While the BBC’s Sound of 2015 list is mostly a fucking farce, we’ve come up with our own flashy docket of artists who have made waves throughout 2014. Now let’s get this straight: this is not an attempt to predict the charts, nor is it any indication of possible future record sales or fame, it’s merely a nod in the direction of artists that we think have been doing great things this year. Should they remain to create music with originality, this bunch of talented folk have the ability to take their art to the next level.
These French-Cuban twins top the list of our ones to look out for in 2015. Signed and produced by Richard Russell on his XL label, Ibeyi are by far the most impressive act we’ve come across this year. Their début LP is out on the 16th of February and I can say with some certainty that it’ll feature in a number 2015’s lists. Such is the depth of their songwriting ability, emotive output and a honest-aesthetic, these sisters will make quite the impact on the music scene; that’s some statement considering only three original songs have ever surfaced. Listen to ‘River’ below but check them out performing live too – it’s as impressive.
Nao introduced herself this year with the incredible ‘So Good’ featuring Jai Paul’s brother A. K. Paul. Marrying itself perfectly against Paul’s smooth falsetto, the maximalist backdrop provided one of this years standout records. Her voice takes a nod to the 90’s r&b heyday with an unnerving yet seductive flavour but it’s her ability to perform with a number of different producers including the ever-present abhi//dijon that really asserts Nao into an incredibly promising artist. Take her latest ‘So Good’ EP, for example: it combines chart qualities with naggingly familiar chorus’ and you just can’t help but return to her offerings time and time again.
William Arcane’s smart and layered production alone would have given him with a spot on our ‘Ones to Watch’ list but coupled with a celestial voice that offers comparison to Radiohead’s Thom York and R&S’ James Blake, has meant that I haven’t gone a week in the last couple months without revisiting his music. There’s an obvious buzz about William Arcane in London at the moment and his sold out show this month at The Blue Last with Billie Black is a real testament to first, his talent, and second but no less important, his potential.
Laurel has been unleashing muted electronic murmurs with orchestral pines over this last year. We’re not the only ones to have tipped London’s latest sweetheart for big things in 2015 either with Gigwise naming her in their ‘Ones to Watch’ list as well as garnering support from BBC 1’s Zane Lowe and The Line of Best Fit. She burst on to our radar some 8 months ago with ‘Fire Breather’ but has since gathered momentum with a string of impressive releases. Deft melodies aligned with Laurel’s sometimes Nordic but always transient voice sticks her in a place to really excel in 2015.
Ever since I heard Rae Morris alongside Bombay Bicycle Club’s ‘Luna’ in January this year, I haven’t been able to stop myself from regularly checking out her Soundcloud in the hope of a new tune. I can’t quite pin exactly what it is about Rae that makes her so appealing to me, but with her début album out on the 26th of January 2015, I think I’m about to get a definitive answer. Rae’s music pins her delicate vocals to glistening strings, exhaustive but never over-the-top drums and a genuine sentiment that comes across, especially when she reaches for her magnificent upper register. There’s certainly a poppy feel to everything Rae produces, but somehow it also touches on a very independent atmosphere.
SHE’S NINETEEN, FOR FUCK’S SAKE. NINETEEN! I’ve always thought to myself that age shouldn’t really be a factor when listening to music, but when you a discover an artist like Billie Black who is nearly fully into her musical stride, you can’t but help but give it a small mention. When it comes down to Black’s music, it all feels incredibly assured and classy taking subtle strands of soul from her closest UK counterpart – Jessie Ware. Her début EP, ‘000100’ suffocated my news feed for around a week gaining acclaim all over globe and if the current music market continues in its r&b/pop/soul hybrid path, there’s little-to-no doubt that Billie Black will be a real force come the arse-end of 2015.
There’s very little physical information about Oh Wonder. All we know, is that we’re to be treated with a record every month for the next 8. Thus far, their last 4 tracks have racked up more than 1.4 million plays. I’m not one to come to conclusions using figures alone, especially in an industry where anything from the ludicrous, nonsensical rhetorical pile of shit about foxes can gain worldwide attention to the monstrosities that hit our airways from an 11am BBC R1 show hosted by Fearne Cotton, but when an artist builds a rather substantial following in less than four months, you’re pretty much obliged to take notice. Regardless of the numbers, though – these guys are worth every listen.
London-based singer-songwriter Archie Faulks aka Tenterhooks has been making music that has the real potential for chart success. Whether that’s a good thing or not, I’m not quite sure. What I do know is that his music caves away from the obvious call-and-respond, reaction-riff and instead focus’ its attention on clever lyrics and subtle melodies, ones that when convoluted, are strangely emphatic. Tenterhook’s a pretty fucking cool name, too.
Here’s a little Spotify playlist which features all the artists except Oh Wonder, ‘cos that shits still unsigned. Some added tunes from our ‘Ones to Watch’ artists in there that aren’t already posted above, too. Enjoy:
If you like what you hear give our Facebook page some love, it’s updated with new tunes almost everyday.