music / Columns

Hype Check: The Best New Acts Of 2019

January 12, 2019 | Posted by David Hayter
070 Shake

So it’s time to introduce our loyal 411 readers to the acts they are destined to both love and hate in 2019.

These are not necessarily the young up and comers I am personally most excited about, but these are the starlets industry experts have thrown their weight behind (the endorsements range from Kanye West and BBC to MetalHammer reviewers and Instagram followers).

So who are they, are they any good and what on earth do they sound like? Well 411’s one stop guide is here to help you out.

Billie Eilish

Genre: Pop/Indie

Who is She: California’s most talked about teenager can (however arguably) claim to have already fulfilled her potential:  the dreamy “Ocean Eyes” has been streamed over 132 million times on Spotify alone. Billie Eilish comes from a family of actors and is already a superstar in Gen Z’s eyes with an astonishing level of Instagram dominance and a marketing reach 40 year old stadium headliners could only dream of.

The Verdict: Eilish already displays immaculate aesthetic control and her winsome understated pop should thrill those fashionistas looking to brood and alternative minded music fans alike. Does she have more than one stadium sized hook in her? That is the question.

Where To Start: “Ocean Eyes”, “When The Party’s Over”, “Bellyache”

Fever 333 

Genre: Hard Rock

Who Are They: Okay time for a sanity check, have I really just included a rapcore “supergroup” on a sound of 2019 list? Well it would appear I have. California’s Fever 333 are lead by Letlive frontman Jason Aaron Butler and combine bounce along bombastity with hardnosed political diatribes. The group made a huge splash in 2018, but it’s their debut album, set to drop next week, that will determine their fate.

The Verdict: They are part party, part polemic – so far, so Rage Against The Machine you might say, but to their credit Fever333 are far less po faced than you might imagine. Picture Rise Against with more of a sense of humor and an elastic rhythm section.

Where To Start: “Burn It”, “Made In America”, “We’re Coming In”

Snowprah

Genre: Rap

Who Is She: A breakout of rapper from Connecticut, well I certainly don’t get to type that very often, but “Yank Riddim” makes Snowprah impossible to ignore. Like many artists in the post-trap/Soundcloud world, Snowprah flits between quote-ably idiocy, crafty lyrical flourishes, drugged out drowsiness and banging beats.

The Verdict: She certainly knows how to write a hook and is comfortable enough riding a rhythm, but at this stage it’s hard to tell if she is worthy wordsmith still finding her feet or dodgy rapper getting lucky with the odd cracking couplet.

Where To Start: “Yank Riddim”, “Soft Drink”, “Callin”

Amyl & The Sniffers

Genre: Rock/Punk

Who Are They: Aussies noiseniks Amyl & The Sniffers offer a blistering blend of scuzzy slackerism, pogo-ing punk intensity and radio-rock riffage. Best of all, they ooze attitude and overflow with charisma: they sneer, they spit and they snort as their guitars slide and symbols crash deliciously.

The Verdict: They might be a touch too well rounded for their own good, their sound is so perfectly pitched between pre-existing sounds that it might slip between the cracks, but that would be a real shame, because Amyl & The Sniffers rock hard.

Where To Start: “Big Attraction & Giddy Up”, “Cup of Destiny”, “70’s Street Munchies”

King Princess 

Genre: Indie/Pop

Who Is She: Harry Styles may have kick started her rise to superstardom, but in truth King Princess, aka Mikaela Straus, needed no assistance. The queer superstar from Brooklyn, New York has been snapped up by Mark Ronson’s label and already attracted the attention of all the right tastemakers. Straus is a multi-instrumentalist and has already shown both the compositional skills and boldness to be a star in either indie or pop circles.

The Verdict: She already made 411’s tracks of 2018 countdown and if she’s got a few more songs the calibre of “1950” or “Pussy Is God” in her locker, then she’ll be sure fired star.

Where To Start: “1950”, “Pussy Is God”, “Upper West Side”

Nilufer Yanya

Genre: Soul/Indie

Who Is She: 22-year-old Nilufer Yanya has had her name on the lips of all the right music experts for a couple of years now, but in 2019 her debut album will drop and the rubber will meet the road. Pairing an aching beautiful soul vocal with a flair for dislocation and a love of satisfyingly bold guitar work, this daughter of Turkey, Ireland, Barbados and the UK, respectively, is an intriguing proposition to say the very least.

The Verdict:  To say she’s stepping into a crowded field is an understatement, but Nilufer’s voice is distinct and her use of the guitar refreshing without being remotely nostalgic.

Where to start: “Baby Luv”, “Heavyweight Champion Of The World”, “Thanks 4 Nothing”

070 Shake

Genre: Rap

Who Is She: Kanye West endorsements might be more of a blessing than a curse in 2019, but he was right on the money when he backed North Bergen’s 070 Shake. This rapper thrives on both the voice (which carries an earthy toughness as well as the tracks of recently dried tears) and the narrative (Shake tackles her insecurities and vulnerabilities head on without embellishment).

The Verdict: I hate to use the can’t miss label, but unless her early material proves to be a complete outlier, 070 Shake has the composure, intellect and emotional honesty to be one of raps most important new voices.

Where To Start: “I Laugh When I’m With Friends But I’m Sad When I’m Alone”, “Trust Nobody”, “Ghost Town”

Ian Isiah

Genre: R&B

Who Is He: A ready-made R&B star with a deep love of gospel and a filthy mouth. Rising from the GHE20GOTH1K scene, Isiah is unashamedly over the top and iconoclastic. It’s not so much that he wants to be star (he does, of course), he wants every set of eyes and ears focused directly on him whenever he steps in a room or on stage.

The Verdict: Not just daring in his fashion choices, all available evidence suggests Isiah will happily contort the conventions of R&B like a more ambitious, less alien Arca.

Where to start: “Bedroom”, “247”

Black Pink

Genre: K-Pop

Who Are They: Yes, Yes, Yes, we know, Black Pink are already big in Korea and around the world for that matter (their videos have hundreds of millions of views), but 2019 is (supposedly) the year Jisco, Jennie, Lisa and Rose take the West by storm. Like Latin Pop, K-Pop had a big year in 2018, will that trend continue or fade away? It’s hard to say, but this spunky rapping fourpiece (yes they rap) certainly have charisma and looks to burn. Also watch out for solo releases from all four members starting with Jennie.

The Verdict: BlackPink have obvious star power and all the money in the world behind their videos, their music is certainly extremely catchy, but its pop tricks are both cloying and predictable (intense build up before a drop it low beat and catchphrase driven chorus). That said, for all it’s obviousness and lack of exoticism (their K-Pop is almost painfully familiar), I ended up having “Ddu-du ddu-du”) stuck in my head for an eternity

Where To Start: “DDU-DU DDU-DU”, “Boombayah” “Solo” (Jennie)

Octavian

Genre: Rap/Grime

Who is he: The BBC Sound of 2019 winner was born in Lille, but moved to London after his father died. His background is decidedly mixed, he won a scholarship to the prestigious Brit School only to quit, while also spending a share of his teenage years homeless. He’s a self-professed bad kid and a musical magpie always intrigued by rhyming atop new and diverse beats.

The Verdict: At times Octavian frustrates, he is clearly powerful creative headwind, capable of thought provoking wordplay and unafraid to rip up the compositional rulebook, but there’s also lethargy to his lyricism. Still, while I may be sceptical, he’s clearly the most intriguing, ambitious and original rapper to come of the UK in quite some time.

Where To Start: “Party Here”, “Little”, “Move Faster”

Amili

Genre: Pop

Who Is She: An 18-year-old starlet from Bochum, Germany who already has a million plus Spotify streams under her belt. Her music is minimal, sleek and sexy, without an overt sexuality. Soulful and modern, Amili is the latest star to bear the influence of The xx and her magnetic charisma is derived entirely from her expert understatement.

The Verdict: Is she a little too controlled and a touch too familiar? Quite possibly, but Amili already displays an arresting turn of phrase and a illusive ennui that suggests a deep reservoir of as yet untapped potential.

Where To Start: “Rarri”, “Maybe”

Chai

Genre: Rock/Electro-Pop

Who Are They: The imports just keep coming and this time its Japanese fourpiece Chai who blend synchronised dance moves with sleek electo-rock. It’s tempting to label their sound as 80s, but it really isn’t, there are plenty of 2000s indie flourishes and oddball quirks that’d put Superorganism to shame. Chai already made their triumph live debut in the US in 2018, on record success is set to follow.

The Verdict: Chai are wonderfully satirical, every inch of their sound toes the line between sincerity and subversion. At their best, Chai are wonderfully destructive, at their worst they succumb to their own catchy parodies, but the highs far outweight the lows.

Where To Start: “N.E.O”, “ボーイズ・セコ・メン”, “Great Job”

Slowthai

Genre: Grime

Who Is He: In the rap world personality is generally a plus, but I’m always sceptical about any act who looks too much like a cartoon or cardboard cut out. Luckily while Northampton rapper Slowthai is extra to say the least, his promise to bring punk energy to the UK rap scene has already been fulfilled by his legendary live shows.

The Verdict: Slowthai brings energy, angst and a British punk sensibility to tales of rejection, drug dealing and street level excess. His agit-punk persona feels legitimate and, while his rhymes could uses some work, he is not a rocker playing gangster rapper dress up.

Where To Start: “Doorman”“Drug Dealer”, “North Nights”

Grace Carter 

Genre: Soul/R&B

Who Is She: This Brighton native brings a series of self-reliant tales to life with the help of a rich soulful vocal that recalls Adele in its stadium-sized scope. In fact, with the right support slot on a big money arena tour she could be transformed into a headliner overnight.

The Verdict: Grace Carter has already racked up views by the millions and it’s easy to see why. She has the kind of voice that can summon an army of brokenhearted backers in an instant. There is a nagging sense that the tracks could be more interesting on a compositional level, but at this early stage her “realness” and ability to speak directly to her audience mark her out for arena filling success.

Where To Start: “Why Her Not Me”, “Silence”, “Silhouette”

Pi’erre Bourne 

Genre: Rap

Who is he: Hailing from Southern California, Pi’erre Bourne has already made his name producing for Playboi Carti and 6ix9ine. In 2019 he hopes to breakout as a stand-alone artist with his drowsy, but danceable grooves and half-sung, half-rapped hooks.

The Verdict: There’s no doubt that Pi’erre understands the art of hitmaking and has his ear to the street, but therein lies the problem. His music is of the moment and his beats are pretty damn sumptuous, but as a vocalist he feels like a less bombastic Lil Uzi Vert – and you know, that’s a problem, seeing as he’ll be competing with Vert for airtime in the near future.  

Where To Start: “Marie Curie”, “Planet Namek”, “Water Boy”

 

article topics :

070 Shake, Octavian, Snowprah, David Hayter