Ones To Watch For 2013

Ones To Watch for 2013

Artwork by Francesca Bonifacio

Now that we’ve finally taken a good look at the year 2012 in music, including our picks for the best albums (and honorable mentions), EPs, and songs, it’s time to look to the future, and see what bands we’re really excited for in 2013. Most of these shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone as we’ve been raving about them for a while, but we also threw in a few smaller picks for artists that we hope really blow us away this year.

One thing we’d like to take the time to mention is that, despite us calling these artists “Ones To Watch” – both here and in our regular Ones To Watch posts – what we really mean is that these are artists that we’re especially excited about. Everyone we write an Introducing post we thing is special, but there are some that just stand out a bit taller – these are what we consider Ones To Watch. It really has nothing to do with actual commercial ability or mainstream success (though we wish everyone the best, and will do our part to help get them there), contrary to what the name may lead you to believe. This is one of the reasons we’re considering changing the term “One To Watch”, but we just haven’t found an alternative yet. If you’ve got a better name, by all means please let us know in the comments!

That’s it for the rambling now, and I’ll just leave you with the list, which is ordered alphabetically. If you’ve got any tips for this year, or think we’ve left some artists out unfairly be sure to leave a comment below.

Listen Before You Buy’s Ones To Watch for 2013

AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorgeNobody will be surprised to find AlunaGeorge on this list. Not after they already came runners-up in the BBC’s Sound of 2013; not after a year of rapidly rising prominence online and on the air. Most of all, not after a year of releasing tracks like “You Know You Like It” and “Your Drums, Your Love”. They manage the tricky balancing act of crafting dancefloor-friendly pop that is still engaging to listen to, and to top it all off they’re modest and likeable. If 2013 does prove to be their year they will richly deserve it. – David Rutherford

CHVRCHES

chvrchesWe’ve not heard much from CHVRCHES yet, but since they’re Scottish we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that all of their yet-to-surface tracks will be as compulsively listenable as “Lies”. Anyone who unironically throws in an 808 cowbell in the 21st century deserves some credit. Iain Cook brings the same knack for hooks that was so effective in perennially-underrated Aereogramme, while Lauren Mayberry’s plangent vocals tap into an otherworldly vein that’s run through the cream of Scotland’s musical output since The Cocteau Twins. – David Rutherford

Deptford Goth

Deptford Goth press shot promo image Ones To Watch ListenI’ve yet to hear a bad song from Deptford Goth. Granted, the man isn’t very prolific, but his 2012 output, despite consisting of only three tracks (one of them a demo), has been spectacular. When I named him One To Watch I mentioned that the man has a great gift for making low-key, sonically-stuffed pop music, taking cues both from modern day “post-dubstep” producers and icons like Mariah Carey. If all of his debut album, due out in March, is as good as the singles we’ve heard (“Life After Defo” – which gives name to the album – and “Union”) it’s bound to be a favorite. – Jorge Mir

Digits

Digits promo photoSynth-pop musician Digits makes minimal, soulful pop music infused with wistful vocals and soft, analog synthesizer work. He’s steadily building a repertoire of music that solidifies his place as a producer-turned-singer-turned-R&B-musician. Between releasing a free mixtape and single to critical acclaim in 2012 and now opening for Nigel Godrich’s band Ultraísta in 2013, Digits is well on his way to becoming one of the most notable indie synth-pop artists in the world. – Kaelin Bougneit

Disclosure

DisclosureDisclosure are an electronic-based brother duo that specialize in sensual pop bangers. They write gliding tracks that sound heartfelt and fragile without weighing down bouncy choruses with melancholy. In fact, they straddle the line between neo-soul and Jamie xx-style future garage beats so well that they constantly sound like a remix that vastly improves on the original song. Obviously, start with “Latch,” their most recent single, but don’t stop there. – Cameron Deuel

Foxes

FoxesFoxes is indie pop’s new darling; she’s got charm, class, and one hell of a voice. She’s been turning heads for just over one year now, and even with barely a half a dozen tracks under her belt, she’s landed critical accolades, millions of YouTube views, and a collaboration with Zedd. Heartfelt songwriting, industrial beats, and catchy melodies prove why her talent surpasses that of nearly every single one of her peers, and she’s only getting started; 2013 promises to be the year that Foxes becomes a household name. – Kaelin Bougneit

Guards

GuardsGuards create indie rock that spans 50 years of music simultaneously, drawing from the jangle pop of the 60s, while somehow managing to infuse the bombast of the 2010s right into it. Singalong choruses and fuzzy, washed out production make for exactly the right thing to cure the blues whenever they strike. Much like (Guards’ literal sister act) Cults, summer jams and fun times are guaranteed, and Guards are kickstarting 2013 with a new album and a prompt tour. – Kaelin Bougneit

HAIM

HaimThere’s little to say about HAIM that hasn’t been said already. For me, personally, they’re neck and neck with The Neighbourhood for best new band of 2012 because their music is exciting in a way that not much else is. Of course, I’m not alone in feeling this as they’ve recently claimed the number one spot in BBC’s Sound of 2013 list, among many other accolades. The sister trio (plus stellar drummer) have an undoubtedly fresh take on pop, and an impressive ability to move around stylistically. Their debut EP, Forever, for instance, is a modern-day take on Fleetwood Mac, infusing the tunes with R&B percussion; stellar single “Don’t Save Me” could soundtrack an 80′s flick; latest gem “Falling” presents a more-rock oriented sound that’s still very much pop. Their debut album is expected sometime this spring, and the girls have nothing to lose – 2013 is theirs for the taking. – Jorge Mir

Halona King

Halona King Press shot promo image IntroducingPutting Halona King on our Ones To Watch for 2013 list is the perfect example of what we want this list to be. Chances are (though I hope I’m wrong), the singer won’t see massive attention in this new year, but that’s not the point. She’s on the list because we believe she’s got something special, and we hope she puts out more great music in 2013. Her booming, soulful voice combined with her ability to write great, emotional (pop) songs makes her the most wonderful of contradictions that should, if there’s any justice in this world, make a big splash this year. – Jorge Mir

KOPPS

KOPPSIf I had to create a genre to describe Rochester duo KOPPS’ music, I’d say that sex-pop would be spot-on. Bandmates (and real life couple) Patricia Petrone and Kyle O’Hara named their debut EP Fuck Jams, whose physical copy comes equipped with a condom – not to mention the fact that they proudly own a .xxx domain for their website. Gimmicks aside, Petrone’s husky, soulful vocals paired with O’Hara’s ’80s synth-inspired production absolutely oozes sexiness. But what I find most special about the duo is the universal appeal of their music: tracks like “Bastard Baby” have the ability to become club-bangers, while Petrone has an alt-popstar appeal that should resonate well with the indie crowd (think Charli XCX) or the pop crowd. KOPPS is definitely ready for big things – and we’re sure as hell backing them. – Melissa Scheinberg

Marques Toliver

Marques ToliverAfter first catching our attention with the powerful, sparse “White Sails” demo, Marques Toliver stayed on our radar, even including him in our most anticipated albums of last year list. Much to our disappointment, 2012 has been a relatively quiet year for him, with only one released song: “Magic Look” (the first single from his debut album, due out later this year). It’s clear from that single that the Florida-native, now living almost exclusively in Europe, is building on the sounds he explored first in his Butterflies Are Not Free EP from 2011, but with improved production qualities and even more pop-oriented songwriting. His intent to bring a more orchestral approach to pop music, and we’re waiting for him to come out with a bang. – Jorge Mir

Mikky Ekko

Mikky Ekko Press Shot promo imageWhen I introduced Mikky Ekko as One To Watch last month, I tried to stay away from “Pull Me Down”, his breakout single. As good as that song is, I wanted to emphasize that there’s much more to the man than just his stellar, Clams Casino-produced single. His prior EPs, from 2010 and 2009, already hinted at his talent for writing off-kilter pop that’s still undoubtedly got mass appeal. Ekko’s strong songwriting abilities, combined with a killer team of producers (including Clams Casino, Paul Epworth and Elof) makes Mikky Ekko one of the more exciting soon-to-be-mainstream artists. He’s paving the way for the radio we want to hear. – Jorge Mir

MoScandinavians amongst you, will you please finally reveal what you put in that fjord water? We need more of it. Specifically, we need more of the guilt-free pop that produces, backed by Ronni Vindahl (frequent collaborator with the non-singing half of Rhye, Robin Hannibal). Karen Marie Ørsted might sound meek and sugar-sweet at times, but listen closely to the lyrics and you’ll discover that she’s a bad-ass – just a soft-spoken one. Ignore the Grimes comparisons: she’s much more in the Lykke Li line. That’s no bad thing. – David Rutherford

MS MR

MS MRBetween putting out singles from indie pop greats including Ellie Goulding and Gotye, Neon Gold co-founder, Lizzy Plapinger must be one busy lady. But when she’s not introducing us to our next favorite band (see: The Neighbourhood), collaborating with Mr. Dream, or co-running one of our favorite labels, she’s writing and performing as one half of Brooklyn’s latest buzzband: MS MR. Together, the duo – also including multi-instrumentalist Max Hershenow – create some of the most hauntingly gorgeous synth-driven music, as apparent by means of their debut EP (which holds a place on our top EP list), Candy Bar Creep Show. Through sparse production, beautiful vocals, and a knack for Tumblr, the duo remains one of the most intriguing new bands – especially as they attained their fanbase so organically, purposely keeping their Neon Gold-affiliation under wraps until quite recently.  It seems as everything Lizzy touches (see: Passion Pit) turns to gold (pun partially intended), so be sure to remain on the lookout for any information regarding the duo’s debut full-length. – Melissa Scheinberg

The Neighbourhood

The NeighbourhoodCalifornia five-piece The Neighbourhood exploded in March of last year, when they released the incredible “Sweater Weather”. We were so blown away that we thought it was the second best song of last year. Since then, their output hasn’t reduced in quality: the band released the best EP of 2012 and another great single all before the year finished. In fact, all the attention they gathered with the release of the I’m Sorry… EP grabbed the attention of Columbia, who were quick to sign them (and HAIM too). Their combination of pop/indie rock and hip-hop is the modern-day equivalent of what Linkin Park were doing, except inversely proportional in quality, so amazing. Not only that, but they’ve been incredibly careful conveying their image, including one of the coolest band logos I’ve seen in a while, and slick black-and-white visuals. Their debut album is expected in the spring, and it’ll surely help them take over the world, deservedly. – Jorge Mir

Pacific Air

Pacific Air press shot promo image interview

We first caught on to brother duo Ryan and Taylor Lawhon Pacific Air (then KO KO) after the release of “Float”, a sweet, summery pop tune that was equal parts light and interesting. After signing to Universal they were told they had to change their name, but luckily the band’s sound was able to remain the same, only seeing an increase in production value. Despite having an album ready, all we’ve heard from the band thus far has been the cheekily titled Long Live KO KO EP, which ended up placing on our Best EPs list, and only points to a bright future for the young, imaginative group. – Cameron Deuel & Jorge Mir

Rhye

RhyeAside from several tender ballads and a quietly dignified music video, Rhye has made themselves known as a soulful pop duo that opts for string-laden ballads. They possess the ability to turn the most melancholic and gloomy lyrics sound hopeful; they turn quiet tracks into danceable insight. Rhye also wrote “Open,” our favorite track of 2012, which should put things into perspective. The duo marry the organic beauty of human sorrow with modest composition to encourage many further listens.  – Cameron Deuel

Saint Lou Lou

Saint Lou LouEverything about the Saint Lou Lou twins is beautiful. Their single. Its video. Their live shows. Them. Between hushed vocals, and minimal, glistening production on “Maybe You”, Saint Lou Lou already seems to have created a consistent angelic, dainty image for themselves. Ultimately, the sisters have a sole release under their (stylish) belts, but having seen the duo back in October in their Sydney hometown, I can attest to the fact that they have several other similar magically ethereal gems tucked away.  For an act that can generate such a buzz with a single release, we’re looking forward to seeing what these girls can do. – Melissa Scheinberg

The Skins

The SkinsIn many ways there’s not a lot new about what The Skins do, and that’s precisely why we like them. It’s all big, crunchy guitar riffs and big, soulful vocals. The real star of the show is Reef McKeithan on the drums, who is just 13 and amazing. Amazing not in the “amazing for a 13-year-old” sense, but in the “amazing for a human being with just two arms and two legs” sense. The top end of their age bracket is 19, but they play with the poise and easy-going precision of people twice their age. The tracks will melt your face off, and you will definitely enjoy the experience. – David Rutherford

Twigs

Twigs - EP2012 felt like the year of mysterious acts, and Twigs was no exception to that trend. Her EP pulled back the curtain only slightly, as she was content to more or less let the music speak for itself – and who can blame her when it’s so damn eloquent. Nonetheless, it looks like in 2013 we might be able to find out a little more about this talented lady, and if she releases some new material that matches her consistently high quality to date then she’ll struggle to avoid attention. – David Rutherford

Vydamo

VydamoBetween writing and touring the world with his band, one would logically assume that Jim Finn – one-third of Sydney’s Art Vs. Science – would be way too busy to begin a solo project, but that’s not the case. While his bandmates took a quick stop in Europe, Finn went home and created Vydamo, an almost multi-genre side project that dabbles in synth-pop, psychedelia, electro, and even a bit of disco. Although he’s only released the piano-happy “Gonna Make It” thus far – a contagious little gem in its own right – I’ve had the luxury of hearing several other equally infectious, but very sonically different tracks. If Art Vs. Science is Australian electro-pop royalty, thenn Vydamo – who can sound like everyone from The Flaming Lips to The Bee Gees – is its A.D.D.-ridden younger brother. - Melissa Scheinberg

Willy Moon

Willy Moon press shot promo imageWilly Moon firmly divides listeners into two camps: hate and love. There’s no middle ground with the New Zealand native, and we’ve gladly chosen the latter camp. We consider him to be one of the more interesting musical personas out there (regardless of your thoughts on his music), and, luckily, we firmly believe his musical is up to his personality. So far there’s only a handful of tracks available (we’ve heard a few more), each very much signature Willy Moon, but with a debut album slated for this spring he’ll soon be in a lot more places than Apple ads. – Jorge Mir

Young Cairo

Young CairoBefore August, I thought that fun. had come closest to mastering the biggest mass-appeal earworms with the entirety of their sophomore album. But then Young Cairo came along, knocking out the entirety of Some Nights with just one song: two-and-a-half minutes of infectious indie pop in the form of “Ghosts”. With jangly guitars, handclaps, and reverb-drenched woahs, Young Cairo – moniker of Andrawis George’s music-meets-design project – has indeed mastered indie pop. “Ghosts” and the rest of Sing Don’t Sleep! pick up right where Pet Sounds - saving the differences – left off: giving off good vibrations of more-modernized surf pop. Having heard Sing Don’t Sleep!, I can attest to the album’s indie pop greatness, so be sure to keep your eyes out for a release date. – Melissa Scheinberg