21 New Artists For 2021
2021 hasn't got off to the greatest start, but there's plenty of cause for optimism this year; the return of full capacity gigs perhaps, festivals even, but namely the swathes of new music to enter our lugholes.
Streaming boomed throughout the pandemic, and whilst they need to pay artists properly, these services still provide the engine and impetus for budding artists to pick up their instruments and get their music heard globally.
So, without further adieu, here's our list of 21 artists you'll need to watch closely in 2021:
1. TV Priest
Recently drafted in by Sub Pop for upcoming debut album Uppers, London four-piece TV Priest inject the sociological intrigue/malaise of Adam Curtis’ documentaries into their striking, riff-heavy post-punk. By dissecting our fractured media and post-truth reality with such ferocity and droll authority, you’ll be an immediate convert. Recently revealed as one of SXSW Online’s official artists, they’ll be transmitting the message worldwide soon enough.
Being signed to Ghostly is more often than not a decent seal of quality, as is the case for duo Brijean, made up of Oakland-based couple Brijean Murphy and Doug Stuar. With each track a textural playground full of offbeats and glittery house keys with a latin and jazz inflection, it’s unsurprising to learn that Murphy is a favourite collaborator of the likes of Toro Y Moi and Poolside. It’s dance music without the immediacy or intensity, the kind that hits perfectly as the suns begin to set on a hot European festival.
Despite having only released a handful of tracks so far, NewDad have shot into recognition through BBC Radio 6 Music’s airplay of their most recent single, ‘I Don’t Recognise You’. The Galway band’s laid back style delves into shoegaze-y sonics, especially alongside their dreamy vocals, though they cut back on the feedback and fuzz slightly for a more stripped back and rhythmic indie style.
Filipino-Aussie artist Daine is making waves with her brand of ethereal emo-pop, tapping into teenage angst as she marries midwest emo inflected vocals with melancholic glossy pop and tempered trap instrumentals to create a ‘post-genre’ sound that is unmistakably Gen Z.
Lynks has pranced into 2021 without breaking his stride. This millennial Leigh Bowery is taking no prisoners with the release of Smash Hits Vol.2, a seething, tongue-in-cheek sequel to his previous EP – yep, you guessed it – Smash Hits Vol.1… Lynks has everything you want from Lovecraftian queer spectacle and more. With twisted, vogue synth-lines and flamboyant, masquerade, we’re all very excited to see Lynks live again, but until then, make sure don’t miss the next music video.
6. All Things Blue
LA duo All Things Blue’s pastel-hued psychedelia employs the rolling snares and phasered haze indicative of Tame Impala’s earlier repertoire, but with a much poppier and much less self-pitying outcome. Decidedly less millennial in short. Lamenting contemporary trends (like our obsession with IPAs) on one hand and allowing herself to get loose on the other, centrepoint India Coombs’ vocals readily pivot from humour to heartbreak, a balancing act we’re all familiar with at present.
Kicking off 2021 with his debut EP, Local MVP, Leicester rapper Sainté is developing a distinctive sound that pairs a quiet and unhurried flow with smooth, melodic production (coming courtesy of collaborator Jazz Parker) to offer up tracks that are seemingly unspectacular yet infectious and eminently replayable.
8. Nuha Ruby Ra
East London’s Nuha Ruby Ra fits somewhere on the Venn diagram between Grace Jones and Sleaford Mods; playful with her image and avant-garde instrumentation, you wouldn’t want to be the subject of her acerbic wordplay, however. Original, transgressive, and painfully cool, she also keeps good company having supported and collaborated with the likes of Fat White Family, Amyl and the Sniffers, and Warmduscher, if we’re going to namedrop. Her debut EP How To Move will certainly be one of the more interesting releases this year.
9. Hilang Child
Recording under the pseudonym Hilang Child, Ed Riman’s affinity for lush, overwhelming vistas is clear, owed to his half-Welsh, half-Indonesian heritage. Moving to Bella Union for his sophomore album Every Mover, Riman’s propensity for painting luxurious soundscapes became more apparent, crafting uplifting and expansive earworms that merge elements of Perfume Genius-esque pop balladry and fist-pumping heartland rock.
10. Chubby and the Gang
Led by West London electrician Charlie ‘Chubby’ Manning, this literal gang of breakneck speed pub-punks garnered transatlantic praise from major publications even before the reissue of debut album Speed Kills on Partisan Records further opened up their audience towards the back end of last year. Shame we’re lacking in pubs at present, but we can’t see that slowing this bolshy rabble down one bit.
11. Slow Pulp
Anyone pining for the cold, misty ambience of autumn but have by now overplayed Phoebe Bridgers, look no further than Slow Pulp. The Chicago band nail that grunge/emo sensibility seen through an indie/folk lens on their impressive self-produced debut Moveys, especially on tracks such as “Falling Apart”, which have an irresistible moodiness to them.
12. Pa Salieu
Coming on to the scene this time last year with ‘Frontline’, which won a crazy amount of radio plays throughout 2020, Coventry rapper Pa Salieu will surely shake up this year with ease. No-bullshit lyricism and beats that stretch the dirtiest of grimaces (the good kind) made up his debut LP Send Them To Coventry, but his collaboration with black midi drummer Morgan Simpson is completely bonkers and worth a watch too.
13. Billy Nomates
Tor Maries aka Billy Nomates released her self-titled debut album last year (recorded with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow) and her raw vocals coupled with a take-no-shit attitude were a hit with BBC Radio 6 Music, among others. January 2021 has gifted us another release with single, ‘Heels' and we’re soon to hear more with the upcoming EP Emergency Telephone, due March 5th. Add that her guest spot on Sleaford Mods' ‘Mork n Mindy’, Billy, with her punk-fuelled honesty, is set to punch a hole in 2021.
14. Hope Tala
Clearly a fan of bossa nova beat or two, Hope Tala’s string of singles last year culminated in her third EP Girl Eats Sun, a super smooth R&B release that was an escape from lockdown with its hazy production and sunny but dynamic beats. Expect her crossover appeal to continue to swell and a packed out show later in the year. Hopefully.
With only three singles out, this soulful South-East Londoner is already clocking nearly 900k monthly listens on Spotify, with ’Peng Black Girls’ topping one million YouTube views in just over two months (and a COLORS show with Jorja Smith at nearly 6m and counting). Equally adept as a singer and rapper, ENNY flows effortlessly between laid-back delivery styles with thoughtful, and often playful, lyricism.
16. The Lounge Society
The latest upstarts to feature on Speedy Wunderground’s quirky music conveyor belt, last year The Lounge Society’s debut single ‘Generation Game’ became the Dan Carey-affiliated label’s fastest-selling 7” ever. Alongside The Orielles and Working Men’s Club, this enviably young four-piece are proving that West Yorkshire is fertile ground for inventive indie.
17. Patricia Lalor
Teenage wunderkind Patricia Lalor began uploading covers to her YouTube channel at the age of 11, and now at the age of 14 can count five EPs to her name - one made up of cover versions and four of original works. Rooted in bedroom pop, Dublin native Lalor weaves synth-made beats and dreamy, jangly guitar around her ghostly vocal, her compositions showing maturity and expertise far beyond her years. Covering Radiohead’s ‘Present Tense’ so exquisitely only typifies her self-assurance.
18. Drug Store Romeos
Hampshire trio Drug Store Romeos, to be concise, sound like Beach House on uppers - Sarah, the band’s singer possesses a similarly sedate, detached delivery, yet their rhythm section has decidedly more teenage eagerness to experiment. Formed whilst in school over shared adoration for Stereolab and Broadcast, the Fleet-based band have built an impressive resume of single releases since signing to Fiction Records, so expect a dreamy debut album soon.
19. Yard Act
There’s always a temptation to associate spoken word punk music with either The Fall or John Cooper Clarke, so we won’t: Leeds’ Yard Act, whilst sardonically critiquing a crumbling society and all its mundanities do danceable art-punk at its best. They’re more akin to Art Brut with a Yorkshire twang, backed by chunky rhythms and a penchant for a chantable chorus. Dark Days, released only last week, has already piqued the interest of punks across the country.
Anyone following the scene cultivating around Windmill Brixton will already be aware of this genre-fusing synth-punk trio, and for those that don’t, let us acquaint you: signed to Ninja Tune imprint Big Dada for last year’s Toner EP, PVA are yet another band associated with messr Dan Carey but share far more sensibilities with dance music than their peers. They’re exciting, raucous, and truly groovy.
21. Kate Bollinger
Kate Bollinger appeared on our radar towards the end of last year with her effortlessly lush EP A word becomes a sound, which fitted somewhere under the umbrella term bedroom pop – though that might undermine the crisp production and swish jazziness that guides Bollinger’s songwriting. There’s no word yet on her debut album, and another EP could be on its way first, but whatever the format expect dreamy grooves and plenty of chorus guitar. Mmmm.