Spotlight's Top 12 Artists To Check Out In 2019
2018 was a fantastic year for local music, but we’ve got a feeling this year will be even better…
We’ve put our heads together to come up with a few artists and bands that should be on your radar in 2019, so get stuck in and have a fantastic year!
Sunderland 7 piece Picnic create a unique funk-folk meets indie-pop sound full of carefully crafted lyrics oozing with charm and wit. The band is lead by their bubbly frontwoman whose sublime vocal range and unrestricted dance moves are as beguiling as the band's disco-inferno tunes, which are almost impossible to get out of your head once they’ve entered your eardrums (as demonstrated by their latest track 'Girls Night').
Following a strong 2017 featuring the release of their debut EP 'Nothing to Write Home About' and playing live in front of royalty at Sunderland's Fire Station, the band have been busy writing and recording new tunes as well as playing in front of ever growing crowds.
I simply can’t get enough of this band so let’s hope we get to see a whole lot more from these guys and girls soon!
Ten Eighty Trees
What an unbelievable year it has been for Newcastle / Sheffield based rockers Ten Eighty Trees. Despite releasing three back-to-back mega tunes that I would unashamedly described as anthemic, and playing with the likes of We Are Scientists at the Riverside, their riff-tastic sound has still remained somewhat under the radar for some – something we predict will change very soon.
A frontman born for the stage, Nathan combines relentless energy and an incredible vocal ability with his utterly charming personality that easily engages with a crowd. Their track 'Something Feral' is an absolute stomper of a tune that throws hooking melodies into the midst of heavy rock choruses that have to be shouted along to at volume 11. We're absolutely hyped to see where 2019 will take the epic trio!
Newcastle five-piece Laurens Court burst into life all guns blazing in late 2017. Fully equipped with their hard hitting debut album 'Introduction' they instantly created quite a storm with their doomy alt-rock that sends equal shivers of delight and fright down your spine. On a mission to shake up the local music scene with their unique sound and a live show very different from the usual humdrum, the band have quickly gained themselves a steadfast following of fans from a wide spectrum of music-lovers, including myself.
Layered over grungy rock melodies, their broody and perceptive lyrical themes take on another form thanks to extraordinary frontman Dylan who takes on another persona as he quivers and snakes between the crowd to throw out a suspenseful vocal repertoire that ranges from screaming highs to warped spoken word. I have high hopes for these guys indeed.
Humble beginnings have shown a promising future for this young lad.
Based in Sunderland, acoustic artist Ryan Robinson has been doing the rounds at local buskers nights, although his age has so far has limited his options due to many being having 18+ age restrictions. This doesn't mean for one moment that he hasn't been hard at work however, with a full 13 song album on Spotify and a brand new track already released in 2019.
Possibly his biggest moment last year however was his support slot for the wildly popular Oasis tribute band Noasis, which saw him steal the show and even had the crowd demanding an encore, not bad for a young local lad who's just starting out.
Winning people over wherever he plays, this soulful musician is bound for higher heights just you watch!
Being notoriously illusive, when Static Blue announced and released their new demo 'Pretty Little House Plants' at the beginning of January, I was relieved to see that the band were back in action.
Hosting them at one of our very first shows at Little Buildings in early 2018 was a real treat for us and we watched them as they went on to play several well received gigs, including Third Time Lucky and Hit the North Festival, as well as release a new single 'Babbling Corpses' which was a wild success.
Deliberately difficult to pin down, this post-indie group has an intriguingly nostalgic attitude to its musical deliverance and branding. Cleverly playing on our childhood memories and warping our need for a simpler time of 8-bit desires.
Despite their retro focus however, they refuse to be simply filed away into categories like 80s pop or modern indie by constantly pushing the boundaries of what we can expect from either genre and incorporating elements that are entirely unique.
I love their attitude, their aesthetic and their undeniable ability to twist and warp our expectations to make something their own, keep a close eye on these guys!
These lovable rogues won me over last year when I discovered their DIY approach and punky sound that I can't quite get enough of.
Hailing from Durham, the band hit the USA, Germany and Canada in 2018, but still manage to fly fairly under the radar in their home region, a fact that needs to change!
Despite their worldwide exploits however, the band manage to stay humble in their attitude and lyricism, with all too relatable tales of young romance, loneliness and heating bills all delivered with a sharp wit and subtle political undertones.
This merging of political and social elements never feels shoved down the listener's throat however, thanks to the bouncy instrumental style and vocal delivery that leaves you to digest the themes at your own pace and have a damn good time while doing so.
With such deft lyricism, mastery of punky chords, hooking riffs and driving drums its no wonder my ears keep dragging me back to these outsiders to feel a sense of profound fondness over and over again.
Following the release of the excellent single 'Heart is Healing', the band announced that they will be collaborating with the independent Oxford label Big Scary Monsters in 2019 and, frankly I can't wait to see the result!
Hidden Depths are a Camden born, Newcastle dwelling, two piece rock band who released their debut EP ‘Dirty Rock Demo’ in 2018 via local independent record label ‘Almost Indie Records’.
After hearing their tracks performed live, it’s that pummelling, spirited sound that puts them on my radar for 2019.
Give their track ‘Empty Room’ a listen, and its beguiling music video a watch, over on their Youtube:
Singer-songwriter Becca James handles her introspective lyricism with a soulful vocal ability that makes for a truly fierce stage presence.
Throughout 2018 she could be heard at various open mic nights and larger events, such as Oxjam, as well as landing air time on BBC introducing in the North East.
You can find a stunning rendition of her original song ‘Perfect Girl’, recorded at Loft Music Studios, on her Youtube channel:
2018 was a year of debuts for electronic dream-pop duo Video Spring.
With their debut single ‘Velvet’ premiering through Narc. and their first live show appearance as part of the Northern Electric Festival at the Cumberland Arms, both culminating in a foreshadowing buzz started around their well crafted sound.
There was mention of an EP on the horizon too, so lets hope we get to experience that debut in 2019...
You can listen to their track ‘Velvet’ over on the duo’s Spotify and Soundcloud accounts.
2018 saw these boys make their long awaited comeback to the NE scene after their hiatus. Following a headline show at the mighty Riverside and two impressive single releases to name but a couple of their accomplishments, the only way is up for Club Paradise and this could well be their year.
Their latest offering, 'Sugar' is a gritty, electronic indie earworm with bags of energy and has featured in all of my personal playlists since its release.
Self proclaimed “mackem soundcarriers” Roxy Girls’ debut EP release was one of my local music highlights of last year. Tom’s distinctive vocals are reminiscent of The Futureheads in their prime, and the clear pride these guys have for the region makes their music all the sweeter.
Having been championed by the likes of BBC 6 Music, and with their ties to Sunderland’s Pop Recs LTD, Roxy Girls are definitely on my radar for 2019.
Fresh from her UK tour, Martha Hill has already promised loads of new music this coming year. And, if the last 12 months are anything to go by, we’re in for a real treat. With almost 45,000 Spotify streams over two singles, I’m definitely not the only one to think so.
It’ll be hard for Martha to top her enormous 2018, one of the highlights being her appearance at the Sage, complete with an orchestra, in support of Field Music and Maximo Park.
Despite these high expectations though, I have a feeling she’s going to manage to pull it off. Watch this space...
Cover Photo: Ryan Robinson
Photographer: Lauren Elise Sutcliffe