Before we return to our regularly scheduled programming, we must share our picks for Artists to Watch in 2018. Many of them have been previously featured on The Revue, and a few on the list are among of our very favorites who are starting to make noise beyond these pages. So who are we predicting to be among the year’s biggest breakthrough? We offer 35 suggestions from around the globe.
Anna Burch (USA)
With a summery, lo-fi, indie-rock approach and poignant songwriting akin to Mitski and Jay Som, 25-year old Anna Burch has the chance to be the year’s must-see and must-hear artist. She’s released three songs to date, and each one has left us a little weak in the knees. Don’t be surprised if the big music sites and other blogs also start to sing her praises over the coming months, especially once her debut album, Quit the Curse, is released on February 2nd via Polyvinyl Records.
Last year, we listed Black Honey as being the next UK band to rival Wolf Alice, and they did pretty well. 2018 is Anteros‘ turn, with whom we’ve been smitten for well over two years. As their terrific Drunk EP, which was one of the best in 2017, and the single “Bonnie” demonstrated, the London-based band have mastered the craft of blending catchy pop-rock melodies with fabulous storytelling. It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the world celebrates their artistry, and the arrival of their debut album, expected some time in the second half of 2018, should catapult them into, yep, Wolf Alice territory.
We’ve been keeping up with BERRIES for a while now. Their distinct style separates them from the vast amount of rock talent flowing around London at the moment. With charismatic displays on stage and down to earth personalities off it, Holly Carter, Lauren Cooper, and Lucie Hartmann have the potential to go far this year.
Billy Raffoul (Canada)
Billy Raffoul has only released a handful of singles, but the Canadian born singer-songwriter is making waves with his enigmatic vocals and his stellar guitar skills. After making a live appearance at the ACL Festival last October, we are sure that his fanbase will continue to grow especially when his debut album is released later this year. Raffoul has the potential to be a new generation’s Joe Cocker or the next Hozier.
The Blinders (England)
2017 saw The Blinder gain a wealth of experience touring with the likes of Cabbage and Strange Bones, as they fine-tuned their awesome live performances. The talented trio have already gained a reputation for their in-your-face live displays, so their headline tour this year should go down well around the UK. They’ve already had a sell-out months in advance in their hometown of Manchester.
Caroline Rose (USA)
In Caroline Rose‘s career as a musician, we’ve been able to conclude three things about her. First, she’s a ball of energy, whose outgoing personality is infectious. Second, she’s a fantastic songwriter, sharing both personal stories and taking her observations of everyday life and turning them into fantastic, Quentin Tarantino-like tales. Third, she’s unpredictable, as her debut album leaned towards the roots, rockabilly, and Americana genres. Meanwhile, the first single from her sophomore album, Loner, which arrives on February 23rd via New West Records, indicates more of a pop-rock vibe. Her trademark clever lyricism and combustible energy, though, likely will remain. Look out Mac DeMarco, there’s a new master of the tongue-in-cheek in town.
Chelsea Lankes (USA)
One of our favorite pop artists is back, and nothing will hold Chelsea Lankes from becoming a massive star. Well, the energetic and talented singer did take a bit of a hiatus to get married. But with the nuptials out of the way, the Nashville-via-Texas singer is about to release an avalanche of new material, which should be extremely personal if her last two singles, “Matches” and “Love Hate Pain Killer”, are any indication. Couple her endearing songwriting with her angelic vocals and knack for creating stirring harmonies, and you have an upcoming star that you won’t soon forget.
We’ve been anxiously waiting Kaity Dunstan’s – a.k.a. Cloves – debut album since hearing her debut single, “Frail Love”, in July 2015. The 21-year old, Melbourne native has one of the great voices in music, lying somewhere between Adele and Amy Winehouse. Couple it with her classic soul approach and you have a young woman who does something extremely rare – become a massive hit among younger and older generations. Her debut album is expected this year.
Dream Wife (England and Iceland)
Dream Wife drop their self-titled, debut album at the end of January, so it shouldn’t take long for you to fall for the pop-punk trio. It only took two days into the year for them to get Annie Mac’s hottest record on BBC Radio 1 with “Hey Heartbreaker”. They smashed it at Truck Festival last year so expect them to be on the lineups for some main stage action at a few of the big summer weekends later in the year.
Emily Reo (USA)
Brooklyn’s Emily Reo has some serious songs in her back pocket. Her 2016 single, “Spell”, was dreamy, epic, and hypnotic. In 2017, Reo wrapped up a record and toured in Sad13’s band. Her live shows throughout the New York scene have been full of pop goodness,with Reo front and center with her keytar. In 2018, it’s likely Reo will release a new record that will hopefully reveal to the rest of the world what we already know – she’s an exceptional songwriter with unlimited potential.
Emily Yacina (USA)
It seems like it’s impossible to live in New York and not stumble upon the sweet sounds of Emily Yacina. She released a few things this year, an LP in Heart Sky; a single “Flower”; and a cover of Liz Phair’s “Don’t Hold Your Breath”. She’s also collaborated with Alex G in the past. Her music is quite dreamy, it’s smart, and it’s addicting. Really addicting!
As people scour to find the next great dream-pop band to follow in the footsteps of Cults and Tennis, they should look no further than Geowulf, the project of Australians Star Kendrick and Toma Banjanin. Now based out of London, the duo are getting ready to unleash their debut album, Great Big Blue (February 16th via 37 Adventures). What we’ve heard so far has left us tantalized, as beneath their summery and sensational sonic vibes are stories that will shake any person’s emotional foundations.
Grace Mitchell (USA)
Grace Mitchell is one of the most complex and dynamic artists on the planet. And she’s just 20 year old. The Portland native is the ultimate shape-shifter, where she can at one point rock out like Shirley Manson, swoon people with an ’80s-esque pop number a la Tiffany or Debbie Gibson, or get people dancing with a catchy, upbeat, electro-pop song like Lorde. Mitchell’s ceiling is limitless, and the new year should see her become a household name as more people catch wind of the greatness of her EP, 21st & Morley.
Grace Vonderkuhn (USA)
For nearly three years, Grace Vonderkuhn hovered under the radar, where only a few hardcore music fans knew about the Delaware native’s rock god potential. When we first came across her music, she reminded us of Ty Segall. As her career has evolved, we probably underestimated her talent and potential. This is no slight to Segall, just that we think Vonderkuhn could one day be acknowledged alongside Joan Jett as one of music’s great rockers. Her debut album is expected February 23rd via Egghunt Records, and we cannot wait to hear it.
Haley Heynderickx (USA)
Fans of Angel Olsen, Julia Jacklin, and Valerie June better get to know Haley Heynderickx because the Portland native is going to have a massive 2018. Her debut album, I Need To Start A Garden (March 2nd via Mama Bird Recording Co.), which is a line taken from her song, “Oom Sha La La”, is already gaining buzz (look for her new single next week). Her songwriting is witty, sharp, and whimsical while her alt-folk-rock style echoes the Laurel Canyon neighborhood. Need we say more?
Jesse Jo Stark (USA)
Although Jesse Jo Stark grew up in the music industry – her parents are the founders of label Chrome Hearts and Cher is her godmother – she’s carving out a legacy of her own. With a stunning voice that rings with the sweet lushness of Hope Sandoval and musical tastes that extend as far as the alt-country of Neko Case to the dark, cinematic indie rock of Emma Ruth Rundle, she has the makings of an artist that one day will be gracing the Fort Stage of Newport Folk Festival. Maybe it will be this year.
Once upon a time, a young woman with a memorable, smokey voice and classic soul, jazz, and roots approach stole our hearts. We’ve been enamored with Keeva since that day. Leon Bridges and his songwriting team, too, took notice of her talents, and over the past year-plus they have been working with the English artist in writing songs that would populate her debut album. The expectation was that the record would dropp in 2017, which is why she was listed as an Artist to Watch 365 days ago. Now, we anticipate – and hope – the LP arrives this year, so the rest of the world can understand why we are bullish of her potential.
LVL UP (USA)
There were days where LVL UP would be a throw-in band on a bill at a small venue in Brooklyn. Those days are long gone, as they have become a huge force in the New York scene, selling out headlining shows on multiple nights. Their 2016 record, Return To Love, is a rocker with some incredible guitar work and some sweet jams. It seems like they’re about to release one hell of a record this year, and it will likely blow people’s minds.
As psychedelic rock has made a resurgence this century, the question now is what band is prepared to take it to different heights. Tame Impala guided the genre to the glimmer, disco-ball lights. Swedish outfit, MANKIND, though, could be the ones that take psych-rock to darker, edgier, and more cinematic landscapes. After signing with boutique indie label Lazy Octopus, the quartet finally have a platform to share their post-apocalyptic music to the world.
Men I Trust (Canada)
Men I Trust are already online darlings, having racked up millions of plays on various streaming services and built a legion of loyal fans. Despite creating some of the most striking, groovy, and intimate ambient / dream-pop on the planet, the Montreal-based band remain unsigned. Granted, the group fiercely wants to remain independent, and who can question their decision given their success? Men I Trust are already a feel-good story, but they could become the biggest DIY success since Danny Brown.
Michael Jablonka (England)
At this moment, Michael Jablonka is more known for being the lead guitarist in Michael Kiwanuka’s band. A year from now, he’ll be recognized as one of indie rock’s fastest-rising talents. With the skills equivalent to Gary Clark, Jr. and an approach that is Lenny Kravitz-esque, the London-based artist’s face will be plastered on billboards across the globe in no time. Look for an EP or LP release sometime this year – or we’re hoping for one anyway.
Mt. Joy (USA)
If you haven’t heard of Mt. Joy, you better start jotting some notes. The Philadelphia-born, now LA-based band started as a part-time thing. Then unexpectedly two year ago, their singles went viral; hence the move to LA. They not only impressed listeners, including us, but also awesome label Dualtone Records. Their ability to craft songs that are deep in meaning – such as standouts “Astrovan”, “Sheep”, and “Silver Lining” – are why we are predicting big things for Mt. Joy. Their debut album, which should be out some time this year, could have them rising quickly to indie-folk and Americana summits.
New Portals (Northern Ireland)
Husband-and-wife duo Mike and Ruth Aicken have been releasing compelling synth- and electro-pop since 2016 under the moniker New Portals. They’ve released two EPs so far (Stereo and Golden Hour), and each one demonstrated a different side of the duo – from catchy and hip to introspective and engrossing. The duo also have a heart for helping others, as evidenced when they released “Sober” last fall, and all proceeds helped benefit Macmillan Cancer Support and raised awareness for their Sober in October campaign. We are sure 2018 will provide us with more energetic pop tunes from New Portals and make the fast-rising Belfast duo a global sensation.
October Drift (England)
The four-piece rock band are a popular choice with our London photographers due to their over the high-energy performances on stage, yet to our surprise they are still unsigned. If they can replicate these rocking performances onto an album, 2018 could be their year. October Drift have no problem selling out smaller venues around the country, so fingers crossed this is the year they take the next step up.
With her piano-driven songs and smooth vocals, Odette‘s music is engrossing and mesmerizing, as the British-born, Sydney-based artist fuses her family’s jazz background with pop, R&B, and indietronica. Her songs, as a result, leave chills down your back while her lyrics have you contemplating your own existence. Think Lianne La Havas mixed with Ghostpoet, and you get an artist who is set to be one of Australia’s big risers of 2018. Oh, did we mentioned that she’s just 19 years old and already signed to EMI Music? Odette’s future is now.
The end of 2017 saw the release of Rews‘ brilliant debut album, Pyro. It was a hit with a lot of publications and music fans who will be keeping a close eye on the London alt-rock duo this year. If they can line up some more top festival slots in 2018, Shauna and Collette are in a strong position to go on to become a household name before long.
Saints of Valory (USA)
Austin-based Saints of Valory have tweaked their sound a bit with new single releases (such as “Red Smoke”, which we premiered), and a surprise EP (Sleepless), which came out on Christmas Eve. The trio have a triple threat with Gavin Jasper’s unforgettable vocals, heartfelt songwriting, and expansive harmonies. That combination has led to get some serious airplay on Sirius XM, and, in turn, seen their already enthusiastic and sizable fanbase grow even larger. Don’t miss getting on this hurtling alt-rock train before it gets too big.
Sam Valdez (USA)
There are very few regrets we have, but one is not showcasing Sam Valdez‘s music sooner when we had the chance. The Los Angeles-based artist has everything to be a star – a spectacular, breathtaking voice; stories that challenge psychologically and emotionally; and a stirring, indie approach that would make Angel Olsen and Lana Del Rey envious. The 23-year old is only a handful of songs into her career, but every release to date has been dazzling and there’s no reason to think Valdez will change in the future. The only thing that might change is her popularity, which hopefully will explode in this new year.
Stella Donnelly (Australia)
Quick – name Australia’s most decorated, independent artist of 2017. Gang of Youths would be a good guess, and they walked away with several ARIAs (Australia’s equivalent of the Grammys). However, 2017 was the year of Stella Donnelly, who won several awards including the prestigious Triple J Unearthed Artist of the Year. With her low-key, alt-folk style, she will remind overseas listeners of Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. However, her intelligent, honest, and challenging songwriting possesses the same fearless nature of Patti Smith and Joan Baez, as she’s written about sexual assault, victim blaming, and poverty. To think, the Perth-based singer-songwriter is just starting to reach her potential.
Tazmin Barnes (England)
If hard work and talent are predictors of success, Tazmin Barnes is a shoe-in. Growing up in China, she made an early start on her career before returning to the UK and releasing her debut EP, Trapped, which reached a creditable #16 on the iTunes pop charts. Barnes’ development as an artist is being nurtured by the Big Help label, so it’s not surprising that she was seen performing at festivals across the UK through 2017 as well as being a regular favourite of BBC Introducing in her native Worcestershire. With her sophomore EP, Powerful, around the corner, Barnes is set to be a global tour-de-force in 2018.
Thea & The Wild (Norway)
Norway has given the world a bevy of fantastic artists and bands over the past three years. So who will emerge from the pack and become the country’s most talked-about performer of 2018? Our money is on Thea & The Wild, the project fronted by Thea Glenton Raknes and who is by no means the typical artist. Instead, she’s an innovator, who masterfully blends pop, R&B, electronic, ’80s pop, and even dashes of spaghetti western into an exhilarating mix. To this day, we still spin “City of Gold”, which was one of the songs of 2017 and on our year-end Mega, Mega Playlist. Her much anticipated sophomore album is around the corner (Ikaros drops February 2nd via Propeller Recordings) and expect to hear comparisons to Cat Power and Lykke Li.
After three years on the scene, Thyla continue to a “hidden gem” for unknown reasons. Their cinematic indie-rock approach is a mix of the anthemic, delirious, and stark qualities of Blondie, Pumarosa, and Wolf Alice. It’s not like the Brighton-based quartet have restricted themselves to their homes and studio, as they aggressively toured across the UK this year. In addition, they have a fan in BBC Radio’s Huw Stephens. Maybe, just maybe 2018 will see them set foot in other parts of Europe and North America, so that music fans in these places can understand why we’ve been fans since the beginning.
Tiny Ruins (New Zealand)
Hollie Fulbrook and her bandmates – a.k.a. Tiny Ruins – are stars by New Zealand standards with a niche following overseas that includes David Lynch. Their dream-folk style is, in a word, beautiful. In another word, spellbinding. It has been four years since their last album, Brightly Painted One, which was one of our favorite LPs of 2014, and three years since the Hurtling Through EP, and 2018 will bring a new record. Olympic Girls is expected in June or July, and it promises to be an immensely emotional but stunning record. Don’t be surprised to see this record on a bunch of year-end lists and with Tiny Ruins achieving the fame and recognition that fellow New Zealander Nadia Reid received in 2017.
The Vryll Society (England)
It’s finally coming. Liverpudlians The Vryll Society have for the past three years amazed UK fans with their blend of krautrock and psychedelic-rock, leading to comparisons to Temples, Pond, Kraftwerk, and Tame Impala. Now with their debut album coming, we’ll get a better understanding of where the quintet reside. Will they try to replicate the contagious delirium of their more famous contemporaries or will they make their own mark on the music landscape? Whatever direction they opt, they are sure to deliver a memorable first record.
We’ve predicted stardom for Elle Graham – a.k.a. Woodes – a long time ago, although we’ve never featured her as an Artist to Watch. Maybe it’s because we took for granted her talent, where her electro-pop is complex and full of layers and her songwriting borders between the mystical qualities of Björk and the personal styles of Lorde. Her popularity is rising, and soon enough she will eventually turn into a supernova like we suggested nearly two years ago. Helping her case would be releasing the long-awaited debut album that many fans, including us, have been waiting to hear.
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