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Now and Next: Stereoboard's Ones to Watch in 2020

Tuesday, 07 January 2020 Written by Huw Baines

Each year brings with it a breakout star or two, and every January thousands of words are duly spilled trying to predict who they might be. Well, who are we to break with tradition? Head below to check out some fresh music from artists who might go on to enjoy a massive 2020.


Beabadoobee is the stage name of Londoner Bea Kristi, who has been releasing charming DIY indie-pop tracks since she was in her mid-teens. Still only 19, her recent inclusion on the BBC’s Sound of 2020 list coupled with a few high profile support slots means she’s now set to step out of her bedroom and into the big leagues. First up is a one-off show with Yungblud at London’s O2 Academy Brixton, while after that attention turns to the 1975’s massive upcoming arena run as they prep ‘Notes on a Conditional Form’ for release.


Black Country, New Road

Emerging from the heady creative swell of Speedy Wunderground’s singles series, Black Country, New Road play a mix of acerbic post-rock, rafter-shaking jazz and literary spoken word. As a cocktail it’s exciting, unusual and fleetingly hard to swallow. Live, the sextet are an arresting presence. Fusing thousand-yard stares and screeching sax with vocalist and guitarist Isaac Wood’s apocalyptic pop-culture screeds, their shows are freeform explorations of noise and texture. Catch them on the road later in January.

Pop Smoke

After shoving Brooklyn drill towards the mainstream in 2019 with Welcome to the Party and his ‘Meet the Woo’ EP, Pop Smoke is primed to follow up with an even bigger year in 2020. Intriguingly, his music is both confrontational and something like an ominous coiled spring, pounding out of the speakers with a shove in the back from his brusque, thudding bars. After his recent Meek Mill co-sign (following remixes starring Nicki Minaj, French Montana and Skepta) the smart money is on Pop Smoke delivering another summer smash.


Frances Quinlan

Not technically a new name, but Hop Along vocalist and guitarist Frances Quinlan will strike out on her own in 2020 for the first time since her band were a freak-folk solo project called Hop Along, Queen Ansleis. Her debut under her own name, ‘Likewise’, looks set to investigate the pop shapes that Hop Along’s ‘Bark Your Head Off, Dog’ touched upon, with each strand tied together by Quinlan’s once in a lifetime voice. It’s out on January 31, following up a one-off live show at the Lexington in London.


Another BBC Sound of… pick, Georgia’s music pulls from a panoply of dance-adjacent influences. Her second LP ‘Seeking Thrills’ is one of the most anticipated releases of early 2020, riding a wave of poptimism following the release of her single Never Let You Go, a giddy rush of synths and hooks primed for Chvrches-style crossover success. Catch her live in March, when she rounds off a European tour with a string of UK and Ireland shows.

Sleep Token

It seems that each week we’re presented with a new mysterious metal act, but Sleep Token have something about them that sets them apart from the pack. Their music, as showcased on their recent debut LP ‘Sundowning’, is like James Blake cosying up to Sunn O))), while their whole masked vibe is informed by occult weirdness, grabs of ancient runes and worship of a deity known, conveniently, as Sleep. Their live show is a blend of theatre and absolute musical precision, which you can check out yourself when they tour the UK at the end of January.


Hailing from West Memphis, Arkansas, Yebba has already made quite a name for herself as a collaborator thanks to her rich, honeyed voice. Having popped up on Ed Sheeran’s ‘No.6 Collaborations Project’ (she’s also signed to his label) and Mark Ronson’s ‘Late Night Feelings’, she closed out 2019 with a guest spot on Stormzy’s ‘Heavy is the Head’. Expect 2020 to bring more in the way of solo moves, with only a couple of glimpses to date of what Yebba’s own sound will bring to the table.


It seems to be written in the stars that Celeste will soon be a big name. The California-born, Brighton-based soul vocalist broke through with Strange last autumn, bringing comparisons with Amy Winehouse thanks to the track’s low-key jazz emoting, and has since landed on almost every major ‘Ones to Watch’ list going. Celeste’s spring UK tour follows dates with Michael Kiwanuka and already features some big halls, winding up with a date at London’s O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.


Eighteen months along the line from the release of her debut EP ‘Cruel Practice’, Shygirl hasn’t taken a backwards step. Last year’s Uckers and BB were claustrophobic, uncompromising hits that jabbed with the metallic power of ‘Atrocity Exhibition’-era Danny Brown and Shygirl’s rapid, percussive flow. If there is still room at the top for artists making idiosyncratic, expressive work, look no further.


Almost irritatingly young, Disq’s appeal revolves around hook-heavy, wonky indie-rock tunes assembled by Wisconsin’s Isaac deBroux-Slone and Raina Bock. Their Communication b/w Parallel single revealed a group already close to achieving their final form, but at such an early stage it’s truly exciting to think of where they might go next. Clues can be found in London later this month, with shows at the Lexington and Old Blue Last.

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