We’ve shared our favorite EPs and LPs of 2015 and recently our Most Anticipated Albums of 2016. It’s now time to list 25 artists we think will become embedded in the ears of music listeners around the world. Whether they achieve mainstream success is unknown, but we think at the very least they will be among the most talked-about bands within the blogosphere over the next 12 months.
Artists to Watch in 2016
Beth Ford (UK)
Beth Ford emerged out of nowhere in summer 2015 to deliver a debut single that had people across the music industry and beyond mesmerised by her hauntingly pure voice. Her debut EP The Voyage is due for release in spring 2016, including Beth’s first offering of her own original material in the title track plus her interpretation of covers in her own inimitable style. She has already been likened to Judie Tzuke, Stevie Nicks and Eva Cassidy, and it won’t be long before many others will making the same comparisons about his hidden gem of a talent.
Icelandic electronic/darkwave/indie rock outfit CeaseTone are on a full-throttle trajectory to stardom: they’ve already played Iceland’s All Tomorrow’s Parties and Iceland Airwaves festivals, and they’re scheduled to perform at SXSW this year. They’ve accomplished this even before releasing their debut album. It’s due out in the next few months, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for this promising new band. Their fluid sound is not easily labeled since it blends indie folk-pop with post-prog and electronic, and that’s exactly what makes them such a unique act to watch in 2016.
Chantal Hackett (Canada)
As a remarkable singer, songwriter, vocal teacher, and entrepreneur, Chantal Hackett is a force to be reckoned with. At the same time as building her singing school, Hackett has been working on new material to add to her previous 2006 and 2009 releases. She released a first single from her forthcoming EP Ready For The Fall in Fall 2014. The second single, “Parachute“, was released late in 2015. If these two songs are any indication of what’s in store for the rest of the album, 2016 is poised to be a great year for Hackett, and we can’t wait to join her for the ride.
We’ve profiled 19-year-old Cloves on a few occasions, including naming her debut EP, XIII, as one of our favorites of 2015. The rest of the world is starting to take note of the Australian-born singer-songwriter following her touring with James Bay last fall. What immediately catches your attention is her voice, which is one of the most captivating you’ll hear. Her voice is a sultry, gorgeous one that blends the best of Amy Winehouse and Ella Fitzgerald. But the one artist she’ll remind most people is Adele, and one she’ll be headlining her own massive tour.
Road trips require a certain kind of soundtrack: songs with an upbeat tempo to keep you alert and plenty of hooks to keep you playing drums on the steering wheel. Indie-rock trio DREAMERS deliver just that kind of road-worthy anthem. They know something about long drives since they recently relocated from Brooklyn to Los Angeles where they recorded their upcoming album. Based on this single that’s irresistibly catchy, we’re excited to hear more from this powerhouse trio.
East of My Youth (Iceland)
East of My Youth are an emerging Icelandic trio whose dynamic music is simultaneously chilling and smoldering. Their sultry, synth-heavy sound dances gracefully over dark, brooding melodies while their harmonies weave hypnotic charms. The debut album from these Iceland Airwaves festival veterans is due out soon, which indicates that 2016 could be a magical year for them.
Back in May, Elohim was the talk of the blogosphere. She tantalized us with her lush vocals and her hypnotic electro-pop. While she released a couple of singles and had her music remixed by several producers, she remains an unknown. Mysterious. Nameless. Without a face. Much like the deity from whom she has taken her name. Will 2016 be the year we put a face and name to Elohim? One thing is for certain – it’ll be the year that thousands of followers will flock to Elohim’s music.
New Zealand has brought to us some of the great artists and bands of the fast decade – Lorde, The Naked and Famous, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Liam Finn – plus countless of great, emerging acts such as French for Rabbits, Tiny Ruins, Nadia Reid, Salad Boys, etc. Add the name Fazerdaze to the list. The brainchild of Amelia Murray, Fazerdaze is creating some of the most stunning shoegaze on the planet. It is breathtaking and beautiful – music that you stays embedded in our mind for days. A new album is in the works, which could shoot the Auckland-based quartet to the stratosphere.
George Cosby (UK)
If Cloves is the next Adele, then George Cosby has the chance to be the next Sam Smith. His booming voice leaves an everlasting impression and his songs hit close to the heart. But his music isn’t just love songs, but music that touches on matters of spirituality, community, and perseverance. Cosby is the next great troubadour.
Prince has invited him to his home. He’s been asked to play some of the biggest festivals in Australia. It’s only a matter time before Darren Hart – a.k.a. Harts – becomes a household name across the world. He’s already an immensely talented guitarist – a guitar god for that matter. His live shows are among the most electric on the planet. And his blues-infused rock ‘n roll will remind people of Gary Clark, Jr.
Kelly Sloan (Canada)
Six years have passed since the release of Kelly Sloan‘s self-titled album in 2009, and she’s been anything but still. Performing at major festivals as well as touring across Canada, Sloan has been building her repertoire and gaining more fans along the way. Her distinct operatic voice is the perfect match for her soul-infused, folk-country songs. Her third album is set for release in spring 2016 – and while she won’t divulge its title just yet – we do know the album was produced in Halifax by award-winning sound engineer and songwriter Mike O’Neill. Judging by her previous success, 2016 should be a fantastic year for this talented artist.
Lorna Dea (UK)
Lorna Dea‘s debut single “Stay the Same” revealed an unashamedly pop performer who brings a sometimes surprising raw edge to an otherwise divinely smooth vocal. Uniquely herself, Lorna’s forthcoming EP Little Spark, which is scheduled for release on February 19, promises to showcase her voice against a backdrop of Motown vibes. Want to feel good in 2016? Take a listen to Lorna Dea.
Since the day we came across MoonZz in September when she released “Satisfy”, we’ve been completely captivated by her potential. She has the sound with her electro-pop that is haunting yet immersive. It could be played in the biggest clubs in the world or in the hallways of our high schools. Her voice is sultry and hypnotic, and one that should be bellowing the notes of Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit.” This combination, though, should equate to future success.
Miya Folick (USA)
If you haven’t heard of Miya Folick, it won’t be long. Her songwriting style is reminiscent of a young PJ Harvey – vulnerable at times, always honest, and decisive. Her music, meanwhile, is devastatingly beautiful, echoing Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen. She’s one of the most talented, young singer-songwriters to emerge over the past year, and 2016 should see the California native catapult to indie stardom.
Ofelia K (USA)
Ofelia K is poised to break out into being of THE singer-songwriters of 2016. She is trailblazing her own style and sound which immediately captures your attention. We have been following her ever since her single “White T-Shirt” was released. Now that she her first EP, Plastic Flower, under her belt, there’s no stopping the smooth, sultry-voiced, LA-based artist in 2016.
Pale Honey (Sweden)
Swedish duo Pale Honey hail from Gothenburg, the hometown of José González, but don’t expect them to sound like his folksy female counterparts. Pale Honey – Tuva Lodmark (vocals, guitar) and Nelly Daltrey (drums, percussion) – have a bold, indie-rock sound that is fierce and confident, full of infectious hooks and lots of swagger. They released a three-song EP last year and plan to unveil their full-length debut in May. We expect they will win the hearts of many new fans in 2016.
Patti Yang Group (UK)
Pati Yang and her band, Patti Yang Group, have quietly propelled themselves into the conversation as one of indie-rock’s must-hear artists. The Polish-born artist, who splits her time between London and Los Angeles, and her Group released one of the best songs of 2015 with “Invisible Tears,” showcasing their gift for creating cinematic psychedelia. The song, however, is just one small reason why thousands have gravitated to her music – it is in the stories that she tells that moves people.
There’s an urgent energy pulsing through the lead single from Swedish indie rock group Pinemen, as though the four members are impatient for summer’s arrival. What better way to endure the cold winter months than with the brilliant debut album from this breakout Stockholm band? Their driving rhythms, fuzzy guitars, and uptempo beats are scorching enough to warm the dreariest winter day. Their self-titled EP released last month, so we wouldn’t be surprised to see Pinemen on the lineup of many festivals in 2016 and beyond.
By the time London-based synth-pop trio RIVRS release their debut album this summer, they may already be stars. This first single shows so much promise and poise that we expect 2016 will be the year they tackle the music world. Their performance at SXSW festival in March will introduce new American fans to their sleek, electronic-tinged sound and the mesmerizing vocals of Charlotte Mallory.
Sammy Brue (USA)
We’ve written about Sammy Brue on numerous occasions, and 2016 may finally be the year when the 14-year-old’s star shines bright. He’s coming off a year where he amazed audiences, including at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival, and Rolling Stone did a full-page feature. If you ask us, he’s the future of Americana and folk music, much like Bob Dylan was in 1960.
Sundara Karma (UK)
Sundara Karma had a huge 2015, seeing their popularity skyrocket with the release of EPII and a great collaboration with Marika Hackman. Sure, the four band members of Sundara Karma are teenagers, and their music is catchy. However, this isn’t an ordinary teen band. Their songs are thoughtful and meaningful, going well beyond the usual topics of love and broken hearts but also addressing loneliness, lost identity, and fear. Musically, their indie pop-rock is well-conceived and reaches anthemic levels. If there is a band with whom to compare them, it would be the genius known as Foals.
Sunflower Bean (USA)
Sunflower Bean is an emerging indie-rock trio from Brooklyn, and they have established themselves as a band to watch in 2016. Since forming less than two years ago, the band has honed their tight sound through constant touring with the likes of Wolf Alice, DIIV, Mac Demarco and more. Their sound blends elements of psychedelic rock and fuzzy, lo-fi layers with thoroughly captivating results. Their full-length debut is due out next month, just in time for the group to hit the road for an extensive spring tour through the UK and US.
Like Sunflower Bean, this little quartet from Brighton will just blow your socks off with their gritty, dark indie-rock. The music is dizzying, giving the feeling of one spinning down an endless slide. What takes Thyla‘s music to the next level, however, is the stunning vocals of frontwoman Millie Duthie, who sounds like a modern-day Pat Benatar. If there is a band that could replicate the astronomical success of Wolf Alice, Thyla would be one of the bands we would bet on.
Atmospheric and brooding, Reykjavik electronic-pop duo Wesen make deliciously entrancing music. The duo of Júlía Hermannsdóttir and Loji Höskuldsson have performed together for more than a decade in other groups, but this is their first single from their new project. The name change is a result of them growing musically into a more electronic sound. We’ll admit to being thoroughly charmed by this single and look forward to hearing more from them in 2016.
Swedish indie dream-pop quintet YAST have been together for nearly 10 years, but they haven’t been in a rush to record incessantly. Instead, they took their time recording their second album, My Dreams Did Finally Come True. It released last fall and is full of lush, hazy melodies with a strong ’90s indie rock undercurrent. If you’re looking for a new band to fall in love with, YAST has you covered: their warm, laid-back sound strikes the perfect balance.
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