20 For 2020: Under the Radar selects its top tips for the New Year | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Neighbours Burning Neighbours

20 For 2020: Under the Radar selects its top tips for the New Year

Under the Radar selects its top tips for the New Year

Dec 21, 2019 Photography by Philippa Grob Web Exclusive
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As 2019 draws to a close, it's time to look into our collective crystal balls and look to see whose future shines brightest for the twelve months ahead. It's been an exciting year for new music, not least in watching so many emerging artists dazzle both in the flesh and on tape. Bearing that in mind, Under The Radar asked its contributors to pick 20 of their hottest tips for 2020 so here are the acts we're most excited about over the coming months ahead.

Bailen

This New York City trio is made up of three siblings: twin brothers Daniel and David Bailen and their little sister, Julia. Their acoustic sound feels like it came from a dusty, '70s rock LP, giving us the occasional Fleetwood Mac vibe and some of the best sibling harmonies we've heard since the Beach Boys. Their debut LP, Thrilled to Be Here, was released in 2019, but while the singles have gotten heavy play from local tastemakers WFUV, the band's yet to really break out beyond the city in a huge way. That should hopefully change in 2020: the kids have the chops to at least be the next HAIM. Try out their heartfelt "Something Tells Me," or the moody "I Was Wrong." More recent releases include a cover of BRMC's "Salvation,' and for some holiday fun, their own take on "Christmas is All Around" from Love Actually. (Austin Trunick) 

Body Type 

Sydney-based quartet  Body Type released their critically acclaimed debut EP1 last year and generated a huge buzz after playing SXSW in 2019. The band who comprise of Sophie McComish (guitar and vox), Annabel Blackman (guitar and vox), Georgia Wilkinson-Derums (bass and vox), Cecil Coleman (drums) released their second EP, entitled EP2 this year. "Free To Air" may well be the tune that initially hooks people in. It's slightly more reflective than their previous release the spiky jagged glory that was "Stingray" but proves that Body Type has got what it takes to make a huge dent in 2020.  "Free To Air" eddies and flows driven by spidery guitars and gorgeous vocal harmonies. It's a song tinged with beauty and poignancy and is a perfect example of how to craft artful, dazzling, intelligent evocative indie-pop with some style. (Andy Von Pip)

 

Do Nothing

Nottingham might be 175 kilometres from London but in terms of its music scene, the city is up there with any of its larger and more celebrated peers. Having bestowed us with the likes of Sleaford Mods, Eyre Llew, Six By Seven and Tindersticks in recent years, there's a new wave of artists about to break spearheaded by arty post punk quartet Do Nothing.

The four members - Chris Bailey (vocals), Kasper Sandstrom (guitars), Charlie Howarth (bass) and Andrew Harrison (drums) - played together in another band before taking time out to go back to the drawing board, where Do Nothing was born. Bailey's louche delivery has already drawn comparisons with both Mark E Smith and James Murphy while their musical journey can take you anywhere from Talking Heads and Spandau Ballet to Iceage, Parquet Courts and any number of places in between.

Former singles "Handshakes" and "Gangs" subtly hinted at their promising unpredictability while current release "LeBron James" represents their finest if most unsettling five minutes to date. (Dom Gourlay) 

Dry Cleaning

South London has a history in producing some of the UK's most innovative bands in recent years. The latest are Dry Cleaning, a four-piece who combine wiry post punk with intelligent, observational lyrics that reference Meghan Markle, sexual encounters in Travelodge hotels and Vikings amongst other things. One review compared them to "Phoebe Waller-Bridge fronting The Fall", and while that probably sounds a little too unpalatable to contemplate, it's actually quite plausible. They've put out two EPs this year which stand shoulder to shoulder gracefully alongside anything else released in 2019 while their live shows have already become the stuff of legend.

With an album scheduled for release in the coming months and several festival slots already in the bag, it's probably fair to say you're going to hear a lot more from Dry Cleaning in 2020. (Dom Gourlay)

 

52 Hertz Whale

Some of the most exciting music we've heard recently has emerged from mainland Europe. One of those acts responsible are 52 Hertz Whale, a five-piece hailing from the Slovakian capital of Bratislava. They describe their music as "post everything" which wouldn't be a bad descriptive were they not as relevantly present as it gets. Led by the inimitable talent that is Dominik Prok, a forceful presence that's equal parts Mark Lanegan (vocally) and Cedric Bixler (performance-wise). Musically there are elements of grunge, punk, shoegaze and even metal which makes their repertoire a brutal yet potent concoction of styles and ideas.

 

Recent single "Thin Skin" came out earlier this month and represents arguably their most visceral statement of intent to date. With more new music on the way shortly and live shows about to be confirmed beyond their native motherland, 2020 could be the year these guys become household names in your neck of the woods. (Dom Gourlay)

 

Goddesses

Emerging from the deep existential fuzz of their 2016 self-titled debut, Goddesses have reconfigured  their sound, with real songcraft breaking through the sonic fog. II is the augmentation of long jams and live recorded one-take guitar, bass and drums sessions at Derby's Dubrek studios and overdubs and effects added later.

 

With additional mixing at Black Bay Studios in the Scottish Isle of Lewis, II is the sonic representation of these locales - desolation and beauty from both built environments and untouched nature. Yes, this music will draw Radiohead comparisons but bubbling in the mix is shoegaze swirls, motorik rhythms and pop sensibilities, not least in the album's vocal harmonies. In a time of undoubted darkness this is Goddesses finding the light, reigning in the noise but losing none of its power. II, which is coming early in 2020, proves that there can be power in subtlety. Goddesses is a band waiting to be discovered. (James Thornhill)

 

Ghum 

Ghum is comprised of members hailing from London, Spain and Brazil, and consist of Laura Guerrero Lora (vocals), Marina MJ (bass), Jojo Khor (guitar) and Vicki Butler (drums). They met after bassist Marina placed an advert on Gum tree (hence the name Ghum). They've had a fantastic 2019 in the wake of their dark brooding second EP The Coldest Fire which garnered them national airplay in the UK. 

 

There's a dark uneasy intensity apparent in much of their output to date, channelling the dark spirit of Joy Division and the edgy post-punk energy of Savages. Lead track "Saturn" tells the story of a toxic relationship, but the bleak subject material is illuminated by some masterful guitar flourishes from Jojo Khor and the fiery intense passionate vocals of singer Laura Guerrero Lora. They have described The Coldest Fire as a "reintroduction to Ghum" after releasing an excellent self-titled debut EP back in 2017, and this year they have turned things up several notches, expanded their sonic palette and sound like they mean business. 2020 looks set to be an interesting and exciting year for Ghum. (Andy Von Pip)

Happy Couple

Ooh it's been a while since a new band has inspired me to air guitar. And while no wave three-piece Happy Couple aren't exactly playing epic lead or catchy riffs, favouring barrages of distortion and walls of noise instead, it's still the satisfying explosion of sound only guitars, a huge amp and a fully stocked pedalboard can produce. Scraped strings meet rapturous howls and menacing utterings as London based troika Lena Pilshofer (vox \ bass), Ben Thompson (Guitar) and George Miles (drums) generate the perfect cacophony to soundtrack your fall into hell. They kick off the year with the release of the ironically titled abrasive single "Feel Better" on limited edition vinyl in January. (Jimi Arundell)

Honeymoan

This South African four-piece have already made significant inroads thanks to recent singles "Low Blow" and "Still Here" finding their way onto numerous Spotify and radio playlists worldwide. Of course that wouldn't make an iota of a difference if the band didn't have more songs and a live set to live up to any set preconceived expectations. Which thankfully they do, as anyone fortunate enough to be present at any of their recent shows in Brighton and London last month will testify.

Newly signed to Communion Records with an EP scheduled for release in February (entitled Weirdo), their potent mix of slick r'n'b, dream pop and occasional flurries into shoegaze make them one of the most exciting propositions we've seen and heard in a very long time. (Dom Gourlay) 

Juniore

Paris outfit Juniore excel in the art of aural seduction, crafting their hypnotic tunes from the pop history of their French homeland. Their self-coined "yéyé noir" sound merges classic 1960s French pop, from Serge Gainsbourg to Francoise Hardy, surf rock grooves and retro-futurism propelled by post-punk rhythms and the quirky humour of the country's 70s new wave scene.

Yes, it is that good! It makes sense that the past year or two has seen them feature across film and TV soundtracks like the critically-acclaimed Killing Eve, their cinematic qualities captivating audiences. Live they are no less enthralling slowly winning slots supporting the likes of the Dandy Warhols.

Forthcoming new album Un Deux Trois (coming in February), elevates their sound even further as the band sink deeper into their own unique sound, familiar but unplaceable! Latest single "Ah Bah D'accord" is every nostalgic image of the swinging 60s filtered through a post-punk lens. Hypnotic, seductive and funky as hell.

Juniore is exactly what you need in your life right now. (James Thornhill)

Low Hummer

Though widely derided, gritty city Hull has a well-kept secret in the form of its excellent local music scene which, after the recent successes of LIFE is rapidly bubbling and looks ready to burst right across the UK. Next in line for success are krautrock informed indie rockers Low Hummer. The quintet translate the Northern experience into some truly catchy tracks which have seen them splashed across tastemakers feeds, appearing in numerous articles and getting prominent 6 Music airplay. If you haven't heard them, check out "Don't You Ever Sleep" and "I Choose Live News" right now!! (Jimi Arundell)

Nadia Reid

For those of us already in the know, the three years between New Zealand songwriter Nadia Reid's albums have been an excruciating wait.  A wait no doubt earmarked by endless listens to her pristine sophomore album, Preservation.  On March 6, Reid will release her third album, Out Of My Province, on her own aptly named Slow Time Records.  The album will release outside of New Zealand on Spacebomb, and yes, she made the trek to Richmond, Virginia, to receive the full Spacebomb production treatment of strings and lush arrangements.  First single and video, "Best Thing" is already out.  Reid has a voice that is at once delicate, but also sturdy enough to command attention and instill an instant addiction.   A voice that stands up to any instrumentation thrown her way and earns whatever superlatives you care to apply.  Reid only first toured out of her native home to neighboring Australia in 2016 and maintained her job at a cafe up to that point.  Since then, Reid has performed in the U.K., Europe and barely in the U.S.  As her new album predicts, Reid will undoubtedly find herself extensively out of her province in the ensuing year.  Already having been nominated for numerous awards at home, the rest of the world will soon figure out that she is a necessary fixture in their listening libraries.  (Mark Moody)

Neighbours Burning Neighbours

The Netherlands has produced a wealth of great music in recent years ranging from The Homesick's angular post punk and Pip Blom's winsome indiepop to Canshaker Pi's slacker grunge and The Sweet Release Of Death's experimental noise rock.

 

There's another name to add to that list in the shape of Neighbours Burning Neighbours, a four-piece from Rotterdam. They also share a member with the aforementioned Sweet Release Of Death in singer, songwriter and guitarist Alicia Breton Ferrer. Fusing caustic and often brutal shards of noise with insatiable melodies, Neighbours Burning Neighbours are the sweet and sour dessert exquisitely crafted guitar music has been craving for a while.

 

Debut single "Grace" came out earlier this month on Subroutine Records and with slots already confirmed at both Ment and Peel Slowly And See festivals, it's going to be a busy and exciting year for Rotterdam's newest noiseniks on the block. (Dom Gourlay)

Pet Crow

Based in Derby, slap bang in the middle of England, Pet Crow couldn't be further from the sea. And yet their party punk blasts are infused with big surf licks. Take The Edge Off is another tricky second album, but not in the classic sense. Despite the positive punk blasts, the album navigates a turbulent period for the band's members - anxiety, depression, drug addiction, recovery, OCD, ADHD are all tackled, speaking from direct experience.

Despite all this they are still here, turning heads as one of the best new live bands in UK and readying an album where the dark subjects are fueled through their blend of tight funky rhythms, punk riffage and surf rock party vibes. Danielle Ross' detached vocals are the epitome of styling out your problems. It's so good, that US label No Sleep heard it and immediately signed them!

Pet Crow believe you can dance and sing your way through your problems. They want you to join them! (James Thornhill)

Ratboys

Whether singing about frozen pets in the basement or frozen people in a cryogenic chamber, it's been a minute since Chicago-based Ratboys last album, 2017's GN.  We were graced with the teaser of a lovely follow-up four song EP, GL in the interim.  The core duo of Julia Steiner (vocals, guitar) and Dave Sagan (guitar) have been backed by a revolving door of rhythm sections to this point, but have announced permanent members in Marcus Nuccio (drums) and Sean Neumann (bass).  The cohesiveness certainly shows on their upcoming third album.  Printer's Devil (another stumbled upon and appealingly odd title) releases via Topshelf on February 28, and the opening track and first single, "Alien With A Sleep Mask On" charges hard out of the gate.  If you have a hankering for guitar-based indie rock, Sagan really lets it fly and Steiner's agile vocals cruise ably alongside without showing any signs of cracks.  The band doesn't hesitate to throw in some alt-country vibes or drone-drenched passages, but Steiner's contributions always keep things buoyant.  With the new album and an extensive tour poised for the spring thaw (including SXSW dates), the upcoming Chinese Year of the Rat looks primed to be renamed the Year of the Ratboys. (Mark Moody)

Sorry

Genre traversing North London collective Sorry have been bubbling under the radar for a couple of years now. Centred around the creative nucleus of childhood friends Asha Lorenz and Louis O'Brien, the band's ability to fuse apparently disparate musical elements into something cohesive and unique is just one of the reasons people are getting very excited about this band. They don't play by the rules and mix lo-fi indie-pop with thumping electronica, hip hop beats and soaring distorted riffs. They take their influences from everywhere and anywhere rather than allowing themselves to be constrained by artistically reductive by ill-advised genre tagging. Since signing to Domino Records the band have shown no signs of playing it safe and continue to be as experimental and off the wall as ever. Their debut album 925 will be out via Domino in 2020. (Andy Von Pip)

Squid

Rewind to January and its Sunday lunchtime at Rockaway Beach festival, where the opening act - a relatively unknown five-piece called Squid - are proving to be the perfect remedy for the previous night's hangovers.

Formed in Brighton four years ago but now based in London. The quintet spent the interim period honing their combined influences into an affluent melting pot of styles and sounds. Indeed, Squid are something of a quandary in that they're almost impossible to categorise by genre. Which can only be a good thing and undoubtedly adds to the band's universal appeal. Currently signed to highly revered independent Speedy Wunderground, a label with a track record for sniffing out the finest new talent. Recent EP Town Centre more than lived up to the expectations derived from the band's live shows, and with an album expected in the not too distant future, 2020 promises to be the year of the Squid. (Dom Gourlay)

 

The Chats

 

Three chords and boredom are a powerful concoction. Just ask Australian "shed rock" trio The Chats, just back off a sell-out UK tour on the back of a full-length debut. The sheer explosion of teenage joy at each live date proves they are more than viral-video sensations (yeah, you love "Smoko" - we all do!) but they are the garage-punk heroes we need right now.


Revelling in the mundanity of modern teenage life, The Chats write tongue-in-cheek odes to smoke-breaks, masturbation, online issues and not being told what to do. There is complexity in their simplicity with solid, driven rhythms propelling the garage rock riffs. It's perfect punk party music.


Sometimes just living life, how you want to live, is a revolutionary act. The Chats live that, and even if they don't, they don't care! They are readying a punk classic for 2020. (James Thornhill)

 

Walt Disco

Glaswegian band Walt Disco has already gained a certain amount of notoriety in their home town for their incendiary, flamboyant live shows. They've already sold out King Tuts Wah Wah Hut and have gained rave reviews for their performances at Live At Leeds and The Great Escape this year and have released an impressive clutch of singles which have echoes of early Psychedelic Furs, The Sisters Of Mercy and the Associates.

 

Last year's single "Drowning In Your Velvet Bed" is probably the best introduction to the band's oeuvre for the uninitiated replete with thundering bass lines frenetic guitars and lead singer James Potter's somewhat unhinged vocals. He says of the track "it's our own camp, glamorous interpretation of angry post-punk."

 

The band state their influences as "derived not from just music itself, but much more so from love, glamour and androgyny." Their music is a gateway to a space of lust, loss and everything in-between. This year the band have made further inroads with a brace of stunning singles in the shape of  "Strange To Know Nothing" and "Paste Tense". (Andy Von Pip)

Working Men's Club

Savage and stylish, I absolutely love the hedonistic rush of rising dark synth-pop stars Working Men's Club. Choosing to play along to a drum machine can be a wee bit stifling during most live performances, but for WMC it ensures their sets remain tightly wound which retains their razor-sharp edge on stage. Finding a home on the iconic label Heavenly Recordings, the West Yorkshire band have already released "Bad Blood" that has that killer bass line and the truly infectious "Teeth" which is most definitely my single of the year. We are hearing reports they'll be sticking with Jeff Barrett for the release of their debut album early next year and I need a copy - NOW! (Jimi Arundell)

 

 

 

 



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