Redbrick Music gives us the lowdown on the artists to watch in 2017
Aren’t we all crying out for a new pop star to take the scene by storm? If anybody deserves to fill that spot it’s R&B singer-songwriter Tinashe. Despite having two albums under her belt, a platinum selling single in the states and having the stamp of approval from Kanye West, it’s a shock she isn’t one of the biggest names in the genre. However, it’s fair to say her career has been marred by one too many false starts. With the release of new music video ‘Company’ exuding sex appeal, star quality and sass, it shows she’s not holding back this year. Exuding so much potential, it’s a shock that she hasn’t broken through properly before. Let’s hope that with some support from her label and radio stations, it will be third time lucky with the release of third studio album Joyride. It’s time to stop her bops from being flops and make 2017 the year that she receives the success she deserves.
Rock band DEAD! , consisting of members Alex Mountford on vocals, Sam and Louis Matlock on guitars and Sam Chappell on bass, ended 2016 on a high. After playing at numerous festivals, releasing some new music and touring pretty much 24/7, the buzz surrounding DEAD! has heavily increased. Touring with the likes of Hands Like Houses, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, as well as doing a one-off show with You Me at Six, DEAD! have successfully made their mark on the rock scene. Having formed in 2012, they’ve released some EPs which have included one of their most successful tracks, ‘Alaska’. 2016 saw the band release new singles such as ‘You’re So Cheap’ and their latest single ‘Something More Original’, which was released in October. 2017 looks even more promising – with new music, touring (including a show at Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge on 26th January), raw talent and a solid sound, it’s clear that 2016 was only the beginning for DEAD!
It seems that for many there is little expectation when it comes to show openers. As we flood venues and stadiums our focus is on the main act, so when an opener is fantastic it is a pleasant experience. Dan Owen was one of these surprising gems. Opening for Kaleo, Dan’s singer songwriter blues surpassed the show he opened for. His EP Open Hands & Enemies is a mixture of singer-songwriter depth with a jazz and blues twang. His reverberating voice is powerful and soothing, a force of nature not seen with a one man band. With a new tour for 2017 Dan is one to watch this coming year!
To compare Alexandra Savior, a female, velvet-voiced singer-songwriter, with Lana Del Rey would be lazy, though not altogether unfair. Savior, though ten years younger than the New York songstress, demonstrates the prerequisites to attain similarly dizzying levels of acclaim and success. Her first three singles, all released in 2016 – ‘Shades’, released in June, ‘M.T.M.E.’, released in September, and her November offering ‘Mystery Girl’ – drip with a sense of effortless cool that render them worthy of rivaling much of Del Rey’s back catalogue. Though it is not how she is similar to the Grammy-award nominee that makes Alexandra Savior one to watch in 2017: it is how she is different. Savior’s close-collaboration with Alex Turner, of Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets fame, for instance, could be said to set the 21 year-old apart from Del Rey. Here, she has proved that she is able to hold her own with one of the 21st century’s greatest songwriters; one of the pair’s joint-efforts ‘Miracle Aligner’ finds itself sitting quite happily as the second track on The Last Shadow Puppets’ 2016 album Everything You’ve Come To Expect. Savior’s upcoming album, Belladonna of Sadness, entirely co-penned with Turner, is due to be released in April 2017.
The Big Moon
With only a years’ worth of work and ten songs to their name, The Big Moon are very much in the early stages of success. But success it will be. Deep, powerful vocals and compelling, 50s-esque backing vocals make up the forefront of the all-female four piece’s sound. Coupled with smooth melodies, strong guitar riffs and surprising twists to all of their tracks, The Big Moon carry one of the best new voices in indie rock right now. Despite being effortlessly cool on stage, the girls are a joy to meet off-stage, as I discovered when bumping into them after their slot at Birmingham’s ‘All Year’s Leaving’ festival in October 2016, just one of their 738 (!) gigs last year. After being played on BBC 6 Music and featured in NME at the end of 2016, this year is bound to be an even greater year for The Big Moon. They hold a slot at BBC Radio 1’s revered ‘Future Festival’ later in the month, and if that doesn’t kick start them into an amazing 2017, I don’t know what will.
I first saw Hannah Georgas at a small, open-air concert in Whistler, Canada last year. Playing to a modest crowd she introduced herself humbly and with heart; the words of someone unaccustomed or unexpecting of fame. From there her set began and I was swept away by the soft, breathy power her voice held. My first impression was of a hushed version of Florence Welch, with subdued but emotional tracks like ‘Don’t Go’ or ‘Evelyn’, the latter named after her grandmother and the inspiration for her latest album, For Evelyn. The appeal of Georgas is that, alongside these soulful, sing-alone-in-the-car tracks, she still creates songs that lean into a more typical pop genre whilst maintaining her own branded style, such as ‘Crazy Shit’ or ‘Shortie’, with catchy lines like: ‘I’m not a player, not a hater / I’m your lover and I want your loving’. Indeed, with this capability, Georgas is the kind of artist with songs to complement both the warm feeling of early love and the melancholy of breakup. Starting her career in 2009 and, following several awards including 2011 and 2013 Juno ‘Songwriter of the Year’, I feel like Georgas’ time of rightful recognition has been building to this point. Recently covering Rihanna’s ‘Needed Me’, with a voice as smooth as if it was the lovechild of London Grammar and Lorde, she returns to the UK with a tour date in Brighton. And so, to the woman who genuinely blushed when I told her she was one of my favourite artists, Hannah Georgas, please, ‘Don’t Go’ anywhere.
2017 is a year of resurgence for scandi-pop, and this Norwegian pop star is no exception to the canon of Scandinavian chanteuses who all come from the same unjustly talented gene pool. Like Zara Larsson, Astrid started out her career as a contestant on a talent show and since then she has gone on to win the MTV EMA for Best Norwegian Act, toured with Troye Sivan, worked with Avicii and sold out headline shows in New York. To get a taste of her cool blend of delicate vocals, bass heavy pop beats and pervasive hooks give listen to her latest release ‘Hurts So Good’.
Inspired by greats such as Patti Smith & Gertrude Stein, Bowie and Howlin’ Wolf, Keir set to take on pop just like those greats took on the music industry – with a lot of balls. Adding to the pop genre, Keir provide power, sass and energy. Starting out in Bristol, the 5-piece (made up of vocals, guitar, bass, keys and drums) have worked their way through the field, playing killer venues in London and recently performing a live session in Maida Vale for BBC Introducing in the West, debuting their new single, ‘Squeeze Me’. This song is a cracker – so dark and sassy with killer falsetto, and harmonies from Rhydian (keys). You can find the BBC Introducing podcast online, which also includes tracks ‘Probably’ and ‘I Don’t Need Anybody Else’. The amazing thing about this band is that you will not be disappointed if you saw them live. No gimmicks, no backing tracks, just a crazily tight performance from everyone. You can also find their EP on Spotify, which includes 4 songs including ‘Live This Way’, another personal fave.