17 for 2017: new songwriting talent
You didn’t think we’d forget? We’re here with another roll-call for success, excess and distress with our 17 for 2017
Before we hang our hats on those bright young things that we think are going to be making waves large enough to wash over Everest, we think it’s only fair that we run through just how successful our predictions from last year were.
Well… Blossoms snared a UK No 1 for their much-anticipated self-titled debut album, Jack Garratt made it to No 3 in the UK album charts and broke into the Billboard 200 across the pond, while both AURORA and Izzy Bizu saw their debut LP’s reach No 28 in the UK album charts.
However, chart placement isn’t the only measure for success. Loyle Carner, Sunflower Bean and Hinds all more than matched their hype, releasing music of real substance and taking their place at the peak of their respective genres with some brilliant live shows.
Of course, we can’t always be spot on and last year was no exception. ESTRONS didn’t become the punk band of 2016, Cousin Marnie’s chic tunes didn’t translate into a broader appeal and Billie Marten wasn’t quite the latest folk star. Saddest of all, though, was that the indie-Rick Astley, George Cosby, didn’t explode. Still, at least the real Rick stormed back.
With all this in mind, here’s our roll-call for success, excess and distress in 2017…
This Walthamstow four-piece, by way of Washington, have already mastered the dark arts of creating soaring anthems. There’s a richness to Joey’s voice which is matched by his band’s sonic attack, and when it all comes together, as on last year’s single I Could Be Wrong, you’re left in no doubt that they’ll soon be making music for the masses.
If the thought of Celtic-influenced folktronica is a little hard to imagine, one listen to the music of Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty is all you need. Their voices exquisitely blend together over a backdrop of sumptuous arrangements and, if that’s not enough, their videos have an eerie Wicker Man feel to them – the perfect accompaniment for their bewitching sound.
The Japanese House
With her minimal beats and androgynous vocal style, Amber Bain is ready to be 2017’s champion of the reflective and introspective. Following in the footsteps of The XX and having already supported The 1975 on their stadium tour, we’re not taking too much of a punt in nailing our colours to her twinkling, synth-y mast.
Celestial-soul encrusted with the glint of the Mare Tranquillitatis, Kadhja Bonet is no ordinary proposition. The rich production on her appropriately titled debut The Visitor was a lush palette of colours that enabled her psychedelic tendencies to flourish. As one of the most original and ambitious artists on our list, we can’t wait to hear more from her.
One listen to the new single from Mancunian-songwriter JP Cooper was enough to convince us of his powers. A nostalgia-fuelled love song about a childhood sweetheart, September Song reveals Cooper to be a tender and mature writer with the ability to create songs which feel like they’ve always belonged – our kind of guy!
We recognise a singular talent when we see one, which is why Crydon MC Nadia Rose has us all of a flutter. Her delivery has an attitude and nuanced ebb and flow to it, through which her grime and dancehall influences come shining through. With a huge online following and label support from Sony, we’re predicting this to be the year of Nadia Rose.
Leather-clad and packed with theatricality, could Creeper be the shot in the arm the rock scene is crying out for? Their bombastic sound is a melting pot of riffs, horror-glam and emotion which should appeal to anyone wanting to escape the world in 2017. Their debut album is due in March – it’s time to get excited.
Some might say that British hip-hop-blues songwriter Rag’n’Bone Man has already made it, having won the 2017 Brits Critics’ Choice Award and secured a UK No 2 single with Human. Not a jot. He releases debut album, Human, this February then embarks on a UK headline tour. We say that 2017 will see Rag’n’Bone Man find an even brighter day.
This US pop/rock quartet describe themselves as “four Girls about to rule the world”. It’s a bold claim from a group who only released their debut single, Stuck, last year. The figures don’t lie, though: with 100K-plus views on YouTube and over 1.25 million Spotify plays, the world is paying attention.
London R&B artist Raye already has two Top 20 UK singles to her name, having featured on Jonas Blue’s By Your Side (No 15) and Jax Jones’ You Don’t Know Me (No 3). In addition to that she came third in the BBC Music Sound of 2017 Award. All of which suggests she might not do too badly this year.
If deep, sombre and car-crash curiosity piano-driven indie is your thing then Matt Maltese could be your artist for 2017. His brilliant single, Vacant In The 21st Century, bears an eerie resemblance to The Beatles’ classic, Dear Prudence, while he has the voice of a woe-betrodden Rufus Wainwright.
Annie Mac, John Kennedy and Zane Lowe… you’d probably feel pretty satisfied if you counted those names among your supporters. Not Liverpool songwriter Louis Berry, though, who aspires to be: “the biggest male artist on the planet”. With his crisp blues-folk-indie sound and Tom Waits on cough syrup vocals causing a stir, that ambition could become reality.
Youthful Hertford indie songwriter Ten Tonnes sounds like the sort of artist that would have been huge in the latter days of the Britpop explosion. His melodies are gritty, yet infectious and voice raw, but fragile. Thankfully all things 90s are so now that Ten Tonnes could get the success he deserves.
We love New Jersey emo-country sextet Pinegrove. If it wasn’t enough that they might be only the second group to successfully marry country and emo (after Bright Eyes), Evan Stephens Hall has emerged as one of the finest lyricists of recent years. Expect 2017 to see them cement their place as emo’s next cult act.
Many artists have a voice, but a rare few have a voice. London born, Tokyo raised and LA based alt-pop songwriter Sarah Grace McLaughlin, Bishop Briggs, could be the next musician to come from the latter category. Powerful, booming and brooding, Bishop Briggs is a writer who’ll demand your attention this year.
With the success of Christine And The Queens in 2016, the music world will be searching for the next French import to make it big. Jeanne Galice, Jain, could be just that songwriter. Her world music-influenced synth-pop has already made her a star in her homeland, but 2017 could be the year she becomes a star everywhere.
Australian indie-rock trio Camp Cope were one of the finest newcomers of 2016. Their brilliant eponymous debut LP saw them nominated for a J Award for Australian Album of the Year, while Georgia McDonald’s gut-wrenching lyrics marked her as an icon for the millennial distressed. We’re predicting they’ll match the success of their countrywoman Courtney Barnett.
Words: Damien Girling and Duncan Haskell