind of foundations.
Having played his first US shows earlier in 2016 (“That was a sick experience. I expected people to have no idea what I was saying, but New York is really in tune with London, they know what’s happening on the streets,”), Tracey landed on the radar of American audiences after hopping on a Clams Casino remix with A$AP Rocky and Lil B (‘Be Somebody’). His plans for A-list collaborations don’t stop there either, a dream collaboration, he tells NME, would be with Nas (“he’s my favourite rapper ever”) or face-tattooed newcomer 21 Savage (“he’s fucking hard”). “There’s definitely more collabs coming,” Tracey teases. “I can’t really talk about it right now, but there definitely is. In the very near future you’re gonna hear them. Like ASAP”.
Despite his cross-continent aspirations, Tracey’s music doesn’t lose anything or get watered down in the process, instead his genre-warping remains exhilarating. His newly-released ‘Lil Tracey’ EP bends grime’s boundaries, veering through sounds as diverse as trill, southern rap and techno, with the MC all the while tying things together with his “London flow”. It was recorded in “mad expensive studios” and sounds “quite big”, he says. “I feel like every EP I do is another is like another level up. I’m gonna keep it moving like that.”
In 2017, fans can expect a full LP (“Everyone’s asking me about an album and I’ll do it when I’m ready,”), as well as even bigger, better things. “What you’ve seen from me so far, that’s the lowest bar that you’ll see. It’s just going to go up from there.”
Luke Morgan Britton
My goal for 2017 is: “To better my craft and push everything upwards.”
The one thing you need to know about me is: “I draw my inspiration from everything: reggae, club music, trance. Anything and everything that sounds good, I’ll listen to it and I’ll make any type of music.”
Essential track: ‘Buster Cannon’
Sounds Like: The icons of old Manchester being torn down
For Fans Of: Fat White Family, Sleaford Mods, Happy Mondays
“The simple fact is that we don’t like anything dull or boring, we always want to be entertaining,” says Cabbage guitarist/vocalist Joe Martin. “There’s a lot of mundanity and routine in modern life. If you can bring some black humour into that, it’s a really effective way of getting your message across.”
From their “anti-band name” band name to their lyrics about wanking into quiche in the name of class warfare and wishing death upon the US president-elect, no-one could ever accuse Cabbage of being dull. Martin likens his band to a Frankie Boyle standup show – the four EPs they’ve released thus far might strain the boundaries of good taste, but they also have a lot to say about the state of the world we live in. “We’ve come out of the traps with songs about necrophilia, war and capitalism,” he explains, as if reading from a checklist of well-trodden paths to pop stardom. “When David Cameron called Jeremy Corbyn a terrorist sympathiser, we took a stab at that, too. Those kind of talking points come naturally to us. But we don’t want to be pigeonholed as a political band. It’s already happened, just because we sing about relatively serious issues, but we want to move onto something else, socially, musically and politically. We’re keen to explore different realms as soon as possible.”
It’s that desire to do things differently that originally brought Cabbage to prominence in their native Manchester, where they emerged from beneath the “Britpop ash-cloud the city’s still choking under,” and has seen them feted as rock ’n’ roll’s great white hope for 2017, not least by the BBC, who included them (somewhat incongruously) in their annual Sound Of… poll. For good or ill, they’re not the sort of band you can ignore, and however their debut album – due later this year – turns out, you can bet it won’t be boring.
“As long as we get that album out, I don’t care how it’s perceived, or if it gets played on the radio,” says Martin. “I want it to document what we’re doing at that time, whether it’s the highs of the glory or the depths of the struggle. So if it comes out sounding like a fucking car crash, if that’s how it is at the moment, that’s what we’ll release.” Barry Nicolson
Our goal for 2017 is: “It’s quite simple: release an album, improve our headline shows, and stay alive. These are tough times.”
The one thing you need to know about us is “We’re not going fucking anywhere.”
See them live: On tour throughout February.
Essential track: ‘Tell Me Lies About Manchester’
Sounds like: Ambitious guitar riffs bolstered by gigantic synths and McKenna’s wickedly smart songwriting
For fans of: Bob Dylan, Jake Bugg, Blossoms
As millennials get shafted by Brexit, will likely live in the wake of whatever catastrophe President Trump causes and are given little chance to change either – it’s high time that they speak up and rebel. Declan McKenna, the 17-year-old singer songwriter is seemingly leading the charge. “The younger generation are always being snubbed and portrayed as pretentious; I’m trying to give an impression that is genuinely representative of us,” he says.
His music certainly reflects that idea. Song topics include a sobering assessment of how transgender people are treated (‘Paracetamol’), a searing critique of organised religion (‘Bethlehem’), and media xenophobia and police brutality (‘Isombard’).
2016 has been a landmark year for the Hertfordshire upstart. He’s supported Blossoms on tour, performed solo on primetime US TV chat show Conan, and returned to Glastonbury Festival – where he won the Emerging Talent Competition in 2015 – for a majestic homecoming, of sorts.
Attention now turns to his debut album which has been produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals) and is pencilled in for a spring release. The clock is ticking – and he’s fine with that: “it’s been the most intense year, but I think I like the pressure. If there wasn’t anyone pushing me, I’d wonder why nobody cared.”
Though he’s wise beyond his years, he’s very much still a teenager and thus full of the optimism that he and his peers are going to change the world: “it seems gloomy with Brexit and fascist world leaders coming up but we’re against that. Things are actually going to change because we’re going to be the future. That’s something to be hopeful about.” Smells like teen spirit, that. Thomas Smith
My goal for 2017 is: “I’m bad at the whole plan thing. My goal is to do whatever 2017 says and enjoy it.”
The one thing you need to know about me is: “I played the lead snowflake in my year one Christmas play, dressed in tight white leggings and fluffy cotton. That was a pivotal moment. It was life-changing and I got some big reviews.”
See them live: Tunbridge Wells Forum (December 20), Harlow The Square (21), Norwich Waterfront (January 23)
Essential track: ‘Isombard’
The Japanese House
Sounds Like: Tame Impala’s chilled moments crossed with Jamie xx’s magical rhythms
For Fans Of: The xx, The 1975, Hana
When Amber Bain went to Iceland two years ago, she accidentally overdosed on cough medicine and endured “a four hour trip to hell”.
“It was horrible,” she says. “I thought I’d get an early night, but half an hour later the wall started moving.” The experience is echoed in Bain’s lush, woozy music and in her psychedelic artwork, but it’s not the only trip to have left a lasting impression on the London-based 21-year-old. Aged eight, Bain spent a family holiday in a cottage in Cornwall owned by actress Kate Winslet. Years later, she’d lift the name of the country lodge for her alt-pop project The Japanese House. “I’d love to go back,” she says. “But it’s this huge thing in my brain, and I don’t want to spoil the memory.”
She doesn’t have much time for a holiday anyway. When not in the studio making dreamy, synth-tinged new music Bain’s out on the road, recently supporting pop megastars and Dirty Hit labelmates The 1975 on a six month long tour. “I first met the boys after a gig at London’s Barfly three or four years ago,” she says. “It was the first place I played in London and they were such nice guys. I haven’t got a bad word to say about them.”
Since then the friendship has blossomed, with the pals collaborating on all three of The Japanese House’s EPs to date – drummer George Daniel co-produced the latest, ‘Swim Against The Tide’.
Bain counts herself as “more of a producer than a performer”, and wants do more. “When I write a nice song I feel a lot better about myself,” she says. “I love playing live, but songwriting is the reason I like making music.”
She’s also happy for her music to speak for itself – in the early days, she says, “Nobody knew if I was a boy or a girl. I think that meant people just listened to the music instead of being focused on who I was.” With her debut album close to being ready (“I’m finishing and mixing the songs. It’s getting there”) we’re a lot closer to finding out who The Japanese House really is. Alex Flood
My goal for 2017 is: “To finish my album and just to be happy.”
The one thing you need to know about me is: “That I don’t use a vocoder!”
See them live: Manchester Arena supporting The 1975, (Dec 13), London O2 Arena supporting The 1975 (15) Newcastle Metro Radio Arena supporting The 1975 (17)
Essential track: ‘Face Like Thunder’
From: London via Dublin
Sounds like: Badass, kaleidoscopic electronica with the vocal clout of Yukimi Nagano and Missy Elliott
For fans of: M.I.A., FKA Twigs, Björk
It’s hard to believe Bonzai when she says she “had no real plans” motivating her move from Dublin to London aged 17. Straight out of school she enrolled in a music college in the capital and within a year she was doing backing vocals for Nao. From there she was introduced to Guernsey producer prodigy Mura Masa (aka Alex Crossan), now a great friend, with whom she’s collaborated and toured numerous times. Autumn 2016 saw her reaching even greater heights, playing to upwards of 10,000 people while supporting Aussie electro experimentalist Flume on his European tour, and releasing ‘Lunacy’, her third EP of juddering, shape-shifting electronica. It’s been a speedy ascent for this striking new musical personality.
Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise: Bonzai has iconic mavericks for heroes. First up she names Björk – “she doesn’t really seem to care about structure, she just does what she wants” – then Erykah Badu, whose records her Irish dad and American mum used to play at their home in Ireland. Rihanna, too, gets a namecheck – “what she puts across is who she actually is” – and so do Death Grips. “Death Grips,” she says simply, “just don’t give a fuck”.
You get the sense speaking to the 20-year-old that neither does she, except where it counts. Bonzai is signed to a major label, Sony, and has concerns that “it might be a bit of a struggle” keeping creative control there. “I said to them that I’m not really going to come out with any bubbly bangers,” she recalls, “but we’ll see. They’ve been really cool so far.”
In a similar vein, she wants the focus to fall on her music, not her appearance. Her friend Mica Warren animates her videos and designs illustrations for her artwork – because, she explains, “Too much lies on looks, especially with female artists, and I didn’t want to do that for the start”. So when it comes to her “weird, cool” forthcoming album, she says, “I don’t think I’ll be putting my face on it.” With vocals this insistent and production this deft, there’s really no need. Larry Bartleet
My goal for 2017 is: “To make a really interesting album. I’m going to put a lot of time into it. There’ll definitely be a few different elements in it, but the goal is to tie them in nicely together.”
The one thing you need to know about me is: “I’m doing what I like and I hope people enjoy it. My music isn’t really like anything else – it might have elements of M.I.A. or Missy Elliott or something, but I don’t really feel I’m like anyone else. I’m just doing what interests me and I hope people get that.”
See them live: Dublin District 8 (December 30)
Essential track: ‘I Did’
Sounds like: Irresistible funk-punk with unforgettable sleazy grooves
For fans of: Talking Heads, Franz Ferdinand, David Bowie
Sometimes a new band will come along with a song so perfect it makes you wonder how it hadn’t been written before. Artificial Pleasure’s ‘I’ll Make It Worth Your While’ is one of those songs, a thrusting, ‘Fame’-indebted jewel that it’s nearly impossible to stop listening to.
The song itself actually dates back to a time before Artificial Pleasure were even a thing, when members Phil McDonnell (vocals/guitar), Dom Brennan (synths) and Lee Jordan (drums) were part of the Bowie-worshipping Night Engine. “Essentially, a founding member of the band left and at that point we crumbled a bit,” explains McDonnell of the end of that band. “Obviously you can’t just do the same thing over and over, but it would be a shame to get rid of a song we loved.”
The band say there was never a point where they considered packing it all in (“What else would we do?” jokes Brennan), which is something to be thankful for. Debut track ‘Bolt From The Blue’ is less bombastic than its successor, but still a ludicrously cool, sleazy grind through Talking Heads and Gang Of Four influences, while they’ve got a whole host of tracks in their back pocket that they’re hoping will keep up their hit rate so far.
The trio made their live debut as Artificial Pleasure at the end of November and are now itching to get back on the road. Don’t expect any average staring-at-your-shoes, static awkwardness from these guys, though. “A lot of things I do onstage come from a guy called Ben from a band called Airhammer,” says McDonnell. “He’s the best frontman I’ve ever seen. I remember seeing them once and he wasn’t singing the song, he was just talking to his shadow. Another time, he booted through the fire exit and just went out while the rest of the song played for another two minutes.” With or without borrowed live techniques, it’s a pretty safe bet Artificial Pleasure will be giving everyone a run for their money next year. Rhian Daly
Our goal for 2017 is: “We want to play to as many people as humanly possible and ensure we’re always doing music that we believe in.”
The one thing you need to know about us is: “We’re not obsessed with the ’70s, we just like the simplicity and delivery of Gang Of Four and Talking Heads.”
See them live: They’re planning on touring throughout February and March.
Essential track: ‘I’ll Make This Worth Your While’
From: New York
Sounds like: Shred-heavy, gender-fluid punk with indelible pop nous
For fans of: Weezer, White Stripes, Nirvana
When PWR BTTM’s gig was picketed by anti-gay protestors, they retaliated with humour. “I brought out three dresses I was choosing between for the show,” says Liv Bruce, one half of the ‘genre-queer’ New York punks. “I asked their opinions, like, ‘I know God hates me for wearing a dress, but which dress do you think God hates the least?”
Using sly wit to make a powerful point similar translates into their music. Coming on like Weezer managed by John Waters, their debut ‘Ugly Cherries’ was a coming-of-age album addressing issues of identity while wearing its heart on its glittery sleeve. “Is punk dressing up in leather jackets?,” questions Ben Hopkins, who shares guitar/drumming duties. “No. It’s having a counter-cultural perspective. Getting up onstage and talking about Grindr or wanting to sleep with Niall from One Direction is politically radical.”
Liv changed names last year to come out about gender-queerness, and uses the pronoun ‘them/they’, while Ben, the son of a former opera singer, “came out through the band – seeing me in drag playing guitar was how my parents found out.” Both understand the importance of music in making you feel less like an outsider. “Whenever someone heckles me on the street,” says Liv. “I just sing to myself out loud and people don’t fuck with you as much.”
Forming PWR BTTM in Bard College in 2013, they “wanted to write songs that were fun – or that made us feel less alone,” says Ben. Inspired by riot grrl – Liv was once in a Hole covers band – the pair penned a band manifesto, emphasising inclusiveness. Gigs are safe spaces and gender netural bathrooms are part of their rider. “It’s not just us opening our big annoying dictionary of obnoxious terms like ‘cis’ or ‘genderqueer’,” laughs Ben dryly, “If you’re paying to see us, you should feel comfortable taking a piss.”
Their celebratory gigs are a place where Carrie can feel like prom-queen. “PWR BTTM fans dress up better than we do,” says Ben. “One gave me cowboy hat after every song – each smaller than the last. By the encore, I was holding one the size of a thimble.” As Trump’s America threatens LGBTQ rights, PWR BTTM are taking on the alt-right one sequin at a time. Gary Ryan
Our goal for 2017 is: “There’s so much bad shit going on politically in the world, we want people to come to our shows and forget people trying to divide us. We want people to leave the gig having learned something – lots of straights guys have said our gigs have helped them better understand their cousin who’s just come out.”
The one thing you need to know about us is: “We take fun very seriously. We love obscure queer punk bands as much as Carly Rae. And above all, it’s glittery.”
See them live: UK Tour starts April 11, Manchester Deaf Institute
Essential track: ‘I Wanna Boi’
The Big Moon
Sounds like: Inclusive, indie-pop fun
For fans of: Blur, The Libertines, Elastica
It’s impossible not to have fun when The Big Moon are around. Their records jump out of your speakers like partners asking you to dance, intoxicating riffs and dry, wry lyrics wrapping you up in their own world of weird. There’s the luckless matchmaker getting Dutch courage from tropical Rubicon on ‘Cupid’ and soft, sarcastic invites to “blow smoke up my arse” on ‘We’ll Start A Bonfire’ – and that’s just for starters.
On stage, they’re an excitable gang that seem like they can’t believe their luck to be there, but don’t let that get in the way of goofing off. At their biggest headline show to date at London’s Scala in November singer and guitarist Juliette Jackson opened their set by standing looking wide-eyed at the audience and yelling: “It feels like Christmas!”
Debut album ‘Love In The 4th Dimension’ arrives on April 17 and bassist Celia Archer tells NME “it’s going to be iconic,” explaining the band recorded it live over the course of 12 days “and then just sprinkled some fairy dust over the top”.
Likely to be one of the standout tracks on the record is ‘Formidable’, a surging, empowering track that Archer says was written as a message of support for a friend and “makes me feel all the feelings when we play it.”
“I remember the first time we played [it],” she says. “We were all looking at each other like, ‘Wow, this is so special, this is cool!’ It’s really cool that there are these things in the world that I’ve made with my friends.”
The Big Moon might be their very own little gang of friends, but it’s hard not to feel like you’re with them, even after just one listen. Come spring, their circle should get a hell of a lot bigger.
Our goal for 2017 is: “To fully enjoy all the feelings that come with releasing our debut album to the world and to savour every incredible moment as we run all over the place playing it to people in sweaty rooms. Also maybe to shower more regularly?”
The one thing you need to know about us is: “That we don’t all necessarily shower that regularly.”
See them live: They’ll be touring the UK in April and May.
Essential track: ‘Formidable’
From: England, Greece, France, but based in London
Sounds like: The kind of band who have the hopes of the music industry resting on their shoulders… and they wear it pretty well
For fans of: David Bowie, Skrillex, Clarence Clarity
HMLTD welcome bewilderment. The name? Confusing (it’s an acronym for Happy Meal Ltd, which preceded it). The music, which flits from bovver boy oik punk to womp-heavy, Death Grips sampling nightmares (often in the space of the same song)? Borderline insane. The look? Like they’re en route from Warhol’s Factory to a Blackadder casting – and yes, the six-piece genuinely do dress like that offstage too.
A gang of extroverted, oddball 20-somethings who live on a council estate in outer London, HMLTD are as much about the hype as they are music. All of which goes some way to explaining why, since bursting onto the scene in mid-2016 after a clutch of frenetic live shows, they haven’t given a single face-to-face interview or revealed anything about what their aims are. The best NME gets, via email, is this (admittedly fantastic) quote in which they liken themselves to an Ancient Greek dragon:
“The music scene is like the giant serpent Ouroboros, perpetually eating its own tail. In this cycle the head represents flamboyancy, and the tail false modesty. We are the head, and naturally the status quo is stirred by the eating of the tail.”
If that doesn’t whet your appetite, then HMLTD’s songs will. The two available at present – ‘Is This What You Wanted?’ and ‘Stained’ – are sleazy, manic, confident, clever and oozing in demented swagger. Live, too, the band are a total thrill, currently on a par only with US garage rockers The Lemon Twigs in the ‘can’t take your eyes off them’ stakes, but with a ‘fuck you’ mentality at their core. Theirs is a world of old school pop grandiosity: garish, brimming with arrogance and able to flit from one source of inspiration to another with exasperating ease. You just can’t second-guess their next move.
Bigger bands are already reportedly refusing to give them support slots, scared they’ll be upstaged, while renowned record producers on both sides of the Atlantic are clamouring for studio-time. Why? Because British music has been devoid of a band this compelling (not to mention this weird) for a long, long time. Sleep on HMLTD at your peril. Matt Wilkinson
Our goal for 2017 is: “We want to be in the Top 10. Staying underground is preaching to the choir: we want to convert people.”
The one thing you need to know about us is: “Our number is 07375809270. Don’t be afraid.”
Essential track: ‘Stained’
Sounds like: Sunny and soulful skatepark hip-hop
For fans of: Chance the Rapper, Odd Future, Outkast
Two years ago, schoolfriends Lilo Blues and Tony Konstone found themselves in the same Dublin skatepark as Jessy Rose. “There’s not many black skaters in Dublin – but then I bumped into them when I was 16 and they were exactly the same as me. We made a song that night.” Lilo and Tony had already been making tunes in the vein of Odd Future, but Jessy Rose saw that they needed some Frank Ocean-esque soul in the mix, and was more than happy to bring it.
It wasn’t long until the band decided to hit the live circuit, and they pooled together all their mates via social media to help them get an open mic gig. Hundreds of people said they were coming on Facebook. It was going to be huge. Three people turned up. All was not lost, however – one of those three people ended up being their manager and the trio realised there wasn’t anywhere else they’d rather be than onstage and making music. Their influences skip across a number of genres, but all stem from the same place – early 2000s music television. Think Michael Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Green Day and Tupac, “but we infuse it with now. It’s just a big mixture,” explains Lilo.
The three share a house in Dublin, and are constantly making music there, demoing tracks every day. They are impressively busy: they’ve just got off the road from a European tour with Dua Lipa and released their ‘Supernormal’ EP at the beginning of December, featuring mega tunes including the impossibly vibey ‘Loco’, loved-up ‘Herside Story’ and low-key but lush ‘Long Way To Go’. Lyrically, nothing is out of bounds. “There’s no mathematical formula to what we do,” explains Lilo. “It’s just what we feel at that moment. We talk about everything, from having sex in a public bathroom to love and hope and home.” Squead goals, for sure.
Our goal for 2017 is: “We want to be bigger than the Beatles.” Lilo Blues
The one thing you need to know about us is: “How many songs do we have? Too many.” Lilo Blues
Essential track: ‘Herside Story’
From: East London
Sounds like: Short, punchy garage rock laced with energetic hooks.
For fans of: Ty Segall, Jay Reatard, FIDLAR
Need to know: Initial self-releases of ‘Wasted Days’ and ‘Can’t Be Mine’ zip by at electrifying pace and their live shows are always a riotous prospect.
What’s next: Their official debut single is due in January. Expect the fanbase to explode soon after.
See them live: The band are a fixture in the London scene and will no doubt extend that nationwide soon.
Essential track: ‘Wasted Days’
Sounds like: From weighty ballads to pop-house, Dawson is still nailing her sound down – but it’s gripping whatever she does.
For fans of: Adele, Disclosure, Ellie Goulding
Need to know: At 17 years old, Dawson has got a stunning vocal range beyond her years – but already she’s racked up millions of streams and even worked with one half of Disclosure on latest single ‘Open Your Eyes’.
What’s next: She’s working with Adele collaborator Tobias Jesso Jr. as well as Disclosure’s Guy on a new EP due in Spring.
See them live: London Omeara (February 15)
Essential track: ‘Open Your Eyes’
Sounds like: Laidback and creative hip-hop from Dublin.
For fans of: Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Quest, Dr Dre
Need to know: The 23-year-old has already released material under several monikers, but his West-Coast-influenced beats and rave reviews assure that this latest one will stick.
What’s next: He’s currently working on his debut album, with the same team behind Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q.
See them live: Glasgow o2 ABC 2 (April 19), Birmingham o2 Institute (21), Manchester Academy 2 (22)
Essential track: ‘D.R.U.G.S’
From: Tromsø, Norway
Sounds like: Sleek, self-assured Scandi-pop.
For fans of: Katy Perry, Tove Lo, Haim
Need to know: Having grown up in a house of jazz musicians, Dagny went back to her first love, pop, for her solo material. Debut EP ‘Ultraviolet’ packed insanely choruses in the form of hit singles ‘Backbeat’ and ‘Fools Gold’, both of which exploded in mainland Europe.
What’s next: She’s set for a single live date in London in early January, then is readying a new EP for Summer.
See them live: London The Lexington (January 9)
Essential track: ‘Fools Gold’
Sounds like: So sweetly foul-mouthed that she was the natural replacement when Azealia Banks was dropped as headliner of last year’s Born & Bred festival for Tweeting like a drunk UKIP Westboro Baptist campaigner, Nadia Rose makes stark and saucy grime cruisers that would make Peaches blush.
For fans of: Lady Leshurr, Novelist, Khia
Need to know: A cousin of Stormzy, Nadia had something of a leg-up from writing lyrics on racing slips in a Croydon betting shop to a main stage appearance at Wireless 2016 inside a year, but her meteoric rise has been entirely justified by sizzling elasticated rap singles like ‘Skwod’, ‘D.F.W.T’ (‘Don’t Fuck With Them’ to the acronym-shy) and ‘BOOM!’.
What’s next: With European dates and festival slots already being confirmed, 2017 will be another giant leap year for Nadia.
See them live: Sheffield Outlines 2017 (March 3)
Essential Track: ‘Skwod’
Sounds like: Moving love songs set to sparse electronic production.
For fans of: The xx, Lapsley, Ben Howard
Need to know: As a relationship came to an untimely end, Parker turned those heavy emotions into a set of stunning tunes, as evident on her intense and well-crafted debut EP, ‘Blue’.
What’s next: Parker’s already written and recorded her album – but is sitting on it as her stock continues to go. Expect some more tasters of LP1 in the near future.
See them live: No live dates for 2017 just yet, but stay tuned.
Essential track: ‘Blue’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Dreamy indie rock propelled by Saviour’s sumptuous voice.
For fans of: Lana Del Rey, Warpaint, Mini Mansions
Need to know: Savior worked with Arctic Monkeys frontman Alex Turner and producer James Ford on her upcoming material, but her solo live performances prove she’s a star in her own right.
What’s next: Debut album ‘Belladonna of Sadness’ is due in April
See her live: She’ll likely be heading over to the UK at some point next year.
Essential track: ‘M.T.M.E’
Sounds like: No-holds-barred rock that’s delivered with a snarl and a wry wink.
For fans of: Honeyblood, Wolf Alice, Slaves
Need to know: The group’s songs – which tackle big issues like the objectification of women and nights spent in police cells – veer between English and Welsh, and singer Taliesyn Källström is a forceful presence both onstage and in your headphones.
What’s next: A lot of touring should hone their fiery sound even more in time for an eventual debut album, whether that arrives in 2017 or the year after.
See them live: Sheffield The Harley (February 8), London Boston Music Rooms (9), Brighton Komedia (10)
Essential track: ‘I’m Not Your Girl’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Touted as the mid-point between Vampire Weekend and The Weeknd, THEY. underpin their nocturnal R&B with Nirvana guitar licks and the sort of found-sound quirks that made ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ a mechanical masterpiece.
For fans of: Drake, Nirvana, Bryson Tiller
Need to know: Having written beats for will.i.am, Chris Brown and Jeremih, THEY. – singer Drew Love and producer Dante Jones – almost broke the internet with their Skrillex collaboration ‘Working For It’ in 2015, and have since been racking up so many millions of streams of their three-track ‘Nü Religion’ EP that they’re thinking of splurging the proceeds on a Nando’s. To share, obviously.
Essential track: ‘Motley Crew’
Sounds like: Sludgy basslines, massive choruses paired witty observational lyrics.
For fans of: Slaves, Fat White Family, Palma Violets
Need to know: Having gigged extensively in the local scene for a while now, the group recently supported Slaves on their nationwide tour – bolstering their profile ahead of debut single ‘Gold Hole/The Lick’.
What’s next: More live shows will be announced in due course and new slacker anthems are on the horizon.
See them live: The band just played three shows in one night to celebrate their new single, so new dates won’t be far behind.
Essential track: ‘The Lick’
Sounds like: A shimmering blend of indie and futuristic pop.
For fans of: 1975, Chvrches, Two Door Cinema Club
Need to know: After endless gigging, the group signed to Polydor earlier this year and have since smashed out a string of playful pop anthems. A re-released version of ‘Swim’, the bouncy ‘Crybaby’ and new stunner ‘Brooklyn’ all showcase their impressive hit writing potential.
What’s next: The group have been flitting between the UK and Los Angeles to finish their debut album, so a Summer release could be on the cards just in time for festivals.
See them live: Another nationwide jaunt will surely arrive in 2017.
Essential track: ‘Crybaby’
Sounds like: A delightful and seductive fusion of R&B, indie and pop
For fans of: Alicia Keys, Solange, Lauryn Hill
Need to know: Signed to Island Records and discovered by Amy Winehouse’s former manager, the South Londoner showcases her wicked melodies and stunning vocals on her debut mixtape ‘South Of Heaven’, with ‘Hymns For Him’ acting as a sensual and scornful hit. Exciting things will follow.
What’s next: More new music is due in the first half of 2016 as well as new live dates.
See them live: New live dates will be announced in 2017.
Essential track: ‘Girls Who Get Ready’
Sounds like: Piledriving emo punk rock with both bark and bite.
For fans of: Biffy Clyro, Against Me!, Bring Me The Horizon
Need to know: Not only are they spearheading the British rock scene, Creeper have established cult-like status with fans and their live shows are fast becoming a mass for the converted.
What’s next: Debut album ‘Eternity, In Your Arms’ will be released March 24, so expect them to shoot up the bill at festivals in 2017.
See them live: Manchester Academy 2 (March 25), Glasgow Garage (26) Newcastle University (27)
Essential track: ‘Misery’
From: North-west London
Sounds like: Vibey dance-pop.
For fans of: New Order, LCD Soundsystem, Years & Years
Need to know: Best mates Reeva and Sarah met at school in Kilburn and formed this five-piece group. They’ve toured with Mø and Years & Years, but their music is slightly darker and dancier: live, it provides a thudding, hypnotic experience.
What’s next: Their debut album is due out in early summer, preceded by a spring tour and a packed festival season.
See them live: Tour dates will be announced in due course.
Essential track: ‘UnYoung’
From: South London
Sounds like: Very much not to be mistaken for the satellite channel dedicated to the late night worship of Dara O’Briain, Dave is like an epic R&B TED talk, spewing acrobatic motivational raps over classical, rock and grandiose hip-hop beats, like Kanye’s ‘Power’ without all the Greco-Roman god gumph.
For fans of: Kanye West, Klashenkoff, Kano
Need to know: Another denizen of the Sound Of 2017 long-list, skilled pianist Dave (aka Dave Santan) is juggling a university course in ethics with onrushing international superstardom – Wiley and Stormzy are big fans, Drake remixed ‘Wanna Know’ and he’s racked up millions of streams of tracks like ‘JKYL+HYD’ and tracks from his debut 2016 EP ‘Six Paths’.
What’s next: Now he’s got some big name backing, 2017 could be full of new and great music from the MC.
See them live: No tour dates for 2017 just yet, so keep your eyes peeled.
Essential track: ‘Picture Me’
Sounds like: Scotland’s next best indie band.
For fans of: Franz Ferdinand, Strokes, Bloc Party
Need to know: The quartet released their debut single ‘L.U.V.’ at the start of 2016, but it was the exuberant ‘Rita Ora’, a love letter to the aforementioned pop star, which got heads turning – and even got a retweet from Ora. Aww.
What’s next: The band are poised to release new music in the first half of next year as they aim to release their new album in 2017
Essential track: ‘Rita Ora’
From: London, via Rotterdam and Birmingham
Sounds like: The new queen of UK rap is into bubbling, which isn’t some unseemly practice that Tove Lo might advocate but an offshoot of hip-hop that a Dutch DJ invented in 1988 by playing a dancehall record at the wrong speed. Stefflon adds her own Anglo-Scandi-Jamaican twist, while still taking the time to point out the “diamonds in my Rolex” like the poutiest brag rapper.
For fans of: Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Angel
Need to know: Having landed in London aged 14 after growing up in the Netherlands, one-time professional cake decorator Stefflon Don – aka Stephanie Allen – came to prominence with a 2015 cover of Section Boyz’ ‘Lock Arff’ and a spot on Jeremih’s Late Nights: Europe mixtape, prompting Sony to snap her up for her first single ‘Hot Prop’. Whether they threw in a pricey watch was unconfirmed as NME.com went to press.
What’s next: She’s becoming a fixture on the London scene – so keep an eye on her socials for more gigs.
See them live: Bristol Motion (January 27)
Essential track: ‘Hot Prop’
Sounds like: Sweaty, heavy and ear-piercing rock riffs
For fans of: Foo Fighters, The Black Keys, Queens of The Stone Age
Need to know: It took the group eight tries to get the right drummer, but when they did, things started to fall into the place for the quartet. They’ve gigged their socks off around the UK in the last two years and released a string of killer singles, especially ‘In My Mind’ that’ll make you want to start a moshpit on your commute.
What’s next: A headline tour for next year has just been announced.
See them live: Southampton The Joiners (March 2) Coventry Central Library (4), Leicester The Cookie (11)
Essential track: ‘In My Mind’
From: South-east London
Sounds like: Urban punk with killer basslines and tongue-tripping lyrics.
For fans of: Sleigh Bells, Skunk Anansie, Skinny Girl Diet
Need to know: Georgia and Amy have been music-school peers of big names like Novelist and Ed Sheeran. Their tracks brim with braggadocio, and they say their gigs are all about making people “feeling empowered”.
What’s next: Following their self-titled EP, released earlier this year, we can expect more music and more eardrum-popping shows.
See them live: Guildford The Star Inn (February 24)
Essential track: ‘Bassline Bitch’
From: Rennes, France
Sounds like: A melting pot of R&B, pop, indie, electro crafted into streamlined bangers.
For fans of: Jungle, Bon Iver, Gorillaz
Need to know: After building a steady fan base in their native France, the group received international attention when their funked-up single ‘Five Minutes’ was used in an Apple advert. A recent live tour of the UK sold-out soon after and world domination is now on the cards.
What’s next: ‘Her Tape 2’ is being readied for release early next year and a UK tour is likely for next Spring.
See them live: Stay tuned for live dates.
Essential track: ‘Queens’
Sounds like: Stripped back bluesy and acoustic folk; just Joe and a guitar.
For fans of: A$AP Rocky, Jake Bugg, Isaac Gracie
Need to know: Fox got his break when he met A$AP Rocky on the London streets at 4am, wowed him a little sing-song, and subsequently ended up being all over Rocky’s 2015 ‘At.Long.Last.A$AP’. His first EP ‘Acoustic Alley Sessions’ showcased more of his stunning vocals alongside minimal production.
What’s next: A new EP is pencilled in for February and new tour dates will be announced in early 2017.
See them live: Tour dates will be announced in the new year.
Essential track: ‘Like Jesus’
Sounds like: Moody, grungy odes that sound as edgily dangerous as they do satirically mocking.
For fans of: Fat White Family, Country Teasers, Palma Violets
Need to know: South London has long been associated with electronic music, but Goat Girl are one of a handful of bands making their mark on the area. Like Fat Whites and Palmas before them, their sound is one of unhinged debauchery – albeit more subtle than with those groups, but no less exciting.
What’s next: Their domination is set to spread far out of their south London enclave.
See them live: They’re supporting Girl Band in January as well as a handful of other dates around the country.
Essential track: ‘Country Sleaze’
Sounds like: Earworm pop that favours minimal production and doesn’t shy away from narrating sexual encounters and parents’ affairs.
For fans of: Charli XCX, MØ, Grimes
Need to know: The London trio only made their live debut at the start of 2016, but they immediately won over a packed Old Blue Last with their infectious pop. Since, they’ve delivered a raft of ever-improving killer singles, including their blissfully sweet latest, ‘Copper Kiss’.
What’s next: We wouldn’t bet against them being one of the breakout stars of festival season 2017.
See them live: Keep your eyes peeled for new dates soon.
Essential track: ‘Copper Kiss’
Sounds like: Brought up on slacker pop, hip-hop and Sly & The Family Stone, Bad Sounds combined those elements with big baggy brass and indie guitar tunes and came out as a cross between Beck, The Happy Mondays and The Flaming Lips time-travelling back to Studio 54.
For fans of: The Boo Radleys, Beck, Metronomy
Need to know: Formed two years ago when brothers Ewan and Callum Merrett merged their rock and rap projects, Bad Sounds set out to be the wildest party band in Somerset by converting a second-hand leaf blower into a home-made confetti cannon. Several Annie Mac-endorsed singles and a Rat Boy tour later, they play sold out shows on their own light-up dancefloor, all the better to disguise the darkness at the heart of their effervescent alt-pop tunes.
What’s next: A new single ‘Meat On My Bones’ is due in early 2017.
See them live: Bath The Nest (March 21), Birmingham Sunflower Lounge (22), Newcastle Think Tank (24)
Essential track: ‘Wages’
Sounds like: Eclectic, political and genre-smushing electronica.
For fans of: Young Fathers, Danny Brown, FKA Twigs
Need to know: Since moving from Brixton to Manchester, this musician and visual artist has helped form the GREY collective alongside the likes of Bipolar Sunshine and Jazz Purple. His two mixtapes to date – and his recent Warp-released EP, ‘Spaghetto’ – are designed to shake things up as much as GAIKA himself is. “1Xtra and the MOBOs can suck a dick,” he told Noisey last year. “Their relevance is rapidly diminishing because they almost exclusively push a hugely simplistic retrograde view of ‘urban’ culture that lacks the ability to self define. Those gatekeepers need a good shake.”
What’s next: His as-yet untitled debut album arrives next year, plus a tour.
See him live: Dates will be announced in the new year
Essential track: ‘3D’
Sounds like: Dance music played by a real life band, rather than a computer.
For fans of: Boxed In, Formation, Wild Beasts
Need to know: The Peckham trio say their aim is to make “direct pop” with a dance twist and debut EP ‘Loveless’ saw them achieving that goal in style. Dominic Gore’s unique turn of phrases give extra life to their already mesmerising sound.
What’s next: Their debut album will be released in spring via Domino.
See them live: They’ll be hitting the road around the release of the record, with exact dates TBC.
Essential track: ‘Loveless’
From: South-east London
Sounds like: Upbeat soul with suprisingly dark lyrics.
For fans of: Laura Mvula, Stevie Wonder, Rufus Wainwright
Need to know: Abacus is a pianist and a classic songwriter. This year he’s supported the likes of Jamie Woon and Laura Mvula, and he’s been working on new music with Adele’s pal Tobias Jesso Jr, and producer Ariel Rechtshaid (Beyoncé, Vampire Weekend).
What’s next: His debut album, ‘Take This And Grow Flowers’, arrives early 2017.
See him live: Tour dates will no doubt follow the 2017 album.
Essential track: ‘She’s In Love With The Weekend’
Sounds like: Chart-ready pop hits destined for the dancefloor.
For fans of: Charli XCX, Years & Years, Katy Perry
Need to know: Born in London but brought up in Kosovo, Dua Lipa returned to London as a teenager to go to act and model, but found more success as a bonafide pop singer. Bangers ‘Be The One’ and ‘Hotter Than Hell’ followed, and her path to stardom is hers to take.
What’s next: Her self-titled debut is due on February 10 and huge shows will no doubt become a formality.
See them live: Keep your eyes peeled for aforementioned huge shows here.
Essential track: ‘Hotter Than Hell’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Dreamy, twinkling alternative-pop from the West Coast
For fans of: Blood Orange, Toro y Moi, How To Dress Well
Need to know: 2016 has seen them release a string of stunning singles and accompanying visuals, culminating with ‘Eyes Wide Shut’, which is set to be released via a 9” $200 candle. A different kind of wax.
What’s next: Record labels are currently vying to release whatever is coming next – so don’t expect them to be disappearing anytime soon.
See them live: Stay tuned for live dates.
Essential track: ‘Back Around’
Sounds like: Playful and dancefloor-ready hip-hop .
For fans of: Chance The Rapper, Vic Mensa, Danny Brown
Need to know: After dropping out of high school and interning at clothes shops, Purp released his debut mixtape ‘The Purple Tape’ to internet fanfare in 2012. Four years later he followed that up with the silky smooth ‘iiidrops’ tape, but this time he brought some friends in the shape of fellow Chi-town Chance The Rapper and Vic Mensa.
What’s next: Purp wowed crowds on the festival circuit this year, and is likely to follow that up with another summer of madness.
See them live: Keep your eyes peeled for new tour dates in due course.
Essential track: ‘Girls @’
Sounds like: Joyous and saucy Latin pop from Colombia.
For fans of: Shakira, Katy B, MO
Need to know: Lao Ra might make sugar-sweet tropical pop, but underneath she’s a fearless competitor. ‘Bang Boom’ features the lyrics ‘like a shark, I’m going to eat you’, which make perfect sense when you learn that to prove her toughness at her Bogota school, she ate a live worm on the first day in front of her classmates.
What’s next: A new single is due in January and frequent releases throughout the year are being lined up.
See them live: She recently played a headline show in London and new shows are likely just around the corner.
Essential track: ‘Bang Boom’
From: Billericay, Essex
Sounds like: Funky guitar riffs are complemented by vocals that are often rapped more than sung. If Jamie T was starting out in 2016, imagine he’d sound a little like this.
For fans of: Jamie T, Skepta, Kano
Need to know: Having been tipped by Elton John and Julie Adenuga already, the Essex lads whipped up serious interest with their electrifying and dizzying festival performances over the Summer and have been picked up by Kitsune since.
What’s next: They’ve retreated into their self-described bunker to bash out some more tunes that will doubt light up summer 2017.
See them live: The boys will no doubt hit festivals hard next summer.
Essential track: ‘No Lie’
From: Chipstead, Surrey
Sounds like: Jilted, doomy and forward-thinking pop.
For fans of: Grimes, FKA Twigs, St Vincent
Need to know: Pixx aka Hannah Rogers was born in the suburbs and grew up not far from the BRIT School, where she eventually spent her formative years as a musician. Now, she’s graduated, signed to legendary label 4AD and is readying a collection of mind-melting and dizzying indie-pop.
What’s next: Her debut album is due in May and a new single will be dropped early next year
See them live: London Birthdays (February 28)
Essential track: ‘Grip’
Sounds like: Brooding ruminations on life’s less brilliant parts set to dark, howling garage-rock.
For fans of: Parquet Courts, Iceage, Merchandise
Need to know: The Peckham five-piece take the mundane and make it sound like a never-ending thrill, like when they narrate the weary life of the nine-to-fiver on ‘Saturday Drag’.
What’s next: Recent gigs have proven Yowl to be a band who seem to get better with every show so we’re anticipating a lot of touring and subsequent cult favourites status.
See them live: Watch out for new gigs to be announced in the new year.
Essential track: ‘Saturday Drag’
From: New York City
Sounds like: All the best bits of NYC’s illustrious musical history combined with a fizzing excitement and innate sense of cool. Magical, in short.
For fans of: The Velvet Underground, Public Access TV, Interpol
Need to know: Dan Lardner and Alex Niemetz met on the streets of the city aged 17 and bonded over their shared musical obsessions. Later, they formed a band, signed to Dirty Hit (The 1975, Wolf Alice) and unveiled themselves to the world as a revelatory new group capable of transforming your world in just two minutes and 30 seconds.
What’s next: They’ve already recorded their debut album, which will be unleashed next year. If it’s even half as perfect as debut single ‘Rodeo’ it should be one of the year’s finest first records.
See them live: Expect them to make their first UK appearances early next year.
Essential track: ‘Rodeo’
Sounds like: Polyswagg. Sounds like stuff you’d nick from PJ Harvey’s house, right? But no, it’s how choreographer-turned-pop star Parris Goebbel – aka Parri$ – describes her brand of electro-fried dancehall.
For fans of: Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Sean Paul
Need to know: Having won the World Hip Hop Dance Championships three times with her Royal Family crew, Goebbel took to choreographing videos for Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Rihanna before releasing her own ‘Run & Tell Your Friends’ EP, complete with videos for ‘Nasty’ and ‘Friday’ which seem to be set in a horrifying pop future where the human arse, after centuries of subservience, has become sentient and is trying to shake itself free of the body and launch a shaky-arse revolution to take control of humanity.
What next: Dancing. Lots of dancing.
See them live: Watch out for new live dates in the new year.
Essential track: ‘Nasty’
Sounds like: The influence of The Maccabees can be clearly felt on their anthemic and ambitious brand of indie-rock.
For fans of: The Maccabees, Spring King, Foals
Need to know: With tunes already fit for a festival headliner, the Reading quartet have turned themselves into a formidable live force with the help of a fanbase that grows with each and every banging release.
What’s next: Debut album ‘Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect’ is out January 10, a massive headline tour is due in February as well as a support slot on Two Door Cinema Club’s. If anyone’s primed to pull a Blossoms – it’s these guys.
See them live: Birmingham Rainbow Venues (February 11), Liverpool o2 Academy (12), Sheffield Leadmill (13)
Essential track: ‘Flame’
Sounds like: Sleazy and sexy trap with an R&B twist
For fans of: The Weeknd, Future, Gucci Mane
Need to know: After dropping out of college to pursue a record deal Ricardo Valentine was signed before he turned 20, but releases were few and far between as he refused to “release any of the music they forced me to make”. In 2016 it was all change as he dropped his viral hit ‘PRBLMS’ and followed that up with debut project ‘Free 6Lack’, which performed well on the US rap charts.
What’s next: Stay tuned for new music in 2017, hopefully.
See them live: A handful of North American shows are planned for next year, but nothing this side of the pond just yet.
Essential track: ‘PRBLMS’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Lo-fi folktronica with the occasional splash of White Stripes-y garage rock.
For fans of: PJ Harvey, Angel Olsen, EL VY
Need to know: After training as an actor, Miya retreated to the bedroom to start writing a slate of intensely emotional and moving music. Her first EP – ‘Strange Darling’ was layered with scattered beats, ethereal vocals and smart production, but recent material like ‘Pet Body’ indicate there’s a grungier side to Miya potentially emerging.
What’s next: She’s just finished touring with Sleigh Bells and is now readying up some more material for 2017.
See them live: Stay tuned for live dates.
Essential track: ‘Pet Body’
Sounds like: Tom Waits having a nightmare that he’s living in a Peckham council flat.
For fans of: Massive Attack, Odd Future, Young Fathers
Need to know: Early days for this intriguing London ambient soulster – his first single ‘Creeping’ emerged in October 2016, a slow-grinding electronic mood piece featuring Obongjayar’s hypnotic vocal croak.
What’s next: A debut EP waits in 2017’s wings.
See them live: No live dates just yet.
Essential track: ‘Creeping’
From: South London
Sounds like: Soulful, sunlit jams.
For fans of: J Dilla, Kaytranada, Honne
Need to know: The 21-year-old producer/singer has already released three EPs with collaborators including grime MC Loyle Carner and vocalist Jordan Rakei. He recently completed a sold out US and EU tour.
What’s next: A debut album, and presumably more touring.
See them live: The Red Gallery, London (December 16)
Essential track: ‘Crazy Dream’ ft. Loyle Carner
Sounds like: Britain’s next big hip-hop hope.
For fans of: Tinie Tempah, Outkast, Childish Gambino
Need to know: Drawing inspiration from alternative hip-hop, gospel jazz, grim – Jay’s ‘Smile Good’ EP from earlier this year was ample reminder why attention is unlikely to wane anytime soon.
What’s next: A new set of shows are set for announcement come January.
See them live: Stay tuned for live dates.
Essential track: ‘Father, Father’
Will Joseph Cook
From: Tunbridge Wells
Sounds like: Jaunty indie pop with playful hooks aplenty.
For fans of: Daywave, Beck, Crystal Fighters
Need to know: After emerging in 2015 with the insanely catchy ‘Message’ and ‘Streets of Passage’, Cook built on his reputation with a run of carefree and genuinely hilarious music videos – concluding with the channel-hopping and eye-popping visual ‘Sweet Dreamer’.
What’s next: His debut album is pencilled in for Spring and a slew of festival dates will no doubt follow.
See them live: Cook will be supporting Sundara Karma on their nationwide jaunt this coming February.
Essential track: ‘Sweet Dreamer’
Sounds like: Anthemic and enthralling indie rock with stadium-sized riffs
For fans of: Wolf Alice, Catfish and The Bottlemen, The Vaccines
Need to know: As far as starts go – InHeaven’s has been pretty spectacular. They were picked up by Julian Casablancas by his Cult Records label and have since joined Blossoms and Jamie T on tour in the last year.
What’s next: Work on their debut album is being finalised, and a new single and tour will arrive in February.
See them live: Stay tuned for new live dates in the new year.
Essential track: ‘Treats’
Sounds like: A cocktail of old-school blues, R&B beats with hip-hop twist.
For fans of: Jack White, Michael Kiwanuka, Plan B
Need to know: Having spent his teens MC’ing on pirate radio – Rory Graham started jamming with blues bands at open-mic nights and soon discovered his massive voice. Collaborations with Vince Staples and Bastille followed, and now the ‘Human’ singer has become a hit overseas – and the UK isn’t far behind.
What’s next: Debut album ‘Human’ will be released February 10, and he’s just won the BRITs Critics Choice Award. Previous winners include Adele and Florence and The Machine.
See them live: Brighton The Dome (May 20)
Essential track: ‘Human’
From: Bergen, Norway
Sounds like:Fearless, feminist and so much fun, every song is a revolution in three minutes or less. These are pop-punk party anthems laced with hooks aplenty to sink into your skin – before injecting you with ideas.
For fans of: Wolf Alice, Honeyblood, Green Day
Need to know: They were formerly known as ‘Slutface’ (“to force youto reconsider the way we think about women”) but had to change their name due to censorship on social media. A common misconception is that they’re all women, but three of them are dudes who insist “you don’t have to be female to be a feminist”.
What’s next: A headline tour in February, a few more EPs, summer festival shows kicking off at The Great Escape with hopes for their album to drop by the year’s end.
See them live: Manchester The Castle (Febraury 13), Leeds Oporto (14), Nice N Sleazy, Glasgow (15)
Essential track: ‘Shave My Head’
From: Sydney/San Francisco
Sounds like: Sprawling War on Drugs-like indie rock with distorted, heavenly vocals.
For fans of: War On Drugs, Sunflower Bean, DIIV
Need to know: Born in Australia, but now residing in the Bay Area, Hazel’s debut EP ‘Never Going Home’ documented the pains, anxiety and thrill of running away from her home in outstanding fashion.
What’s next: Her next EP is due for release via Marathon Records in the coming months, and she’s worked with producer Justin Raisen – who did a fine job with Angel Olsen’s latest record – on the new material.
See them live: No live dates have been announced just yet but hold tight…
Essential track: ‘Make It Better’
Sounds like: Empowering and sassy folk-pop
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Patti Smith, Lily Allen
Need to know: As a teenager Georgie was banging goals as a footballing prodigy and sneaking into pubs to play acoustic sets. Now she’s supporting indie darlings Blossoms on their nationwide tour and making quite the impression with her stunning voice and commanding stage presence.
What’s next: A new single is due in the coming months and more touring from the 21-year-old won’t be far behind.
See them live: The Islington, London (February 24), Bodega Social Club, Middlesbrough (March 30), The Garage Attic Bar, Glasgow (April 1)
Essential track: ‘Company Of Thieves’
From: South London
Sounds like: Music to slip into a narcotic coma to, A2 makes dreamlike cosmic rap and R&B that sounds like an overdose of cough syrup.
For fans of: Jay Prince, Drake, The Weeknd
Need to know: He’s not the Inglewood rapper of the same moniker, or the hip-hop guy from Tehran… in fact, nobody really knows much about A2, a producer who’s spent the last few years dropping EPs with the most casual of Twitter links and failing to release his eagerly-awaited debut album ‘BLUE’, which has been brewing for a full year.
What’s next: ‘BLUE’. We hope.
See them live: No live dates just yet.
Essential track: ‘Gold’
Sounds like: Delicate folk stylings given an electronic makeover that’s both subtle and cerebral.
For fans of: Banks, Joni Mitchell, James Blake
Need to know: Pharrell Williams is a big fan. He first came across the young musician at a Masterclass session at NYU and his mindblown reaction to hearing ‘Alaska’ for the first time became a much-spread meme. It’s not just superstars that will have a similar response, either.
What’s next: Rogers has since signed with Capitol and will release her debut EP for the label in February.
See them live: She’ll play two shows at London’s Omeara in February.
Essential track: ‘Alaska’
Sounds like: Club R&B with a pop twist.
For fans of: Clean Bandit, Katy B, Jessie Ware
Need to know: Having grown up belting out tunes in Les Miserables and becoming a karate world champion, Anne-Marie bagged herself a slot as Rudimental’s live singer. She recently left the group to pursue a solo career.
What’s next: She’s just been nominated for the BRITs Critic Choice Award and will be eyeing up festivals no doubt to cement her rise.
See them live: Live dates for 2017 are inevitable.
Essential track: ‘Alarm’
From: North London
Sounds like: Monstrous rock riffs topped off with Harlea’s sultry vocals.
For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, The Kills, Royal Blood
Need to know: So far, Harlea’s keeping things mysterious – but her stomping debut single ‘Miss Me’ racked up over a hundred thousand streams in a couple of days and attention is continue to grow.
What’s next: Next single is being prepped for an early January release and her first live date sold out within hours. Festival slots could come calling next summer.
See the live: The Lexington, London (January 13)
Essential track: ‘Miss Me’
From: London via Reykjavik and Brighton
Sounds like: No-fucks-given art-punk that takes in Spice Girls references (‘FUU’) and often deceivingly sweet vocals (‘Hey Heartbreaker’, ‘Lolita’).
For fans of: Black Honey, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Le Tigre
Need to know: They supported Black Honey earlier this year on one of the year’s most exciting tours and were handpicked to model for Vivienne Westwood. Next year should see them capitalise on those strong starts.
What’s next: Keep an eye out for their debut album – the band started recording it earlier this year.
See them live: They’re kicking off their year with a short headline tour in mid-January.
Essential track: ‘FUU’
Sounds like: Pastoral, country-flecked singer-songwriting with Floyd and gospel decorations.
For fans of: Ryan Adams, Jeff Buckley, Robert Plant
Need to know: Fresh from a failed duo enterprise in LA, Robinson was discovered by Alan McGee playing a solo gig in McGee’s Tabernacle chapel venue and signed to the newly-formed Creation Management. Over 2016 he released a series of singles including ‘Stones’ and ‘Ocean Blue’, showcasing his rootsy Americana and rather natty biker’s jacket.
Essential track: ‘Ocean Blue’
Sounds like: Jerky guitar riffs and scuzzy melodies set to frontman Patrick’s damning vocals.
For fans of: The Cribs, Wolf Alice, The Fall
Need to know: Instead of toiling away perfecting in the studio, the London group found an empty rehearsal space, set up some BETA cameras and recorded their bullish debut EP ‘TVEP’ in one go. The result were well-crafted and thrilling tracks laced with post-punk spirit.
What’s next: The group are currently working on their set-to-be massive debut album
See them live: Keep your eyes peeled for some lo-fi and enthralling 2017 dates.
Essential track: ‘I Wanna Be A Totem’
Sounds like: Brilliantly bratty grunge that hides subtly clever elements under eardrum-battering riffs and unfaltering energy.
For fans of: Nirvana, Drenge, The Wytches.
Need to know: The Kingston-based four-piece have already made an impressive start with snotty debut single ‘Tulip’ and its accompanying DIY video that, although simple, is impossible to look away from.
What’s next: They’ll be keen to follow debut single ‘Tulip’ with something even more unpredictable and exhilarating in the form of an EP.
See them live: No dates confirmed as yet, but expect them to be a fixture at small venues across the country over the next 12 months.
Essential track: ‘Tulip’
Sounds like: Acoustic folk-pop bolstered by Grennan’s huge voice.
For fans of: Ed Sheeran, Hozier, The Last Shadow Puppets
Need to know: After a tipple at a house party, Tom discovered his impressive gravelly vocals. Soon after he began writing his own material and landed himself a role on Chase & Status track ‘All Goes Wrong’.
What’s next: He’s heading out on a nationwide tour in February with a new EP on the cards
See them live: The Cookie, Leicester (February 7), Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham (8), Bush Hall, London (9)
Essential track: ‘Something In The Water’
Sounds like: Lana Del Rey sinking tragically into a pond on Ilkley Moor.
For fans of: Mazzy Star, Lana Del Rey, Laura Marling
Need to know: Tucked away on Bella Union for the past eighteen months, sublime nu-country Yorkshire lass Macve has been quietly releasing misty, maudlin laments (‘The Corner Of My Mind’) and more partner-swinging tunes musing on the afterlife (‘No One Has The Answers’). A tour with John Grant and her gorgeous live solo Mahogany session track ‘Fear’ from May 2016 were breakout moments though, setting her up as the siren to sing away 2017’s Trump-era troubles.
What’s next: Debut album ‘Golden Eagle’ is due in March.
See them live: The Old Market Assembly, Bristol, (April 4), Komedia, Brighton, (5), St John On Bethnal Green, London, (6)
Essential track: ‘The Corner Of My Mind’
From: Tel Aviv
Sounds like: Being one of those genetically enhanced CIA experiments in a cult sci-fi film being chased by undercover agents through an S&M electro dungeon while gimps with bloody scissors leer in your face through the strobes.
For fans of: MIA, Bjork, St Vincent
Need to know: Her recent solo release ‘Dance While You Shoot’ tees up one of 2017’s most innovative and, judging by the video, explosively pink artists.
What’s next: Stay tuned for some pulsating new music due in 2017.
Essential track: ‘Dance While You Shoot’
From: East London
Sounds like: The tension dreams you have, just before dawn, about being stuck in an evil jazz club with a dozen ghostly Craig Davids.
For fans of: Ghostpoet, Thom Yorke, John Legend
Need to know: Primarily a producer, Alfa Mist collaborates with soul singers like Emmavie, Tom Misch and Lester Duval, with whom he released the ‘2nd Exit EP’ in 2016, a seven-track insight into the struggles of a pair of London post-soul soundscape producers with barely a few hundred thousand Spotify plays to rub together.
What’s next: Work on new music is likely currently under way.
See them live: No tour dates have been announced just yet
Essential Track: ‘No Peace’
From: South London
Sounds like: The self-proclaimed ‘Grime Kid’ is being touted as the next generation of Skepta’s street revolution, bringing a blitz of rapid-fire rhymes and raging hormones to the BBK block party.
For fans of: Skepta, Stormzy, Krept & Konan
Need to know: Aged just 16, Yizzy only stepped into the UK rap spotlight in January 2016, but has already racked up a clutch of acclaimed singles and appearances alongside Novelist, Skepta and Vision Crew. And trust us, this isn’t like Coldplay getting their kids on to sing the encore – this guy is up with the best of them.
What’s next: Yizzy’s been popping up as a feature or on his own tracks on a monthly basis, so 2017 will likely bring more of the same.
See them live: No live dates for Yizzy just yet, but stay tuned as they will be a riotous affair, surely.
Essential track: ‘Grime Kid’
From: North London
Sounds like: Jungle in an igloo.
For fans of: The xx, James Blake, Sohn
Need to know: Dousing their electronic funk beats in liquid nitrogen, North London synth duo Tender emerged, as if from beneath the snowy overcoats of Hurts, late in 2015 with the ‘Armour EP’. Two more EPs crept out like sun-wary vampires over the course of 2016, and Dan Cobb and James Cullen played their first live shows on tour with Cigarettes After Sex in November.
What’s next: More work on their debut album.
See them live: Oslo, London, March 3
Essential track: ‘Violence’
Sounds like: Clanging, bellowed post-punk.
For fans of: Slaves, Sleaford Mods, Fat White Family
Need to know: The quintet say they formed out of the ‘death of the indie scene in Bristol’. Last year they put out an EP, ‘Meat’, and this year they released an absolute stormer of a track in ‘Well Done’. They also supported DIIV this autumn.
What’s next: Their beast of a debut, ‘Brutalism’, comes on March 10, plus a huge tour in March and April.
See them live: Cambridge Portland Arms (March 6), Bristol The Fleece (8) Colchester Arts Centre (9), London Moth Club (10)
Essential track: ‘Well Done’
From: Beckenham, London
Sounds like: Beefy house beats and gritty lyricists combine on this thrilling grime off-shoot from South East London.
For fans of: The Streets, Disclosure, Dizzee Rascal
Need to know: On their debut EP ‘Weak Days, Strong Nights’, the trio provide a perfect snapshot of British life in 2016. Hedonistic weekends and raving are highlighted on ‘Hacienda’, but it’s the comedown on ‘Sex, Drugs and On The Dole’ which make for their most releatble material.
What’s next: Their latest shows caused an afterparty that stretched down Camden High Street, so when they eventually hit the road in 2017, you’ve got to be there.
See them live: Keep an eye out for new dates.
Essential track: ‘Don’t Like Going Places’
Kero Kero Bonito
From: South London
Sounds like: PC Music after too many blue Smarties.
For fans of: Danny L Harle, SOPHIE, Carly Rae Jepsen
Need to know: The trio – vocalist Sarah and producers Gus and Jamie – came together over their love of J-pop, and Sarah’s matter-of-fact, sing-song vibe veers between Japanese and English as she attests to the simple joys of trampolines (‘Trampoline’), taking a break (‘Break’) or not quite remembering a song from the radio (‘Heard A Song’). It’s brutally fun, dancey hyper-pop and it’s equally divisive.
What’s next: Following their recent debut ‘Bonito Generation’ they’ll probably take their glittering, prop-filled show on the road in 2017 (highlights include their all-embracing ‘Flamingo’ dance and out-and-out banger ‘Lipslap’.) They’re also putting out a remix EP early next year.
See them live: New live dates for 2017 will be announced soon.
Essential track: ‘Lipslap’
Trudy And The Romance
Sounds like: With undertones of crooning ’50s pop, Trudy And The Romance make shuffling, swooning indie-pop to win over the coldest, stoniest of hearts.
For fans of: Spring King, The Maccabees, Mac DeMarco
Need to know: The trio are doe-eyed romantics with a love of doo-wop, Jonathan Richman and tongue-in-cheek humour, all of which adds up to a band who sound unlike anyone else around at the moment and one who are hard not to love.
What’s next: Expect a host of new singles, each as swoonworthy as the last.
See them live: They’ll be breaking hearts across the country, but you’ll have to wait for dates to be announced.
Essential track: ‘Baby I’m Blue’
From: Atlanta, USA
Sounds like: Sparse, trappy electronic pop
For fans of: Kelela, Blood Orange, FKA Twigs
Need to know: Born in New York and raised in London until the age of eight, Abra now lives in Atlanta and is a member of the city’s Awful Records family. She calls herself the Darkwave Duchess, a title evidenced on her 2016 EP ‘Princess’.
What’s next: More music, judging by her productivity to date – she’s put out an album and two EPs in the last two years – and we can also expect a return to the UK. She played a handful of shows here last year, mostly in London, at venues including XOYO, Corsica Studios and the Jazz Café.
See her live: Judging from the aforementioned gigs, a few smaller shows will likely be hot tickets.
Essential track: ‘Crybaby’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Funky synthpop which packs anthemic choruses aplenty
For fans of: Two Door Cinema Club, Prince, La Roux
Need to know: The West Coast threepiece got heads turning when they dropped their ‘Loudspeaker’ EP earlier this year – but it was inclusive dancefloor banger ‘I Know A Place’ that cemented their places as one of the most exciting and innovative pop bands in the world right now.
What’s next: Their debut album ‘About U’ is due on February 3 with a tour not far behind.
See them live: Stay tuned for new UK live dates.
Essential track: ‘I Know A Place’
Cigarettes After Sex
From: El Paso, Texas
Sounds like: Atmospheric balladry.
For fans of: Rhye, Daughter, Destroyer
Need to know: Formed in 2008, the band are still yet to release a debut album, but their few releases so far have collectively amassed more than 66 million views on YouTube, thanks to the killer combination of Greg Gonzalez’s androgynous vocals and the band’s lush, languid instrumentation.
What’s next: Now based in Brooklyn, the band are putting out their 2012 EP1 physically again next year, following two recent standalone singles, ‘Affection’ and ‘K’.
See them live: Edinburgh Caves (April 17), Manchester Gorilla (18), Birmingham Hare & Hounds (19) London KOKO (20)
Essential track: ‘Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby’
Sounds like: A sweet, sultry mix of ’90s R&B grooves and trap production. Expect her to be all over the radio next year.
For fans of: Rihanna, SZA, Miguel
Need to know: Kehlani hasn’t even released a full record yet, but she’s already collaborated with some of music’s biggest names, including Zayn Malik and Chance The Rapper, had her ‘You Should Be Here’ mixtape nominated for a Grammy and contributed a song for the Suicide Squad soundtrack in ‘Gangsta’. The last few years haven’t been without their struggles for her, but in the last few months she’s come back stronger than ever.
What’s next: Her debut album ‘SweetSexySavage’ looks set to be an early highlight next year with a January 19 release date.
See them live: There are no UK shows announced at the time of writing.
Essential track: ‘CRZY’
From: Bærum, Norway.
Sounds like: Sunshine tinged hip-hop.
For fans of: Isaiah Rashad, Rizzle Kicks, J Cole
Need to know: As Scandinavia leads the pop assault on the charts worldwide – Pasha is spearheading the growing rap scene coming form Northern Europe. Previously in rap duo Moonshine, the Oslo rapper is dabbling with both sick West Coasts beats as well as pure funk.
What’s next: The rapper is pretty prolific with his releases so something is surely round the corner.
See them live: Stay tuned for new live dates.
Essential track: ‘Tie-Dye’
Sounds like: Smooth, sultry R&B with story-telling lyrics rooted in hip-hop’s grand tradition of social commentary.
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, FKA Twigs, Frank Ocean
Need to know: She’s worked with the likes of Maverick Sabre and Alex Clare already, but, at 19 years old, Smith is only just getting started. Her smoky, soulful voice is one of those distinctive voices that only comes around every now and then and usually hints at special things to come.
What’s next: Recent EP ‘Project 11’ suggests a full album will be an innovative, arresting affair.
See them live: No dates confirmed as yet.
Essential track: ‘Blue Lights’
Sounds like: Jazz-infused and wildly experimental R&B
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Solange, Janelle Monae
Need to know: Having dropped out of dance school, Connie began transforming her poems into fully-fledged songs and starting turning heads following her first EP ‘In The Grass’. Her following singles ‘Lose My Mind’ and ‘Clouds’ showcase her wicked rhythms and psychedelic tales.
What’s next: Her next EP is being prepped for early 2017 and new live dates will follow.
See them live: Stay tuned for new live dates.
Essential track: ‘Clouds’
Sounds like: Understated, graceful and glacially cool Scandi-pop.
For fans of: Lorde, Lana Del Rey, Florence + The Machine
Need to know: Skott was brought up in a commune with “outcast folk musicians” so it’s no wonder her own music has a subtle and gentle earthy quality. Debut single ‘Porcelain’ is full of space, while its b-side, ‘Wolf’, has similar sparkling Mother Nature vibes as Florence Welch’s early songs.
What’s next: Now three singles deep, the singer/songwriter can’t be far off of releasing an album.
See them live: London Omeara (March 7).
Essential track: ‘Porcelain’
Sounds like: Effervescent electro-pop
For fans of: Hudson Mohawke, PC Music, SOPHIE
Need to know: Charli XCX is a big fan of this Danish producer, who’s just released a hyperactive second EP, ‘My Life With Jessie, My Friends and the Rest of the World’.
What’s next: As a writer and producer he’ll be involved in projects with Bonzai, Charli XCX, Tkay Maidza, Mssingno and Zara Larsson. He’s also set to release more new music of his own, will do a one-off date in the first half of 2017, and is planning to tour towards the end of the year.
See him live: TBC
Essential track: ‘IDCBU’
Sounds like: Abrasive post-punk that’s big on atmosphere and meaning.
For fans of: Crows, Eagulls, Hookworms
Need to know: They’re a band that believes in tackling society’s problems in their songs, whether they be mental health or the refugee crisis, as evidenced on recent single ‘Sense’/’Fading’.
What’s next: Expect the band to up their productivity release-wise after finally putting out their first physical single in late 2016.
See them live: They’ve no gigs announced at present, but they’re a band who tour hard so expect more of the same in 2017.
Essential track: ‘Sense’
She Drew The Gun
Sounds like: Psychedelic pop with relatable tales firmly rooted in modern times.
For fans of: Angel Olsen, Bat For Lashes, Sufjan Stevens
Need to know: They got a big leg up in 2016 by winning Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition. Festival booker Emily Eavis is a huge fan; “These guys won because they blew us all away. They stood out in the most brilliant way – spiked indie with biting lyrics. Intense and great.”
What’s next: Their debut album was released back in April, but it all seems to be building up for a massive 2017 for them.
See them live: Shepherds Bush Empire, London (Dec 16)
Essential track: ‘Poem’
From: South London
Sounds like: Paraphrasing The Cardigans’ ‘Lovefool’ and lacing minimalist beats with forthright R&B vocals, BLK’s 2015 first single ‘50/50’ put a half-arsed partner in his place – under her box-fresh trainer – while 2016’s Stormzy collab ‘My Hood’ made a tour of the fried chicken shops and greasy spoons of South London sound far more epic than they deserve, what with all the botulism.
For fans of: Nao, Missy Elliott, Lauryn Hill
Need to know: Ray’s 2015 debut EP ‘Havisham’ was a musical reworking of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, in which a girl jilted at the alter turns into a bitter, world-hating recluse, a bit like Donald Trump even though he won. Her recent mini-album ‘Durt’ – featuring Wretch 32, Stormzy and SG Lewis – is only slightly more upbeat, tackling teenage pregnancy, urban deprivation and Tory policy to enslave the poor, and that’s just the first song.
What’s next: A bright 2017; Ray has already made the Sound Of 2017 longlist and looks to live up her billing as ‘the UK’s Lauren Hill’.
See them live: London Village Underground (February 27)
Essential Track: ‘My Hood’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Barbed, off-kilter fuzz-pop that flits from serene purrs to ferocious yells in seconds.
For fans of: Hinds, Twin Peaks, Warpaint
Need to know: Burger Records alumni Cherry Glazerr have been garnering plaudits for their barbed, off-kilter fuzz-pop for a while now. It’s been two years since their last release in slinking single ‘Had Ten Dollaz’, but the first tastes of their new record show leaps forward in both sound and the band’s overall vision.
What’s next: ‘Apocalipstick’, the group’s first album for new label home Secretly Canadian, will be released on January 20.
See them live: They’ve got two return trips to the UK booked already with a London date in February and a place on the line-up at Brighton festival The Great Escape in May.
Essential track: ‘Told You I’d Be With The Guys’
Sounds like: Kraftwerk-esque synth lines but with a far more human feel.
For fans of: Veronica Falls, Chvrches, Passion Pit
Need to know: As her other band Veronica Falls take a brief hiatus, Roxanne Welch is currently dabbling with her new project, Patience, made up of meaty electronic basslines as Welch’s harmonious and uplifting vocal parts.
What’s next: She’s currently working on a debut album in LA, with a 2017 release looking likely
See them live: As Welch is currently finishing up the record, live dates might be a while.
Essential track: ‘The Pressure’
From: South London
Sounds like: The UK rap Fat White Family, this horrorcore trio create sinister subterranean dub-hop and crisp quasi-grime about hating pretty much everything.
For fans of: Young Fathers, Odd Future, Wu-Tang Clan
Need to know: One of those character-based crews that laugh in the face of autocorrect – 808Charmer, Mumblez Black Ink and video director Pure Anibu$ – 808INK have been self-releasing albums into the amorphous online hinterland between grime and US psychedelic rap for almost three years, too uncatagorisable to fit any easily-signed slot thanks to their unexpected slabs of metal, house beats and Arctic Monkeys samples. They call their own music “dreality”. But their sour tales of Lundun – the “state within a city” that they claim to inhabit – has started to infest radio and festivals like 808INK poisoning.
What’s next: According to 1Xtra DJ A.Dot, 2017 belongs to them: “These guys have mastered ‘the vibe’ – they have perfected their own blend of wavy beats and hooky raps. They are due a big moment in 2017”
See them live: No live dates for next year just yet
Essential track: ‘Suede Jaw’
Sounds like: Buzzy electronic pop songs shrouded in mystery.
For fans of: Miike Snow, Jungle, Alt-J
Need to know: With no more information aside from striking and three confusing music videos – The Hour have whipped up hype with little effort thus far. Even Adele is a fan.
What’s next: Who knows? But we’re definitely excited to see when they let us into their world.
See them live: We’ll keep you posted about this elusive acts new live dates
Essential track: ‘Answer’
Sounds like: As soulful as a barrel of Sam Smiths and as celestial as Professor Brian Cox’s pillow talk, SLO’s minimal and spacious romances are the sound of gas giants smooching.
For fans of: The Weeknd, FKA Twigs, London Grammar
Need to know: A favourite of Lauren Laverne, who made the lead track from the ‘Atone’ EP one of her ten best songs of the year, SLO is the latest incarnation of Jess Mills – daughter of MP Tessa Jowell and tourmate of Leftfield and Emeli Sande. SLO is a major reinvention after having her fingers burned when Island records shelved her debut album in 2012 – inspiration, perhaps, for the spectral track ‘Shut Out Of Heaven’ on her self-titled 2016 comeback EP. The fightback begins.
What’s next: As Mills makes her majestic return, expect 2017 to involve even more new music
See them live: No current live dates for 2017, but expect that to change soon.
Essential track: ‘Nothing Hurts Like This’
Hannah Lou Clark
Sounds like: Sparse electronic production mixed with lo-fi guitar rock.
For fans of: St Vincent, Kevin Morby,
Need to know: Having left previous band FOE, Clark went solo with stunning results; both EPs to her name are full of crunching guitars and heartfelt lyrics. A solo career was the right move, it seems
What’s next: More new music from Clark will likely arrive in the coming months,
See them live: Stay tuned for new tour dates.
Essential track: ‘It’s Your Love’
From: Los Angeles
Sounds like: Poolside synth pop that will dazzle you in moments
For fans of: Two Door Cinema Club, New Order, La Roux
Need to know: Much of the early attention around the group came from the mindblowing covers of Katy Perry and 1975 – but its their own material, like the infectious ‘Stonecold’ which shows them at their finest.
What’s next: 2016 brought a string of wildly successful singles – expect more exuberant material to follow.
See them live: No UK dates for 2017 just yet.
Essential track: ‘Stonecold’
Sounds like: Icy synth-driven electronica paired with intimate and hushed vocals.
For fans of: Bastille, 1975, Friendly Fires
Need to know: Their intense debut single ‘Let Me Go’ was inspired by German TV drama Deutschland 83, with the result providing an alternative insight into the lovable main character. An ambitious star, for sure.
What’s next: They supported Bastille on their huge UK arena tour, so don’t expect anythign they do in 2017 to fly under the radar.
See them live: Expect a slew of shows coming your way in 2017.
Essential track: ‘Let Me Go’
Sounds like: A twisted mess of electronica, dubstep and pop.
For fans of: Roisin Murphy, Katy B, Magnetic Man
Need to know: Having mastered the violin at a young age – Tsar B stopped waiting around for things to happen and penned, performed and self-produced her stunning debut release ‘EP’ which dropped earlier this year.
What’s next: Festival slots are already falling in line for 2017 – her mysterious live show will no doubt own next summer.
See them live: No UK dates just yet – but her previous UK show sold out instantly.
Essential track: ‘Swim’
Sounds like: Techno-tinged, wildly experimental electronica to make you dance and think.
For fans of: Wu Lyf, Jagwar Ma, Hot Chip
Need to know: An “electronic organisation made up of a rotating cast of anonymous drones”, Drones Club are true provocateurs. They’ve crashed Tory conferences and confused commuters with guerrilla gigs while their music is heavily politicised. ‘Chelsea Girl’, for example, is a protest song about transgender US solider Chelsea Manning who leaked classified information to WikiLeaks and has been held mostly in solitary confinement since being sentenced to 55 years in prison.
What’s next: They’re signed to PMR, home of Disclosure, Jessie Ware, Julio Bashmore and more, so they should be a pioneering force to reckon with over the next 12 months.
See them live: While they’ve no shows booked in right now, they’re bound to be making the UK’s venues and festivals brighter places throughout 2017.
Essential track: ‘Chelsea Girl’
From: Evanston, Illinois
Sounds like: Blissed out R&B/hip-hop made for lazy afternoons.
For fans of: Chance The Rapper, Frank Ocean, Anderson Paak
Need to know: He dropped his debut album ‘Nat Love’ earlier this year, but the rapper/singer/producer is already working on the follow-up, one which could continue his rise as one of US hip-hop’s hottest prospects at the mere age of 19.
What’s next: Album number two is in the works – and boy, it could be special
See them live: No live dates for Kweku have been announced.
Essential track: ‘Death Of A Salesman’
Words: Thomas Smith, Rhian Daly, Mark Beaumont, Larry Bartleet