2016 was great for new music discoveries, so this year should be no different. To get you ready for what is to come, we offer 35 Artists to Watch in 2017. We cannot say if we’re great prognosticators, but we did all right with last year’s list.
Aloric (London, England)
With one of the most unique and amazing voices, Aloric has blown us away time and time again, including his exquisite cover of Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” The London resident remains anonymous; if his star explodes, will he finally reveal his identity?
The Amazons (Reading, England)
Get to know The Amazons now, because 2017 will be their breakthrough year. They’re already known for their intense live shows. That energy plus their massive sound (think Foals and Temples in terms of bold hooks and decibels) should land them at every major festival. One thing is certain: their name won’t remain printed in a small font on lineups for long.
AMETHYSTS (Suffolk, England)
AMETHYSTS are a duo from Suffolk who continue to impress us with each new track. Their smooth style of ethereal, electronic-based tracks have fully grabbed our attention. With two amazing singles already (“My Love” and “Stones”), we are keeping tabs on this duo to see what else 2017 brings. We would be very surprised if AMETHYSTS were not picked up by a label by year’s end.
The Away Days (Istanbul, Turkey)
Since The Away Days aren’t from a mainstream hotbed of indie music like London or Brooklyn, it’s taken them a bit longer to get the attention they deserve. It’s easy to feel transported to another blissful dimension when listening to their dream-inducing shoegaze. Hopefully this year the rest of the world will listen in and feel the same way.
Be Charlotte (Dundee, Scotland)
In an era where mainstream pop music has become formulaic and sugary, Be Charlotte is a refreshing voice on the scene. Not only does this young Scottish band create catchy, ’90s-inspired pop songs; they are also crafting stories that would make Taylor Swift envious.
Bec Sandridge (Sydney, Australia)
She has sass, makes euphoric pop music with bite, and has a smoky voice that makes knees buckle. This year should see Bec Sandridge trade in her busking days for headlining venues in Australia while comparisons to Debbie Harry become commonplace.
Black Honey (Brighton, England)
Hopefully 2017 is the year Black Honey take America by storm because their blistering psych rock is exactly what the world needs. The music is potent enough that you may incur dental injuries from your jaw hitting the floor. Be warned when you dive in because this band has what it takes to blow you clear into next week. They’ve already done this to us with their awesome EP, which was one of the best of 2016.
Brooke Layla (Milton Keynes, England)
With a voice to tame every power ballad, Brooke Layla smashed onto the UK’s music scene at the end of 2016 as the ‘unexpected star’ of prime time TV in Michael McIntyre’s Big Show. At just 12 years of age (yes, you did read that right!), she clearly has a lot ahead of her. Expect to hear more from those astonishing pipes through 2017 and beyond.
Clean Cut Kid (Liverpool, England)
Liverpool’s Clean Cut Kid have a slew of UK festival appearances under their belts now (including Glastonbury), so there’s no denying their talent. Will 2017 be the year that North America falls for their spiky, guitar-driven, melodic indie pop? We suspect American and Canadian listeners won’t be able to resist Clean Cut Kid. They’ve got a broad range of influences (’80s pop plus rock and soul) that only increases their appeal.
The Courtneys (Vancouver, Canada)
As the first band from outside New Zealand to sign with legendary label Flying Nun Records, indie stardom unquestionably awaits punk-pop trio The Courtneys. If you think the hype is out of control right now, it should reached astronomical levels when their sophomore album, Courtneys II, arrives February 17th.
Ethan Burns (Los Angeles, USA)
We still don’t know a whole lot about Ethan Burns except he has two singles released on SoundCloud so far with over 100K plays. He is injecting us with a proper dose of soul-filled rock (with comparisons to Leon Bridges) that leaves us wanting more. We are expecting a debut album sometime in 2017.
Frederick The Younger (Louisville, USA)
With mad genius Kevin Ratterman (of Twin Limb and longtime Jim James collaborator) in their corner, Frederick The Younger is a good bet to be 2017’s surprise like the Seratones. Everyone should become familiar with their gritty, anthemic, blues- and soul-infused southern rock when their debut album, Human Child, arrives early this year .
Fusilier (Brooklyn, USA)
Already signed to Brassland, Blake Fusilier – or simply Fusilier – could change R&B, soul, and funk in the same way The Weeknd did at the start of the decade. These are lofty expectations, but we believe in Fusilier’s potential.
Gutxi Bibang (London, England via Bilbao, Spain)
Lenny Kravitz established himself as a star 25 years ago with his vintage rock ‘n roll sound. Now it is Gutxi Bibang‘s turn. Like Kravitz, this group creates music that sears and blisters and sticks in your head for days. But not only that, the trio are all gifted musicians who soon will grace the covers of magazines like Premier Guitar, Drummer, and Bass Guitar.
Heavy Heart (London, England)
Heavy Heart have been quietly releasing a song a month in 2016. With each new release the have consistently proven that they are talented in both lyrical content and producing an intoxicating rock formula with a 90s slant. We would be surprised if an indie label didn’t catch wind of this talented band in 2017 and have them signed by the end of the year.
Ivy Mode (Belgium)
TV talent shows get mixed press, and it can be hard for an artist to find their own groove as they emerge from cover version after cover version. Ivy Mode’s success in the Belgian edition of The Voice back in 2013 hasn’t held her back from crafting original work. Finding a home with W!G Music is stretching her strengths. Although Ivy’s debut single with producer James Lowland, “Money Can’t Buy”, was on the safe side of her repertoire, we are promised something darker and edgier very soon.
Jagara (London, England)
If you’re looking for the next Warpaint or Hinds, set your sights on Jagara. In 2016, they opened for Bastille, invited to play a Sofar Sounds gig, and were featured by NME and Line of Best Fit. This year should be bigger for the three sisters, as they firmly establish their place within the UK music scene with their Blondie-meets-Pat Benatar dark-pop.
Junior Empire (London, England)
London’s Junior Empire infuse their music with pure Los Angeles sunshine, and the result is so addictive that it should come with a warning label. Their time spent in California gives their sound an added adrenaline boost, not that they needed to live there to enhance their talent. They already excel at creating upbeat, pulse-quickening tunes; hopefully their connections on the West Coast will lead to greater exposure and U.S. tour dates in 2017.
Keeva (London, England)
For nearly two years we’ve been enamored with London singer-songwriter Keeva. It starts with her voice, which is one of the most gorgeous in all of music. Powerful, soulful, and mesmerizing. Coupled that with stories that we can all relate to and blues-folk approach, and you have a star in the making. If that isn’t enough, she’s putting the final touches on her debut album, which features Leon Bridges as one of the many songwriting collaborators.
Kelly Oliver (Herts, England)
Kelly Oliver’s career has been on the ascendant through 2016. Her unique sweetly-strong vocals attracted the attention of legends like Whispering Bob Harris, and her mantelpiece must be groaning under the weight of the awards that frequently head her way. Building on the success of her debut album Bedlam, 2017 could well be Kelly Oliver’s breakthrough year.
Laurel (Southampton, England)
This time next year, we’re fairly sure we’ll be resting our hands from writing about emerging artist Laurel all year long. This impressive young talent has the vocal chops that give her an immediate, arresting sound. We’re in awe of her hypnotic sound, so it’s a safe bet that the rest of the world soon will agree.
Leif Vollebekk (Montreal, Canada)
The unassuming music factory of Montreal, Canada is about to unveil its next star at the end of February. This is when singer-songwriter Leif Vollebekk‘s new album, Twin Solitude, arrives. Vollebekk occupies that genre-defying realm that is neither strictly pop nor soul nor folk, a fluidity that works to his advantage. You hear echoes of Amos Lee or even a subdued Hozier at times. His falsetto channels Jeff Buckley, whose spirit lingers over certain notes like the patron saint of melancholy. Yet there is an element of ingenuity that permeates through his initial singles, much like the city he calls home.
Margaux Avril (Paris, France)
Already an emerging star within the francophone music scene, 25-year old singer-songwriter Margaux Avril is following the footsteps of Héloïse Letissier (Christine and the Queens) and entering the crowded anglophone market. It shouldn’t take long for music fans around the world to gravitate to her music and realize why Avril has earned a reputation as France’s version of Lorde and BANKS.
Molly Burch (Austin, USA)
Hearts will flutter when Please Be Mine, the debut album from Austin singer/songwriter Molly Burch, arrives next month. Smoky and sensual yet melancholy, Burch combines the irresistible qualities of Neko Case and Sharon Van Etten. By year’s end, Burch will be on the Best Of list of many critics and fans.
Miya Folick (Los Angeles, USA)
Miya Folick is a chameleon, and we say this with the utmost amount of respect. For two years, she has moved us with her infectious indie-pop (“Talking with Strangers”), enticed us with gritty indie-rock (“Pet Body”, “I Got Drunk”), and finally stole her collective breaths with her lyrical genius (“God Is A Woman”). She was on last year’s list, but this year we think she will truly break out.
New Pharaohs (London, England via Beirut, Lebanon)
New Pharaohs‘ debut in the fall of 2015 was one of the most impressive introductions of the past two years. Their single, “Empire”, introduced people to their lush sound and thoughtful songwriting. The past year, however, was a relatively quiet one for Maya Marie and her bandmates, but 2017 promises to be the opposite. Marie spent time in Nashville writing new music with acclaimed producer and songwriter Marshall Altman, so new music is on the way. We’re predicting a Bat for Lashes-like elevation in popularity for New Pharaohs, making them royalty within the indie music industry.
Pale Waves (Manchester, England)
Manchester may not be known for producing a lot of cheerful music, but emerging four-piece Pale Waves wants to change that. There is nothing pale about their sun-drenched indie pop. Front woman Heather Baron-Gracie’s crystalline vocals can brighten even the cloudiest of days, so keep them in rotation for instant mood lifting purposes.
Rodes Rollins (Los Angeles via Boulder, CO, USA)
2015 introduced us to Julien Baker. Last year, Julia Jacklin was the name to know. Could 2017 be the year of Talia Taxman, a.k.a. Rodes Rollins? Her debut single, “Young & Thriving”, was breathtaking, combining the radiance of the Laurel Canyon influence with the lush, smokey qualities that stream contemporary psychedelic-folk. Her debut EP should be arriving in the first quarter and with it a breakout should follow.
Sløtface (Stavanger, Norway)
One of 2016’s big surprises was Norwegian band Sløtface. Raging indie rock; hip-shaking, ’90s-inspired pop-rock; or summer anthems, the quartet of Haley Shea, Lasse Lokøy, Halvard Skeie Wiencke, and Tor-Arne Vikingstad can do it all. With a debut album expected this year (we’re hoping, anyway), expect Sløtface to be mentioned in the same breath as Wolf Alice and Sunflower Bean.
Slovenlie (South London, England)
Multi-talented artist Slovenlie‘s personal story is a must-read, as she has overcome multiple challenges to become a classically-trained musician. She has applied her education to the field of electronica and synth-pop, creating music that is cinematic, anthemic, ethereal, and simply spectacular. Slovenlie has the makings of being a massive star along the likes of BROODS, BANKS, and Grimes.
So Below (Auckland, New Zealand)
What happens when you get an artist who applies Karen O’s hypnotism and the sensuality of London Grammar to a darkwave / goth-pop approach? The answer is So Below, the project of New Zealand artist Madeline North. Her debut EP was a mesmerizing collection of four songs, and her latest single, “Hard”, was exhilarating. She has the potential to rise quickly, and she already has fans in The Naked and Famous.
Stef Chura (Detroit, USA)
Towards the end of 2016, a buzz was growing around Stef Chura, a singer/songwriter who performed across America’s Midwest for a few years. Her debut album, Messes, comes out at the end of the month, and early impressions are that it is a blend of Courtney Barnett, Frankie Cosmos, and Stevie Nicks. Add this all up, and indie rock has its next big thing.
Strange Hellos (Bergen, Norway)
One of our favorite discoveries of the year was Norwegian band Strange Hellos. They impressed us so much that their song, “Summer”, anchored our Mega, Mega-Playlist of 2016. Their indie-pop approach is bright, summery, and infectious, radiating of the music from the ’90s. In other words, their music is the perfect remedy for gloomy times, and this year we’ll need more music that reminds us of sunny days.
Surf Rock Is Dead (Brooklyn, USA)
Surf Rock Is Dead have been creating solid shoegaze-influenced rock tunes after forming in 2014. They released a nice 4-track EP in the last year, and we were just recently excited by a new single released at the tail end of November. With a recent tour supporting The Jezabels and new material, we expect to hear more from SRiD this year. They have the potential to gain a large following similar to Real Estate.
Ten Tonnes (Hertford, England)
“I’ve been all the way to the bottom / and the last thing I want to do is stop,” sings emerging British artist Ethan Barnett – aka Ten Tonnes. His soulful blend of Americana/folk and pop/rock will help establish him as more than just the younger brother of indie singer George Ezra. Since he’s in his early 20s, we’re sure to hear more from him. We just hope the follow-up to last year’s three-song debut EP comes soon.
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