OTW #500: Retrospective Highlights

Grimes, Alt-J, Jake Bugg and more breakout acts...
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Clash’s Ones To Watch section has spent nine years casting a c-beam on the terra incognita of music’s global landscape, and now we reach our 500th entry.

A perfect opportunity, then, to reflect on some of the past acts involved and how their trajectory has continued harvest the beats, hooks, drops, riffs and breaks that shape our very heads.

Last October, Angel Haze was still a young pretender on the New York scene that she now bosses. Her inspired rhymes are the product of an almost cult-like upbringing, which she describes in her Ones To Watch interview.

Whilst Azealia Banks might dry hump a personification of metaphorical self-promotion via random controversies (like her latest Stone Roses rant), Haze has let her “earthy, technical rap” do all the labour. That said, Haze still found the time to lasso Banks with a smooth diss track (news).

Last May, we met Chet Faker on the pebbled beaches of Brighton. The eve of his first UK show was upon him, and he revealed that “shitting himself” had become a daily practice (interview).

Starting out as a shy, bearded bedroom producer, Chet has since become an accomplished musician, and his recent farmyard session filmed in Australia proves that. This stunning cover of Burial’s 'Archangel' is a mesmerising highlight.

It was May last year when a jaded whippersnapper wandered into Clash HQ, stating he was there to be photographed. Jake Bugg had arrived in London.

His track ‘Country Song’ had made it onto a beer advert, and people were beginning to question where this Midlands moppet had even heard these ‘60s folk-rock sounds that he emulates so perfectly. His Ones To Watch interview with Clash revealed all.

Twelve months later, we met again. This time the setting was Texas, Jake’s career had positioned him as the British pop alternative to One Direction, he was playing six shows at SXSW and we were shooting him for the Clash ‘Festival Issue’ cover story.

Ones To Watch has perhaps never yielded a juicier plum than Alt-J. With only the ‘Tessellate’/’Bloodflood’ double-A-side under the band’s belt, we decided two tracks were enough to hand the band their first-ever print feature. At a very early stage in their career, their OTW interview talks about influences, names and the then novelty of having fans congratulate them after gigs. 

Earlier this year, we met with the band again to create a guide on how to tackle American music festivals.

We love Claire Boucher so much we covered her twice. And that was before her 2012 album, ‘Visions’, broke the global audience and fully transformed her from over-excited Canadian wunderkind to avant-pop pioneer: Grimes.

Back in 2011 (OTW piece), she talked about her favourite books and highlights some pretty early pre-'Visions' hits that never fully graced British soils. Since then, and quite interestingly, her tumblr. has become a thought trampoline for her inner projections, a recent post tackling sexism and the music industry.

To finish, we thought we’d profile a band we miss. We miss Teeth. The trashy electro-punk trio ripped east London a new arsehole, and apparently still do, but we haven’t sight of them as a band in yonks. Here's our OTW piece.

Band member Simon has become a feared internet sorcerer following his triumphant hacks of Will Self, Lady Gaga and the former Pope’s Twitter accounts. Veronica So is now a fashion futurologist operating somewhere in the distant cosmos/New York. And who knows where Ximon Tayki is... Maybe starting a ‘zine called Sisters. Maybe in a band called Bottoms. Probably arranging a drag queen military coup via webcam in Limpopo. R.I.P. Teeth.

NB We just discovered Teeth are back together, in Brooklyn and could be releasing a new album. LONG LIVE TEETH.

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