Listen Up: Artists to look out for in 2021
Words: Edie McQueen
Elbowing your way into the music industry has always been tricky, but following a year where Government advice told musicians to retrain – as if the majority didn’t already have a second job to fund their artistic outputs – things are especially rough. Check out our picks of a selection of the best new talent coming your way in 2021; acts to stream right now, and catch live as soon as you can.
Children of the State
Sheffield-born Children of the State’s swooning, 70s-infused rock ‘n’ roll sees them set to take 2021 by storm. Having emigrated across to Manchester last year, they closed 2020 with the tongue-twisting EP ‘Tragic Carpet and the Magical Wasp Gang From the Notre Dame’, a collection of songs alternately sordid and sweet, with an electronic pulse that shifts them up a gear. With their swaggering charisma and retro opulence, and slots supporting the likes of Temples and The Mysterines already under their belts, they are definitely one of the first bands to see when music venues are able to reopen.
Sporting acrid, humorous lyrics and baroque pop hooks, Ellie Bleach writes songs to help you get over your ex, and yourself. Her biting wit has been compared to the likes of Kate Nash and Lily Allen, her songs glittering with pop culture references to ground them in the here and now; they sound like Stephen Sondheim in battered Nikes, smoking a cigarette after a travesty of a night on the town. Her ability to transport the camp glory of 70s piano pop to the chewing gum paved streets next to your hometown club is bizarre and brilliant. Keep an eye out.
Hannah’s Little Sister
Liverpudlian art-pop outfit Hannah’s Little Sister came back with a bang in 2020 with the late release of their first EP, ‘EP.mp3’, lining them up for great things in 2021 when touring is (hopefully) back on the cards. Their songs have all the chaos and brightly-coloured beauty of a Jackson Pollock painting, encapsulating the manic energy of CBBC after-school specials and the heavy-headed confusion of early adult life. The pandemic has meant that they are yet to truly reap the benefits of their own brilliance, but their riotous, jack-in-the-box new material mark them as one to keep an eye firmly glued to.
Nuha Ruby Ra
Nuha Ruby Ra has toured with Warmduscher and Snapped Ankles. She’s won the Green Man Rising Competition. She’s appeared on recordings by the likes of Flamingods. By the time her debut EP, ‘How To Move’ drops this Spring – an EP produced by Erin Tonkon, famous for her work on Bowie’s final album ‘Blackstar’ – her name should be everywhere. With her dominating, avant-punk flair and stunning ownership of the nastiest nooks of human capacity, be prepared for wild artistry and hooks that cut under your skin.
With their debut EP, ‘Young Hard and Handsome EP’ having met with critical acclaim, Glaswegian six-piece Walt Disco are set to harness 2021 and ride it with all the showmanship and knife-edge danger of an off-grid rodeo bull riding contest. Transporting the sordid decadence of late nineteenth century degenerates into the muddy turmoil of a mosh pit, their deviant glamour mines the darker depths of 80s post-punk to unearth theatrical, violently brilliant dancefloor disasters. With a short UK tour scheduled for March, catch these if you can, and see if you can catch your breath after.
On the quieter side of things, Sheffield based Oh Papa shed the machismo and arrogance that is often synonymous with indie music in preference of old-school croonings and lo-fi melodies with their classic guitar ballads. With radio support across the BBC from the likes of Huw Stephens and Tom Robinson, the band have been biding their time with pints at Hally House and shows at Café Totem. 2021 could well be their year to provide the understated, mellow cultural reset that we need to follow the chaos of 2020. Keep an eye out for their live return.