Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Ones to Watch in 2021

A tonne of new music comes out each day, making it a challenge to keep up with new or unique artists. 

New music tends to seem as though it is simply the product of intertextuality, but we have got you covered. To help you notice who you should be keeping an eye out for next year, we have picked out artists who are, inarguably, predestined to breakthrough in 2021 – from up-and-coming artist to names that you may have already heard of!


Sinead O’Brien

For fans of: Dream English Kid, Dry Cleaning and The Spunloves.

Sounds like: Irvine Welsh decided to write avant-garde poetry.  


Few artists can amalgamate spoken word and post-punk elements as effortlessly as Sinead O’Brien. The Irish-based artist’s most recent EP, ‘Drowning in Blessings’, exemplifies her wholly unique style, comprising of; intricate lyricism, oscillating rhythms and lapses in her vocals. O’Brien’s EP invites us to an in-motion poem, which challenges us to question the blurred lines between the derivate and the hyperreal – heightened by the disjunction of lyrics and offbeat rhythms. Whilst O’Brien’s unique sound lures in each of her listeners, her relentless streams of consciousness and lyrical mantras are what maintains their engagement. O’Brien’s captivating music has made it onto almost every ‘2020’s best’ list, so we can’t wait to see what she does next…


Best tracks: ‘Fall With Me’ and ‘Taking On Time’.


Albertine Sarges

For fans of: Good Sad Happy Bad, Pip Blom and Sweeping Promises.

Sounds like: If Laurie Anderson had been born in Berlin.   


Meet Albertine Sarges, the Berlin-born artist, who has brought together a new band for her debut album, ‘The Sticky Fingers’. So far, Sarges’ lyrics have begun to challenge the hegemonic structures that we live in, drawing upon issues such as feminist theory, mental health, sexuality and notions of gender. Despite the earnest nature of the artists’ songs, Sarges maintains a sense of light-heartedness throughout her music, providing us with deconstructed pop, lively rhythms and spoken word vocals. ‘The Sticky Fingers’ will be released through Moshi Moshi on the 29th of January 2021, so make sure to add the date into your calendar!


Best Tracks: ‘Free Today’ and ‘The Girls’.



For fans of: Tiña, Workfriends, and Biig Piig.

Sounds like: LCD Soundsystem had a party with ’07 Bloc Party.


The members at the heart of this London band have made their presence felt with a debut single, capturing their ambivalent attitude towards London. According to the frontman, Malady’s single doesn’t just parallel the title of LCD Soundsystem’s ‘New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’, it also imitates the hazy relationship with inner-city life. The track explores their love-hate attitude, that so many people share, towards London – revealing that it is easy to give the city a halo effect, despite the city’s hostility to ordinary people. Sonically, the song is crammed with fast-paced drumbeats, shimmering guitar ambience and energetic synths. Although Malady is still exploring their voice, they are on their way to becoming one of London’s best bands.


Best track: ‘London, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down’.



For fans of: Françoise Hardy, La Femme and Ruth.

Sounds like: Somewhere between Cat Power and Brigitte Bardot.


The French indie group have recently released their third album, ‘Un, Deux, Trois’, and entered the same musical realm as La Femme. Despite the obvious language barrier (for some), Juniore’s bouncing riffs, sultry vocals and surf-psych twists transcend this barrier. The trio has had an unexpected breakthrough in the UK over the past few years, with their bold (and delicious) 60s-esque music. In defiance of their quintessentially French roots, the trio also explores other influences, from Arabic instrumentals to Avant-pop. If you haven’t already joined Juniore for the ride, it’s probably time you got onboard.


Best tracks: ‘Adolescent’ and ‘Soudain’.



For fans of: FKA Twigs, Crystal Castles, Die Antwoord and Let’s Eat Grandma.

Sounds like: Björk after a game of Zelda…


‘Miss Anthropocene’ will make you want to dance on your first listen, and then fall into an existential crisis on your next. Grimes’ latest album continues to amalgamate dream pop, synthpop and ethereal vocals into soundscapes of electronic bliss. However, her current sound is indefinably nihilistic, as reflected by the title of the album – which is evidently a pun for misanthropy. In terms on latency, the album conceptualises Grimes’ vision for our future if we do not gain control over the climate change crisis – which is plummeting past the breaking point, towards the end of life as we know it. The oppressive, heavy synths provide a foundation for the album, to encapsulate the consequences of our greed and selfishness. 'Miss Anthropocene' is melodic, textured and tamed. Grimes has provided us, once again, with visceral and cryptic messages, and we can’t wait for more.


Best tracks: ‘Violence’, ‘So Heavy I Fall Through The Earth’ and ‘4AEM’.


Psychedelic Porn Crumpets

For fans of: Pond, Twin Peaks and Ty Segall.  

Sounds like: Perth’s psychedelic music scene in a nutshell.


This ridiculously named band are definitely worth your time – and before you ask, the answer is no… their music isn’t even a ween-y bit tongue in cheek! The band’s latest EP, ‘The Terror’, is full of exciting tracks, flowing with psychedelia and funk-driven basslines. The vocals are a unique oddity, oscillating from hoarse, to soft, to high-pitched – and combined with pulsing drums and trippy synth hooks, their songs feel unstoppable. You will be locked into a seismic groove. The idiosyncratic sound cultivated by the Aussie band has predestined their role as one of the lead psyche rock bands in the industry. Their latest EP allows us to have a slight glance at the plethora of meandering jams on their upcoming album, 'SHYGA! The Sunlight Mound’ set for release in February 2021.


Best tracks: ‘Tally-Ho’ and ‘Mundungus’.


Ela Minus

For fans of: Charlotte de Witte, La Fleur and Kelly Lee Owens.

Sounds like: The offspring of Kraftwerk and Paranoid London.


Few artists are as adept at blending punk, oppressive synth lines and moody indie-pop as Ela Minus (aka Gabriela Jimeno) – but this is what makes her debut album so distinctive. 'Acts of Rebellion' is electronic music with a pulse and soul. Each track is dominated by fuzzy static sounds and muted landscapes, overlayed by pulsating synths. Despite the title of the album, Jimeno doesn’t regard the album as a political protest. Instead, 'Acts of Rebellion' is a personal guide through the chaos of the 21st century – it’s a reminder to reconnect with the physical, rather than becoming caught up with the simulation of life. What really ties the album together is Jimeno’s ability to create a cold and austere atmosphere, underpinning themes of brutalism. Although, in today’s social and political landscape, Jimenos’ introspective album resonates with many of us, reflecting our experiences during this harrowing year. Ela Minus is someone to be very excited about. Are you ready for her next fight?


Best tracks: ‘Megapunk’, ‘They Told Us It Was Hard, But They Were Wrong - Edit’ and ‘Dominique’.



For fans of: Fat White Family, Rats on Rafts and YOWL.

Sounds like: Robert Coover went post-punk.


Earlier this year, Phobophobes kicked off with a single from their upcoming album, making the pandemic slightly more bearable. ‘Moustache Mike’, explores the proliferation of possible realities, presented by fragmented experience of American life – particularly during the 1950s. The band have explained that the song is centred around a performer that they met on a few occasions, who simply disappeared… in one fragment, they had encountered Mike, and in another, his existence had simply transpired. The Phobophobes’ portray how the intersection between the boundaries of fantasy and the real are easily blurred in America. The songs meaning is significantly heightened by the haunting lyrics, which build up into visceral crescendos and soundscapes of chaos. Although the band seem to have departed from their old sound, their single shows that they have found themselves again. If you weren’t already excited for their next album, then you will be now.


Best tracks: ‘Moustache Mike’ and ‘Blind Muscle’.


Viagra Boys

For fans of: Meatraffle, Half Man Half Biscuit and Sleaford Mods.

Sounds like: The return of machismo punk, with a dash of… everything.


Viagra Boys are the brilliant Stockholm band, who excel at deadpan lyrics and satire. Earlier this year, after a two-year hiatus, Viagra Boys surprised us with an EP, Common Sense. The EP seemed to be a departure from their debut album, towards electronic sounds and classical jazz instrumentals – although, the band still retained their macho image and belligerent vocals. However, Viagra Boys have shown us that they are not a band that can be pinned down or confined into one genre. The release of their latest singles, from their upcoming album, has sparked even more excitement! Their lyrics are a clear continuation of their fight against society’s patriarchal structures, ingrained misogyny and classism. Although, the band have moved away from their Talking Heads sound, towards a combination of Iggy Pop and Hank Williams, exemplifying that the band are able to traverse the lines between jazz-rock and accessibly post-punk with ease. Their impending album ‘Welfare Jazz’, is set to release on the 8th of January, and it is a much anticipated one…


Best tracks: ‘Common Sense’, ‘In Spite of Ourselves’ and ‘Ain’t Nice’.



For fans of: SUGARTHIEF, The Snuts and The Covasettes.

Sounds like: Dreamy Brit-pop.


This year has highlighted the growing popularity of  Shambolics’, who have consistently kept their fan base on their toes. From releasing singles to live streaming their electrifying performances, there seems to be nothing that the band seem to fail at. However, the Fife four-piece sparked excitement among many of their loyal fans this year, with the long-awaited release of ‘Love Collides’. The hazy break-up song intertwines hints of Pulp and The Verve, exemplifying their Brit-pop inspired sound. Except, unlike most Brit-pop bands, they have decided to fearlessly ditch the exact same compositional recipe as other bands. Instead, their track consists of echoing guitars, provincial strings and a sense of optimism. Shambolics’ have been welcomed with open arms north of the border, and soon they’ll be welcomed everywhere.


Best tracks: ‘Love Collides’ and ‘Sandra Speed’.


The Kills

For fans of: PJ Harvey, Deap Vally and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Sounds like: A flirt with macho-blues and electronic music.


The Kills’ are a band that could belong to any decade – and are more than welcome to make a return. The release of their B-sides compilation, ‘Little Bastards’, may not have inspired a new album (just yet), but it has reignited our love for the duo. You’d normally expect a B-sides to consist of a few mediocre album tracks and some fuzzy live tracks, but ‘Little Bastards’ has been a testament to the band’s ability to remain suspended in time. The compilation explores each musical era, from ‘Keep Me On Your Mean Side’ to ‘Midnight-Boom’, yet, at no point does the album seem like a leftovers collection. ‘Little Bastards’ is a reminder of The Kills impeccable execution, and perhaps an insight into what we might have to look forward to in the future.


Best tracks: ‘Superpowerless’, ‘Half of Us’ and ‘Night Train’.


– Aimee Dodd

All images can be found on Instagram.


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