With Coronavirus receding and the world slowly opening back up, the last year has allowed musicians to finally get back in the studio and record new music. Combine this with a pandemic’s worth of soul-searching and you find an entire generation of new talent making urgent music that meets this moment. From soul-searching singer-songwriters to the defiantly nonchalant, below is a list of 10 rising musicians set to take the musical world by storm this year.
#10. Christian Lee Hutson
Photo Credit: Michael Delaney
Produced by Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes fame, Christian Lee Hutson’s upcoming album Quitters is sure to be a must-listen for any indie-rock fan. If you’ve been missing new music from Phoebe since 2020’s exemplary Punisher, Hutson’s latest single “Rubberneckers” is sure to scratch that itch.
Photo Credit: Sarah Doyle
Cmat’s new album If My Wife New I’d Be Dead offers a perfect fusing of country and pop. It combines fatalistic Lana Del Rey-esque lyrics with a healthy dose of sardonic humor. It’s affirming, concerning, and frankly hilarious in equal measure.
Photo Credit: Hey Jack
With her debut Can’t Hate Myself Into A Different Shape – released earlier this year – Brimheim proved herself to be a rare pop artist: one who can combine bubbly pop arrangements with stark invocations of depression and anxiety.
#7. Nilufer Yanya
Photo Credit: Molly Daniel
Released earlier this month, Nilufer Yanya’s Painless is a pristine alt-pop album, whose sharp-edged experiments fail to get in the way of deliciously infectious hooks. It’s an early contender for best pop album of the year.
#6. Caroline Polachek
Photo Credit: Nedda Asfari
2019’s Pang earnt Caroline Polachek a dedicated cult following. Since then, that album’s single “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” has become a viral hit, while the lead single from her upcoming album “Bunny Is A Rider” was declared the best song of 2021 by Pitchfork. Her latest single “Billions” is yet another hint that her upcoming album could be a rare example of pop perfection.
#5. Black Country, New Road
Photo Credit: Rosie Foster
While their frontman may have recently departed, the fantastic new LP from Britain’s Black Country, New Road ensures a bright future for the band. It’s already being crowned by many as an early front-runner for album of the year.
#4. Erin Rae
Photo Credit: Bridgette Aikens
With her debut album Putting On Airs, Erin Rae perfected the art of minimalist country-folk. Her recently released second album Lighten Up saw her expand her sound into something more cinematic while maintaining the original charm of her early music. It’s already put Rae onto many more critics’ radar and is sure to gain her more fans – it’s already gained her a giant mural in her home state!
#3. Sam Fender
Photo Credit: Emma Viola Lilja
After gaining adoration among the British press and a loyal audience with his debut album Hypersonic Missiles, Sam Fender has finally gained what had thus far eluded him; a big hit single. Boosted by social media virality, the title track of his second album Seventeen Going Under recently reached the UK top 5, while the album itself was named best album in the world by NME earlier this month. Later this year, he is set to appear at Glastonbury and headline a 40,000 people strong event in Finsbury Park.
#2. Raina Simone
Photo Credit: Raina Simone via YouTube
After going viral on TikTok for an incisive rap freestyle, Raina Simone is set to release her debut album this year. For many, any associations between musicians and TikTok raise suspicion, but Simone’s recent singles suggest she may be about to drop an instant hip-hop classic.
#1. Wet Leg
Photo Credit: Hollie Fernando
With their viral hit “Chaise Longue”, this Isle of Wight-based duo gained near-unanimous hype among critics and fellow musicians alike – Dave Grohl recently declared them as one of the most exciting new voices in rock. Combining classic post-punk and rock arrangements with delightfully tongue-in-cheek lyrics, the band’s music feels like a breath of fresh air in the current music environment.