As we move into awards season and hold a collective breath for our favourite nominees (plus those poor fish from the Brits – I’m looking at you, Grace from Clean Bandit), it’s easy to become hung up on successes from the previous year and forget about what’s to come. Look ahead, though: 2015 is going to see some of the best yet. There’s plenty for everyone, from effervescent Raury to the poetic crooning of James Bay. Eighteen year old Låpsley from Liverpool looks set to take centre stage alongside British duo Aquilo, both of whom are producing ambient electro-pop which is smooth and rich in texture. If music was chocolate, this would be a bar of Galaxy after a stressful day at the office: calm, relaxing, and non-judgemental. London-based Years and Years bring an R&B sound to the electro-pop trend, heavy synths and house-esque grooves creating a sound they aptly describe as “feelings, emotions and synths”. There’s lots to anticipate in the coming months, and all of it is exciting. Without further ado, here are my biggest tips for 2015.
Atlanta-born Raury may only be eighteen years of age, but his music – described as somewhat “genre-less” and spanning a wide range of influences – could be mistaken for that of someone with far more life experience. His insightful lyrics have been toted as “style-sampling”, perhaps attributed to his many musical inspirations (he cites Bon Iver and Andre 3000 amongst others), and his full-length album Indigo Child shows promise across a whole variety of sounds: Raury is one to watch, savour, and absorb. Check out God’s Whisper for a gospel-gone-rogue anthem.
Hailing from Hertfordshire, indie singer-songwriter James Bay has caused waves in both the UK (where he’s bagged the Critic’s Choice award at this year’s Brits) and in Australia, where his single Hold Back the River peaked at number 4 last year. Initially discovered on YouTube by an A&R talent scout for Republic, Bay’s career so far has seen him land performances at Burberry’s Fashion Week show and BBC Radio One’s Live Lounge, and he’s set to tour the UK in the coming months. His music is heartfelt and relatable: in 2015, you can guarantee that James Bay is going to become a household name. For an understated sound, recent release Scars is thoughtful and showcases Bay’s vocals in all their glory.
Liverpudlian Låpsley (also known as Holly Lapsley Fletcher) released her Understudy EP on January 5th. At only eighteen years of age, she’s already become a favourite of Radio 1 with her stripped-back, minimal sounding tracks, and her success looks like it will only grow in 2015. The music itself is electronic, ethereal and enveloping – there’s no clutter here, just well placed piano chords and soft percussive hits. Falling Short, the EP’s leading track, is honest and subtle: well worth a listen (or thirty…)
Lancashire band Aquilo have already seen success on the Glastonbury BBC Introducing stage as well as on several Radio 1 playlists in the past twelve months. Having moved away from their rock band origins, they now work and perform as a duo, producing electronica that is captivating and calm. The sound on their second EP Human seamlessly flows from their first self titled offering: these guys know what they are about, and they know what they want to create. I Gave It All from second EP Human is emotive, contemplating and trance-like: if you’re looking for a soundtrack to your days spent brooding about life, this is it.
Years and Years
They may be dominating the electronica scene, but London-based Years and Years are just as good when they’re stripped back to their acoustics. Originally a five-piece, the band now perform as a trio consisting of vocals, keyboards, bass and synths, with a sound that has been touted as electro-pop blended with R&B and ’90s house. Take Shelter, their August 2014 release, topped the iTunes electronic chart, and in January this year they were listed as the BBC’s Sound of 2015. New single King is released on March 1st: this is only the beginning for a band that may well run the show in the next twelve months.