2016 was a busy year in music terms, and whatever the outside world brings in 2017, we reckon the music world is only getting better. The last few years have seen stars emerge from nowhere to change the faces of popular and underground music alike; grime is sweeping awards, electro’s making a resurgence and jazz is back on the menu. UK hip hop’s making waves, guitar bands are still going strong and there’s plenty of class RnB too, so here’s a little selection to show you who we think have big things ahead in 2017.
Forget what your dad told you - grime’s not going away. Nadia Rose has already been forcing her way into your peripherals and 2017 will no doubt see her make the jump onto centre stage. Plucked from a musical family that includes her cousin Stormzy, Nadia studied music and music management at uni and looks like she’s got all bases covered for a full onslaught on the UK music scene. Now signed to a major label in the form of Sony/Relentless Records, Nadia will release her debut LP on January 13th; with sights set on a Grammy to take back home to Croydon, she’ll be hoping Highly Flammable can live up to the hype.
Another grime starlet set to make the leap, AJ Tracey has already racked up over ten million YouTube plays, so don’t expect him to disappear in 2017. Still to release an LP, he’s somehow made himself one of the stars of the grime movement and commands the attention that goes with it.
When things get tough outside you need someone to stand up and shake things up, and Mancunion loudmouths Cabbage have willingly taken up the role. Speaking the kind of sense that the establishment hates, frontman Lee Broadbent has taken aim at capitalist culture, censorship and out of touch politicians as he lays claim to the voice of the awakening and disenchanted youth. Most recently aiming his venom at Murdoch’s media with a refutal of Murdoch’s main “web of hate” red top, Broadbent has led his bandmates into the public eye with enough charisma and angst to make them one of the most likely guitar bands to blow up in 2017.
By no means a new artist, Midland has been recognised as a brilliant producer and DJ for some time, but it feels like it’s only now that he’s really reaching his peak. A strong end to 2016 has seen him win the award for the best Essential Mix of the year, with “Final Credits” listed by Mixmag as the best track of the year. Riding a wave like that will send him far, so don’t be surprised if 2017 is the year that Midland becomes one of the festival-topping big guns of underground dance music.
With an album coming out on January 20th, Loyle Carner could well be bringing UK hip hop back into the mainstream in 2017, and it’ll be long overdue. Up there with the very best wordsmiths as demonstrated in his poignant, intelligent and heart-wrenching lyrics, his productions are also stunning. Say it quietly, but the use of samples on tracks like “The Isle of Arran” bears resemblance with early Kanye, with Rebel Cleff’s clever ear for soulful hooks taking emotive content and turning it up a notch. This could and should be a huge year for the Londoner.
One thing that will never go away is youthful angst, so the Nirvana-esque grumblings of VANT looks plenty marketable. Overdriven guitars, sing/shout-alongs and trendy long haircuts are a tried and tested combination, and VANT might just be the next band to master it as they head into 2017.
With an enchanting voice matched by a fear-inducing turn of temper, Bishop Briggs will certainly get noticed. Not many singer songwriters make trap instrumentals fit with folk-pop melodies, but then not many singer-songwriters are like Bishop Briggs. You can expect to hear this in warehouses at crossover house nights before too long, if that’s your thing.
Australia hasn’t been short on artists pushing dreamy chord sequences into the tangible realms of reality in recent years. One such group of musicians cut from the similarly atmospheric cloth as Tame Impala and Pond is Methyl Ethel. Since forming in 2013, the home recording aficionados have been gradually gaining more traction in the northern hemisphere thanks to a delicate blend of reverb washed guitar and soulful vocals. With debut LP Oh Human Spectacle and popular single ‘No. 28’ released in the last year, the foundations are set for the band to take further strides into the new year and mark themselves out as one of the most talented trios on the indie scene.
2016 was a strong year for RnB, with Frank Ocean finally releasing Blonde after plenty of build up, Solange stepping out from Beyonce’s formidable shadow and new artists like Jamila Woods offering an extra bite to the genre. All signs point towards this continuing in 2017, and Jorja Smith may well be the torchbearer for the UK’s offerings. Another powerful voice that’s going to be heard a lot this year.
A frequent collaborator and touring artist with Mura Masa, Bonzai is another who is likely to move up a gear next year as she looks to release her debut album. Drawing comparisons with many, including the likes of FKA Twigs, Bjork and M.I.A, Bonzai is nonetheless in possession of a unique sound, with her heavily dance-focussed tracks framing her voice for both at home and in-club listening. Definite tip for fans of freaky electro and beguiling vocals.
Words by Andrew Kemp
Photo courtesy of Loyle Carner