UK producer Vasser shared his first track, “Whatever You Want”, last year and immediately started gaining traction. His use of real instruments, electronics, and distorted vocals is instantly enjoyable and almost reminiscent of someone like Mura Masa or James Blake. The track really put him on the map and he’s been building up a following since. Early on in 2017 he released “To The Wolves”, the first song written around his vocals and coincidentally the first track I heard from him. It’s heavier than his previous releases and was enough to really turn heads. In September, he finally shared his debut EP, A Telling End, and it’s one of my favorite bodies of work this year. In addition to “To The Wolves”, it includes my favorite tracks “Little Things”, a much more straightforward pop song but with production that keeps you guessing, and “Puzzle of Us”, the EP’s sole instrumental track that will almost certainly get you dancing along. The whole EP is worth your attention, as is everything he’s released. He so obviously is fully of talent and potential and is definitely going places. Vasser has had a huge 2017 and I’m excited to see what he has in store.
Superorganism might be the only surprise on my list of Artists to Watch as I haven’t yet covered them on the blog, although I’ve come close for each of their releases. For me, their music was a bit of an acquired taste but I’m fully on board now. Made up of eight members from all over the world including the US, the UK, and Japan, Superorganism are completely unique in how they’ve come together to make music, and their output shows it. I was talking to my friend about them a few weeks ago and I really struggled to convey what they sounded like. When I think of music, particularly electronic music, textured isn’t usually the kind of descriptor I would use, but it certainly is for Superorganism. They layer organic and synthetic sounds in a way that is both pleasant and harsh at the same time. Superorganism popped up earlier this year with little fanfare with their debut track “Something for You M.I.N.D.”, which has served as a sonic mission statement for the trajectory they’ve been on since. I hadn’t ever heard anything like it, and apparently very few others had either as the track blew up all over the internet as soon as it was released. They followed it up with “It’s All Good”, another track that’s very difficult to characterize but will get stuck in your head nonetheless. After that came their latest and my favorite track, “Nobody Cares”, pairing a really beautiful chord progression with their disharmonious instrumentation and samples. Again, it doesn’t sound like anything other than Superorganism, but it has become one of my favorite songs of the year. Superorganism are popping up on every major tip list, including Vevo Dscvr’s and the BBC Sound of 2018, so me picking them isn’t carrying any of the surprise I thought it could, but Superorganism are postured extremely well to make a splash in 2018 and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
When I was making last year’s Artists to Watch list, rising pop singer/songwriter Rainsford was constantly a contender, but in the end, I decided she wasn’t far enough along. Of course, she went on to have a stellar 2017 and would have been a great addition. That being said, part of me is glad I waited until now because it’s even clearer than a year ago that Rainsford has what it takes to be a star. She released her debut single, S.I.D. (Sunshine in December), last summer which instantly had me hooked with its quirky production and Rainsford’s instantly obvious penchant for writing a catchy song. And, of course, her incredible voice and vocal range makes quite the impression as well. She followed that up with “Too Close” which is potentially my favorite song by her so far. It’s 80s-indebted pop at its absolute best and one of my favorite songs of the year. Jumping to this year, February saw the release of her first collaborative effort, “Sweet Spot”, with Swimsuit Issue, infusing a tropical vibe to her pop sensibilities. Since then she has released a string of singles included the infectious “Rendezvous”, the introspective “Flowers in a Vase”, and her incredible latest release with Twin Shadow, “Intentions”, all of which I’ve covered on the blog. Rainsford obviously is ready for the next level and I truly believe she’s right on the cusp of it. If she keeps up the quality output she has this year and a few more of the right people continue to take notice, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. Get on board with Rainsford and check out a few of my favorite tracks below!
When I write my Artists to Watch posts, I generally like them to give some background into the act in question and their journey so far. Unfortunately, for bands like WESLEE, that’s exceedingly difficult as they have maintained an air of mystery thus far. That being said, their music speaks for itself and I’m so excited for what they have in store. Thanks to a few interviews they’ve done, particularly one last week with Highsnobiety, we now know a little bit of their backstory. Josh and Emma met in New York several years ago and have been making music together since then. Splitting their time between their respective homes of NY and London, the pair have developed an alluring electronic sound totally unique from what else is being put out. They first made their mark last year with their debut single, “Gassed”, which appeared seemingly out of nowhere without a social media presence or information on the group. The song stood on its own though and has since racked up over 1.5 million plays on Spotify alone. Earlier this year, the duo shared their sophomore effort, “Bathwater”, another brilliant electropop song that has made a splash in its own right. In my opinion, their best song, however, is “Boy Like You” released just at the beginning of this month. Not only is my favorite song by them, it’s one of my favorite songs of the year. With bouncing synths and glitchy beats setting the stage for Emma’s best vocal performance to date, this track checks all the boxes for me and made it glaringly obvious they needed a spot on my Artists to Watch list. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next and to hopefully learn more about them in the coming months, but even without more info on them, WESLEE is still one of the acts I’m most excited about.
UK singer/songwriter Tom Tripp first popped onto my radar due to the connections he had in the music world. He was originally signed to NAO’s Little Tokyo records; NAO being one of my favorite discoveries of the past several years. Tripp released his debut single, “Aurelia”, on the label and has been on my list ever since. While there’s a good chance I still would have come across him without the endorsement, having someone as high profile as NAO on his side definitely helped. “Aurelia” blended pop and R&B in a way not dissimilar to his label boss, which in my book is extremely high praise. He followed it up with my favorite track of his so far, “Pamela”, which throws in an element of funk to great success. Since then he released his debut EP, RED, collecting his first two songs and throwing in four new ones, including the excellent “So Shy” which, along with “Pamela” was written with Liss, one of my Artists to Watch 2017. In addition, Tom Tripp also featured on the self-titled debut album from Mura Masa, one of my absolute favorite albums of the year, with Tripp’s contribution definitely being a highlight. I can’t wait to see what Tom Tripp comes up with next and if it’s anything like this year, it’s going to be a great 2018 for him.
Danish duo Blondage make left of center pop music that doesn’t sound like anyone else making music at the moment. They first started appearing on my playlists back in April with the release of their track, “Stoned”, which remains one of my favorite songs by the pair. With strong vocal performances by both members and production that keeps the listener guessing throughout, I was instantly hooked and I’ve been fully on the Blondage train since. That being said, their story didn’t start with “Stoned”; the duo released a self-titled EP towards the end of 2016 that I’ve since gone back and revisited and had I heard it then, I’m sure they would’ve been on this list last year. Standouts for me there are BEG and Pray if you’re interested. Jumping back to 2017, their second track of the year, “BOSS”, is one of their most straightforward pop songs to date but still is super interesting throughout, and solidified them as one of my top artists to follow. They followed “BOSS” up with their most recent single that is probably my favorite they’ve put out so far, “Call It Off”. When I covered it on the blog I compared the sound to an off-kilter circus, a comparison I still find valid and pretty descriptive of their sound: lots of fun but with a definite edge to it. Blondage have set themselves up beautifully moving into 2018 and I can’t wait to see what they have up their sleeves.
It’s a cool feeling to be in on the ground floor of when an artist is just starting out, which I can happily say I was with my next pick, Anne Dereaux. She came out of seemingly nowhere towards the beginning of the year with a fully formed sonic and visual aesthetic, as evidenced by her debut track “Mo(u)rning” and its accompanying video. It’s one of the strongest debut tracks of the year and really set her up for success moving forward. She followed it up with the excellent “Rock Away”, solidifying herself as someone to keep an eye on. The release of her third track, “Chop”, heralded Dereaux’s debut EP, Book of Lolita, an extremely impressive first offering that makes it clear how much talent she has. Her fusion of pop, R&B, and soul is very of the moment in a way that’s still unique. It’s rare that an artist has such a clear vision for their career right off the bat (although you’ll probably see a few more in the coming weeks as I continue counting down my list), and it definitely makes me excited to see what she has in store. Although we haven’t heard new material from Dereaux since her EP in July, I’m confident 2018 is going to be a big year for her. Be sure to listen to a few of my favorite tracks below and get on board with Anne Dereaux now.