Our new music editor Pete Wisher breaks down seven artists who you should all be listening out for this year…
Brighton-based Yonaka was one of my favourite acts of 2018, and are a band that deserves some serious attention going forward. They’ve been on tour with the likes of Don Broco, Kasabian and Bring Me The Horizon throughout the last twelve months, wowing crowds and the festival circuit with their incendiary and aggressive mix of punk, alternative hip-hop and straight-up power rock. And the material they’ve put out in 2018 alone does more than enough to justify why people should be getting on board the Yonaka hype train. The Teach Me To Fight and Creature EPs are chock-full of addictive tunes to feed the masses – ‘Death By Love’ and ‘Creature’ have some understated light pop sensibilities to be found underneath the authoritative instrumentals, whilst ‘Fired Up’ is a blazing tune armed with an insanely catchy hook and a passionate vocal performance from frontwoman Theresa Jarvis.
The UK’s next big emerging rock band? With an album on the not-too-distant horizon and momentum firmly in their direction, I’d bet on Yonaka any day. Having already sold out Camden’s Electric Ballroom in October, they’ll be filling much bigger spaces over the coming twelve months as an absolute certainty.
London’s Another Sky is one of the more unique avant-garde forces that have emerged in the past twelve months – their enchanting, cinematic sound is instantly intriguing, as is Catrin Vincent’s deep and emotive vocal style. There’s an eclectic mix of influences at play within Another Sky’s music, and their songs often weave their way through multiple styles and moods. Case in point – their debut single ‘Forget Yourself’ travels from delicate piano chords and skittering minimal beats to a crescendo of electronics and feedback, not unlike a more updated version of Radiohead’s ‘Karma Police’. A heavy dose of appropriate social commentary is also part of Another Sky’s palette: their combative single ‘Avalanche’ is a blunt critique on toxic masculinity whilst the accompanying video is a powerful recourse and reflection on the #MeToo movement.
With some artists, if you try to compare them too much to other acts you miss the point of what they are all about. Another Sky would be a perfect example. There’s more music to come on the not too distant horizon, and the band are hitting the road in February for an extensive headline tour across the UK.
The laid back sound of indie/hip-hop crossover act Easy Life would be memorable soundtracks to most of our mundane daily routines. The Leicester quintet signed to Island Records early in 2018, releasing their debut mixtape Creature Habits and a small pile of singles over the course of the year, each one providing their own jazzy charm through the lens of adolescent life in the East Midlands. Their chilled fusion of electro-hop, swing and swaggering indie is undeniably hypnotic, with a diverse set of influences that vary from afrobeat to Kanye West to Beyonce. The bittersweet lyricism of Murray Matravers is idiosyncrasy at its finest, dismembering the challenges of everyday life whilst providing an escapist vision for their listeners to step into. Combine this all with some killer production values (Stormzy and Drake producer and all-out legend Fraser T. Smith were behind the desk for ‘Nightmares’) and the result is outright vibe central.
2018 saw Easy Life become a nationally sought over live act – performing at The Great Escape, opening for Liam Gallagher in Finsbury Park and headlining a mostly sold-out UK tour all aren’t shabby achievements. This year should bring more of the same and then some more: Easy Life have a hometown show at Leicester’s O2 Academy lined up, plus a date at London’s Scala and Glasgow’s King Tuts in the early part of 2019.
Reading quintet Valeras has been setting all the right foundations for an established tenure in the UK alternative scene throughout 2018 – they’ve toured with The Amazons, Fickle Friends, King Nun, Yonaka and The Regrettes; played on high-profile bills at Live at Leeds, Reading and Leeds and The Great Escape and have picked up support from BBC Introducing and Radio 1. Last year also saw a lot of new music from Valeras to follow up the raw but well-executed Knives & Flowers EP. Their addictive single ‘Painkiller’ is where the triple-guitar attack from Katie King, George Parnell and Cat Beazley takes full flight around a cascading chorus, although vocalist Rose Yagmur does steal the show with sultry yet airy performances on ‘Intentions’ and ‘Louder’.
Valeras kick-off 2019 with a debut headline tour across the UK in February and March, visiting venues such Guildford’s The Boileroom, London’s Thousand Island and Glasgow’s Broadcast in what is a momentous milestone for a still-developing band. They’ll also be heading overseas to appear on the bill at Madrid’s Mad Cool Festival, which takes place in the Spanish capital from the 11th to the 13th July.