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
The Age Of L.U.N.A
L.U.N.A’s collective fusion of eclectic influences and their mutual love of 90’s Hip Hop is unmistakable in the EP. Inspiration from NWA, A Tribe Called Quest and Public Enemy, who the band recently supported, is combined with Daniella’s sultry vocal that draws obvious comparisons to Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
Setting media alight with their quest to forge musicality and consciousness back into mainstream rap, The Age of L.U.N.A have received support and praise from the likes of The Guardian, NOTION, DAZED, Wonderland and Noisey.
Following a 2016 that saw L.U.N.A hone their captivating live set; performing an exclusive set for BBC 2 at Glastonbury Festival, supporting Anderson Paak at Obonjan and touring with Jodie Abacus across the UK, L.U.N.A. will be appearing at a string of high-profile festivals including Glastonbury, Wireless and The Great Escape.
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.
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).
Max Cooper has carved out a unique position for himself as an artist curating multi-sensory experiences, across emotional dance floor experimentation, fine art sound design and visual artefacts created to understand and process the insights of science.
Cooper’s second LP, ‘Emergence’ (released 2016 via MESH/AllPoints) represented a new high water mark in the producer’s already impressive career. An emotive document merging club-ready techno and shimmering electronic ambiance, ‘Emergence’ takes cues from the natural world around us to forge its own universe.
Born in 1980 and raised in Belfast, Cooper has spent the last decade crystallizing his complex yet melodic techno sound, with an impressive run of singles dating back to 2007. 2014’s debut ‘Human’ was a sweeping and cinematic work that employed aggression and nuance in equal doses; 2015’s contribution to BBC’s long-running Essential Mix series both showcased his excellent curatorial taste and contextualized his striking sound amidst his peers. Max has also remixed contemporary classical composers Michael Nyman and Nils Frahm.
Meadowlark are a Bristol based duo consisting of Kate McGill (vocals & keys) and Dan Broadley (guitars & production). They released their debut EP in 2015 and spent 2016 sharing a series of singles, gaining themselves an enviable reputation for their captivating pop melodies and lush production.
Their debut album ‘Postcards’ brings together some of those singles, alongside brand new material written during retreats taken around the UK from any cottage with a piano. Stand out track ‘Eyes Wide’ was added to BBC Radio 1's Introducing playlist and XFM's evening playlist. They've played Glastonbury's Introducing stage, at the Great Escape, MAMA festival (Paris) and Dot to Dot.
Prior to meeting, Kate had clocked up tens of millions of views on YouTube for her catalogue of covers. She released an album and spent a summer in Los Angeles writing with renowned hitmakers. Dan, meanwhile, was playing in rock bands and earning a reputation as a great director having made videos with the likes of Don Broco, Lower Than Atlantis and Mallory Knox.
Hailing from deep in the Welsh mountains, Novo Amor is the alias of Welsh multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Ali Lacey. Lacey’s music is beautiful, melancholic and liable to transport the listener to another realm. His emotive vocals and the sounds he uses, often formed through sonic experimentation, make for fantastically atmospheric songs that are both moving and striking.
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’.
Having played shows and festivals across UK, Netherlands, Belgium and Germany in 2016 and 2017, Lacey quickly sold out his headline show at Hoxton Hall, London in May 2017 and will be back on tour with a run of European dates in the Autumn.
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.
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.