After revealing the Longlist online over Christmas, SCAN and, campus radio station, 87.7 Bailrigg FM pick out the best of that list who Matt and Pascal – respective Heads of Music – think have the most exciting year ahead of them.
2018 was a real transformative year for the English 20-year-old: gone was the wistful and delicate tone of her debut EP ‘Something American’, and in its place was the driving and gravelly vocals in the guitar-heavy series of singles like ‘Uh-Huh’ and ‘Lottery’. Both of these singles featured heavily on mainstream radio and streaming sites, the latter even being labelled, Radio 1 DJ, Annie Mac’s ‘Hottest Record in the World’ upon its release earlier in the year. This matured sound takes jade away from the softness of the singer-songwriter genre towards an area that transcends genre: taking influences from folk, rock, pop and simple, contemporary acoustic music. 2019 will possibly be even bigger for Jade, who has lined up her debut, self-titled, album for release in April. The album is made up of nine band new tracks, with recent release ‘Love Has All Been Done Before’ joining the aforementioned singles.
The hype around Jade isn’t just restricted to the studio, her live performances have impressed many, earning her slots on major TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic such as ‘Later with Jools Holland’ and ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’, as well as festival shows like SXSW – where she was labelled “best upcoming talent” with the Grulke Prize. Moreover, Jade will be touring for the first part of the year across the world, with American and European tours have been lined up throughout late-winter and into spring!
For fans of: HAIM, Florence and the Machine, Jake Bugg
London-based four-piece Sea Girls made their name through BBC Introducing last year by releasing their infectiously catchy sing-along indie anthems that couldn’t help but grab attention from fans and industry professionals alike. The band were included on almost all of the ‘Ones To Watch’ lists that they could have been, including Radio X, Metro, Dork, The Independent and BBC Music; they were even invited to perform at the BBC’s legendary Maida Vale studio on Radio 1’s ‘Indie Show’ to celebrate their stellar year.
Sea Girls also are starting to make their name on the road as well: their relatively small repertoire makes them the perfect warm-up band at the moment – as is the case for their slot supporting The Kooks and The Sherlocks at Castlefield Bowl, Manchester at this year’s Sound of the City. But they’re not far away from the finished article; the band found favour with the crowds at 110 Above, Reading and Leeds and Truck Festivals for their memorable – if repetitive – choruses to tracks like ‘Eat Me Whole’, ‘Call Me Out’ and ‘Too Much Fun’.
For fans of: Catfish and The Bottlemen, The Killers, The Sherlocks
This Northampton-born rapper is one of the freshest and most interesting voices in UK hip-hop right now, mixing both grime and punk sensibilities into his music.
“Nothing great about Britain” spews slowthai on his single ‘Drug Dealer’, highlighting the anger and apathy he approaches modern life with in his music, tackling varied themes in his lyrics from race relations in ‘Rainbow’ to class divisions and party culture in ‘Doorman’. He makes music that reflects and appeals to a younger generation, frustrated by being forced to navigate the confusing mess of UK politics and it’s fractured society, and yet he’s still able to act goofy and crack a smile in the face of this.
Not only has he released the rugged EP ‘RUNT’ this year but eight great standalone singles throughout 2018. With his slick flow and wordplay, you’d find it hard to believe that the stage name is born from a nickname given to him at school for being ‘slow Tyron’.
He has the flare for the theatrical too, known to enter the stage of his live shows carried on in body bag, his music videos are filled with film and pop culture references, from King Kong to The Shining to Trainspotting.
His gritty, bitter and sincere sound makes us very excited for any of his 2019 material, hopefully in the form of his debut album.
For fans of: Slaves, Ghetts, Bugzy Malone
The name on everyone’s lips in the music industry right now is Sam Fender: he was first championed in 2017 by BBC Music but coming into 2019 he has been named on almost every possible ‘Ones to Watch’ list for the year ahead, most notably winning the Brits Critics’ Choice Award and one of his most popular singles, ‘That Sound’, was listed as one of the Best Songs of 2018 by Radio X.
Sam’s sound is classic, despite his career being fledgling: dynamic electric guitar intertwined with a powerful yet cavernous vocal is an age old combination and creates arena-sized hits that are listenable and accessible for all generations. This is just aided by Fender’s candid and honest lyricism that tells stories from his North East upbringing that transcend generations because of how socially relatable they are.
After spending 2018 relentlessly touring and performing alongside the release six-track EP ‘Dead Boys’, Sam showed that he is capable of doing it all; you often see bands and performers taking on only one of these at a time, but this man is showing that he has the work rate to succeed where the previous few Critics’ Choice winners have failed! Add this to the headline tour that is already scheduled for the start of 2019, it should be a stellar year for Sam Fender.
For fans of: Nothing But Thieves, Blossoms, Tom Grennan
Something about Lewis Capaldi just works: I’m not sure whether it’s his powerful and earthy vocals, the honest and emotional lyricism to his tracks or his musical ability with writing a melody that pulls in such a loyal fan-base. It could even be that all of this comes from such an unassuming source as a seemingly normal, long-haired, baby-faced Glaswegian bloke.
Lewis’ ‘Breach’ EP went huge: having had tens of millions of streams on Spotify following the separate release of lead track ‘Grace’, Lewis hit the mainstream after a year-or-so of hovering just on the edge of stardom, and was even invited to Radio 1 for a Live Lounge session. It has always been clear that he had the potential to be big, having worked in the past with megastars Lorde and Frank Ocean, but things really came to a head this year as he managed to sell out three tours across the UK and Europe in as many months.
2019 won’t be any different either: Capaldi starts the year supporting Bastille on a tour where every city has at least two nights. He’ll definitely need to take one night off, however, having been shortlisted for the Brits Critics’ Choice Award he’ll more than likely get a chance to celebrate his breakthrough year.
For fans of: Adele, Ed Sheeran, Jessie Ware
HMLTD are a band with a musical sound just as eclectic their aesthetic. The 5-piece band sports a fashion sense fusing their own unique and bdsm-flavoured spin on Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust and Prince, whilst their experimental sound consists of an amalgamation of punk, glam rock and new rave.
Having dropped their debut self-titled EP in summer 2018, presenting us with four varied tracks of gothic glam punk, they followed up later in the year with two more singles with an even darker and intriguing sound, and we’ve had a blast listening to their output this year.
They’re also a band looking to engage with all the senses, all four of their singles from this year came accompanied by a music video just as bizarre as the music going with it, featuring self-marriage, car crashes, people on leashes and strange sexual face swapping along with their striking fashion sense. Even during their live shows they’ve been known to burn human hair to create a smell to match the sound.
We believe they’re gearing up for their first full-length release this year, and we can’t wait to see where they take their sound and their visuals. Looks like a promising year for this living London art-piece.
For fans of: IDLES, The Prodigy. David Bowie