Summer is a great time to discover new music. With festivals all over the country pretty much every weekend from June to September, there is so much talent flying round that it’s easy to miss some pure gems. By spending hours by the radio and reading festival programmes, and using a little bit of instinct, here is my list of 15 artists you need to check out this summer.
Kicking off our list is an undeniably fun little group that are going to make waves. Mixing up The Streets with Kate Nash, with a sprinkle of Lily Allen, Bad Sounds is anything but bad. Their songs bounce around with fun rhythms and smart rhymes, and best of all, they look and sounds like they’re having loads of fun too.
Top Track: Evil Powers
Camelphat bring an intelligence and intensity to dance music that is seldom seen nowadays. They are a British duo who have been producing music for a while before being discovered in late 2017 with ‘Cola’, a terrifying song about spiked drinks. With repeated phrases ramping up the intensity as the songs go on, their songs walk the fine line being exciting and anxiety-inducing – regardless, you will no doubt be hearing a lot of them over the summer.
Top Track: Panic Room
Clairo is often found on Spotify playlists like ‘anti-pop’ and ‘bedroom pop’. Super chill and sincere, her vibe fits smoothly into the lo-fi craze that has taken over the internet (if you’ve missed it, search ‘lo-fi hip hop radio’ in YouTube and thank me later). Fresh on the scene, she’s already worked with the likes of Rejjie Snow, whose album Dear Annie is one of my faves of 2018, and SG Lewis, who is also featured on this list.
Top Track: 4EVER
Okay, so I was a bit late to the party with H.E.R. – her first EP came out in 2016. However, she is still getting a lot of hype so here she is. She produces laidback R&B which is perfect for romantic summer evenings. With songs that instantly calm down even the most stressed of people, she can easily hold her own amongst the giants like Solange, NAO, and SZA.
Top Track: Best Part
Although this list is alphabetical to avoid preferential treatment, Jade Bird is one of my new favourite people. She is fun, confident, and incredibly talented. Inspired by country and folk, her songs are beautifully crafted and are held up by her strong voice. ‘Lottery’ is an instant hit and her first EP, Something American, received critical acclaim. Honestly, keep an eye on this one before she takes off.
Top Track: What Am I Here For
KAWALA has a pretty secure spot on spotify’s ‘Summer Indie’ list and it’s easy to see why. Plinky guitar riffs and great harmonies bring up comparisons to Rusted Root and Fleet Foxes. They may not be ground-breaking but they provide a perfect summer soundtrack that will make who want to go play in the woods.
Top Track: Do It Like You Do
At only 19 years old, she is confident in who she is and what she is trying to say. Her songs explore her identity in a personal and profoundly relatable way. Her song ‘1950’ is a love song for the modern age and received heaps of attention – her EP Make Your Bed is top notch, in turns smooth and intriguing. She is proud and compelling, definitely one to keep an eye on.
Top Track: Talia
LOWES aim high and deliver. Drawing on inspiration from London Grammar, Florence + The Machine, and Rae Morris (my true love ), the atmospheric songs are lifted higher by the strong vocals and confidence. Their songs are designed to fill stadiums and festival arenas – although they’re at the beginning of their journey, I see big things ahead for them.
Top Track: Here We Are
The Magic Gang
Simple, loud, and all round great fun, The Magic Gang’s debut album and it is full of awesome tracks. Their music still has the feeling that it was written in someone’s garage but that adds to the sense of enjoyment that exudes from it. Instantly catchy and upbeat, The Magic Gang provides the perfect BBQ soundtrack.
Top Track: All This Way
Mahalia has been around for ages (her first EP was 2012), so it might be a surprise to see her on this list. However, she has recently taken some time out to reflect and has released a string of awesome tracks. Sober dropped in late 2017 and demonstrated a more electronic exploration of her R&B style and she is still got loads more to say.
Top Track: I Wish I Missed My Ex
The Night Cafe
The Night Cafe have been supporting big names like Sundara Karma for a while, but they deserve recognition in their own right. There are tonnes of indie-rock groups out there, so it’s easy to miss gems like these guys. They use their music to tell stories, looking at all the confusions of growing up in the modern day – perfect indie summer music.
Top Track: Mixed Signals
It’s not often you can compare rappers to Bon Iver, but here we have Octavian. Thoughtful, experimental, and altogether different to what we’ve heard before, he’s already been a regular on BBC Radio 1 and has released a track with Mura Masa, which will no doubt introduce him to a new audience.
Top Track: Hands
When I first heard Pale Waves, I couldn’t shake the fact that they were essentially a knock-off of The 1975. However, the more I listened, the more I realised the error of my ways. They do borrow from the 1975’s style, they are a powerhouse in their own right with upbeat songs that are impossible not to tap along to. No doubt they’ll be filling arenas of their own soon enough.
Top Track: Television Romance
A local Geordie lad, Sam Fender doesn’t sing about love or all that nonsense; he focuses on life around him. He’s covered everything from life in the North East to criticising the government. His songs are angry, righteous, and held together by his fantastic voice.
Top Track: Leave Fast
Right, so I put SG Lewis on a list of people to watch back in 2017, and he never quite hit the mainstream like I thought he might. However, I’m going to give him a second chance. Where his earlier stuff was airy and loose, his newer stuff is super cool and musk funkier, leading the way for new dance music.
Top Track: Better
Check out some of their best tracks below
No doubt I will have missed some awesome people, so let me know who your artists of the summer are in the comments.