We hope you’ve enjoyed the full-length features on Shygirl and on Beabadoobee. Here are the rest of our picks for 2020.
The aptitude that Grove holds for commanding a room is inimitable. Whether performing their solo material, or as one half of BAAST, DJing, or hosting nights, Grove is an exceptional artist who knows how to steer a party right. Bringing queer AF, badass anthems to the club, you’ll catch them delivering searing bars and beats about “how whack your boyfriend is” and serving up sensual dancefloor heaters.
Fusing a wealth of distinct sounds, Grove’s creations intersect hip-hop, club music and more, with rich and diverse influences blending together to create tracks which shift from emotive melodies and lyrical vulnerability, to simmering, pure party hedonism and, as they put it, “shout[ing] about how much they love the sesh.” And all of this is intertwined with Grove’s powerfully-soulful voice and flow, delivered with a glimmer in their eye.
Having recently moved to Bristol, they’ve quickly established themselves as one of the most exciting performers around. In addition to their two main projects, they’re also part of the cast of BAC’s ‘Frankenstein: How To Make A Monster’, which has seen them perform at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer. It’s been a busy time, with this, joining Saffron Records, working on new material and playing a number of shows – including the iconic Dalston Superstore in London – all of which certainly has us excited to see what the new year holds. With a new EP dropping soon, which they’ve given us very enticing tasters of at recent live shows, now is the time to take note, as we’re going to be hearing a lot more from Grove this year. Kezia Cochrane
Listen: big poppa
Pets? Shimmering? One thing you can guarantee your pets don’t do under normal circumstances is shimmer. Your hamster starts emitting intermittent gleams of light, you’re either likely to rummage in your man drawer for the nearest Geiger counter or start worshipping Mr Nibbles as a deity. What are Pet Shimmers? A Bristolian supergroup? A collective? Intergalactic situationists taking temporary residence on Earth to see if they can out-weird what’s already going on here?
Ask Oliver Wilde to define things and he’ll tell you they’re a “nuclear family-fronted, sit down, stream friendly play shifting, 8-bit apocalypse party band for fans of sparkle force and gender neutral milk hotel,” all of which are words and phrases that make sense in splendid isolation, but when put together convey something intangibly deeper, recalling the lengthy, poetic titles of his solo albums.
Pet Shimmers’ songs are much more felt than heard. Trying to pin down the lyrical thread of one of their songs is somewhat akin to running along Wapping Wharf, trying to catch the meaning of life in a butterfly net. There seems to be pain and compassion in there somewhere, and a desire to end up somewhere other than where convention dictates, but beyond that, the shimmer that they are likely to bring to your life comes from loving the fact that, for a few moments at a time, you’re in a better place. No need for whale noises or profound breathing exercises, just an exhilarating blast of ‘Mortal Sport Argonaut’ or the cosmic swell of ‘Super Natural Teeth’ and you’re sorted for comfort and joy.
Those aware of Wilde’s prolific nature will be unsurprised to hear that this fairly nascent band have a full album ready to release this January, topped off with a tour in support of (Sandy) Alex G shortly after. If you return in the new year feeling jaded of your nine-to-five day-job faff, hankering instead after something more extraordinary and characterised by “More feels, less Hz,” then you should spend the early months of 2020 adrift in Pet Shimmers’ hazy, textured world, repeatedly mumbling ‘WTAF’ to yourself (I propose: Wilde, That’s Acoustically Far-out). Jon Kean
Listen to: Mortal Sport Argonaut
Anyone looking to stave off more political gloom for 2020 need look no further than TSHA’s melodic, escapist electronic music. The London-based DJ/producer makes the kind of globetrotting electronica that put fellow British visionaries Bonobo and Four Tet firmly on the map. In fact, Bonobo included her single, ‘Sacred’ on his 2019 fabric presents album. And TSHA’s recent cut, the propulsive ‘Me You’, takes cues from Four Tet’s ‘Lush’, with Indian santoor swapped for a mbira and Persian lutes.
‘Moon’, from her second EP, Moonlight (released November 2019), is a richly-textured, syncopated and euphoric beast of a track that makes you want to move to a desert island. Not much is known about the background of this self-taught talent, but an increasingly busy live schedule that’s already seen her play Printworks and The Warehouse Project, as well as host radio shows (Rinse FM, Worldwide FM), means we’re surely about to learn a whole lot more. Charlotte Krol
Listen: Me You
A five-piece that feels like a genuine five-man collective. Clever, but not ponderously so. Like the kid that sits at the back of the room and gives the teacher grief, Some Bodies are the cynical class clown, writing the lyrics for their first album in the back of their exercise book, imagining what the first video will look like, rather than giving the suited drone at the front their full and undivided attention. Nobody’s fool.
Anyone at the album launch of Sunscreen at The Louisiana on 15th November will know that they’ve got what it takes to become another name that once played there on their way up: songs with careful construction that rock out slowly or stroke you with crooning, sun-blessed existentialism; a front man with the vocal range and the moves to keep you transfixed; strong facial hair game. This is 70s honeyed psych with caustic Millennial disaffection. Jon Kean
Listen to: Higher Self
There’s not a lot Kelvyn Colt can’t do. Unconcerned with the constraints of genre or geographical borders, the German-Nigerian rapper is destined to light up 2020 with his rapid-fire flow and infectious enthusiasm for crafting only the catchiest hooks.
Many of them arrived by the bucketload earlier this year, as Colt rode something of a hot streak, unleashing ‘Down Like Dah’, ‘WDWGFH’, ‘Savage’, ‘Bury Me Alive’ and most recently ‘Mile Away’. He pairs his unstoppable verses with cinematic visuals, often vast in scope and even creating a self-directed short film to stand alongside ‘Savage’, that traces Colt darting through Cuba in a tribute to classic noir flicks of old.
Having been announced as one of Forbes’ prestigious 30Under30 alumni, it’s fair to say all eyes are on Kelvyn Colt moving forward. Of course he’ll rise to the occasion, just like he has all his life. Lee Wakefield
Listen: Mile Away
Twitter: @ kelvyncolt
SickOnes have been around for a few years now, but it wasn’t until line-up changes last year that the band began to feel fully-formed. Breaking free of the stagnant associations of a testosterone-fuelled genre, SickOnes have been making music that strikes back. Their latest three-track single release gives a clear indication of where the group are headed, originally debuting on BBC Radio 6 and championed by its host. Consequently, their name seems to be cropping up more and more regularly in the local scene, having supported established artists such as Ceremony and Petrol Girls.
It makes clear sense why SickOnes are gaining prominence, as the punk scene (and world generally) continues to make a conscious shift towards inclusion. Though this isn’t to say their music is the result of a politically-correct rollout; there’s a tremendous amount of passion and sincere authenticity behind it all, evident in their live shows. Truly SickOnes are the real deal. Harriet Taylor
Listen to: Exit Years
BLACK COUNTRY, NEW ROAD
It’ll take you less time to read this than it will to listen to a track by Black Country, New Road. It’ll take you much more time to work out what’s going on in a track by Black Country, New Road than it will to read this and listen to a track by them combined. To save you a few minutes, it definitely involves a scintillating free-for-all of sprechgesang poetry, post-apocalyptic prog-jazz, with snippets of post-rock, post-punk, math-rock, darkwave and grunge. Amongst other things.
The Beat Generation meets Gen Z in a flurry of fragmented screenshots that depict modern life in all its stupefying absurdity. Lead singer, Isaac Wood, bristles with middle-class, middle-Englander, post-millennial disaffection, with that voice you make when you’ve had a few and you ring an ex to ask why they dumped you, or when you’re just looking to start an argument with absolutely anyone about anything. Jon Kean
When you find out that German-Bulgarian artist, Lisa Morgenstern’s background is in ballet and classical music, it makes perfect and obvious sense. Combining synths and classical piano influences – often drawing on the traditional voices of the Bulgarian part of her heritage – Morgenstern’s compositions are elegant and moving pieces of music which feel at once both sweeping and intimate. To really add to the drama of her sound, her stunningly-expressive voice makes it feel like this musician has it all, allowing her to build on her already quite wonderful canon of work.
Having performed a commissioned piece with Berlin’s Bulgarian Voices choir at Berlin’s Pop Kultur festival earlier this year, her performances are as unique and special as they promise to be, especially when spanning centuries of the history of music. With so much talent, it’s impossible to know where she’ll go next, so we really are excited to see what the next twelve months holds for Morgenstern. Jess Partridge
Bands and football clubs attract a similar level of partisanship from their supporters. What makes bands that bit more enigmatic is that they can appear out of nowhere, strike up a following by word of mouth, gain significant airplay and suddenly become huge. You couldn’t imagine hearing about a bunch of mates playing exciting Sunday football on Clifton Downs in the Spring, then expect them to be FA Cup giant killers the following January.
But that’s where we find Bristolian self-styled ‘spunk’ band, Football FC. Whether ‘spunk’ adds its ‘s’ for ‘shoegaze’ to a more familiar genre is a possibility, as their hazy distortion suggests. There’s plenty of post-punk bass debasement for your indulgence too. Their most recent track was called ‘Big Time’, with frequent reference to “big shoes”. The large footwear they’re stomping around in could feasibly belong to the likes of Egyptian Blue, Shame or The Murder Capital. Jon Kean
Listen to: Big Time
Our introduction to Christian Alexander, on the release of his Summer ’17 project, was sweetly simple: “I made this over the span of a couple weeks recently in my bedroom when I was feeling low.” So, yeah, you kinda know what you’re getting here – downtempo, lo-fi productions and disarmingly-straightforward lyrics, ruminating on the constant mess of life, love and loneliness.
But what sets this Preston native apart from so many of his peers is the wildly imaginative, yet subtle take on RnB snaking through his arrangements, recalling something closer to the glorious icy detachment of Frank Ocean, that Jai Paul mystery and maybe even Tyler, The Creator’s calmer, more downbeat moments. His debut track, ‘Going Thru’ was the perfect first step, but it was the October release of ‘Lemonade’, with its fuller, more sophisticated, poppier production, that really got us paying attention, and eagerly anticipating his forthcoming Summer ‘19 collection. Dave Rowlinson
Something of a cult icon, Robert Ridley-Shackleton, or The Cardboard Prince as he is also commonly known, is quite the prolific artist. The kind of performer that steps on stage and delivers the shock factor to unwitting audience members, via an innate, raw power, RRS is a comedian, musician, poet and all-round eccentric creative genius. With his unique brand of “card-funk”, he offers honest, witty lyrics atop DIY funk grooves played on a cassette, while channelling the spirit of Prince through his sheer audacity and flamboyance. A charismatic personality, he combines it all with an array of signature dance moves, which together makes for a unique and downright brilliant experience.
Alongside his own creations, RRS also heads up the Cardboard Club, his own label and night. Having put out an impressive handful of releases over the past year, including Card Funk, which offers a pretty apt introduction to his world, Robert is an idiosyncratic talent that deserves to be witnessed by all. Kezia Cochrane
Listen to: Lady
I first took notice of KUČKA’s genius on Flume’s second album, Skin. Paired with Vince Staples on ‘Smoke & Retribution’, her sublime hook proved the perfect accompaniment. Despite a quiet couple of years, comeback track ‘Drowning’, released on LuckyMe, more than made up for her absence. Ominous rumbles of bass trade blows with warm synths and KUČKA’s croon, while she unpicks the overwhelming homesickness that enveloped her after moving to Los Angeles. Amongst the cold electronics that form its sumptuous melody, KUČKA ensures, lyrically, there’s always a human heart beating at its core. Quite simply, it’s a formidable way to mark her return.
After collaborations with SOPHIE, A$AP Rocky and Cosmo’s Midnight, as well as high-profile support slots with the likes of Mount Kimbie and Mura Masa, 2020 is the year KUČKA finally steps out on her own. Something tells us she’s going to do perfectly fine. Lee Wakefield
See one of our New Sounds recommendations, Some Bodies, playing ‘TV Show’ live here: