20/20 Artists & Bands to Watch
Childhood friends Ian Fraser and Luke Gruntz grew up in Cobourg, Ontario and began their musical journey listening to AC/DC. Admittedly, they’ve been slow developers, but their strength comes from the über-long periods of fermentation between releases. Their “Daphne Did It” was buzzy and gluey with blues-like riffs, a scatter of drums and grungy dark vocals. For fans of Royal Blood.
2: Fever 333
Inglewood’s the Fever 333 merge the essential elements of punk rock with hip hop to forge a subversive rap-core sound that might remind some of Black Flag, though it is perhaps more properly categorized as trap metal. The fiery maelstrom that was “Burn It” reminded us of Bodycount merged with Linkin Park. They bring consistently flammable choruses with immense rhythms and wormy lyrics.
3: Angelica Garcia
Like many in this melting pot global culture, Angelica herself has mixed cultural roots (Salvadorian-Mexican). The summer hit “It Don’t Hinder Me” brought the insistent beats of White Stripes with distorted jangles and some distinctive contralto vocals. Expect lots more in the coming 12 months.
In January 2019 Jada won the P3 Talent Award at Denmark’s P3 Gold (the equivalent of BBC Sound Of). Her (typically broad-minded Danish video) for “Keep Cool” touched on the doubts, insecurities and trust issues found within love and featured artistic nudity. The song was created with raw tones and a voice that has as much bruised body as a boxer laid-out on the canvas.
5: Natalie Bouloudis
How about some smoky-flavored blues-folk? If you can imagine the husky smoothness of PJ Harvey and the rewarding textures of Anna Calvi working together you’d get close to Natalie’s recent plinky-plonky “Outlaster” with its yawning Grace Slick sized vocals and hugely poetic lyrical quality, laced brilliantly with violin embroidery.
6: Wytch Hazel
Along with Tanith‘s “In Another Time” Wytch Hazel’s “II Sojourn” got us through the autumn. If you can imagine the Celtic guitar moonshine of Thin Lizzy combined with the medieval folk magic of Wishbone Ash, but perhaps with a dollop of Christian Baroque for good measure, you’d be close. This could be your favorite band since the Horslips, Home or Bandit… and if you know what we’re talking about… you know what we’re talking about! In truth, the Lancaster UK band have been going a while, but the newest album is gaining traction so 2020 will be break or bust. To dip into the sound, check out the Tullish/ Heepish “We Will Be Strong” (2016) and if you wanna be cool, you can file it alongside Riot.
7: Mount Forel
Walthamstow, London’s Mount Forel delivered the spectacularly sparkly “Witney” from the album “Small Worlds” in the fall of 2019. It was wistful, gently inspired and blissfully passionate and came with bundled blessings. We expect great things from the Mount in the forthcoming year.
8: The Bros. Landreth
If you like the idea of cowboy lullabies played by honest-to-goodness slide guitarists who possess a woozy sentiment, then you might already be following the ascendant success of Joey and Dave Landreth (the bros from Winnipeg, MB) who, with drummer Ryan Voth, guitarist Ariel Posen, and long-time producer Murray Pulver, make some evocative roots-noise. Their recent “Salvation Bound” was spectacularly raw, filled with true emotion and painful truth. Music for your veranda.
9: Lanterns on the Lake
It’s entirely possible that you haven’t discovered the Bella Union five-piece indie rock act from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, yet. But with next year’s “Spook The Herd” album looming and a set of exciting live dates planned for Spring 2020 there’s no doubt this band will bounce onto your radar. The indie-rockers have been around since 2007 but it’s only since their 2015 “Beings” album that they’ve seen hard-earned fame. “Every Atom” taken from the fresh 2020 album release has a saturnine, goose-bumpy quality that brings to mind Lou Reed (in weave and texture, anyway.) With spiny guitars, brambly rhythms and poetic vocals from song-maker Hazel Wilde, this is sublime.
10: Brave Rival
This super-sensational blues-rock ‘n’ power-soul act have already been nominated for an award at “Get Ready To Rock” as a top breakthrough band and we know why… we saw the band support blues performer Stevie Nimmo in concert recently and their double-act vocal gymnastics — decorated with extraordinary guitar and super-professional back line rhythms — reminded us of Nikki Lamborn’s Never The Bride. Imagine vocals by Janis Joplin / Tina Turner over some classic-rock fizz that wouldn’t have been out-of-place at Monterey circa 1967 (think the Holding Company and/or Quicksilver Messenger Service…) and you’d be close.
With their batwing chaps, fringe jackets, rodeo bandannas, Navajo hair and over-shadow make-up… these are the Ramsgate rockers who make will make your cowboy-inspired glam rock dreams come true in 2020. If you still believe in Slippery When Wet (and why not?) this band is deffo for you. If you haven’t come across them yet… where have you been? We’ve already described their sounds as “cartloads of fizz and energizing tension…” and they’ll be playing a stadium near you before the year is out. You better believe it!
12: Sky Valley Mistress
Blackburn’s SVM already define themselves as “the best thing you’ve never heard of...” (more-or-less the title of their debut EP) but the doomy, blues-inspired rock ‘n’ rollers, fronted by Kayley “Hell Kitten” Davies, are likely to spring out of their coffin-shaped box in 2020 with a debut album that they’re releasing on a fab stoner-rock label. Expect bass-heavy numbers such as “It Won’t Stop” that expand into overblown black extravaganzas of uncontrollable paddywhack. Imagine “Hand of Doom” Sabbath meets Goldbug in a dark alley with Cher lurking nearby.
We don’t know if you’ve already gotten on the Tanith train yet… but if you haven’t you ought to get yourself a ride. We’ve been spinning their album all autumn and it’s mighty fine. The Brooklyn, NY based rockers fronted by leather-clad bassist/vocalist Cindy Maynard are like Uriah Heep joins Wishbone Ash at a hard rock convention in Bournemouth in 1972. Imagine something weirdly English in nature, with the smoky spirituality of early Deep Purple and the progressive mystery of Pentangle but ornamented by some gorgeously psychedelic, Andy Powell style guitar-luster and plenty of loose-wristed, yet precipitously careening rhythms. Want medieval-themed folk with stunning harmonization and thoughtful arrangements? Want to re-live the Spring of ’72? Here’s how…
14: Marjana Semkina
The magical and award-winning iamthemorning vocalist & songwriter Marjana creates complex melodic lines and poetic lyrics that she brings to life with a uniquely spellbinding voice. We suspect 2020 will be big for the artist as she delivers her debut solo album, titled “Sleepwalking” on 14th February via Kscope. It’s a mesmerizing concoction of alternative folk-pop drama, with beguiling beauty and cleansing lyrics. She says: “It wasn’t my plan to ascribe any profound meaning or concept to creating Sleepwalking, it’s purpose was more personally therapeutic, it was supposed just to help me get through the dark times….” For fans of Aldous Harding or, perhaps, Marissa Nadler.
15: The Big Peach
Comeback potential is a big-factor in marketing 2020 rock but nothing gets even close to the classified, mod-groovy retro of the Big Peach. These five lads from Manchester were kinda discovered in 2017 but next year will see them bursting out of their tardis with their sixties flavored pop-rock that brings merseybeat jangles with a selfless, skifflish hippy-hippy shake. The newest track “Run & Hide” is sunny and psycho-surreally hallucinogenic and is, basically, Freddie and the Dreamers.
16: Greta Jaime
This nineteen year old multi-instrumentalist, singer and producer’s recent sparkly, yet plummy, single “Internet Love” had oblique edges and a dark underscore. The alt-pop star (she pronounces her name jay-me by the way) is of Mexican origin, though now based in London, UK. Her artistry is distinctively dark, passionate & vigorously intricate. as she concentrates on the false connections that we all make in a digital age. Her deeply echoing voice on “A Better Kind” will inspire & revive soul/urban fans as it brings bright & sparkly beats to the fore… with subtle ‘n’ bitter melancholia. File alongside: St. Vincent.
17: Marisa And The Moths
When Marisa overtook Jeff Lynne’s ELO in the download charts we knew we had backed the right horse! We’ve been banging on about these Moths all bloody summer… In addition to their supremely confident lead singer they also have an internet sensation in the truly remarkable Sophie Lloyd on electric guitar. And the Reading based UK band plays some delectable sound that’s kinda like Lacuna Coil plays Soundgarden classics in Alice In Chains back yard! Somewhere twixt super-grunge and symphonic metal.
18: Kim Jennett
If you don’t know about this rock, metal and blues vocalist from Manchester UK yet… where have you been? Er? Actually Kim’s been keeping a very low profile, performing with Skin guitarist Myke Gray, but their “Love Like Suicide” single brought them applause and a certain amount of attention. It’s as if Skunk Anansie‘s Skin was singing alongside Thunder. Her angelic 2019 ballad “Unbroken” demonstrated how much grit and determination she can bring. Will 2020 be the springboard?
19: Tomorrow is Lost
It’s been a while since the epic “We Are The Lost” […] it was catchy, it was pleasing, it was groovy… but for some reason it didn’t become tractable or influential. Fortunately, the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne UK band that’s fronted by the talented power-vocalist Cass King got a recogknowledged by Eclipse Records in the Summer of 2019 and the label immediately began working with Dave Boothroyd (Don Broco) to create a debut album (Therapy? it’s a shite name, but there you are) which will be revealed April 11th 2020. We’ll see…
20: Félix Rabin
We first saw the amazingly youthful Felix play his chirpy tunes at Bude Blues 2018. His brilliantly memorable walkabout into the audience was a highlight of the festival. He had plenty of stamina and charisma but we thought he was juveniling the shit out of it. But now he’s likely to get his French cherry popped (and some) when he joins Samantha Fish on tour next year. Expect lower vocal tones and a scattering of pubicals upon his jaw before the year is out. Yeah, 2020 is the year that Felix will become a man…
20/20 List compiled by @neilmach 2019 ©
Do you have your own tips for 2020? Any glaring omissions? Share them to @rawrampmag