January is a time for beginnings, for making new. It’s a time for wiping away the excesses of the festive season, and honing in on what is vital in our lives. As is customary, the Clash team have been filtering through new music – in truth, a large and essential part of our day to day job – and we’re ready to present our thoughts on who will dominate the coming year.
As ever, it’s a hugely eclectic set of artists. By no means definitive – we could have run something much longer – we’ve aimed to produce a list where each artist speaks to the next, where opposition is something designed to prompt conversation. It’s ‘new’ in quite a strict sense – we’re aiming for artists who have yet to release their debut album, and whose work is only just coming into focus. Often, this is the most exciting period for fans: the time when we get to fully absorb someone’s work, and anticipate where it could take us next.
As such, we’ll move from the fringes of club culture through to soulful songwriting, touching on post-punk’s myriad splinters, and the continued permeation of jazz into UK music’s DNA. It’s a list that moves from London to Lagos, from Scotland to SoCal, criss-crossing the world map in the process.
We hope you find something new to cherish.
Manchester rapper Nemzzz is the spotlight riser of UK rap, switching gears after a taste of viral success earnt by the addictive ‘Elevate’. The 17 year old follows a closely measured formula, sporting the ferocious, tumbling delivery of drill music whilst leaning into the more downbeat, melodic versatility of trap production.
The Manchester rhymer embodies an instinctive cadence that wins over his crowds, all ears to the more experimental sounds that reside amongst the likes of ‘ABC’ and ‘2MS.’ Notably, Nemzzz has become an integral component of the hybrid blend between Jersey club music and UK rap, a fresh take that seamlessly navigates between the alternative and commercial.
Quick to catch the eye of TikTok trendsetters, whilst extending his reach to electronic tastemakers, namely Joy Orbison, there is something distinctly unique about the force’s direction. Building upon new styles and breaking past genre barriers, Nemzzz is ready to seize 2023.
There is an undeniable charisma to Nigeria-born, London-raised artist SamRecks. Operating within the realms of lo-fi rap, the riser infuses the melodic qualities of R&B with uptempo drill flows to carve his own, distinctive path.
Although SamRecks’ initial passion for making music routes back to early adolescence, it’s in the last three years where he’s truly stepped into his career full-force. Paying close attention to the likes of Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and Wretch 32, the rapper chooses to prioritise his pen. Piecing together snappy wordplay over vibrant, genre-bending production, ‘Would You Let Me’ explores contemporary lifestyles and relationships whilst bagging itself viral status across TikTok. ‘Love & Attention’ follows suit, embracing a playful, infectious bounce that has become a signature feature in the rapper’s sound.
Embellished with vintage aesthetics, SamRecks exudes an effortless swagger that feels self-assured and indifferent to conventions. The year ahead anticipates the rapper’s definitive introduction, a debut project that is charged with meaning and purpose.
The South London-born artist-producer surveys the contemporary condition of turbulent youth through songs that toe the line between the clandestine underground and mass appeal. The devil’s in the detail: Brazier’s vocals fragment into vapour waves – low-key, distant and anonymous; his words add emotional resonance, bringing colour to greyscale coming-of-age moments.
With just four songs to his name, all released last year, Brazier straddles multiple frequencies. On nocturnal voice notes ‘Patterns’ and ‘Untold’, he unpacks the burden of city life with the aspiration for something greater, softening the brunt of adolescent fears through tender mutual exchange with chosen families. With the backing of Parlophone, expect Brazier’s subversive take on functional dance music to crossover.
Lagos is a torrent of creativity right now. With the varied strains of afro-pop causing the eyes of the music industry to focus on the Nigerian city, a host of artists have emerged willing to step outside of genre lines, speaking with their own voice in the process. Bloody Civilian grew up around R&B, afrobeats, and gospel, and these permeate her bold, digi-soaked pop futurism.
Hand-picked to appear on the Wakanda Forever soundtrack, her song ‘Wake Up’ – bolstered by a Rema feature – swiftly went viral. Follow-up ‘How To Kill A Man’ came soaked in venom, the scorching vocal wrapping itself around a blood-soaked lyric, one that revelled in a darkly enticing sense of menace.
An emphatically original talent, Bloody Civilian is achieving success on her own terms; few would bet against her.
cityboymoe is an artist of versatility and innovation. The Harlesden native is finding a sweet-spot between left-field rap and transcending electronics, layering his glacial vocals over a multi-dimensional production.
An enigmatic figure from the underground, the singer and rapper reflects on his individual experience, detailing the peaks and troughs of city life across a wispy, evocative delivery.
Last year saw the riser share a string of singles that demonstrate his breadth, hopping between dizzying basslines and full-throttle synths, guitar loops and pacing trap beats. It’s the kind of material that boasts an expansive list of collaborators, from Stay Flee Get Lizzy to Joy Orbison and Joel Compass. All differing in their sounds and directions, it’s the contrasts between ‘Might Be’ and ‘mr nice guy’ that highlight cityboymoe’s intricate approach to his craft, weaving between a range of textures and tempos.
There’s a compelling mystique to cityboymoe’s next steps, hinting towards a debut body of work in the making. Unpredictability is an appealing driving force, earning the North London artist a head start for the year ahead.
This year looks promising for indie alternative rockers Gallus. December became the month where they claimed the award for ‘Best Rock/Alternative’ artist at Scottish Alternative Music Awards (SAMA). Another big moment was when they announced their showcase appearance at this year’s Eurosonic Festival in Groningen, Netherlands. A number of enticing tracks are available. Released in August, the melodic, post-punk tinged single ‘Are You Finished’ is about the feeling of inadequacy, and how it can prevent self-expression and the sense of being free. The Glasgow residing five-piece have been growing their fanbase, playing live is key to what they do, and their sound is made for intimate venue spaces. Gaining a reputation as one the best new live acts, they have worked hard and earned it. Vocalist and frontman Barry Dolan is from a background of acting, he brings presence and ease. The world needs Gallus, and 2023 could be their breakthrough year.
Norwich’s Lauren Eakins – more commonly known as lozeak – has taken 2022 by storm with her cutting-edge approach to alternative music: a Katy Perry and Hayley Williams sandwich of gritty, edge-of-your-seat pop that’s laced with emo and pop-punk influences. Rollercoaster anthems ‘Alter Ego’ and ‘Word Vomit’ are ready-made for a live setting, with her inch-perfect delivery maintaining an infectious intensity over bone-crushing riffs and crisp drum production. Thrown straight into the deep end, lozeak starts the year by opening up for Cassyette in March before taking to London’s Camden Assembly for an inaugural, coming-of-age headline show. Having hinted at a more pop-influenced future off the back of ‘XO’ and ‘Cutthroat’, lozeak is opening doorways to a whole new Gen-Z audience. Fearless and expansive, there’s no stopping her momentum into the new year.
Britain’s leader of the pack in the fast-rising movement that sits somewhere between rap and rock and beyond is East London’s Deijuvhs. Having started out in rock bands, he continues to channel this energy into unimaginable, unparalleled worlds that flirt with trap, metal and jungle. This is his very ethos: an unpredictability that facilitates true freedom of expression, which extends to fashion and his plethora of other projects. A voice for the underground alternative, every new single blasts open the box you had previously placed him in. The chaos of ‘Demunya’ and ‘deAth2Wings’ fuses emotive guitar lines with unapologetic vocal delivery. After a raucous NYE party to see in 2023 at The Old Blue Last, May headline shows are on the horizon for an exemplary, dynamic creative.
The new year is set to be an exciting one for 20-year-old singer-songwriter Essii. Following early releases ‘Positions’ and ‘Pourin’, the R&B rising star collaborated with rapper Coi Le-Ray on 2020 summer anthem ‘Brown Eyes’ and has since become an exciting new name in UK music. Last year, the Ipswich born talent released two new singles, ‘Still Think Of You’ and ‘Press On Me’, both arriving soulful, dreamy and platforming Essii’s velvet vocal.
For fans of FLO, Jorja Smith and Raye, this fresh new voice is certainly one to add to your 2023 playlists. Recently sharing an Instagram post of her in the studio, Essii has been busy crafting new tunes for her growing fanbase and is certainly in for an exciting 2023.
There has been a gentle swell enveloping Edinburgh’s Bonnie Kemplay for a while now. However, despite winning the 2021 UK emerging talent award – which came with the subsequent opportunity to perform at Radio 1’s live lounge – and a smattering of exquisite singles, it was the release of the 2022 EP ‘running out of things to say, running out of things to do’ that truly set her out as a voice deserving of the hype.
Across six tracks Kemplay married the barbed intensity of Julien Baker with the widescreen ambition of Phoebe Bridgers, all the while retaining a hushed reticence and penchant for leftfield production choices that harks back to Mark Linkous’ ‘Dark Night of The Soul.’
An upcoming tour supporting Dirty Hit label mates The 1975 kicks off what looks set to be a huge year for Kemplay. But amongst all the external noise it is worth remembering that Kemplays success lies in her ability to communicate her own unique message and sound to the masses, not in bowing to trends. Flitting from gossamer thin to utterly imperishable, her voice is one to be carried upon the sternest of winds, not swallowed up by the storm.
Home Counties took old-school post punk and new wave and threw it in a blender – the result being a cacophony of fun and energy. Despite only forming in early 2020, Home Counties have quickly made a name for themselves, a direct result of their impeccable output and frantic live shows. Whether it be the deadpan vocals, pokey guitars and jittery synths or the abundance of percussion, every track Home Counties have put out so far teem with talent, charisma and infectious hooks.
The band give themselves no boundaries either: if they want to deliver an 80s synth solo, they will. Commentating primarily on working class life in the UK, their end results are original and throughout, and never pastiche despite the clear influences. Debut EP ‘In A Middle English Town’ is easily one of the most enjoyable projects of the current UK post-punk wave, with the band delivering perfect doses of conscious, yet dancefloor ready, post-punk wizardry. Though they’ve been quiet as of late, this is a band who definitely have big plans for 2023, and you’re not going to want to miss them.
2022 saw LCY laid down some serious groundwork. Holding down a Radio 1 residency during the year’s opening weeks, their breath-taking DJ ability saw the selector booked to play vital slots at some of their favourite clubs.
The coming year should see this hard work pay off. LCY is an incredible producer, someone whose work is illuminated in gleaming light; bold, future-facing work, their often-challenging ideas are made accessible via the impish energy that dominates each release.
Singles such as ‘0NLY 0NE’ and ‘Cherubim’ are tailor-made for club use, the kind of dress-to-sweat anthems LCY has long since made their own. With a full EP landing this January, 2023 could well belong to LCY.
Few bands have had a year as impressive as Brighton quartet Lime Garden. After forging their sound and focus fevered lockdown writing sessions, as well as signing their record deal during lockdown, the band wasted no time in hitting stages and rooms across the country.
Lime Garden are made up of vocalist and guitarist (plus some synths) Chloe Howard, guitarist extraordinaire Leila Deeley, stellar bassist Tippi Morgan and drummer Annabel Whittle, the driving engine of the quartet. he band’s onstage chemistry is a joy to witness, the close friendships being oh-so-obvious. Chloe Howard’s dry sense of humour and charisma work wonders with the crowd, treating the room like friends rather than just gig-goers. With a pair of wicked singles this year, that being ‘Marbles’ and ‘Bitter’, plus a sold-out headline tour, Lime Garden have thrown down the gauntlet, staking their claim as one of the most exciting bands around right now.
South East London singing selector Ell Murphy has been making waves with a plethora of multi-genre releases. Make it a priority this year to catch one of her live shows, where she effortlessly mixes, whilst belting out incredible vocals. Her distinct style, humble demeanor and live shows have positioned her as a mainstay on the scene. Her music has taken her all around the world in 2022, whether it’s performing on the revered Hör Berlin, beach sets in Albania, or smashing festival season with Team Woibey (Mixtress, Ohmydais, Fae).
Ell’s output last year was nothing short of incredible, navigating through live shows to build on an-ever burgeoning discography. Never shy of a collaboration she joined forces with some of the best producers around last year, for the unremittingly joyous ‘I Feel You’ with Guilia Tess which sent listeners to celestial heights. Meanwhile O.F.B.C, released with Chavinski on Locked On Records is a sonic snippet of the club scene, acting as a love letter that chronicles that sense of belonging and community that can be discovered. Ell Murphy has an EP on the way, she’ll also be developing her live set away from the decks in 2023. Stay tuned.
It’s rare that a year in K-pop is ruled by rookies but 2022 proved exceptional for the newest of the 4th generation idol groups. NewJeans (Minji, Hanni, Danielle, Haerin, and Hyein), without any of the customary pre-release fanfare, debuted last July, and dominated online conversations since with their new-old sound and a naturalistic, lo-fi approach to their videos.
Seamlessly embracing and bringing to the fore the summery harmonies of 90s/00s R&B and pop (‘Attention’ / ‘Hype Boy’) and eclectic, glitchy electronica (‘Ditto’ / ‘OMG’), their songs bear a youthful, refreshing insouciance even as they explore some extremely meta subjects, such as the parasocial relationships built between audience and artist (spawning a YouTube channel under the name Ban Heesoo, a character who can be seen to represent the fans). But mostly, NewJeans capture the wondrous, painful flux of being a teenager – the friendships, the isolation, the confusion and crushes, and the bittersweet fleetingness of those chaotic years. Without question, 2023 is theirs for the taking.
The Dinner Party
Having gained an eclectic yet dedicated following without a single release to date, the mystery surrounding the Dinner Party has intrigued many. To an onlooker they only exist in a series of YouTube clips, high profile support slots (The Rolling Stones for one) and word of mouth. Yet their allure surpasses their perplexing rise into public knowledge and underpins their intoxicating live performances. Adorned in ornate, often hyper-feminine clothing the band playfully borrow from past and present. Dipping into centuries old poetry, lifting musical motifs from classic gothic and alternative scenes gone by, they toy with aesthetics to create a sound that is quintessentially cool. Their teased releases this year will introduce the world to what is currently London’s best kept secret and allow them to entrance audiences even further.
An explosive year beckons for Dylan, the pop/rock riser who broke through the noise in 2022 with her debut EP, No Romeo. Ear worm tracks ‘Nineteen’, ‘You’re Not Harry Styles’ and EP title track ‘No Romeo’ were an absolute hit, each bringing in tens of millions of streams as they unpick relatable reflections on relationships and adolescent life. After securing the pop star dream of signing with a major label (Island Records), Dylan charted with a longer project – the mixtape ‘The Greatest Thing I’ll Never Learn’.
Last summer, Dylan landed a support slot opening for none other than Ed Sheeran at Wembley. With a headline UK & Europe tour kicking off in February, we doubt it will be long before she has her own spot on the very same stage.
Fresh out of high school, Florida-born Take Van dropped a handful of airy trap-adjacent tracks on SoundCloud: Part of a generation of young artists cashing in on the viral reach of TikTok, Take Van’s candid edits and soundbites won them millions of likes and thousands of followers.
The soft reboot for Take Van came with ‘In My Head’, where engineered rave was given a glossy, ebullient uplift. Last year, Van released their ‘Far Away’ project followed by the frenetic Oscar Scheller-produced ‘Buzzkill’; the clever intermixing of 2-step revivalism, glitch-pop and the pursuit of euphoria the base notes of Van’s epigrammatic dancefloor exercises.
Inspired by LA’s dense electronic and club lore, expect Take Van to continue creating spry anthems for those seeking temporary release.
“Music is soft power, it’s a form of diplomacy, it’s a way to unite.”
From the moment Rarelyalways debuted in 2019, he’s been aware of the cerebral and communal effects of music; the ways it can galvanise, connect and restore us. A Brit School alum, he’s orbited the same circles as fellow genre pluralists King Krule and Henry Wu; he’s released conceptual projects, a solo EP, and one with Black Keys collaborator Hanni El Khatib, shifting between self-serious confessionals inspired by Roots Manuva and the loose, freeform experimentation of Shabaka Hutchings.
With a debut solo album on the horizon this year, Rarelyalways is moving from the fringes to the mainstage without compromising any of his quirks. With songs that sound fuller, more disruptive and entropic, Rarelyalways is taking off the armour.
This Orlando-via-San Diego outfit comprised of vocalist Adam Kain, guitarist Charity Joy Brown, bassist and producer AJRoth, search for cosmic havens with their artfully-produced brand of kaleidoscopic soul. 2021 project ‘Dog Daze’ channelled the ensemble musicianship and heady melodic groove of The Internet-esque jam sessions; soft-focus psychedelia enhancing the fuzzy disconnect that comes with experiencing love in the neon haze of a digital age.
Affiliated with fellow progressive-leaning artists like Ravyn Lenae, Smino and Monte Booker, Cruza’s debut album is slated to drop this year via Def Jam. Teased with the spare, sonorous heat of ‘Seltzer’, expect the band to continue to distort reality and fantasy, where breath-on-your-neck intimacy is filtered through illusory sound design.
18-year-old SoCal alt-pop voice Claire Rosinkranz is the voice everyone is chasing. Cross-pollinating pop-punk with her own Gen Z vantage point, she’s already unleashed a string of bona fide anthems – think viral nugget ‘I’m too pretty for this’ or the absolutely essential ‘123’.
Making up the rules as she goes along, Claire Rosinkranz has an all-too-rare gift of speaking to her audience in a language they can understand. Fostering empathy, and the kind of fan army more established artists would sell a kidney to head up, Claire Rosinkranz is primed to explode in 2023.
Debbie makes music that feels wholly, utterly her own. The soulful vocalist became one of the first signings to 0207 Def Jam, and it’s easy to see why her material caused such a ruckus: potent, empathetic, and highly original, she blends gospel with R&B to create an endearing, wholly relatable form of pop songwriting.
Singles such as ‘Cherry Wine’ closed 2022 in fine style, with each new release taking Debbie closer to her goal. With Stormzy firmly in her corner, few would bet against this London vocalist seizing the coming year as her own.
Blondshell speaks the unfiltered truth. A songwriter whose lyrical touch cuts deep beyond the skin, the American artist – real name Sabrina Teitelbaum – caused a stir last year with a trio of self-released singles, each more enticing than the last.
Snapped up by Partisan Records, she ended 2022 by releasing ‘Veronica Mars’ – visceral, eloquent indie songwriting, its pleading vocal was scorched with feeling, the writhing J Mascis style guitar line interwoven around Blondshell’s arresting, emphatically emotional delivery.
Stopping past London for a very special visit last year, Blondshell’s fantastic live show illuminated her promise. She’s only just getting started, too.