A mums’ and dads’ guide to music’s next big things

From The Independent:

It is one of the most fickle industries in the world; who can keep up? No sooner have you got the hang of the latest singles-chart-topping fad than another act takes over.

Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon, who tomorrow launches Oxjam, the UK’s largest charity music festival, has given up trying to follow pop’s fashions, claiming he knows “nothing about music”. The festival’s live line-up – the biggest this year – will give him a chance to “go out and have a look”. He faces an onslaught of more than 7,000 musicians performing in 800 venues over the next month.

Coxon, at 43 an industry veteran, bemoaned the current state of the music industry, claiming: “Not a lot of groundbreaking stuff is being made, and it hasn’t been at any point for a number of years.” He claims 1965 was the last real moment of change, and added: “If you compare [music] with the 1970s, it’s pretty poor.” So why is he bothering with Oxjam? “It’s charity,” he concedes, “and it has done great things.”

But those climbing the ladder behind him disagree with his take on modern music. Lucy Rose is a 23-year-old singer, and one of the performers Coxon might see this week. She thinks the industry is “exciting, girl-strong, digital and ever-changing”.

Technology has unleashed a welter of bands, labels, genres, music formats and fashions that can be bewildering to many people who remember the simple innocence of 7in vinyl and the weekly pop charts. Here to help you navigate the legion of “Next Big Things” – compiled with the help of music industry experts – is The Independent on Sunday’s guide to the best new bands and artists (well, for the next few weeks at least).

British Male Singer

King Krule

Claim to fame Poster boy for his “generation’s disillusionment”.

Background South-east London’s Archy Marshall, the “bohemian boy wonder”, is a soon-to-graduate history student at the Brit school. The red-headed lyricist, at just 17, draws comparisons with Billy Bragg, Morrissey and Joe Strummer, while his debut EP has garnered praise across the music industry. He cites Franz Kafka, Charles Bukowski and WH Auden as influences, and his work has been called “age-defying”.

International Male

Zebra Katz

Claim to fame Set to be the “first break-out star of ‘queer rap’.”

Background Brooklyn-based Ojay Morgan, 26, a former catering manager, was a hit at Paris Fashion Week with his single “Ima Read” playing on the catwalk. He’s supported Lana Del Rey and will join Azealia Banks on her UK tour. It’s hard to imagine his music will translate into the mainstream, but it’s garnishing attention far and wide.

British Female Singer

Lucy Rose

Claim to fame The “new Laura Marling”.

Background The 23-year-old Bombay Bicycle Club vocalist has the ethereal folky feel that’s fashionable of late, but she insists she is more than just “another girl with an acoustic guitar singing about how she feels”. She has been a fixture on the London gig scene for five years, and her debut solo album is out tomorrow. One song in particular, “Middle of the Bed”, is so infectious that by this time next year, you will probably be struggling to get it out of your head.

Live Act


Claim to fame The three Californians make performing with your family look fun.

Background LA sisters Danielle, Este and Alana, with friend Dash Hutton on drums, were a hit at this year’s South by Southwest festival. Haim’s first EP was released this year, and their unusual blend of classic rock and sultry R&B worked better than one might think. Set to support Florence & the Machine on tour.

Breakthrough Artist


Claim to fame One of the most successful new British bands of the year.

Background Alt-J seemed to have come from nowhere. But if the four Cambridge lads win the Mercury Prize, as predicted, they won’t maintain their low profile for long. Named after the Mac keyboard command for the “delta” sign, the quartet have been compared to everyone from Wild Beasts and The xx to Hot Chip and Radiohead. With its blend of modern folk and geeky electronic beats, their album, An Awesome Wave, received critical acclaim and hit the Top 20. The band has sold out shows across the US, and NME predicts they will be “huge” this time next year.

Continue reading the rest of the story on The Independent