Indie stayed strong throughout 2020 despite the global pandemic and all the obstacles we faced! The following list features some of the artists that dropped the best releases in 2020 and will stay in the spotlight in 2021!
1- WOLF & MOON
Wolf & Moon are a duo of modern day storytelling nomads. Their music lives off the dichotomy of their voices and marries dreamy indie folk with electronic elements.
To create their second album “Follow The Signs” (out 11/20/2020), they reunited with producer John Andersson, which chemistry between the three of them can be heard and felt in every note. The record is a dreamy amalgamation of melancholic and folky guitar layers accentuated by an effective selection of synths, Stefany and Dennis show off an incredible range of moods, from sad to hopeful, from erie to uplifting. There are songs you could imagine listening to in a bar in Nashville, while cruising down Highway One through California in a Caddy convertible, while sitting on the porch of your trailer in the Nevada desert or jumping down a waterfall in the Amazon jungle.
Making the best of any situation, not limiting yourself by tradition and other people’s ideas for your life, being adventurous – those are central lyrical themes. Wolf & Moon’s voices seem to have been made for each other, their ear for harmonies remains a forte, and they’ve never been more adept at using their voices to convey emotions: fragile but not shaky, vulnerable but not weak, powerful but never camp. It’s a philosophy, an approach to life, whatever you want to call it, which is best summed up on “The Road”: “How would you know really what you got, if you never let go?”
Just a few years ago, the three women were travelling through Europe as street musicians together with their fraternal rhythm section. Their first studio song «Take To The Skies» did not only bring them hundreds of thousands of clicks online in 2015, but the newcomers also won the pop award in Basel (Basler Pop-Preis) in the same year. Even outside their hometown, people started scrambling to get the folk quintet with cellos, guitar, double bass and cajon. The streets that used to be Serafyn’s stage turned into their path to clubs and festivals all over Europe. Serafyn have grown musically. The drums have upstaged the Busker-cajon almost entirely. And together with Pola Roy of the band Wir sind Helden in the studio in Berlin, they set new accents like the bar play and the swirling twang bass in the hypnotic, almost gloomily throbbing title song «Foam». Their delicately stirring folk still sounds clearly tared and free of kitsch and clutter. The ten songs offer space for listening and drifting up until the point when yet another catchy part of the lyrics appears and one immediately wants to join the choir: «We’re all in, in we are» – just like Serafyn reiterates like a mantra in «Morning Tea».
3- AL PRIDE
From the heart straight to your face. The Swiss eight piece Al Pride delivers pop music at its best. Three lead vocals meet catchy and groundbreaking songwriting, epic dynamics and unconventional brass-arrangements. «Al Pride are tightening their reputation as one of Switzerland’s most intelligent pop acts», Swiss radio SRF 3 nailed it in a review of the band’s recent album HALLAVARA. And fortunately this is just the beginning and there is so much more to come.
4- LUX BEAUREGARD
Kentucky-born Lux Beauregard started writing her own songs when she was very young and hasn’t stopped since. After moving to Nashville to study graphic design at Belmont University, Lux found herself in such close proximity to so many talented writers and musicians that this passion escalated, leaving her fixated on how badly she wanted to write and make music too. Lux has a self-described “complicated relationship” with her brain and emotions, but she found that she can write and sing things that she wouldn’t necessarily know how to say in conversation. Some of her favorite artists are Queen, Florence and the Machine, and The Neighbourhood, all credited with influencing Lux Beauregard’s signature sound. Sitting at the intersection between indie pop, chamber pop, and baroque pop, she describes her music as dreamlike and cinematic, and loves a huge, lush, ethereal sound.
5- NATIVE YOUNG
When asked how he would describe Native Young – creator of the project Yannick Wilde says, “It’s a constantly evolving tapestry of culture, emotion and melody”.
Beginning in Cape Town as a home recording experiment for Yannick – Native Young has transformed into a live collective of rotating talent across Africa and Europe. A fusion of anthemic uplifting vocals, indie electronica and raw African rhythm – their live show is nothing short of spectacular. Recent accolades include over 1M streams on Spotify for 2018, A SAMA (South African Music Award) for ‘Best Alternative Album’ with ‘Kings’, smash single ‘Erase’ coming in at #1 on the 5fm dance charts and playing stand out sets at international festivals Fusion (Germany) and Lake of Stars (Malawi).
Music is that ephemeral expression that seems to connect us all and It’s this sentiment that boldly shines in the raw and colourful tale of Native Young.
6- ANDY KEELS
In anticipation of his upcoming debut EP, 15 Years (out January 15), Surrey born singer-songwriter Andy Keels ushers in the new project with his latest release “Dead To Me” – infusing elements of bombastic indie-rock and rolling drum patterns to create his 80s inspired soundscape. After many years of writing, Andy headed to the prolific Germano Studios in New York, earlier this year to work with Grammy winning engineer and producer, Dave Rowland (The Killers, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, John Legend). With its infectious energy and impressive instrumentation, “Dead To Me” made the perfect debut release. “The reason I chose Dead to Me as the first single as it’s got great energy and it’s catchy, and I hope it will leave people intrigued to hear the rest of the EP. Dave Rowland is amazingly talented and he really brought the songs to life. All my songs hold personal meaning for me and tend to be based on my life experiences, so, if people can relate to them and enjoy them, I’ll be a happy man”. Building an accomplished reputation for himself within the industry, Keels first made his mark on the music scene in 2004 as the drummer and singer in pop/rock band, Twen2y4se7en. Over the years, he has also amassed an array of live experience, touring the UK with the likes of Westlife, McFly, and Sugababes.
SSROJAM pronounced (Sro-jam) is an artist based out of Texas, but his new sound is straight off a beach in Hawaii. SSROJAM is a hard-working individual amidst a new generation of indie artists. His unique vocals with mysterious lyrics and feel good guitar riffs are something that not many people can do. There’s something both interesting yet relatable about the atmosphere the Texas native portrays. SSROJAM’s album Just Droppin Sh!t is an eleven-song tape with tracks making you want to Dance to songs making you want to cry. Produced by SSROJAM, the tape is a mishmash of classic folk and hip-hop. blending seemingly disparate genres into a smooth and broad reaching sound that’s as vibrant and dynamic as it is unique, SSROJAM is on a mission of making great music. Enjoy
8- DREW CITRON
Brooklyn indie-rock stalwart Drew Citron formed Beverly in 2013, after having got her start as a touring member with Frankie Rose and The Pains of Being Pure of Heart. Drew Citron and Beverly drummer, Scott Rosenthal, would go on to open storied Bushwick music-venue, Alphaville, and more recently embark on the highly regarded post-punk outfit, Public Practice. In all these collaborative endeavors, Citron has been developing, refining, and ultimately giving life to what is her latest project, Free Now.
“Growing up in San Francisco, I used to take so many long melancholic walks listening to The Smiths on my Discman. And those walks now strike me as a kind of prelude to the feeling I’m getting at with this album,” says Citron. “Most of the songs were written in Northern California, camped out on the coast recalling much of how it felt to be an adolescent of sixteen, in love with a record.”
Citron, after the break up of Beverly and the end of her long-term relationship with Rosenthal, writes a lot about heartbreak on Free Now. In recording, Citron recruited an extremely talented pool of musicians, recording with Sam Owens (aka Sam Evian) at Flying Cloud, Tim Wheeler (of Ash) at Atomic Heart, John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Kurt Vile) at Water Music, and Danny Taylor.
9- I SEE RIVERS
I SEE RIVERS encapsulate audiences with their distinctive sound and renowned harmonies. They are in the process of making their highly anticipated debut album due for an independent release in 2020 with the support of PRS Momentum Fund, PRS Women Make Music, BBC Launchpad and their dedicated fans through Kickstarter. The multi-instrumentalist Scandi ‘float-pop’ trio are renowned for encapsulating audiences with their interweaving harmonies and distinctive Nordic sound which over time has evolved with heavier production and indie-electronic influences. Their new musical soundscape has them compared to a mix between Fleet Foxes and Haim, vocal and musical tranquillity with a foot-stomping pop twist.
Eline (vocals, keys, percussion), Gøril (vocals, guitar, drum pad) and Lill (vocals, drums, guitar, vocals) have toured extensively, selling out shows with highly acclaimed performances throughout Europe. Their synchronised, blended vocal arrangements and flawless instrumentation has them renowned as a must-see live act. Although they are all originally from Norway, the girls met in Liverpool while studying and have recently moved to Pembrokeshire in Wales after falling in love with the Welsh coastline during the recording of their first EP in ‘StudiOwz
10- FERRIS & SYLVESTER
Ferris & Sylvester are a force to be reckoned with. They are honest and unashamed, bold and unapologetic. With clear references in their catchy setup to the mid-60s sounds of Greenwich Village combined with their meatier blues tones, the British duo sit somewhere between Jack White and First Aid Kit. The pair met three years ago in London’s best-kept-secret blues joint, Spiritual Bar and have since won over audiences across Europe and the US with their ever-growing live presence and songwriting. Obsessed with getting their music out there, the duo released their ‘Made In Streatham’ EP, which they recorded and self-produced in their South London flat. The duo have since released a collection of more expansive singles including ‘Sickness’ and ‘Flying Visit’ which range from the most intimate to the most enraged declarations of the human condition. Their timeless songwriting is impossible to ignore. After a monumental 18 months of touring, including their debut Glastonbury + SXSW, and sharing the stage with the likes of Robert Plant, Eric Clapton, George Ezra and Jade Bird, Ferris & Sylvester have evolved their live sound into a distinct combination of Americana, Blues and Rock n Roll. With their eyes fixed on their debut album, the duo continue to expand their sound into deeper and darker places.