Ones To Watch 2016
Our favourite new artists
Jack Garratt has come a long way since competing in the 2005 Junior Eurovision Song Contest. Boasting Sia and Katy Perry as fans, and brand new BFFs in recent tour mates Mumford & Sons, the Buckinghamshire-born multi-instrumentalist is topping off a brilliant 2015 as recipient of the Brits Critics' Choice award. With debut album Phase due in February, you can expect to hear his soulful, electronics-laden pop everywhere in 2016.
After graduating in vocal jazz, Nao first put her supple, sweet tones to professional use as a backing singer for Jarvis Cocker and Kwabs. Since striking out solo – with 2014’s A.K. Paul-assisted So Good EP – she’s won rave reviews for her minimalist strain of funk and neo-soul, and has received a MOBO nod for ‘Best Newcomer’ and a spot in the BBC Sound of 2016 longlist. Keep your eyes peeled for the East Londoner's full-length debut, due in the spring of 2016.
The Big Moon
Shaking up the testosterone-fuelled lads club that is NME-endorsed indie-rock, this London-based quartet are by far the most exciting guitar band in the country. From the careering, fuzz-flecked indie-punk of ‘Eureka Moment’ to the insouciant alt-rock grooves of ‘Sucker’ and ‘The Road’, The Big Moon have impressed throughout 2015 with their perfect balance of wit and wistfulness, melody and muscle. We can’t wait to hear what they produce next.
- There are precocious talents and then there’s Billie Marten. The North Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter was just 12 years old when she first began posting videos of cover songs online, and four years later she’s now signed to the same label that discovered Mumford & Sons and Wolf Alice. We predict similar success for Marten. If you love emotive indie-folk – in a stripped-back style redolent of Lucy Rose and Laura Marling’s early work – we may well have found your new favourite artist.
- In a genre where ego is usually prized above and beyond emotional honesty, the output of this 21-year-old rapper is a real breath of fresh air. Whether laying bare the feelings of anger and hurt caused by growing up without a father figure on ‘Tierney Terrace’, or exploring the pressures that plague young adolescents on ‘Ain’t Nothing Changed’, Loyle Carner’s rhymes are as relatable as they are engaging. Add smoky jazz samples and loose beats to the mix, and you have songs that speak to both the head and the heart.
- Tarek Musa and co were ambling along quite nicely until Zane Lowe decided to make their riotous single ‘City’ the opening track on his inaugural radio show for Beats 1, back in June. A little over three minutes later, their bedroom project had suddenly become international news, and the record labels came knocking. The Manchester-based quartet continue to deliver on their promise with follow-up track ‘Who Are You?, offering another blast of fuzzy garage-pop, this time with the added bonus of a saxophone solo.
- If the mere mention of LCD Soundsystem, Radio 4 and The Rapture is enough to make you all misty-eyed, you’re probably going to enjoy the work of twins Matt And Will Ritson. Following June’s cowbell-heavy single ‘Hangin’, and a European tour in support of Foals, the South Londoners have recently shared their Under The Tracks EP, which was produced in collaboration with Brighton-based house producer Leon Vynehall. Here’s hoping there’s more punk-funk fun on the cards for 2016.
- Back in the summer, a 20-year-old hardware clerk from Illinois stole our hearts with her glitchy, R&B-referencing pop. The Felix Snow-produced ‘Gold’ remains Kiiara’s only official single to date, but the string of songs she’s unveiled on SoundCloud provide a watertight case that she’s one of the most exciting young artists in the world right now. We’ll be keeping a close eye on her in 2016, and probably on the cashiers when we’re browsing our local B&Q too.
- Longlisted for the BBC’s Sound of 2015, Holly “Låpsley” Fletcher started January on a high, with her impeccable Understudy EP. The 19-year-old continues to impress with the heart-rending ‘Hurt Me’, which finds the Liverpool-born singer-songwriter refining her melancholic, electronics-laced pop. Refreshingly, Fletcher embodies the DIY spirit, owing her sound to a childhood spent noodling on an old keyboard while absorbing her mother’s love for dance music. Fans of Kate Bush and The xx, listen up.
- Following the release of his stunning EP Warcry, Elias has begun to slowly turn heads. Sitting somewhere between Sam Smith’s sombre crooning and the moody synth-pop of Banks, the Swedish teen’s poignant love songs boast a maturity that belies his years. Sample the Annie Mac-approved ‘Green Eyes’, a bass-heavy cut helmed by South London producer Grades. Judging on the strength of this early material, it’s safe to assume that 2016 will see him unveil an exciting full-length debut.
- Alessia Cara first came to prominence in 2015 with her exceptional single ‘Here’. Centred around the same Isaac Hayes hook that Portishead sampled on ‘Glory Box’, the song showcased the Ontario-born singer-songwriter’s supple, soulful vocals, and her sharply observational lyrics. The fact that it remains the strongest thing here is no slight on the 19-year-old’s efforts, because there’s plenty of promise to be found in this first full-length set. Combining tracks from last year’s fantastic Four Pink Walls EP with fresh, R&B-flavoured pop offerings like ‘Overdose’ and ‘Wild Things’, Know-It-All signposts a very bright future for Cara, even if she’s not quite the finished article yet.