Every year we launch The NME 100, our gigantic list of all the best new artists on the planets both big and small.
This edition has been both the easiest and most difficult one to put together. It’s a doddle because there’s such a huge amount of banging tunes from all over the globe – we’re absolutely spoilt. But then we have to whittle it down to just 100 artists – a nigh impossible task when they’re all that good.
Every artist absolutely belongs on this list though. There’s teenage grime prodigies, wonky electronica from Eastern Europe, stateside Gen Z heroes vying for worldwide fame and new punk bands ready to give 2020 a piece of their mind.
You may know some names, and plenty will be brand new, but we’re confident that your new favourite is to be found here. Listen to the entire list (minus CREAMS) via our Spotify playlist below and discover some truly great music this year.
We’ve done it in alphabetical order – no rankings here, they’re all winners. There’s also a bunch of stunning pictures by Jenn Five that were snapped here at our chaotic, messy, dog-starring shoot at NME HQ.
Let’s get stuck in…
Thomas Smith, NME New Music Editor
Contributors: Jordan Bassett, Luke Morgan Britton, Rhys Buchanan, Rhian Daly, Georgia Evans, El Hunt, Sam Moore, Hannah Mylrea, Matthew Neale, Will Richards, Andrew Trendell, Kyann Siann Williams, Emily Barker
US duo creating experimental, genre-splicing chaos
From: St. Louis, Missouri
Sounds like: If Brockhampton were produced by PC Music.
For fans of: Charli XCX, SOPHIE
USP: They push their glitchy production to the extremes, blending nightcore, trance, dubstep, metal and hip hop – with brilliantly chaotic results.
Why you’re going to love them: Their debut album ‘1000 Gecs’ was written mainly over email and fuses a bevvy of polar-opposite genres to create their own experimental sound. Sick of everything sounding the same? Let 100 Gecs entertain you…
Key track: ‘money machine’ (HM)
Motormouthed Mancunian rapper with chart smarts
From: Manchester, UK
Sounds like: Mile-a-minute UK rap that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
For fans of: Jaykae, Jay1, AJ Tracey
USP: Enough talent and charisma to silence any doubters.
Why you’re going to love them: If you want to know what Aitch is all about, then spare just four minutes to watch his ‘Straight Rhymez 1’ freestyle from back in 2018. It’ll take about 20 seconds to make your mind up about this Marmite-ish MC. The Manchester rapper’s rapid-fire rhymes and cocky bravado won him fans in everyone from Stormzy to Ed Sheeran and left some listeners absolutely speechless, while follow-up tunes ‘Taste (Make It Shake)’ and ‘Buss Down’ showed that it’s not just technical prowess setting Aitch apart, but that he knows how to deliver chart hits too.
Key track: ‘Taste (Make It Shake)’ (LMB)
Off-kilter pop artist aiming to take pop in a delightfully weird direction
From: Toronto, USA
Sounds like: No-fucks-given pop noir with moments of sublime weirdness
For fans of: Troye Sivan, Grimes, Christine and the Queens
USP: She can take a line about fresh laundry and turn it into something transcendental.
Why you’re going to love them: Having toured with both Charli XCX and Marina in 2019, and with Troye Sivan and Mitski collaborations on her forthcoming LP ‘Cape God’, Allie X doesn’t look remotely out of place in that kind of company. While she’ll always be an artist who champions weirdos and outsiders, she’s also capable of lighting up huge crowds with empowering anthems. That’s a potent mix in these turbulent times.
Key track: ‘Love Me Wrong’ (MN)
Fearless electronic R&B from Dirty Hit’s latest signing
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Gorgeous, experimental R&B to soundtrack late-night text marathons
For fans of: Kali Uchis, Normani
USP: A unique combination of left field pop, ‘90s R&B and electronic breakdowns.
Why you’re going to love them: AMA’s first foray in music was when she was 11. Using Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo-Wop (That Thing)’ beat she wrote a song about how liars pissed her off. When she was 14 she put her first demos on Soundcloud, but ultimately decided her early sound was too chilled. On last year’s ‘Screenluv’ EP, the Dirty Hit signee finally found her groove – a bombastic fusion of pounding bass, hip-hop beats and the occasional brass riff, all accompanied by her rich, honeyed vocals.
Key track: ‘Monochrome’ (HM)
Sounds like: The trip-hop tinged soundtrack to hiding under the duvet all weekend.
For fans of: Mahalia, Loyle Carner, Lana Del Rey
USP: She’s a true wordsmith who’s studied the work of Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath and Nick Cave.
Why you’re going to love them: At 19, Arlo Parks is in the perfect position to get under the skin of Gen Z and share their anxieties and issues with the world. She does so with warmth and sensitivity, mining her formative experiences and reacting to the friends around her to paint a portrait of youth struggling with sadness and figuring out who they are. But, as poet laureate for a generation who’ve been let down by those who came before, she fills their struggles with grace.
Key track: ‘Super Sad Generation’ (RD)
Dream Wife-approved punk duo from Brighton
From: Brighton, UK
Sounds like: Straight-talking punk inspired by both Kurt Cobain and Kate Nash.
For fans of: Deap Vally, Honeyblood
USP: They channel the messy energy of ‘Bleach’ era Nirvana’.
Why you’re going to love them: Arxx don’t overcomplicate things. The duo – vocalist and guitarist Hannah Pidduck and drummer Clara Townsend – have a knack for bruising riffs and deadpan lyrics (from the galloping ‘Moments At A Time’: “We break the rules and now I’ll break your bones”), a quality that made their recent album ‘Wrong Girl, Honey’ a must-listen for modern punk fans. Their no-fucks spirit is infectious and invigorating.
Key track: ‘Iron Lung’ (JB)
Atlanta soul singer with a simply astounding voice
From: Atlanta, USA
Sounds like: Classic, pristine ‘60s soul repurposed for a new generation.
For fans of: Nina Simone, Solange
USP: That voice – it’s unlike any other around at the moment.
Why you’re going to love them: On her 2019 debut LP ‘To Myself’, Baby Rose introduced herself as a truly unique artist, both timeless and firmly anchored in the here and now. The album is full of minimal arrangements – slow, plucked guitars, atmospheric strings and swelling keyboards – but her astonishing voice could shine above even the messiest, most complicated instrumentation. Booming and tender at once, it’s a once-in-a-generation voice that repurposes the ‘60s for a new decade.
Key track: ‘Mortal’ (WR)
Indie band who who want to usher in an endless summer
From: London, UK
Sounds like: If a damp one-day festival was transported to a golden beach in paradise.
For fans of: Phoenix, Friendly Fires, The Maccabees
USP: At their gigs, they mix what you’d expect from your typical four-piece band with live DJing.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve got your back when it comes to shaking you out of a funk. Each of the five singles they’ve released so far feature bright, bold moments that it’s impossible not to smile at, be that the glittering chorus of ‘Hey Raoul’, the disco-funk groove of ‘Hello Stranger’, or the glorious tropicalia of ‘Katata’. Bamily get those results through invention – rather than following indie tradition, they pull from hip-hop and soul, sampling their way to euphoria.
Key track: ‘Katata’ (RD)
Wonky pop from a Charli XCX band member
Sounds like: Dancing through the pain of broken relationships – and coming out unscathed.
For fans of: Charli XCX, Tove Lo
USP: Kinetic production that fuses bubblegum pop with club-ready beats.
Why you’re going to love them: Having toured with Taylor Swift in Charli’s band and worked with avant-pop extraordinaire SOPHIE and Empress Of, she’s now gearing up to release her debut album ‘Look At Us Now Dad’ in February. We can confirm it’s excellent – full of wonky pop tunes stuffed full of fizzing hooks.
Key track: ‘Tennis Fan’ (HM)
Loquacious pop-rapper with a catalogue as ambitious and varied as they come
From: Somerset, UK
Sounds like: Someone with a pop mentality probing and pushing the boundaries of UK hip-hop.
For fans of: Mac Miller, J.I.D, Easy Life
USP: While SoundCloud helped propel him to fame, Fletcher’s bright-and-bouncy rap persona is the alternative to the mumble rap favoured by other prominent ‘SoundCloud rappers’.
Why you’re going to love them: Signed to the same management company as Dua Lipa and Lana Del Rey, London-based Fletcher reckons he can sprinkle his quick-talking charm onto any unwitting genre. “Last year I wrote about 200 songs. Disco, rock, R&B, pop, indie shit, more hip-hop,” he said about his apparent songwriting streak in a recent interview. With charisma, quirky rhyming schemes and pop hooks aplenty, you wouldn’t bet against Fletcher becoming a chart rap sensation on these shores.
Key track: ‘Christ Flow’ (SM)
Stockholm-via-LA DJ weaves a comfortable, ambient space to escape from heartbreak and loneliness
From: Stockholm via Los Angeles
Sounds like: All your worries dissipating one by one.
For fans of: Brian Eno, Four Tet
USP: Ambient without the one-dimensionality, techno without the relentlessness; Bella Boo’s music sits in a new and hugely appealing middle ground.
Why you’re going to love them: Releasing music on Stockholm’s well-loved Studio Barnhus label, Bella Boo’s debut album ‘Once Upon A Passion’ tracks a lonely summer in the Swedish capital, creating a safe space of ambient drone and quietly groovy, jazz-flecked compositions.
Key track: ‘Can’t Leave You Like This’ (WR)
Multi-instrumentalist quickly becoming Britain’s jack-of-all-trades
From: North London
Sounds like: Richly textured R&B, soul and Afrobeats fusion with a twist
For fans of: Kojo Funds, Not3s, Ragz Originale
USP: Dancefloor-filling rhythms combined with soulful songwriting and some unexpected influences
Why you’re going to love them: North London multi-instrumentalist BenjiFlow may only have three songs to his name (four if you count his feature on Lady Donli’s ‘Take Me Home’), but each is proof of the adage ‘less is more’. His debut slow jam ‘Deep End’ (a song that came about during a Mario Kart session) was followed by the more buoyant ‘Can’t Lose’, which incorporated a surprising but entirely welcomed serving of flamenco guitar, while Latin piano flourishes crop up on ‘Somebody’. Having previously produced for the likes of Avelino and Wretch 32, and with Skepta producer Ragz Originale as his right-hand collaborator, what comes next should be equally thrilling.
Key track: ‘Can’t Lose’ (LMB)
Genre-bending soul-pop that makes it feel like summertime all the time
From: Cork, Ireland
Sounds Like: Lush, funky, house-tinged soul-pop. Very nice.
For fans of: Little Simz, Jessie Ware
USP: Biig Piig – aka 21-year-old Jess Smyth – spent time in Spain while growing up, giving her music a sweet Mediterranean
Why you’re going to love them: A member of London’s acclaimed NINE8 collective, Biig Piig’s music flows from funk to soul to electro to house and from English to Spanish, telling tales of love, life, work, hedonism, smoking, drinking and letting the world go by. She used to be a poker dealer, and seems to have retained the air of cool nonchalance that conjures up.
Key track: ‘Roses And Gold’ (AT)
Black Country, New Road
Spoken-word vitriol over sax, drums and rock’n’roll
From: London via Cambridgeshire, UK
Sounds like: Turning up whiskey-drunk to a jazz rehearsal and reeling off your top disappointments of the year.
For fans of: Slint, Shellac
USP: Isaac Wood’s freeform lyrical style veers between comedy and trauma like no other, backed by one of the tightest live bands around.
Why you’re going to love them: Listening to Black Country, New Road is an emotional rollercoaster. On second single ‘Sunglasses’, Wood delivers lines that seem throwaway – “Mother is juicing watermelons on the breakfast island” – until you’re sucker-punched by the scattering of poignant detail: walls of photographs, frail hands, and a “future that I am in no way part of,” all backed up by the arrival of saxophone and violin. By the time they’ve lured you into a motorik Krautrock workout that swells to nine minutes, it’s somehow still over way too soon.
Key track: ‘Sunglasses’ (MN)
The two Bobbys making sense of a rapidly-changing capital city
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Being pelted by a torrential downpour of razor-sharp arrows.
For fans of: Minor Threat, Ho9909, Bad Brains
USP: Both members of this duo are named Bobby: together they deliver a double hit of visceral, unsettling hardcore-rock-rap.
Why you’re going to love them: Melding the attack of grime with the bite of punk, Bob Vylan couldn’t be further from their folksy namesake; instead, they take on gentrifying yuppies, gap-yah enthusiasts and amateur film photographers with paralysing lyrical venom. “Come and join the family,” snarls ‘Join Us’ with a sinister smirk – from their 2019 release ‘Dread’ – “we put razors in the candy”.
Key track: ‘We Don’t Care (It Ain’t Safe)’ (EH)
Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard
Breezy vintage-inspired garage four-piece that aren’t taking life too seriously
From: Cardiff, UK
Sounds like: Slackers who’ve spent a long time digging through their parents dusty old seven inches.
For fans of: T. Rex, Holiday Ghosts, Primal Scream
USP: This double-denim loving band are stupidly easy to get on board with. They’re coasting their way through life and writing easy-going seventies-inspired bangers to document it.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s something inherently reclined about these guys – they sound like they’ve been making music together for a very long time and know just when to take things up a notch. “You see what I mean, man, you’ve gotta be free” they proclaim with a freewheeling spirit on their hit ‘Double Denim Hop’.
Key track: ‘Double Denim Hop’ (RB)
Goosebump-raising, silky smooth neo-soul vocalist who already has a fan in Spike Lee
From: Brighton, UK
Sounds like: Rich, spine-tingling soul that might just make you cry.
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Michael Kiwanuka
USP: Powerhouse vocals that pack an emotional punch.
Why you’re going to love them: Because her music is utterly beautiful; from the heartbreakingly poignant ‘Strange’, which you’ve probably heard on the radio, to the soaring ‘Coco Blood’, Celeste is already an expert in impossibly gorgeous soul songs.
Key track: ‘Strange’ (HM)
The Liverpool four-piece ripping up the rule book with their genre-hopping tunes
From: Liverpool, UK
Sounds like: Staying up all night smoking weed with your mates then mucking about on GarageBand, only much more listenable.
For fans of: Gorillaz, Glass Animals
USP: They’re not tied down by genre – their debut blends everything from jazz and funk to indie and hip hop.
Why you’re going to love them: When they start out, most bands follow a similar pattern – play a few live shows, drop a couple of songs and then consider an EP. Chinatown Slalom aren’t most bands. In June, after very little fanfare, they released their brilliant debut album ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?’, a gloriously chaotic mix of jazz, Avalanches-style sampling, hip-hop and indie.
Key track: ‘Where U At?’ (HM)
Texan YouTuber-turned-pop-star in waiting
From: Georgetown, Texas, USA
Sounds like: The soundtrack to a high school movie shot on expired film.
For fans of: Ryan Beatty, ROLE MODEL
USP: When Conan started out, he used nothing but GarageBand, and a crappy microphone. Though he’s mixed things up since, there’s still a lo-fi quality to his pop.
Why you’re going to love them: Delving into the boredom of teenage antics unfolding in suburbia, Conan Gray’s first viral upload ‘Idle Town’ is a fitting place to begin. “This town will never change,” he sings, “people come and go, it’s all the same.” And much of his music harnesses that same feeling: making low-stakes mischief in a small town, and dreaming of magic and escape.
Key track: ‘Idle Town’ (EH)
Unsettling electronica from Georgia’s capital
From: Tbilisi, Georgia
Sounds like: A twisted beach holiday that took a wrong turn
For fans of: Grimes, Purity Ring
USP: This musician and producer is multi-talented; she’s also collaborated with the Georgian fashion brand Matériel, and runs in tightly-knit creative circles. She works with her mates on majority of her music videos so far.
Why you’re going to love her: Born next to the Black Sea in Batumi, Natia Chichinadze grew up surrounded by bright red sunsets. Now located in Georgia’s capital, those vivid hues have bled through into her tough, skittering electronic music. “One summer day when everybody’s at the beach, you’ll be on your way to die for me,” she sings on ‘Die 4 U’ – it’s brilliantly sinister.
Key track: ‘Die 4 U’ (EH)
Explicit trap with a UK flavour
From: Lewisham, London, UK
Sounds like: Auto-tuned and fetish-riddled sounds over US-style trap beats.
For fans of: Guapdad4000, Nafe Smallz, MoStack.
USP: The explicit nature of their lyrics is what sets them apart from most – they say whatever they want, how they want.
Why you’re going to love them: Releasing an impressive four mixtapes in 2019, the duo’s work ethic is hard to deny. Their approach to trap is British in every way; from the lingo to their laidback delivery, you’d be silly not to put your money on DBE being the next UK act to break America.
Key track: ‘Trap House’ (KSW)
DIY bedroom pop built for much bigger stages
From: Fort Worth, USA
Sounds like: Psych and synth tinged dream indie
For fans of: Phoenix, boy pablo
USP: He’s a producer who started using Garageband aged just 10. Blimey.
Why you’re going to love them: At 19, Sloan Struble aka Dayglow has proven himself to be somewhat of an indie-pop wunderkind. Having been working the DIY way for over a decade, he makes summer-ready and surreal slacker tunes (and mad music videos) about love, loss and silliness of teenage life. This is bedroom pop meant for the world stage.
Key track: ‘Hot Rod’ (AT)
Deaton Chris Anthony
Tony Hawk-approved LA producer and fashion designer with a penchant for ‘80s-’90s nostalgia
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: He gorged on all of the weird and wonderful sounds of 80s and 90s pop, funk and R&B while surfing the World Wide Web, watching classic NBA highlight reels and playing vintage Nintendo 64 games – and then wrote a wide-ranging album about the experience.
For fans of: Toro Y Moi, Blood Orange, Washed Out
USP: Delivering the unexpected. ‘1999 She’, for example, is a manic collage of random vocal samples and ’90s-tastic Jock Jams-type beats which veers from left to right but is, ultimately, an exhilarating ride.
Why you’re going to love them: Because it looks like he’s having a blast – there’s never a dull moment when you’re in the company of DCA. Anthony’s trip of a debut album ‘BO Y’ is packed with nostalgia, a shit-ton of synths and collabs with his contemporaries: we’re talking Clairo and Coco & Clair Clair on album highlight ‘Racecar’, Omar Apollo on ‘Late Night Lovin’’ and LA on the rap-laden ‘Tony Hawk’ (the video for which, amazingly, features the actual Tony Hawk).
Key track: ‘Mr Call You Back’ (SM)
Shape-shifting emo tunes from Brockhampton collaborator
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: Sparse, sad-bangers that soothe and slap in equal amounts.
For fans of: Brockhampton, 070 Shake, Princess Nokia
USP: Sharply-written odes that vividly portray growing pains.
Why you’re going to love them: The alt-popper stole the show with a stunning hook on ‘No Halo’, the opening track from Brockhampton’s recent album ‘Ginger’ – thankfully, she shares the same disregard for genre as her famous pals. Her five-track ‘House On Wheels’ EP veers between 808-indebted balladry (‘Ugly’), jaunty pop-punk (‘Same’), distortion-heavy grunge (‘Out Of Time’), autotuned emo-rap (‘Swimmin’) and lo-fi folk (‘DKWYWFM’). It’s her stark and direct lyrics that hold everything though, delivering knock-down blows with lines like: “Am I problematic? / Do I make any sense? / Make believe I got my friends, I don’t see them anywhere”. Expect her next step to be a bit more raucous too, with Deb herself recently telling NME : “I like getting loud, and I like getting in your face… it’s always been like, an escape for me. I can let all my shit out.”
Key track: ‘Ugly’ (LMB)
London trio carving their own distinct blend of post-punk, indie and dream pop
From: Hackney, London, UK
Sounds like: Ethereal post-punk run through a shimmering kaleidoscope.
For fans of: Maribou State, Foals, Warpaint
USP: Their immaculate live show, which transforms their sparkling tunes into venue-trembling anthems.
Why you’re going to love them: Instead of copying current trends in guitar music, Deep Tan are forging their own path, creating glittering post-punk that fuses jittering riffs, mathy guitars and woozy, atmospheric production.
Key track: ‘Shimmer’ (HM)
South London’s drill crossover who’s already shared the stage with Drake. Kinda.
From: Lewisham, London, UK
Sounds like: A self-assured hustler whose eye-opening tales of the streets come thick and fast over racing 808s.
For fans of: Digga D, Poundz, Snap Capone
USP: DigDat’s talent for metaphor makes this young trapstar stand out from the pack.
Why you’re going to love them: He’s already scored co-signs from the likes of 1Xtra DJ Tiffany Calver, who brought him out at Drake’s O2 residency last April. Telling stunningly authentic stories about life on the roads, the 20-year-old’s serious smash hit ‘Air Force’ got every kid shouting “had to run a boy down in my Air Force / Pissed, cos now they got a crease in the middle”. You’ll be next, we promise.
Key track: ‘Air Force’ (KSW)
Childhood buds making transcendent college rock
From: Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Sounds like: Arty but infectious college rock to put you in a teenage daze.
For fans of: Ben Folds Five, Pavement, Weezer
USP: Duo Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock have been friends since they were tiny infants. This band were meant to be.
Why you’re going to love them: Imagine the sweet melodies of The Beatles through the warped prism of Tame Impala with the quiet-LOUD approach of Sonic Youth and the classic swoon of Todd Rundgren. Sounds pretty good right? Meet Disq: Saddle Creek-signed slackers making the Midwest sound a whole lot more cosmic with some kaleidoscopic alt-pop wonder.
Key track: ‘Communication’ (AT)
Gutter spirit Notts band channelling their inner Mark E Smith
From: Nottingham, UK
Sounds like: A bunch of art students who’ve studied the masters of post-punk and new wave
USP: The laid back groove of LCD Soundsystem meets the half-cut drawl of your favourite old punks – with indoor sunglasses.
For fans of: The Fall, Talking Heads, Squid
Why you’re going to love them: “The spring is wound up, it’ll uncoil by itself” snarls Do Nothing frontman Chris Bailey on their recent single ‘Gangs’. It makes for an apt statement about this lot and their sound–- there’s tension behind everything they do, yet their songs feel like a string of thoughts unravelling in your ears. A sense of restlessness and unease underpins everything about this Nottingham four-piece.
Key track: ‘Gangs’ (RB)
Versatile singer-songwriter and occasional rapper nailed-on for the big-time
From: Florida, USA
Sounds like: Someone you’d put your house on becoming America’s next great alt-pop songwriter.
For fans of: Billie Eilish, Rex Orange County
USP: He doesn’t keep his talents in in-house: Fike has already collaborated with the likes of Clairo, Brockhampton leader Kevin Abstract and fellow NME 100 alumni Omar Apollo in recent times.
Why you’re going to love them: If his infectious break-out single ‘3 Nights’ hasn’t already been dominating your streaming playlists since 2018, then we’ll just let Fike superfan Billie Eilish further his case. “That is the baddest kid I’ve ever met in my life,” she told NME in 2019. “I think he’s slowly getting the recognition [he] deserves so I’m pumped about that, but I think it needs [to be] more. Even if the recognition gets to be the biggest – even if it gets fucking huge – it should get huger.” Join the crowd of Fike-admirers now before you’re left behind.
Key track: ‘3 Nights’ (SM)
Meghan Markle-loving Londoners with a knack for dry humour
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Cut-up observations from modern life set to distorted guitars
For fans of: Magazine, Sleaford Mods, Art Brut
USP: No one else could deliver lines about spitting cum on a Travelodge carpet with so much charm and energy.
Why you’re going to love them: Dry Cleaning’s debut EP, ‘Sweet Princess’, arrived seemingly out of nowhere, but the band’s unique take on psych-tinged indie rock won them fans pretty quickly. Newer tracks like ‘Viking Hair’ have only cemented their reputation for laser-sharp post-punk riffs and acerbic lyrical takes, and the prospect of a debut album in 2020 is now more mouth-watering than a Viking feast.
Key track: ‘Goodnight’ (MN)
Toronto outfit delivering jangly indie-pop at its finest
From: Toronto, Canada
Sounds like: A dreamy soundtrack to innocent teen turmoil
For fans of: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, Real Estate, The Growlers
USP: There’s a sense of cohesiveness about Ducks Unlimited that seems to gleefully just say ‘fuck it all’.
Why you’re going to love them: Sometimes music is all that much sweeter when it’s not trying to reinvent the wheel – this Toronto duo wear their dream-pop influences proudly. Their debut EP ‘Get Bleak’ echoes the jangly glory days of Sarah Records and brings to mind the likes of Belle & Sebastian and Johnny Marr.
Key track: ‘Get Bleak’ (RB)
Billie Eilish’s producer/brother making a name of his own
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: Flicking through someone’s diary.
For fans of: Tobias Jesso Jr, mxmtoon, Billie Eilish
USP: Expecting to hear ‘Bad Guy’ v2? Look elsewhere: Finneas’ solo stuff couldn’t be further away from his collabs with his sibling.
Why you’re going to love him: Finneas O’Connell’s music is intensely personal. ‘I Lost A Friend’ finds him lying wide awake for hours processing a painful loss, while ‘Claudia’ was written for his now-partner the night after they met for the first time. “I think you’re gonna change my plans,” he claims. Quite a gamble naming a song after someone that quickly, but that’s Finneas to a tee: honest.
Key track: ‘I Lost A Friend’ (EH)
Achingly cool new Dirty Hit recruit
From: Sheffield, UK
Sounds like: Sobbing on the dancefloor with a rapidly spilling G+T in hand.
For fans of: King Princess, MUNA, Shura
USP: Gia claims that her music video for ‘TURBO DREAMS’ is a like a lesbian version of The Notebook – and she’s right.
Why you’re going to love them: Revisiting hazy memories atop smooth, syrupy grooves, Gia Ford has a knack for taking her heartbreak, churning it up, and turning it into a low-key pop banger. On tracks like ‘HIGH CLASS TRAGEDY’ – complete with a hefty dose of slap-bass – the 22-year old flexes her ’80s disco credentials to the max, too.
Key track: ‘TURBO DREAMS’ (EH)
Girl In Red
Fun but dark lo-fi pop from NME’s latest cover star
From: Oslo, Norway
Sounds Like: Lo-fi dream pop with a grunge-y kick
For fans of: King Princess, Sky Ferreira, Beabadoobee
USP: Her confessional approach to sexuality on her music has actually saved many of her fans’ lives.
Why you’re going to love them: Cosigned by Billie Eilish and The 1975’s Matty Healy, 20-year-old Marie Ulven has racked up millions and millions of streams and a hardcore legion of fans across the globe with just a handful of EPs. Why? Her tales of teenage depression, lust, sexuality and parties gone awry may sound dark and confessional on paper, but they actually showcase Ulven’s knack for an understated but undeniable banger.
Key track: ‘Girls’ (AT)
Pit-opening, middle finger-raising pop-punk from South London
From: South London
Sounds like: Cantering pop-punk with theatrical and glamorous origins.
For fans of: Royal Blood, Sløtface
USP: Wild gigs that show they’re one of the most exciting bands around, fashion sense to die for.
Why you’re going to love them: Glossii are the musical equivalent of an adrenaline rush. Their roaring punk-rock is all cavorting riffs that crash into massive, hulking bass lines, with vocalist Sofia Zanghirella’s powerhouse vocals soaring over the top. Dramatic stuff.
Key track: ‘Watching Me’ (HM)
From: Bermondsey, London
Sounds like: Languid R&B-inspired pop songs, delivered in a honeyed tone.
For fans of: Lauryn Hill, Jessie Ware
USP: There’s clearly a great deal of creativity imbued into Greentea Peng’s lush tunes, all dense production and twisting, turning lyrics, but she somehow makes it seem effortless.
Why you’re going to love them: The south Londoner – who has also spent a lot of time in Mexico – grew up listening to Sean Paul, The Clash, Beastie Boys and Black Sabbath, but curiously she turned their energy inwards, distilling that buoyancy and fury into louche R&B packed with restrained emotion. “Now you’re the one getting vexed / Like I used to”, Greentea purrs on ‘Used To’, an ode to channeling your anger into positivity.
Key track: ‘Sane’ (JB)
The teenage boss about to take charge of pop
From: London/Brighton, UK
Sounds like: Intricate, intimate and punchy R&B pop designed to empower
For fans of: Tove Lo, Sigrid
USP: She’s also a writer, producer, stylist, designs her own clothes, and is creative director of all her music videos. A boss.
Why you’re going to love them: At 18, Griff already knows exactly what she wants. You can hear that same compulsion and attention to detail throughout her textured R&B – viewing the world through her own fascinating prism as she lays down the law and makes sense of coming of age.
Key track: ‘Paradise’ (AT)
Otherworldly beats from one of the UK’s freshest new techno hopes
From: London via Australia
Sounds like: A night of dancefloor euphoria.
For fans of: Daniel Avery, Helena Hauff
USP: Through both her DJ sets and residency on Radio 1’s Essential Mix, HAAi is an adaptable, constantly excellent selector.
Why you’re going to love them: Making her name on the likes of Rinse FM and Worldwide FM, the Australian-born DJ’s expertise on the airwaves have extended to lauded festival sets and, on, 2019 EP ‘Systems Up, Windows Down’, superb studio recordings. HAAi is an exuberant live performer, and there’s a humour that permeates the new record, kicking off with the brilliantly-titled ‘Don’t Flatter Yourself Love’.
Key track: ‘FEELS’ (WR)
South London pop-rap star bringing UK garage back
From: Croydon, UK
Sounds like: Daringly catchy melodies atop bouncy rap beats inspired by UK garage for a real UK-centric feel.
For fans of: Tion Wayne, One Acen, Not3s
USP: His simple nursery rhyme flows and clear-as-day south London accent.
Why you’re going to love them: Since he arrived on the scene in 2017, he’s been stepping on every other rapper’s neck. His tunes with frequent collaborator One Acen are totally infectious and his now platinum track ‘Unsigned’ was the soundtrack to loads of your summers. With three Top 40 singles to his name, Hardy Caprio is truly set to take over in 2020.
Key track: ‘Best Life’ (KSW)
Stormzy-approved south Londoner who is bringing a melodic tinge to the ever-growing UK rap scene
From: West Norwood, London
Sounds like: A young artist with a surplus of ideas, massive confidence in his own ability and no ceiling on his soaring talents.
For fans of: Octavian, Jevon, J Hus
USP: Izak is a triple threat: he’s a singer, a rapper and a producer – so he’s set up for a career in music, no matter what.
Why you’re going to love them: “When people hear the name INFAMOUSIZAK, I want people to associate my name with high level pieces of art,” Izak told NME earlier this year. With that kind of self-confidence in your own ability, you’d better have the craft to back it up. Thankfully, INFAMOUSIZAK’s impressive releases so far – which thrillingly traverse elements of trap, grime and Drake-inspired dance/R&B – have resoundingly answered its creator’s big claims about their capability to amaze.
Key track: ‘Public Enemy’ (SM)
Dublin gang poised to be one of indie’s biggest new bands
From: Dublin, Ireland.
Sounds like: Indie anthems to launch a pint to.
For fans of: Blossoms, Catfish & The Bottlemen
USP: Ireland’s new punk scene sits largely in the left-field, but this lot go straight for the throat (and the arenas). It’s working out alright so far.
Why you’re going to love them: Sure, having Bono’s son in your band will help with regards to becoming a big deal, but the arena-conquering choruses Inhaler already have to their name will do that job perfectly on their own.
Key track: ‘My Honest Face’ (WR)
Rising UK rapper putting Cov back on the map
From: Coventry, UK
Sounds like: Precision-cut, ice-cold flows set to bare-bones beats
For fans of: Fredo, Headie One, Aitch
USP: Effortless bars and memorable hooks showcase Jay1’s one-two versatility.
Why you’re going to love them: Tottenham-born but Coventry-based, Jay1 released his nine-track mixtape ‘One Wave’ last July via GRM Daily’s label, with the drill-inspired tunes ‘Your Mrs’ and ‘Becky’ signalling him as UK rap’s next crossover star. However, the second half of the project provided most cause for excitement, with songs like ‘Tropical Love’, ‘Comes First’, ‘Good Vibes’ adding more strings to Jay1’s bow and introducing elements of Afrobeats and chipmunk soul.
Key track: ‘Your Mrs’ (LMB)
Smooth and sardonic neo-soul with tinges of R&B
From: London, UK
Sounds like: A stand-up routine set to achingly cool RnB.
For fans of: Lily Allen, Jorja Smith
USP: There’s no pretence here, just heaps of personality.
Why you’re going to love her: Jennifer Clarke has a gift for niche observations: on ‘God’s House’ she talks listeners through a nutritious dinner of pasta and chicken, while ‘Pretty Insane’ delves into the songwriting process itself. Meta. “Remember when I music’s an emotion?” she asks. “This is what I meant”.
Key track: ‘For Keeps’ (EH)
Joe and The Shitboys
Gobby, grinning, vegan punks from the Faroe Islands
From: Faroe Islands
Sounds like: The Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 soundtrack, with added glitter.
For fans of: Pansy Division, Heavens to Betsy, Sonic Youth
USP: It’s irreverent political punk with a sense of humour.
Why you’re going to love them: A band of self-proclaimed “bisexual vegans”, Joe and the Shitboys dedicate much time to roasting backwards bigots, in their native Faroe Islands (population: less than 50,000) and beyond. Punchy and chaotic – and over almost as soon as they begin – most songs clock in well under the two minute mark, and waste no time in dispatching witty, searing takedowns.
Key track: ‘If You Believe In Eating Meat Start With Your Dog’ (EH)
Glasgow’s next heartthrob singer-songwriter
From: Glasgow, Scotland.
Sounds like: The first steps of the UK’s next huge singer-songwriter.
For fans of: Rex Orange County, Tom Misch
USP: There are few voices around as pure as this one.
Why you’re going to love him: Irresistibly smooth, these songs take cues from the so-called ‘schmaltzcore’ crew, and are as honest, open-hearted and melodically pleasing as the best of Rex Orange County. Expect a Capaldi-sized breakout for Joesef if all goes to plan…
Key track: ‘Loverboy’ (WR)
The witty South Londoner making sense of life
From: London, UK
Sounds like: An eclectic whistle-stop tour through jazz and soul.
For fans of: Amber Mark, Amy Winehouse
USP: Joy Crookes’ vocal is unmistakable: crackly, smoky, and drenched with jazzy feeling.
Why you’re going to love her: Joy’s lyrics are a thing of beauty. Dig deep, and there are multiple layers, touching on everything from her Bangladeshi and Irish identity to the anonymity of a huge city. You get the feeling that she writes in order to make sense of how messy life can be. And often, her musings are witty. “You’re a man on a mission, but you seem to forget,” she challenges on ‘Power’, “you came here through a woman – show some fucking respect.” What a couplet.
Key track: ‘Mother May I Sleep With Danger’ (EH)
Fontaines-approved shoegazers who’ll drag you into their sonic world
From: Dundalk, Ireland
Sounds like: Rousing pop down the darkest of shoegaze alleys.
For fans of: Warpaint, Slowdive, Wolf Alice
USP: This band aren’t out to tick any boxes, but they’ve ended up striking the perfect balance between murky shoegaze and glimmering pop.
Why you’re going to love them: They drag you through a whole emotional spectrum. You’re never exactly sure what direction they’re going to turn next musically and that’s what makes their output so immersive. It’s no wonder why their praises have already been sung by Fontaines D.C and The Cure – they’re tackling shoegaze in an explorative and compelling fashion.
Key track: ‘Seven’ (RB)
Katy J Pearson
Singer-songwriter pairing tales of heartache with pop hooks
From: Bristol, UK
Sounds like: Country-influenced pop, reminiscent of classic folk.
For fans of: First Aid Kit, Jade Bird, Pip Blom
USP: She writes infectious pop-meets-folk-meets-country with joyously catchy choruses.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s a delicate beauty to her coy songwriting. Working with her brother, she glides between Americana-glazed folk and pop with dreamy results. Take her debut single ‘Tonight’ – a gentle reflection of love lost on the dancefloor with an upbeat melody and joyous chorus. She’s also doing it on her own terms, stating that she’s “no longer writing songs for men in suits, or trying to impress them.” Too bloody right.
Key track: ‘Tonight’ (GE)
Former nurse whose emotional pop has its own healing powers
From: Houston, USA
Sounds like: If The 1975’s Matty Healy ever went solo, he’d likely sound like Keshi.
For fans of: Lil Peep, Frank Ocean
USP: His emotional honesty and poetic way with words combine to make something sad but equally comforting.
Why you’re going to love them: A former nurse, 24-year-old Casey Luong’s music suggests he’s carried a gentle, empathetic bedside manner over to his new career path. Set over soft, downcast acoustic guitar and subtle beats, he pours his heart out like an emo-rapper who can actually sing. His background in lo-fi hip-hop production letting him find his own niche between pure singer-songwriter and straight-up MC.
Key track: ‘Skeletons’ (RD)
Outspoken and assured star creating the “future of pop”
From: Whitley Bay, UK
Sounds like: Glittery pop bangers that you can relate to hard.
For fans of: King Princess, Dua Lipa, Sam Fender
USP: Outspoken, personal pop that makes life’s trials something to solve on the dancefloor.
Why you’re going to love them: She’s not the kind of pop star to hide their true feelings, whether she’s singing about peer pressure, disapproving parents, or just really, really needing to get laid. It’s that frank attitude – coupled with her knack for writing the kind of pop melodies you don’t easily forget – that elevates her songs from good to sparkling bops, and why Charli XCX has called her the “future of pop”.
Key track: ‘Naked Alone’ (RD)
Boozy Oxford indie-rockers heading straight for the moshpit
From: Oxford, UK
Sounds like: A band for those who never fell out of love with straight-up indie music
For fans of: FEET, Japandroids
USP: Frontman Alfie Franks’ thick, unashamed British accent.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve played regularly with the likes of Sports Team, and Lacuna Common draw from the same well, and sound perfect in dingy toilet circuit venues when you’re three pints down and up for letting out that frustration.
Key track: ‘Not The Same’ (WR)
The Mancunian indie-rock band that go heavy on the synths
From: Manchester, UK
Sounds like: Punchy, indie beats with big choruses drenched in synthesizers.
For fans of: Blossoms, Chvrches, Imagine Dragons
USP: Manchester heroes making atmospheric indie pop for the masses.
Why you’re going to love them: Firstly, the songs are bloody catchy. They’ve got a knack for powerful anthems and this is most evident in the track ‘TV Dream’ which lurches into an epic chorus made up of kaleidoscopic instrumentals. Secondly, they’re one of Manchester’s great new hopes. To hear them in all their glory, have a listen to their live album at Manchester’s Albert Hall – no wonder they love them.
Key track: ‘TV Dream’ (GE)
Genre-shifting NYC five-piece who have been given two thumbs up by Tyler, the Creator and Brockhampton
From: New York City, USA
Sounds like: “A bunch of kids in a basement making whatever they feel like,” the band told NME recently – and that boundaryless approach to songwriting and genre is so far working wonders.
For fans of: Brockhampton, Clairo
USP: Their ability to win admirers, fast: despite only being teenagers, Laundry Day’s creative streak has already fast-tracked them to recording sessions at Shangri-La Studios, the complex owned by legendary super-producer Rick Rubin.
Why you’re going to love them: Because they just don’t stop making music: three albums and two EPs from the band have dropped at the time of writing, but we’re fully braced for that stock count to be outdated by the time this goes out. Laundry Day are bursting with free-spirited ideas, big lyrical messages that are destined to be screamed back at them by adoring fans (“Please forget my number, I don’t want to hear from you no more” is quite the opening line on ‘Harvard’) and a determined and convincingly authentic DIY ethos that should steer them through the huge attention they’re bound to receive. (SM)
Key track: ‘CRÈME’
Lava La Rue
Effortlessly cool and multi-talented trip-hopper from West London
From: Ladbroke Grove, London
Sounds like: A hazy smokescreen of trip hop, skittering beats and wryly-written raps
For fans of: Biig Piig, Greentea Peng, JGrrey
USP: She’s self-assured, self-sufficient and all about being true to herself
Why you’re going to love them: She’s fiercely DIY, a part of the underground collective NiNE8 that also features fellow 2020 NME 100 star Biig Piig and is described as “a family of outcasts… all about accepting everyone and positive vibes”. 2019 album ‘Stitches’ took the languid, dubby R&B of her ‘LETRA’ EP and saw La Rue grow into her own as a rapper, sounding defiant and daring, as likely to send for fellow MCs (‘Teletubby rappers eh oh / They ‘thug’ and they ‘thug’ from the get-go”) as politicians (“No human born a conservative / Just a greedy method of conserving quid”).
Key track: ‘Twenny Four’ (LMB)
Precocious SoundCloud rapper with major chart success already under his belt
From: New York, USA
Sounds like: The kind of sing-song, autotuned rap that has become the sound of alternative hip-hop in recent years.
For fans of: Juice WRLD, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug
USP: Teenagers on both sides of the pond are falling for one of their own in Tecca – who is barely 17.
Why you’re going to love them: Well, loads of people already love him: Tecca’s debut mixtape, ‘We Love You Tecca’, climbed to an impressive 15th position on the UK charts while reaching number 4 on the US Billboard 200 in September. While the critics haven’t been too kind – accusations of baseless braggadocio in his lyrics haven’t gone down well (c’mon, he’s barely lived a life yet!) – Tecca’s rap-into-song-into-rap method of autotuned delivery is clearly a creation that appeals to the masses (hello, Post Malone). The jittery trap beats which lay the foundation for his raps to bounce off will also keep energy levels high at his live shows.
Key track: ‘Ransom’ (SM)
Forthright and witty songwriting set to slinky neo-soul
From: Brighton, UK
Sounds like: The soundtrack to a ‘60s drama set on the picturesque south-east coast.
For fans of: Amy Winehouse, Dusty Springfield
USP: Moore has somehow taken the gloss and commercial sensibilities on Duffy and made them credible in a Winehouse kind of way.
Why you’re going to love them: She’s the daughter of the late Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore, but Lily came up the hard way, busking in her hometown of Brighton to hone her craft. Support slots with cozy beige boys James Bay and George Ezra followed, but Moore’s certainly retained her edge, channeling a young Lily Allen when she sweetly sings, on ‘Better Than Me’, “You’re fucking a girl that shouldn’t be… Does you let you smoke weed / And get down on her knees?”
Key track: ‘Better Than Me’ (JB)
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Ethereal, nostalgic R&B.
For fans of: Greentea Peng, Mabel
USP: LOLA’s arty, throwback aesthetic – videos drenched in saturation, tracks that run ‘90s R&B through a PC Music filter.
Why you’re going to love them: “I’ve always wanted to share how I feel with other people,” LOLA has said. “I’ve just always been open emotionally, even to strangers.” This longing for a connection defines the work of most artists, but what makes this London musician stand apart is the admirable transparency with which she approaches that goals. You can sense the longing in her music, which often makes it impossibly moving.
Key track: ‘Care’ (JB)
Futuristic Manchester six-piece armed with tongue-in-cheek humour
From: Manchester, UK
Sounds like: Cruising around a retro-futuristic urban landscape, all metallics and sleek finishes.
For fans of: Chromatics, Metronomy, St Vincent
USP: Making you wish you were anywhere near as cool as them.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s a bit at the end Mealtime’s video for the cool, detached synth-pop of ‘Sublime’ where a middle-aged man switches his TV to an adult station, sees the Manchester six-piece’s video on his screen and leans in, hooked. That’s exactly the effect the band have without visuals too, concocting slinky, smooth electro-pop that instantly rewires your brain and has you worshipping at the Mealtime altar.
Key track: ‘Denim’ (RD)
Quintessentially London popstar encouraging self-love through garage-laced bangers
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Garage-meets-pop with defiant lyricism.
For fans of: Jorja Smith, Ray BLK, Mahalia
USP: Recreating the eclectic sound of her hometown with a blend of garage and pop influences.
Why you’re going to love them: Remember that song ‘Be Honest’ Jorja Smith did with Burna Boy? Miraa May wrote that. In fact, most of her music revolves around the idea of female empowerment, trust and vulnerability, inspired by her personal experiences growing up a muslim as the daughter of Algerian immigrants. Listening to pop music from her native country has played into Miraa’s unique vocal styling, which she pairs with an amalgamation of pop, R&B and sprinkles of garage to create a distinctly London sound.
Key track: ‘Make Room’ (GE)
The Frank Ocean-approved producer and artist creating emotive bedroom pop
From: Los Angeles, USA
Sounds like: R&B, jazz, indie and bedroom pop with intimate lyricism.
For fans of: Homeshake, Vampire Weekend
USP: Frank Ocean handpicked him for his Blonded Radio show. That should be enough for you.
Why you’re going to love them: Previous releases ‘Fool’ and the handily-titled ‘Pronounced Mcgee’ showcased his more lo-fi side (think late-era Mac and Vampy Weeks more free-flowing productions), but there’s something new on the horizon. Latest single ‘Untitled’ is a futuristic, nocturnal banger – and with his skill set, you suspect that things could go supernova soon.
Key track: ‘Untitled’ (GE)
Jazz drummer poised for mainstream with new solo album
From: Catford, London
Sounds like: Jazz drummer exploring the most esoteric side of the reinvigorated (and much-hyped) UK jazz scene.
For fans of: Sons of Kemet, Steam Down
USP: The man’s had more collaborators than most jazz musicians have played different notes in an improbable amount of time: Little Simz, Four Tet, Floating Points and Gilles Peterson have all signed up to work with Moses.
Why you’re going to love them: Boyd has emphasised his interest in fusing electronic sounds with analogue jazz stylings, and his work is a heady reconfiguration of the traditional, with repeated motifs emerging from dappled percussion that blossoms into full-bodied rhythms. There are elements of hip-hop woven into his signature sound, too, with bouncing basslines that underpin the free-flow musings of his noodling brass. Basically: if you want to know which direction the UK jazz scene is going in, follow Moses Boyd.
Key track: ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ (JB)
YouTube sensation whose rom-com pop is utterly irresistible
From: California, USA
Sounds like: Immaculately crafted Gen Z diary entries.
For fans of: Clairo, Girl In Red
USP: Though these are songs of anxiety, there’s plenty of clarity and calm to be found in the purposeful delivery and sweet instrumentation.
Why you’re going to love them: Becoming a YouTube sensation after covering songs on her ukulele in her bedroom, mxmtoon deals in simplicity – her stream-of-consciousness musings getting right to the point and becoming all the more powerful for it. On new album ‘the masquerade’, the ukulele remains, but on the likes of the bright, chart-ready ‘Prom Dress’, it looks like she’ll make a pretty damn good pop star too.
Key track: ‘Prom Dress’ (WR)
Grunge anthems to keep British rock alive
From: Liverpool, UK
Sounds Like: Anthemic grunge with an appreciation for the lost art of the chorus.
For fans of: Wolf Alice, Sam Fender
USP: The Modfather Paul Weller listed them as a good reason to be excited about the future of British rock. Not a bad endorsement, that.
Why you’re going to love them: Scouse noiseniks The Mysterines take the raw elements of grunge and blow them sky-high with some huge, classic rock choruses. Singer Lia Metcalfe has a snarl so ferocious and stage presence so commanding that any naysayers still doubting guitar music’s future in 2020 will be left pissing their pants.
Key track: ‘Take Control’ (AT)
The Charli XCX-formed girl gang who bring the fun factor to raucous pop rock
Sounds like: A brilliantly messy night out with your best mates.
For fans of: The Runaways, Paramore, Charli XCX
USP: They’ve got a Netflix reality series which follows their journey, through tantrums and turbulent relationships to songwriting and success.
Why you’re going to love them: Our first introduction to Nasty Cherry was bassist Georgia’s bare arse on Instagram, accompanied with the caption: “HI. WE’RE NASTY CHERRY AND WE’RE THE BEST BAND OF 2019.” They’re fun, they don’t give a fuck what you think, and you definitely want to be in their band. Formed by Charli XCX, who created them with the intention of making the sort of band she wanted to listen to growing up, the quartet blend mega riffs with tongue-in-cheek lyrics and pop sensibilities to create tunes that’ll be caught in your head for days.
Key track: ‘Music With Your Dad’ (HM)
Six-man collective serving up Afro-bashment scorchers
From: Hackney, East London
Sounds like: Infectious and irresistible rhythms blending West African, Jamaican and UK sounds.
For fans of: J Hus, Not3s, Ramz
USP: Their afro-bashment sound may be laidback, but they feed off each others’ energy in classic posse cut tradition
Why you’re going to love them: East London collective NSG have been making music since 2013, but the past couple of years things have really gone up a notch. They’ve toured Not3s and J Hus, appeared on a Liam Payne remix (not as bizarre as it sounds) and 2019 saw their breakthrough banger ‘Options’ (featuring an assist from North London rapper Tion Wayne) peaking at seven in the UK chart last March, going gold and notching up 22m views on YouTube. The sextet’s collabs with Manchester rapper Geko (‘6:30’ and ‘Yo Darlin’) and recent single ‘Trust Issues’ (which has been inspiring dance craze videos) prove they’re no one-hit wonders. One thing we still don’t know, though, is what NSG actually stands for: No Sleep Gang, Non Stop Grinding and Never Stop Growing have all been bandied about, but NSG themselves say: “There’s not just one meaning… [it’s] anything you want to make it… [a] lifestyle”.
Key track: ‘Options’ (LMB)
New Hampshire-based DJ whose creations are the sonic equivalent of pure joy
From: New Hampshire, USA
Sounds like: Community and resistance via the medium of the house banger.
For fans of: The Black Madonna, Midland
USP: With soundbites from protests sampled in the songs, this is dance music to fix the world with.
Why you’re going to love them: Octo Octa’s 2019 album ‘Resonant Body’ is the kind of record that gets even the steeliest of people onto the dancefloor. With song titles like ‘My Body Is Powerful’ and ‘Power To The People’, it’s an album to help you gain strength, while also letting you cut loose from all inhibitions on the gloopy, hard-hitting ‘Spin Girl, Let’s Activate!’.
Key track: ‘Spin Girl, Let’s Activate!’ (WR)
The 2020s answer to Prince
From: Indiana, USA
Sounds like: The kind of wildly talented and emotionally intelligent artist Gen Z will collectively swoon over, if they haven’t already.
For fans of: Steve Lacy, Prince, (Sandy) Alex G
USP: His chameleon-like ability to transform into a funk-minded hybrid of Prince and David Bowie, as he so adeptly did on recent single ‘Ashamed’.
Why you’re going to love them: His electric live presence aside – we only went and called him a “rockstar of the future” earlier this year – enjoying Apollo’s craft comes about as easily as the artist says his own method of songwriting does. “When I write, I don’t think about it,” he revealed to NME last summer. “But when I’m done with it, the song just makes complete sense.” Alright for some.
Key track: ‘Ashamed’ (SM)
Introspective and smoky electro from a supremely talented Scandinavian producer
From: Oslo, Norway
Sounds like: A gentler but incredibly engaging entry point for anyone looking to get into club music in the new decade.
For fans of: Georgia, Grimes, Tirzah
USP: The laidback and almost whispered vocals which wrap around her booming beats’n’synths backdrops.
Why you’re going to love them: Otha, AKA Othalie Husøy, has only released three official singles so far, but each is worthy of individual acclaim. ‘One of the Girls’ sees its creator imploring to “let your thoughts run free, please don’t think about it,” while clubgoers the world over will identify with the sensational “we gotta clean up this shit, this place is packed with pricks” hook on ‘Tired and Sick’. ‘I’m On Top’, meanwhile, glides ethereally before building up plenty of house-y energy as Otha muses about the pitfalls of social media. A transfixing prospect for multiple reasons.
Key track: ‘One of the Girls’ (SM)
Cantering indie pop with painfully relatable lyrics
From: Manchester, UK
Sounds like: Your wittiest friend’s diary entries accompanied by soaring indie rock
For fans of: The Big Moon, Marika Hackman
USP: The gorgeous imagery in her lyrics. In ‘Easy Peeler’ she perfectly sums up the desire to be in a relationship that the other party has no interest with the chorus of: “I’m an Easy Peeler/Be your latest squeeze/The sweet sour taste of monogamy”.
Why you’re going to love her: Phoebe Green manages to succinctly sum up all aspects of relationships through her music. From the yearning of wanting something your partner doesn’t (‘Easy Peeler’), to the excruciating realisation that your relationship isn’t as good as you first thought it was (‘Dreaming Of’), her lyrics are agonisingly relatable.
Key track: ‘Easy Peeler’ (HM)
Emotive, raw indie-rock anthems to spill your heart out to
From: Dublin, Ireland
Sounds like: Soothing, woozy indie full of chugging guitars and layered with a shoegaze sheen.
For fans of: Weezer, September Girls
USP: Their tunes sound as soft as, erm, a pillow – but the lyrics can be excoriating and the band are deliciously outspoken on social issues.
Why you’re going to love them: Pillow Queens have joked that their shared mantra is “sisterly love forever, and they also champion queer representation in music – so, like all good bands, they make fandom feel like a club you can join and a worldview you can share. Also: their ever first gig, in 2016, was a fundraiser for rescue dogs in Dublin shortly before Christmas. If you don’t love that it’s gonna take more than a great indie band to warm your cockles.
Key track: ‘Brothers’ (JB)
Lisbon-based, Angolan-born purveyor of jubilant dancefloor-fillers
From: Lisbon, Portugal
Sounds like: Cultures intertwining on songs that blur boundaries and preach togetherness.
For fans of: Rosaliá, MIA
USP: The vocals, sung in Portuguese, are inclusive and hypnotising, whether or not you speak the language.
Why you’re going to love them: Pongo’s Angolan heritage permeates every part of her music. The country’s violent civil war is lodged inside these songs, but the end result doesn’t sound like one of mourning; across 2019 album ‘Baia’, the Lisbon-based singer finds power through dancing on songs that are powerful and jubilant enough to exorcise any demon.
Key track: ‘Quem Manda No Mic’ (WR)
Agitated indie pop, guaranteed to make you fall in love in 40 seconds or less
Sounds like: Gimmick-free indie-rock that’s full of heart and gut-wrenching lyrics.
For fans of: Savages, Dream Wife, The Cure
USP: Nirvana biographer Everett True branded them “the best band in the world” after seeing them play just half a song.
Why you’re going to love them: From the lean and tense pop gem of ‘Give/Take’ to the swelling and celestial mini-epic of ‘Lilac’, Porridge Radio write rock anthems that captures the boredom, frustration, confusion and absurdity of life.
Key track: ‘Give/Take’ (AT)
Louche, unpredictable indie-rock heroes-in-waiting
From: Montreal, Canada
Sounds like: The kind of band that will leave you with a cricked neck the morning after the gig before.
For fans of: Bodega, The Nude Party, Fat White Family
USP: There’s a hypnotic power to Pottery that, no matter what strand of the band they’re excavating at the time, makes it impossible for you to hit stop.
Why you’re going to love them: You never know what you’re going to get with Pottery. Will they give you fairground synths that helter skelter around Austin Boylan’s drawled vocals (‘Hank Williams’)? Will they leave you hanging for nearly two minutes before uttering a word, letting you drift on smoky basslines and gently thudding drums before crooning their way into focus (‘Smooth Operator’)? Or will they, as on ‘The Craft’, delve into some classic jangly rock’n’roll? One thing is guaranteed – whatever they do, it’s always a treat.
Key track: ‘Hank Williams’ (RD)
Drill’s party-starting golden guy
From: South London, UK
Sounds like: A cocksure young champ, hungry for success.
For Fans of: Ambush Buzzworl, 1011, Russ
USP: No one can touch Poundz’ unique delivery and his flows are always fun.
Why you’re going to love them: This exuberant 22-year-old’s braggadocio is hard to ignore. If he hasn’t already, Poundz will win you over with his cocky bars and relentless energy.
Key track: ‘Opp Thot’ (KSW)
Insatiably funky New Yorkers formed from the ashes of post-punks WALL
From: New York, USA
Sounds like: David Byrne’s half-spoken drawl backed by the New Power Generation.
For fans of: Gang Of Four, Parquet Courts
USP: Anger and hip-shaking grooves rarely fit together so harmoniously.
Why you’re going to love them: WALL were New York’s most promising new punks before they split in 2019. Half the band have become Public Practice, and are taking things in a funkier direction. Their slim output so far is unashamedly danceable, while vocalist Sam York disappears on fascinating tangents, mumbling to herself.
Key track: ‘Disposable’ (WR)
The London singer-songwriter creating heartbreak bops
From: Croydon, London
Sounds like: Woozy neo-soul fused with indie hooks and glittering production
For fans of: Daughter, Ray BLK
USP: The gorgeous lyrics that are brazenly frank, and manage to convey the full spectrum of yearning and heartbreak in three minute chunks
Why you’re going to love them: Rachel Chinouriri’s music juxtaposes emotive lyrics with bubbling, catchy R&B and pop-flecked hooks. Her gorgeous tunes dissect crumbling relationships, but are filled with a thread of hope, acting as a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Key track: ‘Adrenaline’ (HM)
The party rapper bringing IDGAF back into hip-hop
From: Oslo, Norway
Sounds Like: Feel-good, technicolour rap for your next house party.
For fans of: Chance The Rapper, Danny Brown
USP: He’s making music without a record label because he does exactly what he wants.
Why you’re going to love them: From the block-rocking ‘GO!’ to the young, dumb and carefree ‘IDK Much’ ft Rejjie Snow and the aptly-titled ‘ALL THIS MOTHERFUCCING COFFEE’, 19-year-old Kacper Tratkowski is breathing hedonism and energy into Soundcloud rap with with IDGAF attitude and rioutous live show. It’s 2020, the year to ‘GO CRAZY, GO STOOPID’.
Key track: ‘GO CRAZY, GO STOOPID’ (AT)
Mysterious collective who let their bold and dancefloor-designed tunes do the talking
From: No-one really knows… yet
Sounds like: The next great funk, soul and disco revivalists who are reinventing those vintage sounds for the streaming generation.
For fans of: Jungle, Michael Kiwanuka, Bad Sounds
USP: The secrecy surrounding Sault can’t last forever (hello, WU LYF) but, for now at least, it’s only further enhancing the hype and excitement that’s currently buzzing around the collective.
Why you’re going to love them: Whoever they are, they’re a productive bunch: two brilliant Sault albums dropped in 2019 alone. Despite the arrival of this wealth of material, the band (presuming it’s a band) have impressively managed to keep their anonymity largely intact. Believed to consist of at least three core members – producer and songwriter Inflo (Michael Kiwanuka, Little Simz), who has earned a credit on all of their released songs to date, is a clear contender – whoever is in charge of operating the Sault-branded conveyor belt of bangers is doing a mighty fine job.
Key track: ‘Let Me Go’ (SM)
Freewheeling techno that’ll keep you dancing from dusk ‘til dawn
From: Chile-born, now based in Bristol, UK
Sounds like: Euphoric techno that encompasses house, electronica and drum and bass.
For fans of: Jayda G, Octo Octa
USP: The fusion of dance music with traditional African and South American instruments – she wrote ‘Natura’ in her Dad’s house in Chile, and played African keyed instrument kalimba on it.
Why you’re going to love them: Need the perfect soundtrack to your next wild house party? Then stick on Shanti Celeste’s 2019 album ‘Tangerine’ and you’re sorted. The 10-track record, released on her own label imprint Peach Discs, is a thrilling 45 minutes of ethereal techno. And while Celeste’s earlier releases were rooted in house, her music always remains exhilarating and packed with energy.
Key track: ‘Sesame’ (HM)
Sinead O Brien
Irish punk poet, frequently found flirting with danger
Sounds like: Poems of rage and discontent jumping off the page to take you off guard.
For fans of: Patti Smith, John Cooper Clarke
USP: Sitting somewhere in between poet and singer-songwriter, O Brien’s songs are composed to constantly keep you guessing.
Why you’re going to love them: The musings that fill Sinead O Brien’s songs are often vague and rambling, but when they come back round to a repeated motif – best done when she vows to “take on time” in ‘Taking On Time’ – it proves her a compelling storyteller, backed by a superb punk band.
Key track: ‘Taking On Time’ (WR)
Skengdo X AM
A superstar duo that take drill to the next level
From: Brixton, London, UK
Sounds like: Two self-assured talents rapping about real life over menacing 808s.
For fans of: Chief Keef, Digga D, 67
USP: Switching between hard-hitting, aggressive rap to R&B tracks all about thug love, Skengdo X AM’s love of contrast means you never know what you’ll get next.
Why you’re going to love them: They’ve already battled with Scotland Yard about freedom of speech, but the unapologetic attitude of these members of the 410 crew has seem them become drill’s first poster boys. A boundless duo who see no end to making great music.
Key track: ‘Mad About Bars Freestyle’ (KSW)
The soothing side of indie rock
From: Wakefield, UK
Sounds like: Tender British indie that oozes soul.
For fans of: Tom Grennan, Paolo Nutini
USP: The gorgeous vocals – frontman Ryan Johnston’s voice soars accompanied by the rest of the band’s tight knit harmonies.
Why you’re going to love them: Skinny Living’s songs are just waiting to soundtrack your favourite telly show – emotive, filled with poignant lyrics and hella catchy, it’s only a matter of time before the radio-ready tunes make it into your living rooms.
Key track: ‘Let Go’ (HM)
The streets’ most witty wordsmith, still incognito
From: Croydon, UK
For Fans of: Skepta, Krept and Konan, Sam Wise
USP: This 18-year-old’s clarity is as clear as crystal, and when paired with his comical and brutally blunt lyrics, he creates drill music that’s not cliché.
Why you’re going to love them: With so many more years ahead of him, SL’s progression is one to watch. First coming onto the scene at the age of 16 with the stand out tune ‘Gentleman’, and has now featured on the Top Boy compilation album in 2019 alongside greats like Dave and Little Simz. In the same year, was a surprise guest at Denzel Curry’s sold-out show at the Roundhouse, and featured on Krept and Konan’s drill remix to their Top 40 hit ‘I Spy’. Not a bad start, that.
Key track: ‘Tropical’ (KSW)
Melodic four-piece hitting the sweet spot between post-punk fire and shoegaze ice
From: London, UK
Sounds like: Melodic post-punk and, according to the band, “very light metal”. Aluminium, perhaps?
For fans of: Savages, Slowdive, IDLES
USP: No one else is writing rock music that sounds this intimate yet expansive.
Why you’re going to love them: Some have already compared singer Joshua Eggerton’s vocals to Morrissey, which feels like a bit of a stretch. But it goes some way to showing how much people are struggling to nail down the Social Contract sound. Lead guitarist Scott Roach lends a post-hardcore feel to many tracks on the band’s phenomenal debut EP, ‘Common Tongue’, while bassist Chris Coward brings a huge dose of punk. Whatever you want to label it, it’s one of the most exciting noises to come out of London in ages.
Key track: ‘Hoist Their Heads’ (MN)
Influential shapers of the South London jazz scene
From: Deptford, London
Sounds like: A frenzied, instrument-bashing knees-up under a railway arch
For fans of: Ezra Collective, Nubya Garcia
USP: The energy of Steam Down’s regular nights translates straight across to record.
Why you’re going to love them: Unless you’ve been living under a saxophone-proof rock, you’ll know that South East London – Deptford, in particular – is home to a massive jazz resurgence right now. And Steam Down is right at the centre of that movement: they’re not just a band. Instead, they host one of the area’s best known (and sweatiest) jam nights. The likes of Kamasi Washington and Sons Of Kemet have been known to stop by.
Key track: ‘Free My Skin’ (EH)
Grime’s new teenage prodigy
From: East Birmingham, UK
Sounds like: A geeked-up grime head, zipping over fast paced instrumentals.
For fans of: Jaykae, SBK, Novelist
USP: At only 14 he’s heading up grime’s next gen.
Why you’re going to love them: T Roadz is already selling out shows in his home city and proving that Birmingham can go head-to-head with London’s dominant rap scene. The kids are alright.
Key track: ‘T 2 Da Roadz’ (KSW)
Danceable indie-punk that sits in the roughest, scrappiest corner of the dancefloor
From: Manchester and London, UK
Sounds like: Yelling about your troubles before realising that the best antidote is simply to dance them away.
For fans of: Foals, Arctic Monkeys, Joy Division
USP: Singer Harrison Swann possesses a one-of-a-kind voice – booming, vicious and cutting.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s an unstoppable intensity to Talk Show’s two singles to date, though transmitted in very different ways. Debut track ‘Fast and Loud’ does what it says on the tin and drags indie-punk kicking and screaming to the dancefloor, while newie ‘Ankle Deep (In A Warm Glass Of Water)’ is a rhythmic roll that could soundtrack a Western. AKA: the future is wide open.
Key track: ‘Fast and Loud’ (WR)
Glam and groovy New York psych-rockers ready to light up the dancefloor
From: New York, USA
Sounds like: Riding on a lightning bolt back to the heart of ‘70s psych.
For fans of: Tame Impala, King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard, MGMT.
USP: A resilience and grit that peeks through the layers of glam and gloss.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re experts at crafting danceable grooves that you can get lost in for hours. They nail that feeling of restlessly sitting around waiting for something – anything – to happen, making technicolour psych-rock that feels both you’ve discovered a hidden gem from decades past and vibrantly, thrillingly fresh.
Key track: ‘It’s Better Without You’ (RD)
Channelling the anxiety of Trump’s America through pitch-black post-punk
From: Brooklyn, USA
Sounds like: All your tech gadgets just became sentient and they’re furious about it
For fans of: Gang of Four, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Depeche Mode
USP: No one else can make the dark heart of American society sound this catchy.
Why you’re going to love them: Both of their singles to date provide more angular hooks than a butchers’ convention, but more importantly the trio – which includes two members of Brooklyn art-pop wizards BODEGA – aren’t afraid to speak out about what singer Madison Velding-VanDam calls “the reification of unfettered capitalism.” Which is to say, if you like your post-punk brooding and intellectual, The Wants might just steal your heart. In emotional terms, we mean. Not for retail at that butchers’ convention.
Key track: ‘Fear My Society’ (MN)
Pink cowboy hats and defiant psych-pop
From: London, UK
Sounds like: A bunch of mates who’ve been getting high and creating nineties-inspired psych
For Fans of: Brian Jonestown Massacre, Ty Segall, Goat Girl
USP: Born out of London’s DIY scene – TIÑA are already shining in the right places with their dazzling psych sound even if they’ve still got a scarce online presence.
Why you’re going to love them: There’s a meditative state to the concise psych sounds of this band that’s super easy to get lost in. They released their first physical 7″ through Speedy Wunderground after producer Dan Carey found them at a house party. Entrenched a modest word of mouth buzz – this band have the psychedelic indie chops to merit the attention. Can’t go wrong with pink cowboy hats either.
Key track: ‘I Feel Fine’ (RB)
London-based producer and DJ winning over club and festival crowds alike
Sounds like: A delicious, euphoria-inducing sonic cocktail that’s packed with affecting melodies and plenty of groove.
For fans of: Bonobo, Mura Masa
USP: TSHA’s talent for connecting with your innermost feelings through her instrumentals while simultaneously slaying a room and/or festival tent full of ravers.
Why you’re going to love them: She seems set to be the next major presence in the ever-evolving electronic scene. Signed to Ninja Tune imprint Counter Records, TSHA was inspired to get into producing full-time after an enlightening visit to Berlin. Having immersed herself in the German capital’s world-renowned electronic music and club scenes, she taught herself how to write and produce music. Having also studied such electro greats as Jon Hopkins, Four Tet and Bonobo at length, she’s so far taken correct turns at every step of her burgeoning career.
Key track: ‘Me You’ (SM)
Emo-rap’s next icon following in Posty’s footsteps
From: Orlando, Florida
Sounds like: Gen Z woes turned into cathartic trap-rock anthems
For fans of: Post Malone, Rae Sremmurd, Juice WRLD
USP: The perfect combo of angsty swagger and nihilistic introspection
Why you’re going to love them: Having toured with Post Malone and released his debut ‘Heart Full Of Rage’ last year, Tyla Yaweh has quickly emerged as the brightest newcomer among hip-hop’s current crop who are more likely to have grown up idolising MCR than they are NWA. “I want everybody to express themselves – not as in being mad – but just rage your heart with emotions. Speak your mind,” he recently told Wonderland – and his songs are sure to speak to many Gen Z-ers, lamenting everything from fast-life living (‘Wildlife’) to narcotic-addled comedowns (‘High Right Now’).
Key track: ‘High Right Now’ (LMB)
Erratic, wayward soundscapes from the Frank Ocean collaborator
From: South London
Sounds like: Expansive electronica that refuses to sit still.
For fans of: Frank Ocean, James Blake
USP: Enjoy the more esoteric moments from Frank Ocean’s discography? There’s plenty more where that came from.
Why you’re going to love them: In 2016, the then-very-unknown Vegyn (real name Joe Thornalley) was responsible for some of the most exhilarating moments from Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde’ and ‘Endless’, working on songs like ‘Rushes To’ and ‘Nights’. First making waves in the London dance scene a few years back after handing James Blake a CD of his music during a club set, Vegyn had a productive 2019, releasing the 71-track collection ‘Text While Driving If You Want To Meet God’ (a quasi data-dump of half-finished aural sketches) in June, and followed that up with November’s debut proper ‘Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds’, which the artist described as the result of “insanely stoned experimentation” and featured a standout guest spot from JPEGMAFIA. Vegyn’s meandering collages of loops, glitches and found sound are still quite raw at the moment, but when honed, like on ‘It’s Nice To Be Alive’, gems are there ready for unearthing.
Key track: ‘Nauseous/ Devilish’ (LMB)
Ariana Grande’s secret weapon steps into the spotlight
From: Sacramento, California
Sounds like: Uplifting, empowering anthems that throwback to R&B’s golden age
For fans of: Ariana Grande, Solange
USP: She’s penned some of pop’s pure-fire hits of the past few years.
Why you’re going to love them: You may not think you’ve heard a Victoria Monét song, but you most certainly have. ‘Work From Home’? Maybe ‘A Little More’? You’ve definitely heard ‘Thank U, Next’ and ‘7 Rings’. The Cali native has penned songs for everyone from Chris Brown and Fifth Harmony to Nas and Machine Gun Kelly, but it’s her work with Ariana Grande for which she’s best known, with credits on all of Grande’s albums to date. Monét’s solo career has so far seen her release four EPs of sleek, soulful R&B, including the recent self-love slow jam ‘Ass Like That’. But recent trap-inspired Ariana collab, ‘Monopoly’, could signal a new direction for her upcoming ‘Jaguar’ EP, expected this year.
Key track: ‘Ass Like That’ (LMB)
Theatrical Scots finding glamour among the grit
From: Glasgow, UK
Sounds like: David Bowie backed up with the dark ferocity of The Sisters Of Mercy
For fans of: Roxy Music, Bauhaus, Klaus Nomi
USP: You’ll struggle to believe that Walt Disco are a new band – their brooding sound wouldn’t have been out of place in the Lost Boys soundtrack.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re ridiculously ambitious with sound and aesthetic, but it never feels like they’re biting off more than they can chew. Combining elements of drag, theatre and glam-rock with a sheer Glaswegian grit, these punks are an exciting prospect. The vocal is a frightening Bowie replica at times but despite this, they’re still immensely original. There’s a gothic drama about Walt Disco that’s simply irresistible.
Key track: ‘Dancing Shoes’ (RB)
Quirky duo dismantling retro-sounding pop hits with their experimental approach
From: London, UK
Sounds like: ‘80s pop meets old-school punk.
For fans of: Sorry, Squid
USP: They love the colour yellow. Like, love it.
Why you’re going to love them: They’re the love-child of Primus, Gary Numan and The Beatles. No, wait! It’s good! ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’ utilises ‘80’s soundscapes, pair it with layered harmonies and a killer chorus, but soon deteriorates into a puddle of noise – with melting guitar parts taking it to a completely different place from where it started.
Key track: ‘Hello Can You Go’ (GE)
Working Men’s Club
Outspoken and outrageous Yorkshire rabble-rousers
From: Todmorden, Yorkshire
Sounds like: Industrial rock and grit-pop chucked into a malfunctioning blender.
For fans of: Fat White Family, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails
USP: Their outstanding debut single ‘Bad Blood’ had elements of ‘80s pop and shimmering new wave, but the feral follow-up ‘Teeth’ is as punishing as a New Year’s Day comedown.
Why you’re going to love them: Being taken under Fat White Family’s wing is the sign of a band that deal in the same level of chaos – that’s why they’ve been supporting them on a recent tour. The energetic songs that Working Men’s Club have shared thus far are immaculately put together, but their looseness and swagger make them worthy mentees of the Family.
Key track: ‘Bad Blood’ (WR)
The A-list endorsed neo-soul vocalist
From: Arkansas, USA
Sounds like: The soundtrack to your favourite romcom.
For fans of: Julia Michaels, Rae Morris
USP: The gorgeous lyrics – they’re like diary entries, if you diary was filled with poetry and not just embarrassing lists of people you fancy.
Why you’re going to love them: You might not know the name yet – but you’re definitely going to know Yebba’s voice. Over the past few years she’s supplied warm vocals to tracks by Mark Ronson, Stormzy, Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran. But it’s not just guest appearances – Yebba has released a pair of sun-drenched, gospel-flecked solo tunes, with much more on the horizon.
Key track: ‘Evergreen’ (HM)
Your favourite artist’s new favourite DIY hero
From: Los Angeles via Louisiana
Sounds like: Intricate, vibrant and blissed-out alt-pop
For fans of: Puma Blue, King Krule, Clairo
USP: His off-kilter production makes for a perfect headphones-on hazy daydream.
Why you’re going to love them: “I’ve always wanted to be cool,” Zack Villere croons over a quiet bubble of laidback neo-soul synths on his track ‘Cool’. “But I’m not that cool, that cool.” Well, despite Villere’s understated, slightly Superbad-ish demeanour, with the likes of Brockhampton’s Kevin Abstract and Tyler, The Creator counting themselves as fans, you’d have to disagree. The Los Angeles-via-Louisiana artist has cultivated a strong online following, but it’s his latest releases, the sparkling ‘A Feeling’ and simmering ‘Sore Throat’, that show the most promise with their expertly-textured production. Like Rex Orange County (another Tyler fave) before him, Zack Villere has every chance of being this year’s breakout bedroom pop-to-IRL pop sensation.
Key track: ‘Cool’ (LMB)
The future grunge icon keeping Liverpool’s legacy alive
From: Liverpool, England
Sounds like: Melodic, grungey joy.
For fans of: Courtney Barnett, Wolf Alice
USP: She sings in a Scouse accent, and you don’t hear that much these days do you?
Why you’re going to love them: Unashamedly inspired by hometown heroes The Beatles, Zuzu is a slave to life-affirming and inescapable melody. Proud of her Scouse heritage and singing in full accent, the life and legacy of Liverpool breathes through her effervescent grunge pop. She’s also got that very Liverpudlian presence on stage: forthcoming, confident, and giving zero fucks.
Key track: ‘Get Off’ (AT)