The best new Soul Music to discover in 2021

Image Credit: Mike Von

Looking for emerging soul artists to listen to in 2021? These 9 musicians are on the rise.

Led by artists like Celeste, modern soul music is riding a wave which looks set to continue in 2021. Experimental, jazz and RnB influenced neo-soul artists are headed in increasingly interesting directions. Featuring big voices and tender voices that all implore to be witnessed live, this is a wide-ranging list of ones to watch in soul music in 2021.

Amahla

Amahla’s sensitive songwriting, gorgeous vocals and skill with the guitar gained her a nomination for the Ivor Novello Rising Star award in 2020. As a result she won a year’s mentoring with Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers who said she ‘writes from her soul.’ The lyrics of captivating ‘Apathy’, showcasing Amahla’s shivering voice, take on a whole new level of meaning when viewed through the lens of these turbulent times. 

Poppy Ajudha

Experimental socio-political neo-soul with a sound encompassing jazz, RnB and pop, Ajudha’s smooth voice soars like Jill Scott. Her reworking of Herbie Hancock’s ‘Watermelon Man’ featured on the BlueNote Re:imagined album, and the coming months are sure to see her continue to collaborate with other rising stars from the UK soul and jazz scene.

Gabriels

The Gospel-influenced LA group, made up of singer Jacob Lusk and producers Ari Balouzian and Ryan Hope, have been slowly teasing out singles since 2018. They broke their silence by releasing a debut EP, Love and Hate at A Different Time, at the tail end of last year. The stomping title track with its looping piano and strings, deep choir voicings and harrowing call to action against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, encourages you to dance but quickly makes you pause and think.

Joesef

Neo-soul and pop beats laced with nostalgia from this Scottish talent who wound up on the BBC Sound of 2020 list. His wavering voice on Loyle Carner-featuring ‘I Wonder Why’ beautifully laments the inability to move on from losing someone. All being well, the UK tour booked for May this year will suit the sunny horns of ‘Does It Make You Feel Good?’ perfectly and introduce him to a host of new fans.

Tiana Major9

In the middle of the madness of 2020 East Londoner Tiana Major9 released her debut album. Aptly-named At Sixes And Sevens is jazz-inspired but with callbacks to her Jamaican roots and to classic turn-of-the-century RnB. Her versatile voice, reminiscent of Lianne La Havas, and clever songwriting has won her fans including Adele, who raved about ‘Same Space?’ on Instagram. A recent performance for NPR Tiny Desk showcased her stunning crystal-clear vocal and elastic approach to genre. Major9 is seemingly poised to ascend to another level in 2021.

Giveon

2020 saw Giveon reach viral fame by lending his angelic voice to Drake’s single ‘Chicago Freestyle’, which has been streamed on Spotify 220m times. A singer with a searching voice with impressive range and depth, his four-track EP arrived in October. Expect him to continue to rise in popularity in 2021.

Joy Oladokun

This Arizona-born independent artist has a rich, powerful voice that gifts us soulful pop melodies. Recently ‘If You Got A Problem’ showed her to be the hopeful voice we need as we head into the new year, and latest release ‘Mighty Die Young’ is a call to carry on, with bluesy guitar and uplifting chord sequences.

Isaia Huron

Creating a compelling mix of modern RnB and retro soul, Huron’s music is beautifully arranged, atmospheric electronic beats and other tracks led by simple, gentle guitar. As song ‘Loving You Is A Mountain’ heads for 4 million streams on Spotify, Huron’s other work, including his 2020 album Libbie, deserves to reach an even wider audience.

Ego Ella May

Ego Ella May released her debut album ‘Honey For Wounds’ in June last year to a rapturous response. With her beautiful, woozy voice she reflects on mental health, love, independence, and the social state of the globe on songs like ‘How Long ‘Til We’re Home’ and ‘Girls Don’t Always Sing About Boys’. Musically grounded primarily in a bubbly soulful RnB zone, her jazz inspirations come through on tracks ‘Table For One’ and ‘Alright’. The South London artist will continue to rise in 2021.

Whether it’s established artists causing a new buzz or new musicians on the come up, the soul music scene in 2021 seems to be in good shape.

Uploading a remix online? You need to know this

If you’ve made a remix and you want to distribute it to the world’s top services then RouteNote is your best friend for free distribution to the greatest places for your music. But first, there are some things you need to know about releasing remixes.

The Official Top 40 best-selling Cassettes of 2020

Image Credit: Official Charts UK

Cassette Sales Soar As They Hit 17 Year High, Here’s The Top 40

In an earlier article we talked about the rise of cassette culture, digging deep into an ever growing community based around the music format. It wasn’t until fairly recently, like vinyl (or more so) that cassettes were a dying format. Pushed into the very corners of nicheness. However, cassettes popularity has been on the up in recent years (thanks to retrofetishism and popular retrospective media) and in 2020 cassette sales almost doubled to their highest in 17 years.

Like Vinyl, the rise of cassettes shows that streaming and physical sales can sit comfortably next to one other. Music fans will always want something tangible, something real that you can hold in your hands.

According to the end-of-year report by music industry body the BPI, sales were up 94.7% in 2020 compared to the previous year, with 156,542 cassettes sold in the UK – the highest total since 2003.

Sales on the format remain tiny in the context of the overall music market (around 0.2%), but the increase shows the cassette revival is far from over yet.

The highest selling cassette was Lady Gaga‘s ‘Chromatica’, which sold 14,000 copies, 8,600 of those were sold in the first week. Following close behind was 5 Seconds Of Summer‘s latest album ‘CALM’ with 13,000 cassette sales, while Yungblud‘s ‘Weird’ came in at third with 7,700 sales.

The top 40 are as follows (In order):

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

5 Seconds Of Summer – CALM

Yungblud – Weird

The 1975 – Notes In A Conditional Form

Blackpink – The Album

Selena Gomez – Rare

Kylie Minogue – Disco

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

HAIM – Women In Music Pt.3

The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life

Neck Deep – All Distortions Are Intentional

Gorillaz – Song Machine Season one – Strange Timez

Steps – What The Future Holds

Michael Ball & Alfie Boe – Together At Christmas

Gary Barlow – Music Played By Humans

Mcfly – Young Dumb Thrills

Ozzy Osbourne – Ordinary Man

Ellie Goulding – Brightest Blue

Louis Tomlinson – Walls

Sports Team – Deep Down Happy

Ariana Grande – Positions

Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings

Lany – Mumma’s Boy

Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible

Glass Animals – Dreamland

Little Mix – Confetti

Beabadoobee – Fake It Flowers

AC/DC – Power Up

Guardians Of The Galaxy – Awesome Mix 1

Queen And Adam Lambert – Live Around The World

Declan McKenna – Zeros

Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated (Side B)

Blossoms – Foolish Loving Spaces

Disclosure – Energy

Sea Girls – Open Up Your Head

Oasis – What’s The Story Morning Glory?

Erasure – The Neon

Guardians Of The Galaxy – Awesome Mix 2

Creeper – Sex, Death & The Infinite Void

Easy Life – Junk Food

V-MODA bring active noise cancellation and Bluetooth to their iconic M-200 headphones

V-MODA M-200 ANC are an updated version of the classic M-200s with active noise cancellation and wireless Bluetooth connectivity.

The original M-200s are a popular choice among musicians, producers and audiophiles, with studio-grade hi-res audio, an iconic design and hexagonal sheilds. With a wired-only option, it made the pair great for creators, but not ideal for day-to-day music streaming. Announced at CES 2021, the new V-MODA M-200 ANCs bring wireless connectivity and active noise cancellation to the same classic design, making them a great choice for streaming music, podcasts and calls.


Tuned by Roland and support for Bluetooth 5.0, Qualcomm aptX HD and AAC codecs, these headphones will produce around the best quality you can achieve from a wireless set. Multi-device pairing makes switch between phone and computer a breeze. Internally, sound is produced from the 40mm drivers, capable of producing 50-40,000Hz. The drivers are slightly smaller than the 50mm drivers on the older model.

Mostly a covered by a matte black colour, design is almost identical to the older M-200 headphones, with large earcups, a PU leather exterior, replaceable magnetic memory foam cushions and customizable shields. Choose from a variety of aluminium shield colours and a laser engraving of your initials or upload your own logo. At 320g, they are slightly heavier than 290g on the non-ANC model.


V-MODA are calling the ANC “hybrid active noise cancellation” with ten levels of control available in the V-MODA app. EQ customisation is also available here, using presets or manual slider adjustments. Physical buttons atop the earcup control playback, volume, calls and the voice assistant (Google Assistant or Siri). Covering the left earcup activates voice-in, lowering the volume and turning off ANC, letting the outside world in. Battery is on par with the industry standards at 20 hours with ANC turned on. 10 minutes of FastCharge will provide 1.5 hours of listening.


The CliqFold hinge folds away the headset into the included hard-case, with additional room for accessories. An included 120cm audio cable can be used for maximum quality and zero latency listening. Optional extras include a $30 BoomPro Microphone for gaming and $101 Speakeasy DAC-AMP Lightning Cable for studio-quality sound from iOS devices.


Real-world performance of sound quality and ANC remains to be seen. At $499.99, this places the M-200 ANCs $150 above the non-ANC M-200s that sit at $349.99. $150 is a reasonable amount to pay for the extra features, however $499.99 is a lot to dish out for wireless headphones, that will naturally suffer with the usual lower quality of wireless audio. The recent arrival of Apple’s AirPods Max for $549 almost softens the blow of V-MODA’s pricey new headphones.

The V-MODA M-200 are available for order today on Amazon.

Click here for more fantastic wireless ANC headphones. Or for tighter budgets, click here for the best ANC headphones under $200 and $100.

10 Bedroom Pop artists on our new music radar in 2021

Image Credit: Jakayla Toney

Add these bedroom pop music artists to your ‘ones to watch’ list this year.

The DIY genre of bedroom pop is having a moment. But… what actually is it? Music lumped into the category has a certain aesthetic, rather than literally being recorded next to an artist’s duvet and pillows. Bedroom pop is dreamy lo-fi soundscapes from young artists who’ve often orchestrated their own rise via social media and streaming. Whilst appearing whimsical, the tracks regularly feature provocative lyrics exploring mental health struggles and the harsh realities of youthful romance. It’s a far more interesting genre than the sneering way it’s often referred to suggests. These 10 bedroom pop musicians are on the cusp of breaking out in a big way in 2021.

Claud

Releasing their first single back in 2018, Claud was the first artist to be signed to Phoebe Bridger’s new label, Saddest Factory Records. Singles ‘Gold’ and ‘Soft Spot’ teem with sweet melodies, bubbling loops and their characteristic gracefully-layered guitar sound. The interest around Bridger’s CEO role combined with Claud’s debut album dropping on February 12th should generate enough buzz to propel them to the next level.

Patricia Lalor

This 15-year-old Irish guitar player writes and self-produces Radiohead-inspired beats. Quiet without being serene, Lalor’s sonic experiments on her This is How We Connect, While You Stand So Tall EP have a lurking, ominous quality. If this is how artistic and polished she sounds in lockdown with a production team consisting of her mother and sister, imagine the potential.

Dameer

Bangladeshi artist Dameer’s sound takes a lead from the jazz beats of Tom Misch. ‘Believe’ is the tale of a breakup set to a bright, ‘80s inspired beat, exploring the irrationality of lingering feelings from a past relationship with a knowing wink. Other lyrical inspiration comes from politics and the disparities between generations. Newly graduated from high school, keep an eye on Dameer in the future.

chloe moriondo

Used to baring all online in a typically Gen-Z manner, 18-year-old chloe moriondo found self-made success through YouTube, beginning by writing songs on her ukulele. Now she has 13.3 million subscribers. She’s broken free of her lo-fi origins lately, with her latest release ‘Girl on TV’ sounding like early-noughties Avril Lavigne. When the world allows live gigs again, performing with a band will shift moriondo’s sound yet again and open up an exciting new chapter.

Cavetown

A sociable, self-taught producer with a dedicated community of fans. After signing with Sire Records, Cavetown’s debut Sleepyhead released last year and included a collaboration with chloe moriondo. The record features sing-song melodies alongside indie-rock leanings in the soaring ‘For You’ and stripped-back alt-pop tracks like ‘Empty Bed’. His army of followers with a deep love for his comforting songs grows by the day.

keaton dekker

East London music and visual artist who really does make all his music in his bedroom, creating synth-heavy, dreamy pop. Super-catchy ‘ITYK’ explores our relationship to technology in lockdown – shot on FaceTime, it perfectly demonstrates his DIY artistry. It’s easy to see creative and commercial potential for the future.

Carpetgarden

The Californian 20-year-old’s latest single ‘No Emotion’ lays down witty lyrics with raw feelings at their heart, as the scuzzy vocals blend into a sloppy beat. Meanwhile ‘Can Ghosts Be Gay?’, released last September, is an unapologetically queer, acoustic-emo reflection on Gen-Z culture and self-acceptance. Flitting between styles, Carpetgarden is newly signed to the House Anxiety label and their new EP is due out in February.

girl in red

Honest and relatable indie-pop, spinning sincere tales of romance and self-love. The Christmas single ‘Two Queens in a King-sized bed’ has been on heavy rotation across radio stations since its release. With hordes of followers on TikTok and Instagram and YouTube videos racking up millions of views, here’s hoping 2021 will bring continued success for the Norwegian singer.

Smoothboi Ezra

Irish 18-year-old bedroom indie-pop musician and producer Smoothboi Ezra has been putting out sweet, warm music with insightful lyrics since 2018. ‘My Own Person’, their latest release, is simply but beautifully arranged, the charming melody addressing anyone struggling with identity.

Tayo Sound

Starting out busking with his guitar on the streets of Reading, Tayo Sound has graduated to smooth, polished tracks with an alt-RnB groove. His songs incorporate Nigerian-inspired rhythms from his father’s heritage and folk leanings from his mother’s Scottish background. The choruses of ‘Someone New’ and ‘Gone’ are instantly catchy. Signed to Black Butter Records, he’s already primed for mainstream success.

Eager to add your own sound to the bedroom pop landscape? RouteNote can get your music out to the people who need to hear it, simply and for free.

JLab JBud Frames – Clip-on open-ear buds for glasses

Image Credit: JLab

JLab’s latest product aims to offer a similar experience to Bose Frames, for existing glasses and sunglasses, at one fifth of the price.

JLab JBud Frames brings to mind two products from Bose. Bose Frames are $200-250 sunglasses with a downwards-firing speaker built-in, for open-ear audio while out and about. Bose’s newly announced $199 Sport Open Earbuds also offer open-ear audio via downwards-firing speakers, but instead by hooking to the top of your ear.

Although not quite as elegant as Bose’s integrated offering, beyond cost, the obvious benefits from what JLab are calling a BYOF (bring your own frame) design, is the ability to clip these to any existing sunglasses or even regular glasses. The two rather large Bluetooth modules attach to each arm of your glasses, but can be used independently from one another if you fancy just one. 16mm downward-firing drivers deliver music directly to your ears without covering. This allows the listener to hear outside noises, great for exercising.

Most open-ear headphones suffer with poor audio quality and bleeding as a result of the speaker not being placed in the ear canal. According to JLab, JBud Frames will not be “heard by those close by.” Due to these potential shortcomings, open-ear headphones are usually better suited to occasional phone calls, podcasts, notifications, direction, etc. rather than constant music.

Other features include IPX4 rain and sweat resistance, physical buttons to control volume, calls and switch EQ settings, and an impressive 8-hour battery life from the bulky buds. Unfortunately the glasses don’t come with a charging case and are instead charged via a cable that split into two magnetic charging ports. Multiple silicone sleeves will help these attach to most glasses shapes.

JLab JBuds Frames Accessories
Image Credit: JLab

We loved the idea of what was happening in the audio-equipped frames category, but their price and design don’t match the needs of the typical consumer. Besides price, one of the biggest flaws we saw was in the eyewear design and how the audio components were integrated. Their optics and frames didn’t match up to a typical $200-$250 non-audio product, and limited styles will lead to the inevitable ‘You’re wearing that too? Awkward!’ conversations. You can put the JLab JBuds Frames on any glasses you own, without fear of commitment or wearing the same eyewear as the person you’re next to.

Win Cramer, CEO, JLab

JLab JBuds Frames will be available in early spring for $50. This price is in keeping with JLab’s other budget-friendly products and gives the item a much more impulsive “I’ll give these a go and see if they work for me” sort of price than Bose’s audio sunglasses at upwards of $200. With Bose Sport Open Earbuds also dropping in spring, there are bound to be many comparisons come release day.

The Official Top 40 best-selling vinyl Singles of 2020

Image Credit: Kieran Webber

After A Record Breaking Year For Sales On Vinyl Here Are The UK’s Top Selling Singles Of 2020

It wasn’t just albums that had vinyl success in 2020, singles also found themselves benefiting from the new vinyl boom. Artists such as Liam Gallagher, Joy Division and Billie Eilish had great success with their singles.

The top 40 list is an interesting mix of new and old as well as spanning a across multiple genres. There are certianly some surprise entries in there too.

The top 40 are as follows (In order):

Liam Gallagher – All You’re Dreaming Of

Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

Rolling Stones – Living In A Ghost Town

Joy Division – Atmosphere

Billie Eilish – No Time To Die

New Order – Blue Monday

Joy Division – Transmission

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Blue Moon Rising

Coldplay – Christmas Lights

Kylie Minogue – Say Something

David Bowie – Alabama Song

Khruangbin & Leon Bridges – Texas Sun

Kylie Minogue – Magic

The Lathums – All My Life

The Damned – Keep Em Alive

U2 – 11 O’Clock Tick Tock

Motorhead – Ace Of Spades

New Order – Be A Rebel

The Specials – Gangsters

Biffy Clyro – Cop Syrup

Royal Blood – Troubles coming

Pink Floyd – Arnold Layne

Morrissey – Honey You Know Where To Find Me

OMD – Enola Gay

Biffy Clyro – The Modern Leper

Billie Eilish – My Future

New Order – Confusion

New Order – Turn The Heater On

New Order – Thieves Like Us

Paul Weller – On Sunset

Fontaines D.C – A Hero’s Death

New Order – Murder

Blossoms – Christmas Eve (Soul Purpose)

Queen & Adam Lambert – You Are The Champions

Paul McCartney – We All Stand Together

The Snuts – Always

Blur – Girls and Boys

Phoebe Bridgers – Kyoto

Pet Shop Boys – Monkey Business

Charli XCX – Vroom Vroom

The Official Top 40 best-selling vinyl albums of 2020

Image Credit: Kieran Webber

After A Record Breaking Year For Sales On Vinyl Here Are The UK’s Top Selling Albums Of 2020

Vinyl Record sales rocketed in 2020 with it being the best year in three decades. In the UK it climbed for the 13th consecutive year and saw classic albums enjoy success on the popular format. During a difficult year fans turned to music and sales of vinyl jumped by over a tenth (11.5%) year-on-year to almost 5 million (4.8m), the BPI reports.

Independent record stores also saw support this year with campaigns such as #Loverecordstores and the Official Charts Official Indie Record Store Finder. Both of which encouraged people to buy online during lockdowns. 

The biggest vinyl album release in 2020 was Kylie Minogue’s ‘DISCO’, selling 21,500 units since its release in November. A staggering 13,500 of those were in its first week of release, where it debuted at Number 1 on the Official Albums Chart. The release made Kylie Minogue the first female artist to score a UK Number 1 in five consecutive decades. 

Topping the overall end-of-year vinyl album chart is Fleetwood Mac’s classic ‘Rumours’, a record released in 1977. It still remains a popular choice on vinyl and is regularly featured in the weekly Official Vinyl Albums Chart Top 40. This year ‘Rumours’ sold 32,500 copies in the UK this year alone. 

Other releases that performed well on wax were AC\DC’s ‘Power Up’, Arctic MonkeysLive At The Royal Albert Hall and IDLES‘Ultra Mono’

The top 40 are as follows (In order):

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours

Oasis – What’s The Story Morning Glory

Amy Winehouse – Back To Black

Nirvana – Nevermind

Harry Styles – Fine Line

Kylie Minogue – Disco

Queen – Greatest Hits

AC\DC – Power Up

Arctic Monkeys – Live At The Albert Hall

IDLES – Ultra Mono

Liam Gallagher – MTV Unplugged

Bob Marley & The Wailers – Legend

Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon

Billie Eilish – When We Fall Asleep Where Do We Go

The Beatles – Abbey Road

Lewis Capaldi – Divinely Uninspired To A Hellish Extent

Fontaines D.C – A Hero’s Death

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You

Gerry Cinnamon -The Bonny

The Stone Roses – Stone Roses

Taylor Swift – Folklore

Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

The Killers – Hot Fuss

David Bowie – Legacy

Biffy Clyro – A Celebration of Endings

Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways

Arctic Monkeys – Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I Am

Oasis – Definitely Maybe

1975 – Notes On A Conditional Form

Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka

Joy Division – Closer

Arctic Monkeys – AM

Paul McCartney – III

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Nirvana – Unplugged In New York

The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Abba – Gold (Greatest Hits)

Joy Division – Unknown Pleasures

Doves – The Universal Want

IRS Says Prince’s Estate Was Undervalued By $80 Million

Image Credit: Kristian Dowling / Getty Images file

The Pop Stars Untimely Death Created A Complicated Probate Court Proceedings That Are Ongoing Today.

When Prince died back in 2016 it was a shock for his fans and family. The latter of which would be thrown into a massive court battle as he died without signing a will. This left huge levels of uncertainty and thus a large and complicated series of court hearings ensued, of which is still happening today. Recently Internal Revenue Service calculations showed that executors of the star’s estate undervalued it by 50 percent, or around $80 million. 

The IRS determined that Prince’s estate is worth $163.2 million, overshadowing the $82.3 million valuation submitted by Comerica Bank & Trust, the estates administrator. According to court documents the main discrepancy primarily involves Prince’s music publishing and recording interests. Which is very interesting the value has doubled now as companies such as Hipgnosis are snapping up publishing rights. 

Documents from the IRS shows that they believe Prince’s estate owes $32.4 million in federal taxes, roughly doubling the tax bill based on Comerica’s valuation. The IRS has also ordered $6.4 million “accuracy-related penalty” on his estate, citing “substantial” undervaluation of assets. 

Prince’s tragic death (Fentanyl overdose) in April 21st, 2016, has created one of the largest and most complicated probate court proceedings in American history. The estimates of his net worth have varied widely, ranging from $100 million to $300 million. 

With this case dragging on the six sibling heirs have understandably grown increasingly unhappy, especially as the estate has spent tens of millions of dollars to lawyers and consultants. 

Comerica and their lawyers at Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis maintain their estate valuations are solid. Comerica sued the IRS this summer in U.S Tac Court in Washington D.C., saying the agency’s calculations are riddled with errors. 

This story is continuing to develop and will be updated as the court proceedings continue. 

New music to watch out for in 2021

Image Credit: Edward Howell

All we want in 2021 is live gigs – but until then at least there’s new music to discover. Here are a few emerging artists generating a buzz at the beginning of the year.

‘Ones to watch’ predictions put a whole lot of pressure on emerging artists who find themselves included at the beginning of a new year. In a way in January 2021 the current disrupted world allows breathing space; time for plans to be made and music to be released; time to make creative decisions about how best to connect with the fans they can’t see in real life. We’ll see what smart moves are made during lockdowns and beyond to boost the profiles of these new music acts.

Griff

There’s little question that Griff will become a household name. Her savvy bedroom pop sound saw her nominated for the Ivor Novello Rising Star award in 2020, and she begins the new year on the BBC Sound of 2021 shortlist.

Yard Act

Smart rock with the sharp teeth of satire biting down throughout. Only getting the chance to play three gigs before the first lockdown hit, when the world opens up again in 2021 Yard Act will be ready to take aim at society’s injustices with their unique brand of witty post-punk.

Glaive

Just 15, Glaive only began creating music at the start of 2020. The teen explores the frantic beats and glitches of the rising genre of hyperpop in a thoughtful way.

Holly Humberstone

Second on the BBC Sound of 2021 shortlist, and already big in the US, where she’s performed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Humberstone’s polished and dark indie pop is sure to be heard everywhere in 2021.

Coach Party

Tuneful, scuzzy slacker rock. The indie band released a six-track mini-album in 2020 and have confident plans for the future.

Alfie Templeman

The multi-instrumentalist pop singer-songwriter is on everyone’s one to watch list this year, from the Guardian to MTV Push. His rise seems inevitable.

Attacca Quartet

Last year the young classical string quartet won the Grammy for ‘Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance’ for their work with Pulitzer prize-winner Caroline Shaw. This year? 2021 should hold more in store for the group, who play the work of composers old and new with a fresh versatility.

Pa Salieu

Pa Salieu’s Afrobeat-referencing Gambian grime comes via Coventry. His fresh sound and sharp, perceptive lyrics earned him the top spot on the BBC Sound of 2021 list, and his debut album Send Them To Coventry oozes confidence.

Franc Moody

Franc Moody make effortless disco funk. They released their debut album in February of last year, with a record deserving of dancefloors but suiting lino kitchen floors just fine. Here’s hoping that 2021 gives us the chance to pull some shapes under a glitterball with this live onstage.

Celeste

A neo-soul singer with a beautiful voice, the BRIT Award Rising Star and BBC Sound of 2020 winner made stop-start progress through what should have been her year. Finally reaching the public consciousness through the medium of the John Lewis Christmas advert at the end of 2020, hopefully that momentum carries through to her debut album, due to be released next month.

Jany Green

Optimism shines out through Jany Green’s unique blend of hip hop, jazzy indie and RnB, with horns and positive vibes.

Spiritbox

Emotional sonic explorations from roaring metalcore to soaring, if still menacing, vocal melodies. Racking up the views online, Spiritbox’s debut album is due to be released this year.

Mysie

Deserved winner of the new Rising Star Award at the Ivor Novellos 2020, Mysie uses her rich voice to make soulful pop and RnB with colossal choruses.

Meet Me @ The Altar

Big hooks from this Florida pop punk trio. Newly signed to the Fuelled By Ramen label, the band take the angst out of the genre and replace it with boundless positive energy.

Berwyn

Berwyn’s soulful rap has seen him top ‘Ones to Watch’ lists the internet over. Following a haunting performance for Later With Jools Holland, he came third on the BBC Sound of 2021 list. Last year’s ‘BBC Sound of…’ listees included Yungblud, who released his debut album at the tail end of 2020.

Greentea Peng

Neo-soul RnB with elements of hip-hop, dub and reggae. Before making the BBC Sound of 2021 list, Greentea Peng appeared on The Streets’ latest album, and her own record is on the horizon.

The Lathums

These indie-rockers have a whiff of Arctic Monkeys about them, with spinning guitars and constantly energetic vocals that just beg to rattle a festival stage this summer.

Emma-Jean Thackray

Multi-talented jazz musician and producer Thackray makes intriguing jazz electronica grooves. 2020 saw a feature on the Blue Note Re:Imagined album.

Fousheé

After one of her songs found uncredited viral success through TikTok, alt-soul singer Fousheé was one of 70 artists to be signed through the platform last year. 2021 will see her broaden her sound, including an upcoming collab with James Blake.

Genesis Owusu

A rapper who dabbles in electronica, RnB, soul and funk with electrifying results. Debut album Smiling With No Teeth is out March 2021.

With vaccines rolling out, by the end of the year some sense of normalcy will give these newcomers the chance to fully show what they’re made of. And who knows what surprises established musicians will have for us in 2021? 2020 saw unexpected album drops from artists like Taylor Swift, and collaborations and remixes gave music stars new motivation to be creative. Will Rihanna finally release her long-awaited album? Prediction: Whatever else may happen over the next 12 months, new music will be an escape, whether we can enjoy it live or not.