Happy 2023 everyone! Let’s hope the next 365 days will be better than the last three years, although that might be wishful thinking. Whether the forthcoming 52 weeks will be monumental or challenging, there always will be great music to get us through the highs and lows. Today – and as is tradition here – our first post of the year is dedicated to Artists to Watch in 2023.
Unless you’re a frequent visitor to The Revue or similar sites dedicated to promoting under-the-radar, independent artists, the individuals and bands listed below likely are not household names. At least not yet. Some of the artists featured in previous Artists to Watch lists have gone on to release outstanding albums and emerge as stars – Arlo Parks, Maya Hawke, Grace Cummings, Wet Leg, Sinead O’Brien, Holly Humberstone, TV Priest, Dream Wife, Stella Donnelly, Princess Chelsea, and Fazerdaze to name a few. So who could be the next big thing in indie music? We look into our crystal ball and try to predict the future. Here are 20 Artists to Watch in 2023 (and honestly, we could have listed another 20). Also visit the Favorite Hidden Gems of 2022, as that group is poised for their own breakthroughs.
Anna B Savage (London, England)
Anna B Savage already should be a star. The multi-instrumentalist and visionary is an NPR favorite (her Tiny Desk (Home) Concert is extraordinary viewing and listening) because she perceives music like a painting. Every instrument, note, and lyric play important roles, like the colors strewn across a palette. As such, each song must be carefully heard in order to discover the subtle nuances and surprises. It might be hearing an unexpected bit of jazz, folk, art-rock, indie rock, and chamber music – or even all of them – in a tune. It could be a moment of awe-inspiring emotion, where the track blows one away at its peak. Or maybe it’s simply listening to Savage’s incredible, smokey vocal, which is one of the industry’s finest. With such talent, Savage is an artist on the verge of greatness.
Bo Milli (Bergen, Norway)
Only three songs into her career, Emilie Røine Østebø’s project, Bo Milli, has made our minds spin, our bodies wiggle, and our mouths utter, “Wow”, on countless occasions. The young Norwegian has delivered an outstanding indie-rocker (“At The Wheel”) that echoes Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy; Alvvays-like, grandiose guitar-pop (“How It Is”); and anthemic pop-rock (“FOMO”). What has Østebø standing out from the pack is her insightful and intelligent songwriting. She’s a combination of Lindsey Jordan (Snail Mail), Lucy Dacus, Wallice, Holly Humberstone, and Amelia Murray (Fazerdaze), where she can turn a single moment in time into an extraordinary tale of loss and discovery. If Østebø continues down this path, she quickly will be mentioned in the same breath as these aforementioned stars.
Eaves Wilder (London, England)
Age is in the mind of the beholder. This adage usually applies to those who turn 40 or older, but it also is apt when discussing musical talent. At 19 years older, Eaves Wilder has all the tools to become “the next big thing”. If you don’t believe us, ask the fine folks of Secretly Canadian, who have signed the London-based singer-songwriter. And like so many on the label’s roster, Wilder is not trying to be the next radio star that abides by the standard pop formula. On the contrary, she’s going to be a star by captivating with her musical variety and thought-provoking lyricism, which she showcased on “Morning Rain” and “I Stole Your Jumper”. And don’t let Wilder’s youth fool you – she’s a songwriter mature well beyond her years.
ENOLA (Melbourne, Australia)
Deep in the heart of Melbourne resides Stellar Ruby Marshall and their project ENOLA. While the Victoria capital is more known for its jangle-pop bands and indie-rock singer-songwriters, Marshall blends the wall-shattering post-punk of 1975 Manchester with the ravaging grunge and grungegaze of the ’90s. Another way to think about ENOLA is to imagine Joy Division reincarnated for contemporary times with Marshall playing the roles of Ian Curtis and Bernard Sumner. And like the legendary band, ENOLA could shake up the Australian music scene, adding a starkness and Gothic quality to the land that the Aboriginal people call Naarm.
Gillie (Carmarthenshire, Wales)
Patiently, Gillie Ione Rowland has honed her craft. While she only has officially release a handful of songs under Gillie, she’s performed in various venues across London. Rowland has since returned to Wales and, with the support of Libertino Records, has the opportunity to make a name for herself. Or more accurately, she has positioned herself to be recognized as one of Wales’ great artists in history due to her ability to masterfully merge the urban artistry of the UK’s great music cities with the lush qualities of the Welsh countryside. As she revealed on “i ti”, her sole release of 2022, she can think like Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke while astound like Julia Holter. Such a combination only yields one thing: brilliance.
Girl Scout (Stockholm, Sweden)
Girl Scout are one of the great new bands to arrive in 2022. With only two songs to their credit, the Stockholm-based outfit have not just impressed but amazed. They left us awe-struck with the rambunctious dreaminess and outstanding storytelling of “Do You Remember Sally Moore?”, which was like Alvvays on a dozen Red Bulls. Meanwhile, “All The Time and Everywhere” recalled the contemporary indie rock and great songwriting of Soccer Mommy and The Beths. Like these great artists and bands, Emma Jansson (guitar, vocals), Evelina Arvidsson Eklind (bass, vocals), Per Lindberg (drums), and Viktor Spasov (guitar) are producing catchy songs that stick with us because of the relatable stories told and have us reliving our more innocent youthful days like a great coming-of-age film.
Girl Scout are signed with Made Records. The band’s debut EP is expected in February.
Hannah Jadagu (New York via Mesquite, TX USA)
Ever since we first heard Hannah Jadagu, we envisioned the young songwriter as a future superstar. Even the early EPs recorded and produced on her old iPhone showed that Jadagu could astound with her unapologetic songwriting and widescreen intimacy. The records also showed that her style defies any type of classification, ranging from the loud and electric to the jangly and dreamy. This uniqueness, paired with an authenticity and wisdom well beyond her years, makes it easy to see why she’s already a part of Sub Pop‘s roster. With the finest label in independent and alternative music behind her, Jadagu’s full musical vision will come to life, as her debut record is finally expected this year.
James Mantis (Los Angeles, USA)
Genesis Owusu, the aforementioned Hannah Jadagu, Binki, Blvck Hippie – they are among a new wave of artists shaking up the indie music scene much like Dev Hynes did nearly a decade ago and Young Fathers are currently doing. They are bringing R&B, funk, and hip hop elements into indie rock, indie pop, and art-rock. Another artist that will usher in the next great indie Renaissance is James Mantis, whose debut EP, Jab Step Pop, showcased his potential to be a future Pitchfork Festival headliner. In 2022, he released several awesome songs, including the boisterous “CRUMBLE”, the groovy “NEW SHOES”, and the hard-hitting “MISSION”. His hip-hop background, though, shines in his songwriting, as he shares uplifting messages or tells stories about his community. With his creativity and lyrical poignancy, Mantis, as he sings on the the explosive “SUCKAPUNCH”, is “on the up and up”, and people will know his name sooner than later.
Laveda (Buffalo, USA)
An argument could be made that 2022 was Laveda‘s breakout year, as the quartet released a handful of sensational songs, including “Surprise”, “bb”, and “F***”. Ali Genevich (vocals), Jake Brooks’ (guitar), Dan Carr (bass), and Joe Taruone’s (drums) brand of dramatic dream-pop is made for coming-of-age films or a Netflix series – from the rapturous climaxes and the dreamy desperation that are embedded in each of their songs and Genevich’s fabulous stories of lost, love, pain, isolation, and disappointment. As great as last year was, 2023 is expected to be a more memorable one for the Buffalo-based outfit. Not only will they perform at SXSW, their debut album, A Place You Grew Up In, will be released in April on PaperCup Music. Maybe then, we’ll hear their music on the big and little screens.
Locate S,1 (Athens, GA USA)
Two years have passed since Locate S,1 released her sophomore album, Personalia, which brilliantly described what it’s like to be human in 2020. Little did Christina Schneider know that the entire world would change. At the same time, the off-kilter art-pop and art-rock and surreal songwriting perfectly captured the times, and the LP put her on the radar of most indieheads. As we learn to live in a new normal, Schneider likely has a new set of songs to capture what it is to be human in a pandemic. In turn, 2023 could be the year that she becomes more than just a blip on the radar but a permanent presence, as her third album, which she completed in November, is expected soon. It should be awesome.
My Life As A Moth (London, England via Sweden)
Some artists want to be pop stars. My Life As A Moth solely wants to crawl under our skins and never forget that she was there. The Swedish singer-songwriter takes dark-pop to suspenseful, sometimes theatrical, and even sinister levels. As such, her music, including her Chest Of Dress Up EP, is made for the underground – or an evening at the Winchester Mystery House. And it is fantastically fun and inviting. Her stories, meanwhile, could form the bases of screenplays for a sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, as she describes in vivid detail life of ghouls and goblins (or creepy humans). Like the famed filmmaker, Moth is bold, inventive, and one-of-a-kind. She is an artist by every and any definition.
MYNK (London, England)
When a band is signed with an influential record label like KRO Records, not much more needs to be said about their potential. And when they sign a contract before releasing an “official single”, that says everything. The proof, of course, is in the pudding, and MYNK‘s debut single, “Boundaries”, is, in a word, awesome. Released a month ago, the song sounds like the dream collaboration between the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and post-punk auteurs Preoccupations. It is dark, sinister, infectious, and incredibly brilliant. Should Bex Morrison (vocals, bass), Lewis Clark (guitar, backing vocals), and Ricky Cato (drums) release more tracks like “Boundaries”, they could be 2023’s Wet Leg – a band that shoots to fame on the strength of their sheer talent.
néomí (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Not since being introduced to Fenne Lily have we been floored by a voice, and Neomi Speelman – who goes by the mononym néomí – has one of the most gorgeous vocals in the industry. The Surinamese-Dutch artist’s voice has a smokey but elegant quality that immediately puts one’s mind in a state of calm. Her debut EP, Before, is full of wondrous moments, but her late-2022 single “red balloon” was Speelman at her most captivating, intimate, and touching. When she sings, “This will be over soon / My heart rips open like a red balloon,” we not only get lost in the music but we feel her struggles and pain. We feel that she will one day rise like a red balloon for all to see.
Speelman is signed to PIAS. Get to know this rising star.
Pearla (Brooklyn, USA)
For more than half-a-decade, Nicole Rodriguez has been creating music as Pearla. Her fantastic and engaging songwriting ability was on full display in those early days, but today she combines her gift with the pen with a more widescreen approach. And it is stellar. Every song released in advance of Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime Is Coming‘s February 10th release – “About Hunger, About Love”, “Effort”, “Ming the Clam”, “The Place with No Weather”, and “With” – has been jaw-dropping sensational. Once the LP is unveiled in full, Rodriguez should finally receive the long sought-after praise and recognition with Glistening Onion mentioned as one of 2023’s Best Albums. Having heard the record, it’s already on our short list.
Sophie May (London, England)
TikTok sensation Sophie May is well on her way to being among 2023’s breakout artists. Amassing a following of over 200,000 followers on TikTok and over 85,000 on Instagram, May already has a large audience for her music. Digging into her posts, it’s obvious that May has an incredible talent for songwriting, whether it’s the songs from her EP, You Do Not Have To Be Good, or even the short clips of incomplete songs. There’s an honesty in much of May’s music, as she doesn’t shy away from much. The first song on her EP, for instance, tells the story of someone navigating abuse from a band, but justifying it as the cost necessary to be close to them. That kind of power is felt both in her slower, stripped-back tracks and bustling pop-rock numbers, like “Cadillac”. May might be a social media sensation, but she’s achieved her success as a result of undeniable, sheer talent.
Teeth Machine (London, England)
A mark of a great band, in our humble opinion, is when they can create songs that create polarizing feelings. Teeth Machine are that great band. Originally formed in 2019 as the project of Gray Rimmer (lead vocals, guitar) and Arthur Bently (saxophone, guitar), the band has expanded to include Anthony Boatright (bass), Jamie Staples (drums), and Ciara Reddy (vocals, synth). Together, they have released a few singles, including the sultry yet tense “Gumball” and “Penny” that felt like eyes were watching us. The London-based quintet achieve this by combining melodic art-rock, pulsating post-punk rhythms, and seductive alt-R&B. For most bands, such a musical experiment would be a turbulent mess, but Teeth Machine turn their concoction into a smooth, bone-chilling ride. That’s why Ra-Ra Rok has signed them, and hopefully their debut EP or album will be coming.
Telenova (Melbourne, Australia)
It’s not a matter of if but when Telenova becomes recognized as the next great Australian music export. Less than two years since their formation, this “super-group” already is a favorite of the influential Triple J radio station, and they’ve garnered a sizable fan base with their sultry, R&B-inflicted alt-pop. For instance, their single, “Bones”, was voted the 91st best song of 2021 on Triple J’s Hottest 100, and “Why Do I Keep You?” is in the running to be included on the 2022 list. Despite their success at home and the release of two excellent EPs (2021’s Tranquilize and last year’s Stained Glass Love), Angeline Armstrong, Edward Quinn, and Joshua Moriarty still have a lot to accomplish. This includes finishing their highly-anticipated debut album and touring overseas. All this might happen in 2023, and, if so, Telenova will be Australia’s next great music export.
Trophy Wife (Brooklyn, USA)
As Trophy Wife, McKenzie Iazzetta released one of our Favorite EPs of 2022 with Voyeur. It was a record that demanded attention from its opening moments. The EP also has undeniable staying power, as each track strikes harder than the last. A song like “Linoleum” is enough to propel Trophy Wife strongly into the new year – a powerful number that demands the truth from a partner. Then there is “Enough”, which effortlessly goes from soft and intimate to intense and cathartic. All of the ingredients are there for Iazzetta to create an incredible debut full length record, and, if it comes in 2023, Trophy Wife is a name that’ll be heard everywhere.
Uwade (New York City, USA via Nigeria)
Since covering Fleet Foxes’ “Mykonos” and singing on the band’s 2020 Shore album, Uwade Akhere – or just Uwade – has been destined for stardom. The Nigerian-born, Charlotte, North Carolina-raised Akhere has, after all, excelled in everything she’s attempted. Akhere received scholarships and fellowships to study Classics at Columbia and Oxford Universities, and she recently completed her dissertation.
While it would be easy to say she was born to succeed, Akhere’s life has not been without its challenges. Just as her star was starting to explode, her father passed away in August 2020. Since then, songs from Uwade have been sparse, but the ones she’s released have been sublime, including “The Man Who Sees Tomorrow” and “Do You See the Light Around Me?” Now with her studies completed and following a 2022 tour with The Tallest Man on Earth, new music – and possibly her debut album – should be coming this year. Consequently, one of music’s most promising stars finally should glow brightly for all to see.
WILDES (London, England)
In 2016 when Ella Walker was still a teenager, she blew us away with her debut single, “Bare”. The song was just a hint of what was to come from WILDES – specifically, a young talent whose mature songwriting and stunning vocal could position her as one of Europe’s finest artists. Over the next three years, Walker released a handful of songs, and her star began to glow more brightly. Then in 2019, she took an unannounced hiatus. When Walker re-emerged in 2022, the emotional power of her songs remained. With songs like “Lightly”, “Far and Wide”, and “(Run to the) Flames”, we were reminded as to why WILDES is a long-time favorite in these parts. This year, she should become a favorite of countless of fans, as her long-awaited debut album, Other Words Fail Me, will be released. It drops January 13th, 2023 via AWAL, and we can honestly say that it is breathtaking.
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