As much as I love listening to classic albums and the latest releases from my favourite artists, finding new unknown, up and coming artists has always been very entertaining to me. If I’m lucky I’ll find a gem like Tash Sultana or Nilufer Yanya and the whole process will be worth it, the following five musicians are just some of the artists that I’ll be looking forward to seeing more from.
One of my favourite places to find new upcoming artists from is the Colors YouTube Channel. This channel showcases live performances of smalltime musicians who perform in front of a monochromatic background. Their genre of each singer varies wildly from video to video and on the 15th of March they had the Jamaican singer Koffee perform her song Rapture. Her energy and accent immediately caught my attention and I decided to listen to her recently released Rapture EP.
I was not disappointed to hear that the energy that came out in her live performance was retained in the studio. Every song on the EP is bouncy, fun and extremely infectious, featuring pulsing drum beats and catchy melodies. The main thing that kept my interest throughout the project was not the music however as without Koffee’s vocals the electricity that runs through the EP would be no where near as prominent. Her accent adds so much to the bouncy feel of each song and -even though I may not be able to understand most of what she is saying – I had a great time no matter what.
Unfortunately for some not being able to understand what is being said can be a tipping point as to whether or not they enjoy a song so if you prefer being able to immediately knowing what is being said then perhaps Koffee is not the artist for you. If not then I highly urge you to listen to her.
Speaking of artists I can’t understand. Sirup is a Soul, RnB artist from Japan who I first playing in H&M whilst I was shopping in the city one day. Once I had Shazamed the song playing over the speakers I started listening to his EP titled Sirup EP2. What I heard when it started playing was some of the funkiest and upbeat music I had heard in a while. Much like Koffee the energy on the EP is insane but it has a much more dancy vibe as opposed to the dancehall tone of Rapture. There are plenty of warm, beating baselines and bright and cheerful drum beats.
What makes Sirup stand out though is his mixture of Rap inspired delivery and his soulful singing that mould together incredibly well. His rapping may not be anything crazy but it’s engaging enough to keep songs interesting in between the singing. Not to imply the singing itself isn’t entertaining, in fact I’d probably say the smoothness of Sirup’s voice is one of his best qualities. His light and happy-go-lucky tone make each song sound so groovy that you forget he’s singing in a language you can’t understand.
Again like Koffee, if a language barrier is a problem for you whilst listening to music then you may not get much joy from listening to Sirup, but I challenge you to listen to Do Well or Maybe and not instantly feel the need to get up and dance.
3) Brandon Markell Holmes
Another incredibly soulful album I’ve come across recently is The Museum of R&B by Brandon Markell Holmes. I had known Markell Holmes was talented since his inclusion on the closing track to the Gorillaz album Humanz (Circle of Friendz) and I had listened to his first EP The Didactic but I did not revisit him until two years later with his release of his first album.
Once again Markell Holmes’ voice steals the show from all interesting instrumentals or features purely because of it’s silky, smooth, almost angelic sound. Songs like Brand New Boy and Adore sound even better than they did on The Didactic, giving Brandon more chances to push his voice to the limits of his capability. Because of the beauty of his voice and the floaty, sometimes dreamlike instrumentals, Markell Holmes often comes across as so innocent and wholesome that the feelings of love and endearment that he goes for come across incredibly well through the tone and sound of the album.
While there are a few dud tracks on the album, they should in no way put you off from listening to the album. Brandon’s talent is so under-appreciated and to ignore the beauty and splendid charm of his voice would be doing yourself a disservice.
4) Alexandra Savior
Next is an artist that had all the right ingredients of a singer I was going to love even before I had listened to any of her music. A classy, sexy female Indie Rock musician with a dark tone luring over her sound was already enough to sell me on Savior but when I heard that she had paired up with Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys to write the lyrics to the album I knew I was going to fall in love harder than I expected to. And her debut album Belladonna of Sadness did not disappoint.
Tone wise, Belladonna of Sadness is incredibly mysterious and shadowy feel to it, featuring ominous and punchy drumbeats and bass-lines that carry the shady mood throughout the duration of the project. Savior’s voice matches this tone perfectly as she knows when to hold back to match the pace of each song and remain sombre and almost somehow endearing whilst she sings about her past heartbreaks and turbulent relationships. However on songs like Bones, Frankie and M.T.M.E she also demonstrates her range in being able to ramp up the attitude in her voice .
What stands out most to me though has to be lyrics, as such a huge fan of Alex Turner’s style of writing, his presence in the production of each song is greatly appreciated. The pairing of Savior and Turner’s lyrics and Savior’s delivery makes certain that every line spoken hits hard and gets the point she is trying to make across whilst still retaining the symbolic imagery that I’ve always loved from Turner. If you’re an Arctic Monkey’s fan I’d highly recommend you give her a listen.
5) Bin Bag Wisdom
My final recommendation comes the music recommendation site Gnoosic. One day I was suggested to listen to a Hip Hop/Folk hybrid from Bristol, England. When I read that description I had no idea what to expect from the group. However I must say my decision to listen to their debut album from last year 100 Years of Bin Bag Wisdom was one of my best decisions this year.
I can genuinely say that I have never heard a band’s sound that is anywhere close to that of Bin Bag Wisdom. Their mixture of Hip Hop, Jazz, Soul and acoustic instrumentation is so wholly original that I can do nothing but commend them. The guitar rifts in each song are so plucky and catchy that every track instantly pulls you into to the music. Once you’ve been pulled in however its the delivery of the lyrics that keeps you hooked. The passion and sometime seething anger that comes through in the often politically tinged lyrics perfectly put across not only the feelings of the lead singer but often the emotions felt by the people in the UK who may be unhappy with the position their country stands in with the thick British/Bristolian accent of the lead singer often breaking though to add emphasis on parts of words not often given such emphasis in modern Hip Hop, further adding to the distinctive sound of the band.
Bin Bag Wisdom oozes with character and a real sense of home-grown authenticity and may well be one of the most unique musicians that I’ve ever heard of. If you want a musical experience unlike any other, I highly recommend this band.