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Now And Next: Stereoboard's Ones To Watch In 2019

Tuesday, 08 January 2019 Written by Huw Baines

A new year brings with it the chance to look ahead after a few weeks of looking back over our shoulders. In musical terms, we can start to think about the artists who’ll capture our attention on summer festival stages, or during opening slots for existing favourites. We can ponder the singles that’ll leap from radio waves or playlists into the fabric of our day-to-day. Here we’ve assembled 10 artists we believe will make 2019 one to remember—some of them are about to release debut records, others are starting to pound the pavement in support of music that deserve time to shine.

Poppy Ajudha

Balancing silky neo-soul with a rich palette of sounds ranging from skittering trip-hop beats to Lianne La Havas-style guitar pop, Poppy Ajudha is one of those artists who appears ready to turn her hand to anything. Following the release of a supremely confident EP, ‘Patience’, at the tail end of 2018, she’s set to tour the UK this spring, winding up at London’s Village Underground at the start of April.


Sports Team

Truly, we don’t really need another indie band who appear to be fresh from buying brown trousers in a charity shop, but please give Sports Team the time of day. Led by magnetic vocalist Alex Rice, they are a fabulous live proposition—you might have fun, actual old-fashioned fun at their shows—and their music is like the best parts of UK indie-pop in shorthand. There’s the louche swagger of Bryan Ferry, Paul Heaton’s wordy wit, the lanky charisma of Jarvis Cocker...actually y’know what? See for yourself in March, when they’re on tour.


Camila Cabello went stratospheric in 2018 and her former Fifth Harmony bandmate Normani is plotting similar fireworks for the next 12 months. Her first solo moves have been universally promising, with a couple of collaborations with uber-hitmaker Calvin Harris slotting in alongside tracks with Khalid and 6lack, while album one is expected in 2019, following a new single with Sam Smith. Expect slick, low-lit, ultra modern R&B hits.



Straight out of Los Angeles, Cheekface are here to pull back the curtain on modern life and reveal the Wizard of Oz as a capitalist stooge who wants you to eat more junk food. Musically, the trio—Greg Katz, Amanda Tannen, and Mark Edwards—come over a little like Jonathan Richman fronting a sun-bleached Minutemen, with sardonic lyrics intertwined with some truly indelible, wonky melodies. They’re only a handful of singles into their ‘career’, but stack up as the real deal. Very exciting.

Empress Of

The project of Los Angeles musician and producer Lorely Rodriguez, Empress Of came into focus further on last year’s ‘Us’. The second album to be released under the moniker, it’s one of those that seems to reveal itself all at once only for hidden depths to materialise along the way. Impossibly melodic while maintaining flashes of Rodriguez’s off-kilter experimental streak, when compared with her stunning alt-R&B debut ‘Me’ it felt like a big pop move. Time will tell if that’s true. Empress Of will hit the UK and Ireland later this year.


Riffs. Hooks. Some more riffs and then some more hooks. Puppy have been one of the most endearing bands in the UK rock underground for some time now and we’re just around the corner from the arrival of their debut LP proper ‘The Goat’. If you’ve followed their bubblegum-metal adventures to this point you certainly won’t be disappointed by their ongoing commitment to fusing soaring power-pop with face-melting leads—in fact, this feels like the start of something a litte silly, a lot of fun and really quite special.


With his debut LP ‘Harlan & Alondra’ still percolating with those who caught it the first time around, this Compton rapper potentially has a big 2019 mapped out. It all begins with a stint opening for Vince Staples on his North American tour supporting ‘FM!’, where he’ll get a chance to deliver his kaleidoscopic, uplifting music to some big crowds. Expect tight rhymes, vintage soul tones and flashes of G-funk from close to home. Eyes peeled for some dates on this side of the pond.

Stella Donnelly

Stella Donnelly’s spring UK and Ireland tour is a chance for you to make up for lost time. The Perth singer-songwriter is on the road in support of her faultlessly charming, wonderfully named 'Thrush Metal' collection and her forthcoming debut album 'Beware Of The Dogs', dropping off a healthy serving of observational wit, skin-peeling honesty and low-key melodies on our doorsteps. There are several easy comparisons that could be made—people will be queuing up to mention Donnelly in the same breath as several notable Australian indie-pop artists—but her music deserves to stand on its own two feet.


On her recent LP ‘El Mal Querer’,  the Catalan singer Rosalía achieved a couple of remarkable things. First of all, she effortlessly fused flamenco influences with razor sharp pop writing, and secondly she carried the whole thing off with the sort of bold, relatable vigour that made the rise of Christine and the Queens, another artist to rubbish the idea that hit singles are delivered in English, such a breath of fresh air. At times she is an arch traditionalist, at others she channels the otherworldly vocal acrobatics of FKA Twigs over frantic handclaps. Mesmerising.


Rock music for the prematurely old at heart? Maybe. But this Norwegian trio’s debut LP, ‘This Is Not The End’, is set to light a fire under fans of other bands who fit that bill, notably acts like Japandroids and the Menzingers. Loud, completely anthemic and shot through with a cocktail of nostalgia and present day ennui, Spielbergs’ work is absolutely thrilling in its best moments, and they have a lot of them. Catch them on tour in the UK during February and don’t forget to pack your earplugs. You’re a grown up now.

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