This is the part of the program where I do that end-of-the-year thing and get all predictive, hence my annual 10 Artists To Watch, version 2017. These days there’s no such thing as a sure bet but, where these artists are concerned, the odds are looking pretty sweet.
The folks below are either fresh faces who have displayed a boatload of promise or are a mere length or two away from fulfilling theirs. And, of course, all of them have found a home in my HEAR THIS Spotify playlist.
It may not be possible to fully explain why Mondo Cozmo has come to mean so much to so many so soon – or perhaps such endeavors are best left to the more eloquent or knowledgeable – but what can be said is that with a little song called “Shine,” Joshua Ostrander struck way too many hearts and nerves to not pay attention to in 2017. Somehow Mondo Cozmo has become an emotional musical movement that you need in your life and with Republic Records as his champion, expect the good news of Mondo Cozmo to spread far and wide.
A collective of various artistic strengths, Leon Else is that metaphorical caterpillar waiting to emerge a stunning butterfly. After a momentary pull back from public view, the British singer who – more often than not – specializes in singularly personal, dark of heart and vulnerable songs, fleshed out his weirder (“Black Car”) and poppier (“Dance”) sides this year while showcasing the fine results of years of professional dance training. Now that he’s signed to a branch of the Interscope Records tree, Else is further flush with what it takes to get a full album out of his head and into our ears.
To the common, social eye that loves to pry, dissect and intrude, Allan Rayman is quite elusive but the music is right there for you in your face. His album, Hotel Rayman, is all shadowy narratives on an edge and innate grooves hitting that fluid sweet spot where R&B bumps up against hip hop attitude. Volley between“27,” “Beverly” and the non-album single “25.22” and prepare to be intrigued, if not a little mind fucked. Here’s to hoping Rayman emerges from the shadows.
One of the first 13 songs added to my HEAR THIS Spotify playlist (13 songs added every Friday) was Muna’s “Loudspeaker” and they’ve populated it twice more since then. They’ve been around since 2014 and self-identify as “dark pop” but the label of choice to describe their sound is a weird juxtaposition considering the emotional and inclusive lift of their songs like their latest single, “I Know A Place.” Keep an ear out for their full album, About U, due out in February.
Lauren Ruth Ward
Lauren Ruth Ward scares me in a primal urges-sort of way. It’s entirely possible that she may the spirit animal that every woman (and possibly a few men) wish they could embody, wish inhabited their person. Chances are she’s actually in there: the lilt of her voice pushing your blood and her every word scratching and seducing its way out. Lauren Ruth Ward. She scares me…in the best possible way.
The first time that I saw The Regrettes live I walked away not a fan. But time and further inspection changed that view because one thing this world can always use more of are female-fronted rock bands and not just for the sake of existing but, for the sake of having something to write/sing about other than making sexy time at the club with “bae.” God, I hate that word and anyone who uses it. If you have worries about the nature of today’s teen spirit, LA quartet The Regrettes (with not one legal-to-drink member among them) may deliver a salvaging assist. It’s earnest, fuzzy guitar, brash pop-punk that veers with a retro 50s bop and seemingly effortless in-your-face lyrical honesty, to boot. Signed to Warner Bros., the full album Feel Your Feelings, Fool! is due out in January and with lyrics like, “You’re talking to me like a bitch.”…so that’s what teen spirit smells like.
When the rock hits hard and heavy, it can be a beautiful thing. See Badflower for further.
Press releases about the soulful pop ala Sweden’s Lotta Lindgren aka Léon began to appear in 2015 and her debut single, “Tired of Talking” from her Treasure EP set a tone. A delicious tone of an angelic voice bearing well crafted, emotive pop from the heart. Léon may be tired of talking but we’re not tired of listening, so bring on that debut album, 2017.
Keeping it synthy and uber smooth with a flair for the lovey dovey, the trio of LANY fits snugly into our world of text-speak but there’s much more to appreciate, such as the aim to soundtrack your Summer on a regular basis even in the Fall. This year, somehow, they managed to sell out their first headlining tour even before its first show and that’s indicative of LANY’s native appeal to the senses. Let’s see how they can up their game.
Bishop Briggs’ 2016 was pretty okay; a virtual unknown entity opening for Coldplay on tour qualifies as pretty okay and her latest single, “Be Your Love” (a recent addition to my HEAR THIS Spotify playlist) is another hot burning keeper. In April of 2016 Briggs dropped the bombshell called “River” and released subsequent individual singles: not an album or even an EP – a total of five individual singles. Her currency is almost through the roof but the proof will be in can she pull off a complete body of…something. Let’s call that ‘something’ a full album just for fun’s sake.