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Ones to Watch // 2021

Now I know this is a little late but its better late than never, right? 2020, although a little dark at times, was a successful year for the recorded music industry. We saw some astonishing debuts and some amazing comebacks and an array of brilliant new tracks. 2021 will be no different, we've already heard from some of the best new artists and we're just sat here waiting to hear from those releasing new music!

Here's a few artists you really need to keep an eye on this year! From potential Mercury Prize winners to future genre-defining musicians, there's something here for everyone and if you hear them now, you get to say you listened to them first (haha). We'll be keeping a close eye on them to see what they get up to throughout the year, really rooting for them and updating you on all the news. So here we go:

JNR Williams

JNR Williams is one of the most exciting artists I've discovered in recent times. The London based singer-songwriter has released a number of singles and two EPs, 'Where We Start' and 'Withers on the Vine', thus far - but will 2021 see a debut album? JNR Williams has concocted the right level of emotion and mellowness to create a range of moving yet super laidback tracks and an original sound that screams 'Mercury nominee'.

Listen to: Us In Major

Holly Humberstone

Now Holly Humberstone has been tipped for big things this year by a number of publications, and I can see why. Her latest EP 'Falling Asleep at the Wheel' marked a turning-point in her musical career; honest story-telling told through emotionally compelling vocals and melodies. No doubt, the buzz surrounding her already will grow. Hopefully this year we can hear some new music and maybe even catch a live show!

Listen to: Drop Dead


I've seen Pastel a couple of times playing in Wales and every time the crowd have gone crazy. They signed with Manchester label 'Spirit of Spike Island' last year and have very much kept the spirit of Madchester alive with their likeness to The Stone Roses, rhythms flooded with nostalgia and an attitude that screams rock and roll stars. You can hear their debut EP this summer and they head out on tour with Afflecks Palace in September!

Listen to: She Waits For Me

Pretty Preachers Club

Glasgow newcomers 'Pretty Preachers Club' released their debut EP 'Going Nowhere Fast' towards the end of last year which really projected the duo to new heights. Their poetic melodies, synthy undertones and sparkly pop sensibilities are just some of the things we're hearing from the Scots. Bedroom-pop, which has been used to describe the band, is more prevalent than ever before and they seem to be one of the new acts pushing it forward.

Listen to: Think About U

Tom Auton

Along with his band 'The Bottlebreakers', Tom Auton has not put his foot on the breaks over lockdown. In fact, he released a live EP 'Live at the Gate' on top of a collection of covers from the likes of The Beatles, Nothing But Thieves and Royal Blood. Tom Auton has mastered an arena-worthy sound, filled with gutsy riffs, rich vocals and a groove that makes you want to jump up on the tables and dance. He's proven to be a staple in the south Wales music scene - you can pre-save his new single 'Victim Of The Groove' now.

Listen to: Blues Train

Chappaqua Wrestling

It's difficult to label Chappaqua Wrestling; their influences sprout from all over the place, from Americana to indie but what's really prevalent in their sound is grunge, especially in their latest single 'The Rift'. The Brighton based act produces an addictive cocktail of shoegaze, electricity and raucous riffs; I got hooked on their sound from the first listen. Their Abbey Road Studios session from last year is just the tip of the ice-berg for the Brighton lot.

Listen to: The Rift

Nadia Sheikh

Nadia Sheikh, British/Spanish singer songwriter has had a pretty successful career thus far! From the release of her last single 'Fire Away' to supporting the likes of Stereophonics on their tour last year, Nadia has really soared to the top. Last year was great, but I really think 2021 is going to be even better for the London based singer. She's a powerhouse of a vocalist who produces an authentic arena rock sound!

Listen to: Fire Away

Big Joanie

Self-described 'black feminist sistah punk' trio Big Joanie have made huge waves in the industry already this year. They've created a unique sound but still manage to stick true to the origins of punk-rock, following in the footsteps of musical pioneers like The Ronettes. They spring to life with rousing riffs and punchy melodies; it's fun, feisty and a breath of fresh air. Big Joanie will embark on tour with Idles later on in the year, supporting them across some of their UK dates - and I'm so excited to finally experience one of their live performances.

Listen to: Fall Asleep

James Smith

Some people may be familiar with James Smith; you may know him as a finalist of BGT back in 2014. He's racked up some phenomenal support from fans and industry stars alike, but I really think this is going to be his year; think chart-topping hits and Brit-newcomer nominations. There's so many layers to his music that sit him at the top of the game, taking inspiration from old souls like Dylan and Cash, and conveying real emotion in his music.

Listen to: Rely On Me

There's some exciting times ahead of us and I'm so looking forward to seeing what these lot get up to over the next few months!

Words: Tate Powell @tatepowellx

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