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Our top picks for 2021

It’s 2021 and we’re looking forward to the next twelve months of new music.  To celebrate this, some of the LOCK team have shared their top artists and bands that we think will do amazing things this year. Read on to find out about your new favourite musicians…

ASHWARYA

Words by Mia Abeyawardene

ASHWARYA is the latest Australian pop sensation, weaving elements of traditional Indian music between r&b and electronica. Her modified vocals transport you to another realm, slowing down with seductive echoes and speeding up into catchy choruses over hip hop inspired beats.

ASHWARYA made her entrance to the music scene with her debut single ‘PSYCHO HOLE’ last summer, channelling dark feelings of fear and anxiety into a nightmarish downward spiral. Her second release, ‘BIRYANI’ (my favourite) seamlessly transitions between brooding Hindhi and the hook “I love you like biriyani.” On this track she shows a tender vulnerability, as layered pop melodies evoke the feeling of an ethereal, lucid dream. Her latest release ‘COMIN@ME’ commands respect, with a fierce attitude letting you know not to ‘mess with the beast’. ASHWARYA’s sensitive indie pop lyrics contrast with the darker, mysterious elements of production, to create a sound that is completely unique and innovative – I can’t wait to hear what she comes up with next!

Mia’s recommended track: Biryani

Abbie Ozard

Words by Cameron Poole

Singer-songwriter Abbie Ozard first started releasing music independently back in 2018 with her emotive and ethereal debut single ‘Average Disguise’. From there, the rising artist has displayed her penchant for writing relatable indie-pop tunes. Ozard has proven herself as a versatile and exciting artist, thanks to the 2019 Growing Pains EP and it hasn’t stopped there. 2020 saw the artist release some of her best singles to date, including  ‘Pink Sky’, ‘TV Kween’ and ‘True Romance’. Each track is like a small ‘coming of age’ story and as a songwriter, she has continually improved her songwriting skills with every new single.

Having created a buzz in the Manchester music scene, Abbie Ozard has picked up record label support and acclaim from BBC Radio 1 and BBC Introducing Manchester along the way. As an artist who is yet to release a debut album, I cannot wait to see what Ozard achieves in 2021. She is definitely an artist to look out for this year.

Cameron’s recommended track: ‘True Romance’

Celeste

Words by Ruqaiyah Maudarun

Celeste was no stranger in 2020 with ‘Stop This Flame’ proving her prodigious range and talent. The Brit Award Winning Rising Star has announced her long anticipated debut studio album titled, ‘Not Your Muse’ due to release early this year. Following this release, I have no doubt Celeste will not fail in collecting numerous accolades. Celeste finished 2020 with her latest single due to feature on her debut album, ‘Love Is Back’ a soulful retro track with hopeful words, something that all of us can use right now despite the dismal year we have had and is undoubtedly one of my favourites from her. Celeste has managed to establish herself as an artist with immense versatility; an artist who is able to release such authenticity and devotion in her work.

Celeste’s beautifully composed voice and warm lyrics are looking for a bright year ahead. A future that looks as blissful as her own name.

Ruq’s recommended track: ‘Love is Back’

GLOWE

Words by Paige Sims

The past couple years have seen GLOWE on the rise. But 2021 will see the London creative brought to the forefront of independent pop. With a number of sleek tunes in her catalogue already, GLOWE (aka Georgia Lowe) is an artist promising to create music that represents her experiences of love, heartbreak and the world around her. Although you may recognise her from Netflix’s The Alienist, GLOWE’s talents manifest in a number of ways. GLOWE’s creativity continues to bring something new to the table, you just have to check out her most recent single ‘You Won’t Even Call Me On My Birthday’ to see that her artistry balances new and old.

Paige’s recommended track: ‘You Won’t Even Call Me On My Birthday’

Ill Spector

Words by Moe Noble

My top artist for this year is Ill Spector, an alternative five-piece band from Tennessee, who I believe should get their big break in 2021. Ill Spector have been lifelong friends and this is definitely reflected in the music they produce. Their songs are warm, atmospheric and can provoke feelings of nostalgia. The lyrics they pen always feel fresh and semi-biographical. Part of why I enjoy listening to them so much is because of the group’s emotive songwriting abilities. My favourite track is their most recent release, ‘Hollow’. Brenna Kassis’s vocals have an almost floating quality to it, and when you combine her stunning voice with the band’s instrumentals, you can tell their sound has an edge to it. Ill Spector’s musical groundwork is laid down by their eclectic guitar use and when paired with the light vocals, it has a haunting effect. The group first released music back in 2017, so it sure feels like it’s their time to make it big.

Moe’s recommended track: ‘Hollow’

King Hannah

Words by Holly Sibley 

Liverpool based duo King Hannah recently delivered their debut EP, Tell Me Your Mind And I’ll Tell You Mine, a six track tale of intoxicating slow-burning delights. The band’s creative force, fronted by vocalist Hannah Merrik and guitarist Craig Whittle, have constructed a sound that is both brand new and yet entirely matured. Whittle delivers lucid, melodic Kurt Vile-like guitar licks that swell into distorted atmospheric textures. While, Merrick’s hypnotic vocals are a moody melancholic soundscape of delight, most spectacularly on the Sharon Van Etten-endorsed Crème Brûlée. Layers of swirling instrumentation, thudding percussion and deep bassy electronica provide an idyllic backdrop for Merriks longing vocals. With a likeness to Courtney Barnett and Hope Sandoval, King Hannah have proven they are already capable of producing a sound that takes acts years to craft.

This dynamic musical partnership is definitely one to watch.

Holly’s recommended track: ‘Crème Brûlée’

Mia Nicolai

Words by Paige Sims

Already championed by Apple Music, Mia Nicolai is definitely one to watch this year. Her latest release ‘Mutual Needs’ sees the artist revel in the freedom of pop. Splitting her time between LA, London and Amsterdam, Mia’s abundance of creative influences have enhanced her distinct sound. With hopefully much more to come in the future, we’re pretty sure that Mia’s career will be longstanding. Tackling female liberation whilst producing glimmering pop melodies is a talent that needs to be shared with the world and this year is the exact year for her light to shine bright.

Paige’s recommended track: ‘Mutual Needs’

Men I Trust

Words by Charlie Searle

You can rely on Men I Trust to captivate you with their mesmerising sound. The Montreal-based trio released their latest album Oncle Jazz in 2019 and it accentuates how far this band can really go. The twenty-four track album is a mammoth and a masterpiece; it consumes you. This is down to lead vocalist and guitarist Emmanuelle Proulx’s incredible vocals, bassist Jessy Caron’s melodic bass lines and Dragos Chiriac’s masterful production. Their sound is exciting and lively but also simultaneously tranquil at the same time. The band’s single ‘Show Me How’ features on Oncle Jazz and it is a clear example of the group’s genius.

Men I Trust are relatively active with their musical releases, they rarely starve their fans of their brilliance and 2021 will hopefully be no exception. Especially as they should be performing in London at the end of the year. Trust them.

Charlie’s recommended track: ‘Show Me How’

Our top picks for 2021
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