2018 has seen the rise of a whole new musical vanguard. Be it their livewire shows that are more of a spectacle than a performance, or their trail of knock-out singles and EPs, these are the artists we believe are on the precipice of greatness for 2019.
Black Midi are a paradox. They could make snow angels in all their accolades, yet don’t have a single officially released track to speak of. Their Spotify is a hollow shell: no profile picture, no bio. It’s the strangest thing, in an age where streaming is so interwoven with success. Black Midi know that the only way to increase demand is to refuse to give into it. Their fame is owed entirely to word-of-mouth, and those words have come from high places: Shame knighted Black Midi ‘the best band in London’. From dissecting the scraps we’ve been thrown, Black Midi are a skittish noise rock outfit, built around exaggerated, cartoonish vocals that have to be heard to be believed. It’s absolutely infectious. Just like the hordes of people that flock to their secret shows, we will flock to hear what Black Midi have in store for us in 2019.
After a litter of singles and his five-track EP ‘RUNT’, Slowthai has surged forward as one grime’s most individual voices in 2018. Everything he does is sashimi knife-sharp, threatening and ice-cold like the edge of a blade. Best of all: he’s not from London, hailing instead from Northampton. It’s refreshing to have a perspective in grime music that breaks the capital’s isolationist bubble. His story is different, but no less full of hardships, class struggles and instability. It’s all spat with the same vitriol. The comparisons between Slowthai and Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Boy in Da Corner’ golden age are never-ending, his anger turns his delivery to a cracked kind of mania, and the truth is, no one sounds like Slowthai. 2019 is, without a doubt, the year he will really come into his own.
“Charisma is exquisite manipulation”, Dublin quintet Fontaines D.C. states on their single ‘Chequeless Recklessness’. Their post-punk sound strikes the perfect balance between nail-inspecting ennui and high-octane performance. Even though their energy is enough to make you thrash, their instrumentals are at the same time bright enough to make you smile. Their offering of singles in 2018 call to mind late-night stumbling after the pub has turned you out, your arms around your mates. All this, paired with an Irish brogue, make Fontaines D.C one of the country’s most exciting exports this year. They’re only just getting started.
Octavian is here to prove that you can’t be taught how to be creative; it’s something you have or you don’t, and he has it in spades. A BRIT school scholar-turned-dropout, the rapper had a tumultuous upbringing that saw him homeless as a teenager. Through sheer will and what can only be described as pure talent, he clawed his way up to being tipped to be the Sound of 2019. His music is a genre-spanning canvas, splattered with elements of grime, house and drill. Did we mention that his musical heroes are Bon Iver and James Blake? Octavian’s music lies in a liminal place. ‘Party Here’, with his rasping voice, melodic verses and the garage-influenced chorus is an ecstatic single that secured him untold acclaim. His first highly-anticipated mixtape ‘Spaceman’ is a statement of intent for 2019: one of thriving on his own individuality.
Cardiff-based Davey Newington and his band Boy Azooga’s debut album ‘1,2 Kung Fu!’ was a masterwork of substance and style. Cashing in on critical acclaim with genre-spanning tracks that called to mind Simon & Garfunkel one moment, and Daft Punk disco-rock the next, Boy Azooga are only ramping up for what’s to come. Their music is like a rosy montage found on a dusty film reel; it has a cinematic quality, ambient, though not letting go of its catchiness. It’s hard to know whether its from long ago, or somewhere in the indeterminate future. Boy Azooga will be the deliverers of the alt-pop we’re all baying for by fulfilling their 11-track promise.
Stateside singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist King Princess has been curating pop on a pleadingly honest level. Proudly identifying as a lesbian, her love songs take what was historically illicit, and draws it into a contemporary limelight that sees queer love as a poetry all of its own. 2018 saw a scattering of tracks like ‘Pussy is God’ and the EP ‘Make My Bed’, which established King Princess’ irresistibly smooth style, with its minimal synth and her vulnerable vocals. Her particular brand of pop sparkles in a way that never dulls. 2019 will, no doubt, see her as one of pop’s leading trailblazers, venturing boldly where her predecessors wouldn’t dare to go.
You might argue that 2018 was the year where it all happened for King Nun. From the release of their debut EP, ‘I Have Love’, taking pride of place with the Dirty Hit powerhouse and playing Reading and Leeds Festival, King Nun’s success has arrived at a domino-toppling speed. With anthemic choruses, tangled riffs and Theo Polyzoides’ manic, strangled vocals, King Nun are one of the few bands that yield something that is, for once, interesting. They are punk, and yet not quite punk if it laid its feelings bare. They are delightfully nasty. 2018 might have been a powerful run-up, but 2019 will be their take-off.
New York producer Yaeji explores the beauty of the Korean and English language through the subtler shades of hip-hop and house. Her music is ambient, yet intensely shy and self-contained; though you might think this betrays the attitude of her genres, she instead finds a corner of her own at the party, where these can co-exist. The infectious, ebbing beat of ‘
The herculean reputation Avalanche Party have as a touring band has taken on the status of a myth, with droves of loyal followers communing across Europe to behold the spectacle. Whether their seductive brand of garage-rock is your cup of tea or not, it is undeniable that Avalanche Party have an energy that lies beyond the spectrum. Though they are now live legends, they are sparing with their official releases, with only a smattering of EPs and singles since 2016. Their fanbase is far-reaching whose devotion runs deep: 2019, we hope, will be the avalanche that relents an album.
The Seamonsters, before we say anything else, are fucking cool. The glittering indie six-piece begin with grinding, lo-fi instrumentation, and then take their music to the highest of highs with their soaring vocals and shimmering synth. You would be daft not to realise that despite the fact they’ve only released a trio of singles, The Seamonsters already have their sound, style and substance down to a fine art. There is a homegrown sincerity to them that is lost when bands topple into success; they are just teetering on the brink of it, an underwater treasure just about to break the surface. The Seamonsters are the burst of brilliance 2019 desperately needs.
Our honourable mentions as follow:
- Sports Team ( How can we forget the
all-roundfun that is Sports Team. The multi-talented band had a breakthrough2018 and are aiming to sell out a venue larger than their Twitter follower count for the second time).
- Southwest Hotel
- BUZZARD BUZZARD BUZZARD
- Wych Elm
Words by Sophie Walker