In music, one of the most transformative experiences a woman can have is also an unspoken artistic taboo: Have a baby if you must. But for goodness’ sake, don’t write songs about it. Critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Alela Diane has a problem with that.
“This music is about motherhood,” Alela says of her highly anticipated fifth album Cusp. “Even just by saying that, it feels like people will write you off. It’s like you’ve suddenly lost the charm of being youthful and even attainable––you’ve been commoditized as available. There is not a big place in the music industry for 30-something women with kids making music.” She laughs as she pauses, then adds, “Maybe we can create that space.”
If anyone can carve out needed new territory, it’s Alela. Cusp may be a thematic departure for the Portland, Oregon-based artist, but the Argus-eyed writing and clear voice that have long-since wowed Pitchfork, NME, Paste, and other early adopters throughout Europe and elsewhere have never been stronger.
Alela Diane - Émigré - Official Video
Blue Lab Beats
Blue Lab Beats is the brainchild of NK-OK and Mr. D.M. The pair are the engine room behind many of the freshest new acts - Age Of Luna, Ruby Francis, Louis VI - and also remixers for Emeli Sande, Jodie Abacus, Dua Lipa and Rag n Bone man to name a few. The production style is raw but also sophisticated - musical but not introvert. Their recent Jazz FM performance caught the attention of the music world, clocking up over 400K+ views in just over a week with sparking off worldwide bookings and a sold out debut headline show at Mau Mau Bar. That performance sits just under half a million views now.
Hailed as the One’s To Watch by many this year, Blue Lab Beats have already featured on the front cover of the esteemed Blues and Soul Magazine and seen support from Dazed, Clash and Afropunk.
Raised in a hushed suburb of Stockholm, Sweden, Anna spent most of her time immersed in video games and comic books. It wasn't until her early teens that she discovered music as a way of dealing with emotions, and as a result, idled away hours playing cover songs on her mother's acoustic guitar. Eventually she moved on to writing her own lyrics and compositions, finding her voice and recording burgeoning songs on her phone.
Fast forward a few years and Anna Leone's sound has grown into a force to be reckoned with. With references including Bob Dylan, Lana Del Rey, Bon Iver and Laura Marling, she has successfully developed her own magnetizing take on the singer-songwriter genre; one that has set her in place as one of 2018’s most promising breakthroughs.
The softer than usual, layered electronic arrangements of BAYNK is the afterthought of singer/songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Jock Nowell-Usticke who broke out in 2016 accidentally when a blogger from Hillydilly stumbled across the one song "Sundae" he uploaded before having all his music equipment stolen whilst backpacking around Europe.
Laptop stolen and unaware of the initial song's success the New Zealander later found himself on several festival line-ups around the country, most notably Laneway.
His 2016 single What You Need featuring NÏKA earned him early critical praise hitting #1 on Hype Machine and support from major tastemaker YouTube channels such as Majestic Casual and Chill Nation. Both this and his follow up single Poolside were picked up by multiple New Zealand Radio DJ's as well as tripleJ and SiriusXM internationally.
After a 26-date North American support run with Matoma and three sold-out debut headline shows in New Zealand, BAYNK joins Australian producer Hayden James on his fall U.S. tour as special guest last November before returning to NZ to perform Laneway once more. This year he was invited to be Kasbo's special guest on his sold out tour across the USA and will also embark on a headlining tour in select cities this June.
BAYNK - Be In Love [Official Music Video]
They say it's grim up North and one listen of breakthrough singer-songwriter Brooke Bentham's opening salvo in 2017 might reinforce that sentiment. Speaking from her bedroom in the art ghetto of New Cross, Bentham channels a maturity and life ethic that's wise beyond her age, a result of having partially raised herself.
Touching upon themes of frustrated relationships, reaching a point when everything is static and feeling unfulfilled, her music possesses the epic alt rock journeying of War On Drugs or Ryan Adams with the added emotional vocal depths of Sharon Van Etten or Angel Olsen. That all this is the fruits of a 21-year-old from South Shields outside of Newcastle might take you by surprise. It carries the weight of someone who's lived a hundred lives already.
He may wield an acoustic guitar and write achingly beautiful universal truths, but Ciaran Lavery couldn’t be further from the sensitive singer-songwriter archetype.
In 2014, Lavery’s Kosher EP and Not Nearly Dark album went global, with the tracks ‘Shame’ and ‘Left For America’ leading the charge racking up more than 60 million listens on the Spotify streaming service and inspiring a raft of renditions from other countries. The plaudits kept coming in 2015, with the release of Sea Legs, a mini-album on which Lavery collaborated with electronica artist Ryan Vail, winning them a nomination for best album at the Northern Irish Music Prize.
In 2016 his sophomore album “Let Bad In" won the Northern Ireland music prize. Fast becoming one of Ireland’s most in demand exports, Ciaran has appeared on German radio and television, Spotify television in USA and was selected to play at Willie Nelson’s BBQ at Luck Ranch in Texas by the man himself.
In 2017 Lavery is set to release his third studio album with his biggest tour to date taking in most of Europe, the UK, US, Ireland and Canada.
2016 was another year of widespread success for Gavin James. ‘Breaking Artist’ winner at the A&R Awards, the Spotify Spotlight Artist of 2016 also had wide support from tastemakers on BBC Radio 1, Apple’s Beats 1 and Radio X. The toweringly-tall, down-to-earth Dubliner with his heavenly voice, spine-tingling songs and habit of jumping into audiences has earned himself an army of devoted fans around the world.
The past year’s schedule was just as rammed as the previous years’. The sold-out shows – headline this time – began with a three-night run at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre and continued with Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Amsterdam’s Paradiso and LA’s The Troubadour. His crowning moment came at the 3 Arena in December, a raucous headline show at the sold-out the 15,000-capacity venue. Gavin shows no sign of slowing down in 2017. The first half already booked up with headline tours in the UK, Ireland, Europe and America.
Gavin’s total Spotify streams are rapidly heading toward 200 Million making him the 175th most streamed act in the world and rising. His breakout hit "Nervous", which has to-date achieved over 100 million streams collectively on Spotify, reached No.1 in Holland, Top 10 in Norway, France and Ireland, going multi-platinum in those and several other international markets. "Nervous" has undoubtedly cemented Gavin as one to watch in 2017. His newest single, "I Don’t Know Why", is a fresh take on a track from 2016’s "Bitter Pill".
James Vincent McMorrow has unveiled surprise new album ‘True Care’. This follows 2016’s acclaimed third record ‘We Move’, which reached number 1 and was nominated for the Choice Prize in Ireland, saw James sampled by Drake, and make live appearances ranging from Jimmy Kimmel and Jools Holland to sold-out shows worldwide (including London’s Roundhouse, Sydney Opera House and Dublin’s National Stadium).
From its cinematic opening lyric – “December 2914 / I still don’t understand a thing” – James Vincent McMorrow’s fourth album, ‘True Care’, is a futuristic mix of introspection, memory, and piercing honesty. Written and recorded in secret alongside co-producer Two Inch Punch (Sam Smith, Years & Years), the three-part, conceptual framework of ‘True Care’ also sees James break free from those other, more entrenched concepts of writing/recording/touring (and repeat).
London’s Miro Shot are a collective looking to disrupt the status quo, utilising the advancements in virtual reality tech to present a new version of what a band can be. At the centre of their vision is their addition to the traditional gig. Alongside playing regular shows, groups of up to 20 people are invited to an event earlier in the day to wear VR headsets while the band play one song. Look out for new music coming in 2019.
Leaders In A Long Lost World
Novo Amor, alias Welsh multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Ali Lacey comes from deep in the Welsh mountains. Recording, mixing and producing everything in his home studio, Lacey’s emotive vocals and the sounds he uses, often formed through sonic experimentation, make for fantastically atmospheric songs that are both moving and striking, gaining him a dedicated fan base around the world.
His first release for AllPoints, the magical ‘Bathing Beach’ EP, quickly picked up support from Greg James, Mistajam and Huw Stephens at BBC Radio 1, as well MOJO, Line Of Best Fit and NPR. It followed his widely lauded debut EP ‘Woodgate, NY’.
In November 2017 Lacey released ‘Heiress’, a collaboration album with long-term writing partner Ed Tullett. Ending 2017 on a high, he sold out his biggest London headline show to date at Shoreditch Town Hall. His debut album ‘Birthplace’ will be released on October 19th 2018.
After meeting in November 2013, Ed Tullett and Novo Amor (Ali Lacey) quickly began writing to form the basis of what is now “Heiress”, their full-length collaborative record.
Recorded around the release of their two widely lauded collaborative singles (“Faux”, 2014 and “Alps”, 2016), the pair worked sporadically in intense week-long sessions in Cardiff spilling over Lacey’s old and new home-studios, tearing songs down and building them back up again. “Heiress” is noticeably the product of nearly 4 years work – sprawling, ambitious and strikingly deep, it’s a collection of songs both meticulously calculated and deeply felt. The record swings between delicate, poetic falsetto and vast walls of towering beauty – something “Cavalry” does all on its own. “Silvery” is a vital, grandiose inauguration, and the magical “Terraform” a celebratory realisation that you’re back on your own Earth again.
Both are solo artists in their own right – Welsh alt-folk artist Novo Amor’s second EP “Bathing Beach”, was released in May after a string of stunning self-released singles, whilst Oxford-born and Brighton-bred songwriter and producer Ed Tullett’s 2016 album “Fiancé” precedes a flurry of upcoming solo, collaborative and production work.
The exclusive realm of RKCB introduces a dreamy ode to their unpredictable soundscapes. When Riley Knapp and Casey Barth fuse together their diverse layers of electronic, R&B music, the result is an unparalleled work of art that could be displayed in a gallery for the most modern music consumer. Avant-guard by design, RKCB’s songs are also personal and strive to inspire listeners within the lyrics of this narrative. This is perhaps the most fascinating part of the experience woven between the music, songwriting, and imagery.
With more than 95 million Spotify streams, RKCB songs have premiered on Pigeons & Planes, Noisey, and Beats1 with Zane Lowe, topped the charts of Hype Machine, and seen success in Spotify’s coveted New Music Friday, Alternative R&B, Indie Pop, and US/Global Viral Charts. Additionally, RKCB has toured with the likes of Lauv, Gallant, and Bag Raiders and played numerous festivals including SXSW, Air + Style Festival, and Mamby on the Beach, and Lalala Festival in Indonesia.
Both accomplished as producers and songwriters, RKCB have worked Julia Michaels, Kacy Hill, and Tinashe. They currently reside in Los Angeles and preparing to release their forthcoming project.
Till We're In the Sea
Having lent her breathtaking vocals to greats like Gorillaz, SBTRKT, Shy FX, Machinedrum, Brasstracks and more, this year Roses Gabor sets out her stall as a solo artist of some genius.
Her experience working with other huge artists - which started when she randomly met a member of Gorillaz while still working her 9 to 5 at a bank – has given her blockbusting debut album a confident finesse.
Roses has been at the nexus of the most exciting UK electronic soul music of recent times. With new material on the horizon, Roses is weaving her own rainbow, casting her own magic and stepping out as her own starlet.
ROSES GABOR - ILLUSIONS (FEAT. SAMPHA)
Rising US singer-songwriter and producer shallou strikes a delicate balance between pop accessibility and rich, ambient dance rhythms. He released his first single ‘You And Me’ with AllPoints in November 2017. It arrived in the wake of the Chicago-based artist's debut EP ‘All Becomes Okay’, a breakout effort that has seen overwhelming support from listeners with over 70 million streams across platforms since its May 2017 release, and support from FADER, Complex, Spin and Thump.
An excellent live performer, shallou supported Quinn XCII on his 2017 North American tour and has performed alongside Petit Biscuit, Roosevelt, El Ten Eleven, Chad Valley and more.