The Best New Music, Artists and Bands for 2021
8 January 2021, 15:31
Which new acts should you listening to over the next twelve months? Here are the 10 artists John Kennedy - The Most Trusted Man In Music - will be championing in 2021.
After the disappointing year of 2020, let's look forward to a better 2021. And the best way to get things underway is with some great new music.
There’s a lot riding on 2021... and we have Great Xpectations!
Once again, throughout January, we'll be giving you some exciting opportunities on Radio X and tipping you off to the stuff that's gonna make 2021 so much better. Gigs, festivals, TV, films and, of course, MUSIC.
Find out more about the best new music for 2021, plus listen to our pick of the acts right here…
2020 may have been a false start for most people, but for Beatrice Laus, it was the year her career started to take off. The 20 year old singer-songwriter capitalised on her successful series of EPs with her first full-length album, Fake It Flowers, issued in October 2020.
"Beabadoobee's songs really get under your skin," says John Kennedy. "She conjures up the halcyon days of 90s guitar sounds, but with a contemporary twist and perspective."
The year saw Bea's powerful, guitar-led dreampop get nods from the BRITs and the NME and a support slot on The 1975's UK tour in February 2020. COVID put a stop to her supporting the band in North America, but 2021 is hers for the taking, with a UK tour lined up for September and slots at Coachella and Reading/Leeds already guaranteed.
Further info: beabadoobee.co.uk
Melodic rock quartet BLOXX formed in West London in 2016 and are signed to the acclaimed indie label Chess Club. Fronted by vocalist Fee Booth, the band comprises Paul Raubišķis (bass), Taz Sidhu (guitar) and Joe Kinton (drums).
Debut single Your Boyfriend arrived in September 2016, with their first tour following the next year. Having supported The Wombats, Two Door Cinema Club and Sundara Karma. They have also found themselves on the bill for the iconic Reading & Leeds festival twice.
The debut album from BLOXX, Lie Out Loud, was released at the end of August 2020 to great reviews. They kick off 2021 with a socially-distanced show at Manchester Academy on 26 January.
"It's been great watching BLOXX develop over the last few years," says John Kennedy, "from the session they did for X-Posure early on to the release of their debut album, they are poised to reach a much bigger audience."
Further info: bloxxmusic.com
Isle Of Wight's Coach Party are Jess Eastwood (vocals/bass), Steph Norris (guitar), Joe Perry (guitar) and Guy Page (drums). Their debut single, Oh Lola, was released on the influential label Chess Club at the tail end of 2019 and gained many admirers through its fuzzy, hypnotic guitar rock.
The Party Food six-track mini-album followed in June 2020, which collected their first releases along with three new tracks. While lockdown has made things difficult for the band to get out and get noticed, they've been keeping busy, offering Radio X an Isolation Session in October.
John Kennedy says that that Coach Party are "One of my favourite bands of 2020. They make you rock and swoon as you bear witness to their inner heartbreak, but still somehow put a smile on your face. Pure rock angst/joy, their Isolation Session for X-Posure was unbelievably in your face especially considering they recorded each of their parts separately in their bedrooms!"
Further info: www.coach-party.com
girl in red
John Kennedy says: "girl in red has such great songs with a fascinating darkness that I can't wait for the debut album. She's potential world beater in 2021."
girl in red is the pseudonym of 21-year-old Marie Ulven, who comes from Horten, Norway. Marie's music is informed by conversations about anxiety and depression, but there are also songs about sexuality that have made her a figurehead for LGBTQ+ fans worldwide. She's also found admirers in Matty Healy of The 1975 and Billie Eilish.
Ulven started her recording life as a bedroom artist, before gradating to live performances. She played her first London show in January 2019 to 200 people, but ended the year headlining the Electric Ballroom.
Her 2017 single I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend has amassed over 150 million streams online and two EPs - Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 - arrived a year apart in September 2018 and 2019 respectively. Marie is currently putting the finishing touches to her debut album, World In Red, with a one-off single in 2020, Midnight Love, offering a taste of the new material.
Further info: worldinred.com
You must surely know by now that Elijah Hewson, frontman with Inhaler, is Bono's son. But don't let the family connection get in the way of the Dublin band's accomplished post-punk tinged guitar rock, which taps into Joy Division, Interpol, The Strokes and more. Alongside Hewson are Josh Jenkinson on guitar, Rob Keating on bass and Ryan McMahon on drums.
2019 saw the band hone their skills, with Blossoms inviting them to support them in the US and a pair of well-received singles: Ice Cream Sundae and My Honest Face.
While 2020 put a stop to the band touring, it didn't prevent Inhaler delivering a trio of tracks across the year - We Have To Move On, Falling In and When It Breaks - which give fans an idea of what their forthcoming debut album will sound like. 2021 Will see the band play the festivals This Is Tomorrow, Neighbourhood Weekender and TRNSMT.
John Kennedy says: "Watching the devoted audience Inhaler have quickly gained is testament to the band's great chemistry and ability to turn that into memorable music.
"Their debut session for X-Posure and Radio X was a classic. While family connections are irrelevant as far as their fans are concerned, they could prove that rock greatness can be in the genes."
More info: https://inhaler.band
"Sometimes bands connect with their generation in ways that trend-spotters can't predict and The Lathums are a prime example of that," says John Kennedy. "Their rise has been phenomenal and away from any media hype. Their songs and their energy are undeniable."
This Wigan four-piece are Alex Moore, Scott Concepcion, Ryan Durrans and Johnny Cunliffe and got their name from their first ever show, which was at a hen party at a pub in Lathom, on the outskirts of Wigan.
All My Life, the band’s first single on Island Records, was written by Alex just before he left school at the age of 16. “It was a way of creating another world for myself,” he admits. The Memories We Make was a vinyl-only EPs compilation released in July 2020 and put them in the UK Albums Chart Top 20.
The Lathums are recording their debut album at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, with James Skelly and Chris Taylor on production duties. Meanwhile, their 2021 Spring Headline Tour, including dates at Manchester’s O2 Ritz and London’s Electric Ballroom, sold out in a day.
Further info: www.thelathums.com
Kenneth La’ron was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1997 and describes his music as "new wave nostalgia". He spent a period uploading music to SoundCloud, including the hugely popular Cave. These early tracks were collected on the EP Beneath The Willow Tree.
The wistful Waves was La'Ron's first commercial single in August 2017, but his major breakthrough was with the track Lost Cause in February 2019. A second EP arrived in May of 2020, titled How Will I Rest In Peace If I'm Buried By A Highway.
"I love the influences and inspirations apparent in Kenny's music from The Drums to Interpol to hip hop and pop," says John Kennedy, "but his style ius very much his own. I'm really looking forward to what he gives us in 2021."
All being well, Kennyhoopla will be performing two nights at London's O2 Forum, Kentish Town in March 2021, supporting Yungblud, and he's already on the bill for The Great Escape in Brighton.
Further info: www.facebook.com/KennyHoopla
Wirral-based garage rockers Lia Metcalfe (lead guitar) and George Favager (bass) formed in 2016 with former drummer Chrissy Moore (drums) gained an influential fan in the form of The Coral’s James Skelly, who produced their debut single Hormone.
John Kennedy says: "The Mysterines have been massive favourites on X-Posure over the last couple of years - they've been in session and played the X-Posure Summer Party in 2019. Their raw rock energy is a force to be reckoned with and Lia is already a superstar."
The band have supported the likes of Miles Kane, Royal Blood and The Amazons, while appearing on Paul Weller's Black Barn sessions series on YouTube. In fact, Lia has collaborated with the Modfather on his forthcoming album Fat Pop (Volume 1).
2020 saw The Mysterines issue the singles Love's Not Enough (February) and I Win Every Time (May), while 2021 sees the band on the bill for Liverpool Sound City and Neighbourhood Weekender. They've also reschedule their show at London's Garage for 5 June.
Further info: www.facebook.com/TheMysterines
West Lothian’s The Snuts had been creating a buzz ever since the release of their debut single Glasgow back in 2016. This was followed by the Matador EP the following year and their first "real" single, Seasons, in the summer of 2018.
2019 saw the quartet performing at Reading & Leeds, Victorious and TRNSMT festivals and while 2020 saw the band consolidate their success with the more eclectic Mixtape EP, this year will see the lads hit the ground running with the release of their debut album, W.L., on 19 March. A full UK tour follows in May.
Official website: www.thesnuts.co.uk
He's just turning 18, he's from Bedfordshire, he's Alfie Templeman. He played all the instruments on his debut EP Like An Animal, which was released on the respected label Chess Club in October 2018.
The Sunday Morning Cereal EP arrived in June 2019, boasting a darker, slyer sound, but the follow-up Don't Go Wasting Time EP is as joyous as it gets. After a year of supporting bands like Sundara Karma and Sports Team in 2019, Alfie managed to get a tour of his own under his belt in January 2020.
The singer-songwriter's EP Happiness In Liquid Form was issued in the summer of lockdown, with the title track and its follow-up single, Forever Isn't Long Enough, both making Radio X's Record Of The Week.
John Kennedy says: "The apparent laid-back ease with which Alfie comes up with such infectious tunes confirms that instead of being the apprentice his age might suggest, he is in fact already a master. Can't wait for more in 2021."
More info: www.alfietempleman.com