New year, new bands

Catch-22: as the world gets bleaker, the music gets better. There's no substitute for a peaceful earth, but at the very, very least, it looks to be an extremely good year for music. And that's not just an assessment based on comebacks and ongoing takeovers. In the new decade, we've got our eyes on some tasty new talents. Here, we've distilled our search for the best new artists down to twenty.

Get acquainted now, because very soon they'll be knocking your socks off. 

Alfie Templeman

This small-town Home Counties lad writes, records and produces all his tracks in his bedroom: in between going to school, finishing his homework and growing out his facial hair so he can get served, of course. Multi-instrumentalist Alfie is something of a musical prodigy, having been surrounded by music from an early age has meant that he’s reached a stage of musical maturity that many artists his age can only dream of, with lyrics that are way beyond his tender years. It’s bedroom pop at its sweetest, with Templeman’s breezy, honeyed tone sitting pretty atop jazz-flecked, laidback guitar solos and twinkly keys. Easy breezy. (EC) 

Arlo Parks

A new generation of musicians are emerging…people who had the entire smorgasbord of the world’s music available to them for most of their lives. The result: artists who pass genre by completely. One such gem is poet Arlo Parks, who writes delicate, lo-fi ballads that shiver with emotion, honesty and a cocktail of influence. Gorgeous tones, slinky rhythms and zeitgeisty lyrics will continue to be the order of the day from the woman who released a streak of perfect tunes in 2019. (JA)

Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard

Welsh wonders Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard have been on our radar for a while now, after appearing on our stage at Live At Leeds in May. During the summer we spoke to Miles Kane, who sang their praises too and on the video premiere for ‘Love Forever’ we said, “Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard rock through carefree guitars and literally shout at the top of their lungs about love.” With a busy 2020 ahead and the promise of new music in the not too distant future, the buzz (buzz buzz) is more than justified. (SC)

Coach Party

From sickly sweet indie pop to growling grunge, Chess Club’s latest signees Coach Party are not a one trick pony. Their debut release ‘Oh Lola’ benefits from polished production but also snarls and seethes amongst fuzzy guitars. Taking influences from the 80s, 90s, 00s and present day, Coach Party appreciate the sounds of the past whilst still firmly rooting themselves in the future. With more promising releases in the pipeline, don’t miss the coach on this one. (SC)

Do Nothing

Few things beat the magnetism of an iconic frontperson, and Do Nothing have found one in Chris Bailey. Besuited, frenetic and original, his role as the eccentric, exciting charlatan is a revelation. All around him, the inventive post-punk of the rest of the band work completely free of cliché while also taking in the brilliance of Talking Heads with ease. Do Nothing take their listeners on a journey through the ragtag soundscape of their own imaginations on choruses of cowbell and unexpected bulges in bass and bending of guitar strings. Expect to see them on the live scene a lot this year. (JA)

Drug Store Romeos

A new and thrilling Fiction signing, Drug Store Romeos are an enigmatic trio with more than just a suggestion of magic about them. With only one single available - but many nights at South London’s The Windmill under their belt - we predict there’s plenty to look forward to in the coming months. This is an outfit with an already-articulated sound that flits between shoegaze, dream pop and art rock with a nonchalant hint of devilish luxuriance. Inspired by very late nights carting gear from the capital on the last train home to Fleet, Drug Store Romeos run laughing into the pitch darkness, a ribbon of delicate music flying out like a banner behind them. (JA)

Ellie Bleach

It’s easy to imagine Ellie Bleach perched, legs crossed, on a carousel horse of Wes Anderson’s making. Her deadpan ditties have already caused a stir in the Gigwise office with their cutting honesty and vibrant storytelling. Latest single ‘Jackie O’ is a favourite at her live shows thanks to its extended diss of an ex-flame and the controlled fury of that drop. ‘Leave Me Alone’ is a pissed-off swoon in the vein of Alexandra Saviour. ‘Duvet Day’ displays Bleach’s songwriting skills to be remarkably similar to those of Courtney Barnett. Toybox keyboard confessionals at their very best. We await more eagerly. (JA)

Gia Ford

Dirty Hit’s newest signee Gia Ford is a singer and dandy with a powerful imagination. A visual pioneer as much as she is a singer and musician, Ford has built a cinematic world around her with the help of visual artist girlfriend Melony Lemon. From that world, the well of her music springs. Jaunty disco, nostalgic R’n’B and a knack for a pop hook made her debut mixtape Poster Boy a phenomenal first statement to go with that heartthrob image, its strength shiniest in the distinctive - and wholly original - ‘Turbo Dreams’ and ‘High Class Tragedy’. (JA)

Inhaler

As smooth as a pint of Guinness (and as easy as an ‘Ice Cream Sundae’) Irish outfit Inhaler’s rapid rise is enough to make anyone breathless. Standout track ‘My Honest Face’ harnesses every aspect of a  stadium-ready anthem with soaring guitars, striking synths and a slinky vocal - and it’s something they’ve managed to put into practice already on huge support slots with the likes of Noel Gallagher and Blossoms. (SC)

Joy Crookes

Neo-soul singer songwriter Joy Crookes has enchanted the masses with her radiant personality and gorgeously tender songwriting. Sunshine beams out of the gaps in her words, no matter how sultry and emotional they appear; Joy writes from the heart, and sings from deep within her chest, with a husky, jazz-soaked vocal that has earned her comparisons to Amy Winehouse. This analogy may be rooted in the fact that Crookes, like Winehouse, is a natural storyteller and has mastered the knack of writing songs that feel timeless, yet also very ‘of the moment’ with identity, self-love and sincerity at the forefront of her songwriting. This is just the beginning... (EC)

Lazarus Kane

The enigmatic performer has casually and confidently strutted onto the scene after uprooting himself from the US and plonking himself back down in the UK. It’s time you started sitting up and taking notes: this strange creature sure knows his way around a lithe bassline. With currently only one track to his name - and a really bloody good one at that - there’s an air of intrigue that shrouds this Mr. Kane (as he likes to be known). On said track, ‘Narcissus’, Kane’s baritone vocal writhes and slides around sensuously, atop a Talking Heads-esque bass line and disco-synths that plink and flicker away in the background. His cocksure demeanour sets the confident and swaggering tone of exciting things to come. (EC)

The Mysterines

Vibrant vocals? Check. Pounding percussion? Check. Robust riffs? Check. The Mysterines are a recipe for success. Latest single ‘Who’s Ur Girl?’ is a statement of intent from the Merseyside trio, which we described as, “barrel[ing] along in a storm of fuzzy guitar and punk-inspired vocals from singer and guitarist Lia Metcalfe, whose live capabilities come through loud and clear on the lean cut.” And their debut EP, Take Control, featured more of the same. There’s no mystery here, we can’t wait to see what 2020 holds for these guys. (SC)

PVA

The members of London based trio PVA have garnered an impressive following just off the back of their live shows, something that cannot be underestimated. Feeding off the energy of the audience, PVA want each show to be a totally immersive experience. Recorded, this euphoric energy is perfectly captured on their debut single ‘Divine Intervention’, thanks to the genius of cult producer Dan Carey at Speedy Wunderground. Toying with an enticing blend of disco, dance music, 80s synth pop and techno house music, PVA aren't the types to want to be shoved into a box: instead they want to afford themselves and their audience the freedom to dance around, limbs flailing uncontrollably. (EC)

Scalping

Visionary performers Scalping possess the ability to create another dimension. Their live show is a thrilling visual and sonic assault, where the band play against a backdrop of insane images that warp and glitch between the organic and the geometric, the abstract and the realistic, ever building the tension and sense of chaos. Their sound is rooted in garage and post-punk, but this formula is elevated by a pulverisingly heavy techno-electronica soundscape. Surrender your limbs, and your brain, to the mind-warping power of the Scalping experience, where there are no breaks in songs, no respites. Are you ready? (EC)

Sinead O’Brien

The marriage of spoken word and propulsive post-punk has never sounded so good. Limerick-born Sinead’s poetic performance is poised and elegant, yet surges with the risk and spontaneity that often characterises post-punk. Elevating this raw krautrock-indebted formula with literary references, and philosophical ponderings, O’Brien toys with melody and mood in the most enchanting manner, that’s both subtle and obvious in equal parts. Her words stand composed at the core of her work, a spotlight shining on them as a streetlight would cast warm sulphuric light onto a statue in a Parisian backstreet, while drums and taught guitars flicker around this central focus. (EC)

Steam Down 

Smoothly riding the wave of their cult reputation, the Deptford jazz-jammers/art collective have stepped out of the confines of their South London lair to share the vibrant experience of a Steam Down set with the rest of the world. The artistic and musical energy that radiates from this collective feels like a religious experience, a ritual that ultimately proves the power of collective creativity. Steam Down’s music is freeform and spontaneous, where soulful melodies, West African rhythms and free jazz all bubble together in a glorious melting pot that perfectly captures the versatility and excitement emanating from London’s flourishing jazz scene. (EC)

Talk Show

The fitting title of debut single ‘Fast and Loud’ truly encapsulates the exhilarating feeling of a sweat-slicked Talk Show gig. It’s a frenetic, sonic assault, with dense knots of propulsive drums and brooding guitar, combined with ear worm choruses, all wrapped up and delivered with a booming Northern vocal. Sound tasty? That’s because it is: Talk Show’s formula is catnip for those who love a good ol’ sweaty moshpit. They’re surging towards the forefront of this youthful guitar scene, blazing the way for this new wave of indie. Keep steering it in the right direction, Talk Show… (EC)

Walt Disco

Carving themselves a distinctive niche at the intersection of art-pop, new wave, punk, drag and theatrical performance are Glasgow’s finest Walt Disco. Androgynous, dark glamour emanates from every member as their glimmering soundtrack punches forth, with stabbing synths and strutting guitar, and a stunning vocal from frontman James Potter that shimmers and scintillates, like a newly polished weapon. Theatrical to the max, they’re a vital antidote to the classic ‘plug-in and play, don’t look at the audience’ band that often haunts sticky-floor venues. Walt Disco are about the performance, in every sense of this loaded word - they’re artists in every possible description, with their visuals forming the very core of their enticing proposition. Don’t sleep on this lot. (EC)

Weird Milk

Suited-and-booted, flares flapping in the gentle breeze, Weird Milk swagger out of their ‘Time Machine’ to deliver you the sounds of the sixties, all wrapped up in a dreamy indie-pop parcel. Recently they’ve been channelling a sultrier sound, that pulses with the same groove as 2010-era AM, with a splash of the Beach Boys evocative sounds for good measure: although their tracks may have a swirling sense of nostalgia about them, Weird Milk’s eyes are fixed firmly on the future. (EC)

Working Men’s Club

Working Men’s Club are a band that have risen from the blackened ashes of boredom and frustration of having fuck all to do. Hailing from a small town in Yorkshire, they channel this awkward sense of feeling ‘outside’ into angular, industrial-sounding tracks, that are dark, ominous and yet somehow retain a sense of danceability.  Boasting angular sounds from bygone eras with the bite of the present day, building an industrial soundscape with flickers of 80s new wave, and smatterings of post-punk, Working Men’s Club masterfully mash and grind all these sounds together with a bit o’ Northern grit. Thank god for boredom. (EC)

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Photo: Anna Smith