It’s safe to say that 2015 was another great year for music, with some quality albums to enjoy and a whole host of amazing bands moving their way up the ranks.
But what new music have we got to come over the next year? With so much new sounds out there to discover online or at your nearest venue, it can often be a head-scratcher as to where to start.
From indie-pop to R&B, noisy guitars to gentle bass wubs, here are 16 of our top tips for 2016.
Don’t forget to check out the Spotify playlist at the end of the post.
One of our recent New Bands of the Week, this London-based group first tickled our ears years ago as cheeky indie-popsters The Kabeedies. Since then they’ve regrouped, relocated, and relaunched as the tauter, more focused Keep Up. Glossing their post-punk influences with a shimmer of shoegazey optimism, this lot pack the range to keep listeners on their toes. Expect 2016 to welcome Keep Up’s first release proper, as well as ample choice to catch them live.
Hinds have been building a buzz for a couple of years now, even before a 2014 dispute with a similarly named band forced a change (they originally went under the moniker of Deers).
Their live show is the kind of contagious fun it’s hard not to get whipped up in, and the Madrid four-piece are quite possibly the coolest band your ears will meet all year. Though their debut album Leave Me Alone (released January 8) takes a few listens to sink in properly, once it does you’ll be drawling through their songs in no time, and the record looks set to cement them among a new legion of fans.
Combining the poptastic vocal styles of bands like The 1975 with the crunching grunge of bands like Nine Black Alps seems to be a good move for Get Inuit, a bunch of Kent boys with a penchant for numerically numbered releases (check out last year’s 001 EP, going straight to the front of your record collection). One minute you’ll be feeling queasy from a sickly sweet verse, before a powerful chorus kicks in to balance you up with a headache. In the best possible way of course.
This West Yorkshire trio are part of the same Clue Records roster that’s slowly making stars of Allusondrugs, and it’s only a matter of time until these boys follow the same path. In fact, they’re already heading in the right direction, with a slew of brilliant singles (‘Tunnel Vision’, ‘Winter’s Glow’ and ‘Yasmin’ are but three) picking up a decent following. If they continue this trajectory into 2016, big things await.
This Sheffield duo have been propping up the UK’s emo revival scene with the brand of slacker-punk for a couple of years now, but as they ride a huge wave of momentum off the back of last year’s debut album Hairball, their star looks set to rise in 2016.
Most people haven’t hit their full potential by the time they’re 20, but not Dua Lipa. By her third decade on this planet, the Kosovo born London resident had worked in studios in Berlin, LA, Stockholm, New York and Toronto, and collaborated with producers like Emile Haynie (Lana Del Rey, FKA twigs) and Andrew Wyatt (Miike Snow, Charli XCX). Not too shabby, and it probably explains why her cosmo-pop is so damn polished, resting somewhere between muted drum ‘n’ bass and soulful R&B.
It’s not often that singer-songwriters can claim to be as genuinely exciting as 24-year old Oscar Scheller, who’s pushing the usual solo artist types (James Bay, Tom Odell… yawn) out of this year’s lists with his lackadaiscal bedroom pop. Garnering comparisons to everyone from Pavement’s Stephen Malkmus to the synth-pop of Depeche Mode, his patchwork of sounds will likely find a place someone among your musical tastes.
A rap/rock/punk crossover band sounds like the most gimmicky thing ever, and you’d be forgiven for shivering slightly if the idea of guitar noise mixed with rhymes conjures bad memories of nu-metal. But try comparing Ho99o9 (pronounced “Horror”) to Fred Durst and co’s awful dirge and you’ll most likely get a swift smack across the chops for your troubles. The two are incomparable: Ho99o9’s live shows border on the terrifying as bodies go flying in all directions among a whirlwind of crushing drum machine beats, strobes and noise, and they’re one of the most exciting bands on the planet right now. One to catch at the smallest venue possible, before they hit the big time.
While reading up on Kacy Hill, we stumbled across our favourite new word: “blubstep”. Sure, it’s one of those awful portmanteaus used by marketing types to shift records, but it perfectly describes Hill’s bass heavy, James Blake-esque tunes. She’s signed to Kanye West’s label after serving as a backing dancer for his Yeezus tour, so no pressure.
If social media presence were the only barometer of success, you’d argue that Hippo Campus’ 17,000+ Facebook followers could see them in good stead for the next 12 months on their own, and to add them to a list like this would be a moot move. Maybe so, but that’s a following accrued from their native Stateside fanbase. Over here, there’s still work to be done to get the Minnesota four-piece’s bright indie-pop the kind of attention it deserves, though a February tour supporting Little Comets should do a lot of the work for us. The best band named after a part of the brain you’ll hear all year!
This angsty Norwegian four-piece create an all American sound more closely associated with the snarling femme-punk of Veruca Salt and Babes In Toyland et al. Pop sensibilities hide sheepishly around their ragged guitars, just waiting for you to find them.
We all know lists like these are mostly subjective affairs with no two being alike; the opinions of one publication weighed up against another. But if there’s one act to bring an ounce of objectivity to the whole thing, it’s Essex’s Jordan Cardy, aka Rat Boy, who’s appeared on so many ‘Ones to Watch’ lists this year there must be a science to how perfectly he’s hitting the nail on the head. Seen as the worthy successor to Jamie T’s scathing and socially aware commentary, at an infuriatingly young 19 years of age, the British music scene is Rat Boy’s for the taking.
We caught this lairy British four-piece on the Manchester leg of last year’s Dot to Dot Festival and were pleasantly surprised at their energetic live set. Their brash, no nonsense approach to guitars-first music recalls the best bits of The Vines, and a steady stream of bits you can shout along to promises to find them crossover success with the laddier end of the spectrum. Stints supporting Royal Blood have served them well so far, but 2016 looks to be their year.
Another band stumbled upon at a festival. We first laid eyes on Yak while packed into the tight surroundings of Leeds Met’s student union bar as we waited for Thurston Moore to tune up in the other room for his Live At Leeds headlining set. To be honest, we don’t remember much, but that’s nothing to do with any sort of drinking problem; Yak seems to be whirlwind of half-improvised songs, cheeky between track banter, and thrashing noise. And one of them is Jack White’s doppelgänger, so there’s that. Whatever it was, we liked. We liked a lot.
The Magic Gang
We’ve featured this Brighton lot a few times before in various gig guides, but now we get to tell you just what it is we think will be making 2016 a good year for The Magic Gang. This widely prolific bunch accrue all the best bits of ’90s indie-pop, but put their own distinct spin on it. Think Teenage Fanclub rubbing shoulders with someone like The Coral, and you’re halfway there.
It’s not entirely certain if LIZ’s sugar-sweet bubblegum pop is a sincere love-letter to Daphne and Celeste, a scalpel sharp dissection of tired female-pop tropes, or if she just really really likes first album Britney A LOT. What is clear though, is that the LA native’s ‘When I Rule The World’ manages to get you dancing to high-calorie dance music without so much as breaking a sweat, so she must be on to something good. With backers including Diplo and the PC Music stable, expect LIZ’s teeth-rotting, candy-crushing aesthetic to break through in a big way.
Listen to our Spotify playlist of the bands featured: