The festival season can turn ones-to-watch into proper stars, providing a vital opportunity for the music world’s best new bands to show a receptive crowd what they’re made of. Drag yourself away from the main stage this summer’s music festivals and check the smaller tents for one of these great new artists. Your summer of musical discovery begins here.
RECOMMENDED: More on music festivals
15 for 2015
A brooding vocal on SBTRKT’s ace track ‘The Light’ last year was only a hint of what’s still to come from this young singer from Stratford. Check out her massive, piano-laced soul ballad ‘Blame’ (nothing to do with Calvin Harris) and prepare to welcome her into your heart.
You’ve definitely already heard one of James Napier’s songs. Perhaps ‘Stay With Me’? He wrote that with Sam Smith. Disclosure’s ‘Latch’? That was one of his. So was Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be’. His solo stuff is just as polished, and he’s playing his first big shows this summer.
Another producer making the jump from studio to stage, Oli Bayston worked on records by Lily Allen and Lianne La Havas before grabbing three friends to help him take his Boxed In project live. The full band’s smooth basslines and skittering drums make them ideal for dancing in wellies.
These Canadians have become one of the most talked-about indie acts of 2015, and that’s only partly because of the flak they’ve caught in the US for their band name. The jangling riffs, wild guitar-slamming and spine-chilling vocals on their debut album translate into one hell of a live set.
‘If grime’s dead then how am I here?’ One of the best in a new wave of young London grime acts, 21-year-old MC Michael Omari – aka Stormzy – sold out his UK tour last month and was one of the grime mob backing up Kanye at the Brits. The best place to catch him is in a sweaty tent this summer.
Last year, young Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett was drawing clued-up crowds to the small stages. This year she and her band will be one of the highlights of any festival she hits, and there’ll be hordes of people singing along to her tongue-twisting, pun-pitching songs about Melbourne life and millennial strife. Make sure you’re one of them.
‘Fast Food’, the latest album by Geordie singer-songwriter Nadine Shah, is a poignant, powerful and occasionally (brilliantly) vicious catalogue of her exes. She’s also a spellbinding live act with a stunning voice, incredible presence and a noisy band building up a wall of sound – the kind with barbed wire on top. Start your own love affair with her this summer.
At last year’s End of the Road festival, Stealing Sheep held a late-night puppet procession in a tipi. We’re hoping for similar craziness this year, as they take the day-glo psychedelic electro-pop of their new album ‘Not Real’ to three of the UK’s best leftfield festivals.
Despite the name and the kitsch, trashy sound (hyperactive pop with pitch-shifted vocals) Sophie isn’t actually an 11-year-old girl. He’s a 20-something producer called Sam Long who’s had a series of viral hits and worked with Madonna. Pop? Art? Or just crap? See him live before you decide.
For fans of J-Pop, Hello Kitty.
See him at Field Day.
Bestival’s party vibe makes it the perfect place to experience the dance-inducing shakedown of a LoneLady set. A Manchester producer obsessed with machine-like grooves and funky guitar loops, Julie Campbell is also blessed with hyper-cool stage presence. If you’re there, don’t miss her.
For fans of LCD Soundsystem, Talking Heads.
See her at Bestival.
It’s nigh impossible to see this Spanish girl gang on stage without breaking into a massive grin, and their bright, ramshackle blend of scuffed-up punk and retro ’60s pop will come into its own when they’ve got an audience tanked up on cider and suffering mild sunstroke.
If you missed her enticing album ‘The Silver Globe’ (we don’t blame you – it snuck out last year on a tiny Manchester indie label) then you’ve got plenty of opportunities to catch electro-psych singer-songwriter Weaver on some of this summer’s more unusual festival bills.
With a new album called ‘Slowness’ out this June that’s sure to be as ace as their debut ‘Performance’, Liverpool’s innovative synthpop outfit will be planning to take the festival season by storm. ‘Performance’ positioned them as successors to Hot Chip, but the new stuff suggests they could be even more interesting than that.
‘2Shy’ is the name of the latest song by this young British pop hope. It isn’t a Kajagoogoo cover, but her lush, breathy songs do sound like they’re straight from the ’80s – gorgeous synths, funky R&B guitar licks, classic melodies and all. Mega headline sets can’t be too far away.
No tricks here: Novelist is just a mindblowing MC from Lewisham whose mile-a-minute flow leaves most grime acts standing, and who’s sourced raw beats from some incredible underground producers. He’s also 17 years old, and has already rapped with Kanye. Kids these days…