NOTNew artists had a hard time in 2020. Bands that were on the verge of becoming the Next Big Thing found themselves dropping tours and pushing back albums.
Over the past 12 months, however, there has been almost too much to choose from, whether it’s edgy post-punk, woozy Welsh rock, or fuzzy Gen-Z pop. We’re simplifying things a bit by picking 10 acts that we think are really worth considering in 2022.
A group of exuberant teenagers from Essex (their drummer is 15), Anorak Patch and other girl groups like Wet Leg are here to shake up the male-dominated post-punk scene. The recent single “Delilah” channels the early days of Bloc Party with its choppy grunge guitars, but also bands such as The Pretenders and Blondie thanks to the melodic vocals of singer Effie Lawrence. It looks like these older groups are about to go to school.
New Jersey, Los Angeles-based artist Carol Ades is on the hunt for a fresh start, following a string of successful collaborations with pop singers such as Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Ava Max. Its sound is a melancholy pop-punk ballad. On the recent single “Through”, she remembers Avril Lavigne via slacker guitars and his shrug attitude: “I’ll cry if I want / Stay up all night if I need to / I’ll die If I have to / the only way out is through. Fingers crossed for an album in 2022.
Having experienced one of the fastest climbs of any British rapper in recent years, Central Cee now has its eyes firmly fixed on the world stage. His first mixtape, the independent release Wild West, was a clever and eye-catching synthesis of drill and trap elements, witty bars and well-chosen samples. The single “Loading” uses a 20s jazz riff, while the viral “Obsessed With You” sampled the track “Just For Me” by rising star PinkPantheress. Earlier this year, he won the award for best male artist and groundbreaking artist at the GRM Awards; he is also one of the 2022 Brit Awards top nominees. Keep an eye out for his upcoming mixtape 23, which is slated for release in February.
Liverpool duo King Hannah are renegades, dealer in sharp-toothed Americana and lo-fi, indie indie debt of the Noughties. Guitarist Craig Whittle and Hannah Merrick first met at a college group presentation, but formed their own group while working together at a bar. Merrick’s voice is alluring and low – think Sharon Van Etten or Lana Del Rey – with an outlaw edge, reinforced by Whittle’s tight riffs. Their first album, I’m sorry I was just me, is scheduled for February 25.
Are we about to attend Cool Cymru 2.0? These six lovely guys from Cardiff are having fun doing some off-balance pop-rock with lyrics in English and Welsh. The recent single “Short Haired Lady” runs alongside a surf-rock guitar riff and bright notes, while “Dewin Dwl” (“stupid wizard” in Welsh) sets foot on dry land for a stroll through a rural landscape. Tolkien. Expect more adventures with them in the New Year.
PinkPantheress from London first caught our attention with the viral clips she posted on TikTok last year. As fans came up with videos to go with them, she released the full versions of each song, most of which weren’t much longer than two minutes. They’re fragmented – delivered in its laconic whisper to lo-fi jungle rhythms – and perfectly capture the nervous Gen Z anxiety that permeates much of social media. His first album, To hell with that, impressed us enough to place it on our album of the year list. We can’t wait to see what she does next.
Santino The Saint
Brilliantly brooding Brixton artist Santino Le Saint brings rock and hip hop together like no other British artist at the moment. Son of British hip-hop producer Charlie Parker from The 57th Dynasty, he seems to have inherited his father’s sense of innovation. His soundscapes are thoughtful, dark and glitchy; the lyrics are delivered in a sultry whisper or quick half-raps.
Nigerian artist Tems has enjoyed a whopping 2021, with a supporting spot on Wizkid’s record-breaking shows at London’s O2 Arena and his own shows at Lafayette. In the US, she caught Drake’s attention and appeared on his track “Favorites,” from the new album. Boy in love certified, and also appeared on Jimmy Kimmel. She alternates between leisurely ballads backed by a warm acoustic guitar and sunny, uplifting hymns such as “Damages”, on which she asks, “So tell me what you need from me now / I’m not what you must be now / Because I’m done with it now.
London-based artist Tora-i waves the flag of the long-awaited revival of R&B in the UK. The recent single “Call Your Name” opens with determined brass parps, as she uses biblical wounds to evoke themes of persecution and carrying burdens. âThey don’t write stories about women like me / Say the ground / We miss our feet / Don’t pass, go no / Straight to jail please,â she sings coldly. A naturally creative soul.
By the time they dropped their first two singles, Wet Leg seemed to be done. The Isle of Wight duo – Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers – are a breath of fresh air for a post-punk British scene that has been a bit dull lately, dominated as it was by squawking dudes (Idles, Black Country, New Road, Black Midi, Sports Team, Shame, Sleaford Mods). Wet Leg’s lyrics are often sardonic, witty, and ironic. “Chaise Longue” is a frenzied ride that includes an excellent reference to the Mean Girls. The post-punk feminist anthem “Wet Dream” nods to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, as the duo ask, “What makes you think you’re good enough / To think of me when you touch you? They are a lot of fun and their debut album will be released on April 8th.