It’s our cut-out-and-keep guide to the best new acts on the come up.
This month is a typically varied line-up of sounds from the periphery. Think wistful guitar-led indie pop, cosmic funk from Berlin’s tripped out beat scene, bedroom soul and diaspora electronics with a co-sign from Gilles Peterson.
Sometimes, an artist encapsulates the feeling of a carefree sunny day so well in their music, it’s hard not to feel buoyant when you’re listening to them. Even if they are quietly spouting lyrics about monotony, longing and unfulfilled aspirations. Fake Laugh, aka songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kamran Khan, is one of these artists. His brand of slow-moving, guitar-led indie pop blends humour and heartbreak with the kind of deadpan inflection that makes you think twice about what he just said. With new releases underway, Fake Laugh takes all the tough shit life throws at us and turns it into wistful guitar bops to take the edge off.
Real Estate / Sparklehorse
Imagine D’Angelo’s soothing falsetto with a deep house backdrop. Now you’ve got a taste for Wayne Snow, the Nigerian-born, Berlin-based newcomer seamlessly blending neo-soul vocals with lo-fi, electronic productions. Often collaborating with fellow Berliner producers Max Graef and Glenn Astro, his tunes tackle themes of freedom, struggle and identity with the self-assured delivery of an artist who’s been in the game for a decade. Snow’s explorations of cosmic funk and deep grooves go unparalleled in his scene – this is one to watch.
Oscar Jerome / Duke Hugh
When you listen to Hilary Woods, you feel yourself being transported to the abandoned flat in which she writes and records her music. The Dublin-based multi-disciplinary artist creates songs – if you can call them that, they sound more like compositions – that feel entirely weightless. With whispered and measured vocals, her melodies tentatively move along with the piano’s crescendos, tense chord progressions and atmospheric build-up. Even if you’ve never heard her work before, the music she makes manages to sound completely familiar yet just out of reach, like a half-remembered dream.
Grouper / Jenny Hval
Toronto newcomer MorMor is impossible to bind to one specific genre – and in 2018, who needs arbitrary boxes, anyway? So, we’ll introduce him like this: the singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist has only released two tracks so far – soulful bop Whatever Comes To Mind and indie pop banger Heaven’s Only Wishful – but their slick and careful production prove that MorMor isn’t just making DIY R&B-tinged indie tunes for his bedroom. The crooning falsetto, spacious synths and galloping drums that characterise his music play off his demanding-yet-subtle guitar sound, making for one of the most enjoyable pop listens so far this year.
Homeshake / Jordan Rakei
Hotly tipped by master curator Gilles Peterson, experimental collective Penya are making serious moves within the UK circuit. Founded by producer and multi-instrumentalist Magnus PI, the quartet’s sound is marked by by sleek electronic production and grip-tight percussion. Some songs are sung by vocalist Lilli Elina, and others are entirely led by the grooves inspired by ancient Afro-Latinx melodies – either way, this is sonic exploration through the diaspora to get your feet moving.
Bonobo / Afriquoi