BOOT - - - MUSIC
Top 20 Ones To Watch in 2023!
20. French Alps Tiger
The trio of singles from Welsh Surf Rock outfit French Alps Tiger really pricked our ears this year. Taking inspiration from American coastal sounds, their music is warm, fuzzy, feel-good and infused with a fun Punk energy. 'Lost Boys' and 'Life' combine notes of FIDLAR with modern UK punk purveyors such as FEET. They are full of life with their winding guitar lines that pop out of the speaker and their consistently up-tempo rambling drum rhythms. It is hard not to be roused by this concoction and the distant, slightly Psychy vocals add that final layer of acid-eyed joy. Stick your headphones on and tune in to a coastal flurry of nostalgic, moshporthy Surf energy.
19. Holy Popes
The first Post-Punk noisemakers on our list are the gritty trio Holy Popes. Hailing from Bristol, a city that seems to breed a constant line of high quality artists in tune with the darker, and more intense side of sound. This year, it was the band's single 'DBT' that really caught our attention. Scratchy guitar attacks and a grumbling bassline flavour the harshly textured underbelly of the track while the vocals take centre stage. This constantly changing vocal flow is what makes the track so entrancing and before you know it you are glued to each word. They then followed up this debut single with a more Rock-centric track 'Pencils' full of crashing riffs and soaring, dark vocal lines. They are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with.
18. The Famous Daxx
German-born but now London-based, The Famous Daxx creates music that transcends any earthly location in both lyrical content and sonic style. There is a distinct blissful, ethereal quality to her songs that can transport the listener to an otherworldly realm in an instant thanks to her smooth, lush vocal tones and dreamy instrumentation. This has never been more true than on her latest single ‘Treetops’ that sees her sway into a slightly Country realm vocally while still radiating that same lucid sound and rich storytelling quality that comes with Folk. The gentle swing is wrapped up in warming vocal tones that ring both of early Jake Bugg and powerful female vocalists such as Anna Calvi. The perfect sound for drifting away into oblivion.
17. Queen Cult
Macclesfield's Queen Cult are by far one of the most direct and lively female fronted bands out there right now. Their combinations of hard-hitting Rock instrumentals and socially conscious lyrics make them pretty impossible not to be heard. Their debut EP 'Woman That I Know' landed in the early parts of 2022 and made a huge impact. The Grunge tension in 'Show and Tell' is contrasted with a shuffling drum rhythm and vocals that are loose and flowing. It then delivers an energetic ending that teases what is to come for the second track 'A Song About Consent'. As you can guess by the title this track has a more in-your-face delivery. The vocals radiate an angst from the start and the instrumentals match it with crashing cymbal hits and big Rock chords. The rest of the EP matches this punchy, poignant style that you can get immersed in. They have since followed the EP up with a string of killer singles and we hope they’ve got more to come in 2023!
16. China Bears
Formed at Guilford University, Indie quartet China Bears have impressed a host of tastemakers this year with their refreshingly thoughtful sound that prioritises depth and dynamism over kitchen sink chorus' and careless high energy hits. The opening track off their 2022 EP 'All That Distance' encapsulates this as it packs the line "It's gonna take time...we'll take all of my mind" which, out of context, serves as a good summarisation of the EP. They never rush into things without thought which results in clever rhythms, changes of pace and a really mature understanding of when to raise the instrumental energy and when to let the vocals take centre stage. However, this is not to say that the EP isn't packed full of memorable Indie hooks, far from it. The bittersweet chorus to this opening track instantly sticks in your head and the anthemic, Of Monsters and Men esc backing harmonies in 'Someone Kill This Party' and the EP's closer 'Coming Of Age' are incredibly uplifitng and give the EP a lasting warmth.
Sugarstone’s debut EP, ‘SUCKER’ offers a growling four-track onslaught of synth-infused Alt Rock mayhem that captures their live energy. As soon as you are met with the first few thumping percussive hits of opening track ‘Author Is Now Dead’ you can tell that they are not messing around. The attack-minded spoken-word vocal style is emphasised by the almost metallic crash of the heavy riff; every syllable elevated into a raw sonic hit to produce a poetic Punk stomper. However, it is not until the suitably named high-octane ‘That’s Intense’ arrives that you truly get a grasp on their unique Electro Alternative concoction. The dense electronic buzz adds a grimy industrial tone as if the band have discovered some long lost electronics left to rot in the sewers beneath Manchester that they have somehow sparked up. ‘Happiness Is Hard to Find’ then packs an overwhelming combination of aggression and euphoria into a truly unique sonic experience. Sugarstone will make you feel truly alive and we can’t wait for what they have to come!
14. Play Dead
Post-Punk newcomers PLAY DEAD have continued the impressive line of ferocious Glaswegian acts. Their EP 'Mug Cake' instantly caught our attention this year thanks to the eye-widening, overwhelming intensity of opening track ‘Away From Here’. It is a shattering start to an EP that combines elements of nostalgia with more modern melodies and a scrappy camaraderie that is hard not to be excited by. The down to earth singles ‘Barbershop’ and ‘Offy’ tell miserable stories of an angsty youth angry at the lack of booze and the typical UK weather. They are appealingly unmanufactured and undeniably infectious with their huge primal like shouts and mosh-worthy, high octane chorus’. Despite their constant intensity, they also leave room on the EP for some clever social insights on the corporate world and algorithmic living. There's a lot to get your teeth stuck into with this band and we're looking forward to see them develop over the next 12 months!
13. Tom A Smith
At just 18, Indie Rock songwriter Tom A. Smith has become one of the most exciting new acts in the country, impressing fans with his performances alongside Miles Kane on Soccer AM and across the festival circuit icluding a huge set at Reading and Leeds. Although his Sunderland heritage may mean that he dislikes any Geordie comparisons but, in terms of songwriting, his music radiates a heartfelt honesty that echoes of Sam Fender. Sonically, the production is big and bold. His vocals pack a deep resonance and allow his accented inflections to shine through and offer a more authentic tone. He makes you stand up and listen to every word that he sings before combining with big riffs and punchy drums for statement chorus'. Certainly one to watch this year!
12. Martin Luke Brown
The intimate tones of Martin Luke Brown’s stripper back singles have captured a huge audience who connect to his vulnerable lyricism and, at times, heartbreaking, at times euphoric emotional expression. Although brief, his 2022 release ‘damn, look at that view!’ is a beautiful piano ballad about living in the moment. The rich piano lines provide a thought provoking bitter sweet atmosphere before suddenly being replaced by a soaring electronic esc soundscape that could have come straight out of a Hans Zimmer soundtrack. It is purely uplifting on a subconscious, primal level and is a complete contrast to the early atmosphere. ‘love is a black hole !’ sees Martin take to the acoustic guitar as he delivers an unfiltered and refreshingly uneuphamistic love song. He’s got a fantastic range to his emotive palette and continues to impress with each new release. That debut album surely beckons in 2023.
Essex trio Bilk are among the rowdiest new noisemakers on the scene. Filled with the gritty, unapologetic attitude of Oasis, the quick-witted social commentary lyricism of The Streets, the southern swagger of Blur and an audible camaraderie that captures their hectic live energy in every song they release. The scrappy , punk infused indie anthem ‘Hummus and Pitta’, released earlier this year, feels purpose built for a messy live show in a sweaty, sold out venue and encapsulates their blend of down-to-earth lyrics about nights out and coming of age tales and rousing indie rock rhythms full of youthful energy in a style reminiscent of RAT BOY. Their debut self-titled album is arriving in February 2023 and has the potential to become an early album of the year contender so stay tuned!
10. Jaws The Shark
The new EP from Rock solo artist Olly Bailey (AKA Jaws The Shark) is electrifying from the very first second as opening track ‘Reno’ barrels in with a high-octane drum roll before exploding into a pulse-raising The Hives esc verse matched by huge vocal lines. His collaboration with Alt Rockers Dinosaur Pile Up, ‘Destroy The World’ became a huge hit in the Summer as it showed a more dirty, Grunge side to his songwriting. The final two tracks on the EP ‘That Feeling’ and ‘Didn’t Even Know What I Was Looking For’ strike the perfect balance between punchy, teenage rebellion that is perfect for a sweaty underground show and smooth coming-of-age Pop Punk that will take your mind back to Summer road trips, carefree days and teen romances.
9. Shelf Lives
The tantalisingly gritty electro Punk blend of London duo Shelf Lives has all the dance worthy energy that you would associate with a high octane electronic outfit while providing a snarling Punk Rock attitude that is thrown right in your face. Their recent single ‘Skirts & Salads’ is a viscous burst of social commentary, discussing the countless and unrelenting societal pressures that they have faced with an impassioned venom. The production is dense and grumbling while the vocals radiate an ounce of sass and an immeasurable amount of rousing aggression. The fiery combination of this vicious vocal delivery and pulse raising electro Punk rhythm may leave you cowering in the corner but craving more - like Stockholm syndrome in sonic form.
London trio KHARTOUM have a knack for producing unapologetically catchy Indie anthems, in fact, tracks like 'I Was Born' and 'Vultures' are still stuck in our heads! Their 2022 EP ‘Some Days’ features the standout breakup anthem 'Ten People'. The vocal tone is crisp and punchy, making each line incredibly captivating while the instrumentals roll along with a slick groove comparable to The Magic Gang. However, if you know KHARTOUM then you will know it is their chorus' that steal the show. For a band of just three members they make such a big sound. They beg to be sung back at the top of your lungs and, when matched with the incessant scratchy guitar line, create a euphoric rush perfect for setting loose. They never seem to disappoint and we expect things to get even bigger and better in 2023.
7. Brooke Combe
Although she only released one single, 2022 has been a huge year for Glaswegian indie-soul songwriter Brooke Combe. Following on from her breakout 2021 hit ‘Are You With Me?’, she returned this year with ‘Miss Me Now’, a track that is just as slick and infectiously catchy. The year also featured a list of unforgettable live performances including support slots alongside Miles Kane, Michael Kiwanuka and Blossoms, a duet with Jamie Webster at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, memorable appearances at Reading and Leeds, Truck Festival and TRNSMT and a sold out headline UK tour! Musically, Brooke radiates a rich tonal warmth, combining the upbeat hooks of indie pop with her smooth vocal stylings to create a lush sonic palette filled with soul. Add in her brazen Scottish swagger and you’re onto a winner! We can’t wait for what 2023 has to bring for her.
6. George O’Hanlon
This year has seen singer/songwriter George O'Hanlon completely evolve his sound. From the cinematic, acoustic productions that first broke him onto the scene, he has developed a much more built-up and expansive sound. 'How Are You Feeling?' captures the drifting cinematic quality of his early work but wrapped it into an euphoric coating of gliding melody vocal/instrumental harmony that sounds like its straight off a life-affirming adventure movie soundtrack. 'Seagulls' dives into a deeper, more contemplative grunge whirlwind of heavy distorted guitars and a cool blend of optimism and melancholia. This bittersweet concoction provides a hugely poignant atmosphere to bask in while you reconsider every aspect of your existence. You can tell there’s so much more to come in 2023 for this man!
When self confessed Indie Rock 'saboys' produced potentially our favourite track of 2020 they then went pretty quiet over lockdown. However, earlier this year they produced one of the best debut EPs we’ve heard in a while which featured our beloved favourite ‘Where The Silence Goes’. Led by London-based troubadour Jack Balfour Scott, LEAP produced raw, anthemic Rock and Roll that has a refined, slick sensibility. The EP ‘One Million Pieces’ also featured 'Energies', a track that radiates an uplifting atmosphere that could spark a personal revolution with its soaring vocal harmonies suited for soundtracking the next inspirational adventure film. The more heartfelt and introspective single 'Potions' is also a standout from this year. The big piano chords and stadium Rock drum tone builds the initial platform for a track with a huge impact. The high backing harmonies add a lovely texture that wraps across Jack's powerful lead vocals that radiate a real pained poignancy to them. These anthemic instrumentals and soaring emotive vocals have become a trademark of the LEAP project. They have a proficiency for hard-hitting tracks that stick with you long after the final note and we just hope that they maintain their trajectory in 2023!
Expressive Glasgwegian five-piece Humour have exploded onto the modern Post Punk scene this year with a string of fiery singles that culminated in the release of their debut EP ‘Pure Misery’. The EP is packed with thick, driving bass lines, sharp riffs, the occasional brain-melting synth stab and wild vocal deliveries that, at times, pay absolutely no regard for rhythm or harmony, shooting off in random tangents like they have a mind of their own. Their debut single ‘yeah, mud!’ eased fans in with its empowering high-tempo beat and unified vocal shouts that are tempting to join. However, the EP’s title track is perhaps the best example of their extreme unstructured nature. The instrumentals provide a solid, immersive Post Punk rhythm while the vocals desperately try to fixate your attention with their impassioned pleas of “I really gotta tell you something!”. The track then culminates in a frenzied wall of noise, as the vocals take on a more structured and melodic approach the instrumentals take over with crashing drum rolls and fuzzy, distorted waves of sound swirl around. Definitely one of the most promising new acts following in the footsteps of Shame and Black Country, New Road.
3. The Clockworks
Ireland seems to have a knack for producing straight talking, heavy hitting acts that are trailblazing this new wave of Post-Punk. Next in line, are the fast rising quartet The Clockworks. The band have received high praise from NME, CLASH and more as they combine socially insightful lyrical weavings with the relentless roll of their punchy Rock rhythms. Following the release of their debut EP, they have established themselves as one of the ones to watch. Tracks like ‘Feels So Real’ ring of the mature, gloomy atmospheres we have come to associate with Fontaines D.C. Yet, fan-favourites such as ‘Enough Is Never Enough’ and ‘Endgame’ have a more angst-ridden quality. With their straight-faced, fast-paced drama, lyrical nouse and appropriately cool on-stage manner, The Clockworks truly look the part. We just hope that an album beckons in 2023.
2. Hannah Grae
She may only have a couple of singles to her name but the sheer weight of Hannah Grae's talent is not lost on anyone! Already teamed up with Atlantic Records, those in the know are fizzing with excitement at the potential that she has and her recent performance at NBHD festival proved to us why. Everything about it was big and bold! Although she may still hold the endearing teenage insecurities of a young performer, she commanded the stage with a ferocious aura.Her new single 'Propaganda' is intensely gritty and exudes a confident swagger that you can't ignore. We learned from her live show that she is backed by a fantastically high-energy, Punk/Alt spirited band that provide the gritty rumble of her music. However, it is her vocals that take centre stage! Powerful, soaring, heartfelt and angst-ridden, her voice is a force to be reckoned with and will make your eyes widen on her new Punk Rock. She is definitely one to check out before her career skyrockets.
1. Opus Kink
Sometimes you are drawn into a band's presence and aura from the first note you hear them play and this is certainly the case with Brighton's latest offering, Opus Kink. Their grimy Jazz-Punk fusion pushes sonic conventions to the limit and absorbs you from head to toe in a world of angsty madness. Erratic vocal shouts and harsh brass melodies come in from all angles, effectively listening to Opus Kink is the sonic equivalent of playing Asteroids. This is all built over a dense, deep rumble of instrumentals that they are able to produce thanks to their 6-man army of musical troubadours. Their debut EP 'Til The Stream Runs Dry' was one of the strongest debuts we’ve heard in a long time and we can’t wait to see what they have to offer in the new year. These few interview questions provide a taste of their sonic madness.
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