Wednesday 21 February 2018

14 New artists for 2014

Sam Smith


IF there's one sure-fire bet in this crop of new artists that are likely to be around this time next year, it's probably this young English singer. Rather than rush into a solo career, Smith (right) established himself as a versatile raw soul vocalist on hit tracks by Disclosure and Naughty Boy. His first radio single Money On My Mind with production from Two Inch Punch sounds like a sleek modern R&B pop winner and the album arrives in the spring.


Key track: Fall Over

While The Weeknd's sensual R&B ended up being a bit sleazy once the haze lifted (there's only so many lyrics about blowjobs one can take), his musical style, cloudy dark-shaded R&B, continues to find new hosts. Los Angeles singer Jillian Banks (above centre) has it going on in that department with production provided by UK producers SOHN, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs and Jamie Woon. With her beguiling vocal tones, Banks' voice is something we can be sure won't grate next year.


Key track: Take Me To Church

It's been a whirlwind few months for Andrew Hozier Byrne. The video for his ecclesiastical-themed soul song Take Me To Church lifted his global presence and put his voice front and centre, leading to 17 UK industry people at his Hard Working Class Heroes gig looking to sign him up.

He's signed now and if the record label do the decent thing they'll give him time to develop into a true global concern, starting with the not easy task of following up that incredible first track.


Key track: Every Night

Strutting his stuff in a sharp blue suit with an unhygienic no-socks style, this Australian singer had both the look and the tunes playing for the Other Voices in Dingle a couple of weeks ago.

He already has two tracks that should be on everyone's most- played lists with Every Night and Hustler songs, which display his inventive and intelligent new-romantic pop and dramatic vocal delivery.


Key track: The World Don't Shine

Good old-fashioned harmonic folk-pop from Belfast brother and sister Thom and Lucy. While Southern is their real surname, it aptly describes a big part of the appeal of their music -- a subtle American country-inflected hoedown guitar style but not in a gross Mumford way.


Key track: Deeper

There's a pattern here. Following the Sam Smith - "sing-on-other-bands'-records-and-sound-amazing" method, 19-year-old Ella has already smashed it with Rudimental's Waiting All Night. The Brit School graduate harnesses her powerful vocal chords over urban pop production from Two Inch Punch (him again?) and things are looking likely that Ella will end up as massive as her hair.


Key track: Riptide

Not to be confused with Foy Vance, the Bangor singer-songwriter, this Vance Joy (above) is from Melbourne and could easily do a Lumineers in 2014. He's got that same huge pop appeal through folk sounds thing going on and his voice is full of spirit. Debut single Riptide was a huge hit in Australia this year and did wonders for ukulele sales in the city. We imagine.


Key track: School Dayz Are Over

It used to be a bit of a joke -- 'Irish rap'. But real charismatic and talented Irish rap is out there and Paul Alwright is the apex. In 2014, he'll release his third album 1988. Not afraid to let his Dublin tones dominate, Alwright has genuine lyrical dexterity and top quality production from the likes of JackKnife-J to boot. A real star in Irish hip-hop. No joke.


Key track: Rebound

Pay attention to anything that bears the label name PMR in the next year. The UK label have already given us releases from Jessie Ware and Julio Bashmore and it's the former that is providing their next potential break-out hit in Dornik Leigh who drums for Ware. His sound is definitely R&B but his latest track Rebound, with its weird robotic rhythm, suggested a talent that is less defined by any one category yet to come.


Key track: Better In The Dark

Twenty-one-year-old Swedish/Australian twin sisters Miranda and Elektra Kilbey seem to have the whole package. Not only do they make sultry dreamy music but they've got a retro sartorial style to everything they do as evidenced by their fashion ad-esque video for Better In The Dark. Their debut album arrives in 2014.


Key track: Water Me

We've only seen the start of what alternative artist Tahliah Barnett has to offer through her ethereal R&B. In the background, there's an ambitious multimedia-focused musician distorting traditional female sexuality tropes in her spooky videos. More than some hipster bullshit, FKA Twigs' art is uncompromising and vital.


Key track: Right Thing

Digital technology has enabled production methods that advance the standard pop templates and can be used to distort voices and singers. Rosie Lowe's own voice is somewhere in the middle of the sexes -- androgynous -- but pitch-shifted effects play on that ambiguity over less-obvious soulful R&B.


Key track: Case Closed

Galway's Daithí Ó Dronaí started out on a TV talent show showing off his fiddle loop skills. A few years later, he's developing into a true 21st century Irish pop musician, using his fiddle alongside samplers and keyboards to create a modern pop twist on house music that is closer to Disclosure than anything else in Ireland. Next year should bring a debut album and hopefully, a genuine chart smash. Get a preview at his show in The Academy on Saturday.



Packing a raspy attitude, this Detroit rapper brings a feisty feminine touch and a superfly futuristic Missy Elliott edge to her music. Her debut album LizzoBangers came out a few weeks ago in North America and people are really starting to notice. The single Batches & Cookies with its super cool video is helping too. In 2014, Lizzo looks the most likely MC to "do a Macklemore".

Irish Independent

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