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10 new artists to watch in 2018

Jim Farber
Yahoo Music

Though 2018 has yet to begin, the music industry already has big plans for its latest stars-in-waiting. In the pipeline are a wide range of promising artists, armed with songs and sounds that draw on established styles only to twist them with their own quirks. Here’s a look at those nascent singers and musicians who, one year from now, may be known by all.

Jesse Reyez

It’s hard to image a more of-the-moment song than Jesse Reyz’s “Gatekeeper.” The single from this 26-year-old protests workplace sexual coercion, a situation which she applied to the pop-star game. Voicing the exploitive threat from a hypothetical record executive, Reyez sings: “Thirty million people want a shot/ How much would it take to spread those legs apart?” The song appears on her debut EP, Kiddo, which, appropriately enough, has amassed more than 30 million global streams in the last few months. The singer, who is of Colombian heritage, grew up in Toronto but her song has also made major waves in America, leading to showcases on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers. The music on Reyez’s forthcoming Island Records’ debut has an assertive mix of R&B and hip-hop, but its message has had even more resonance. (Photo: Scott Dudelson/Getty Images)

Dream Wife

“I‘m not a body/ I’m somebody!” shouts Rakel Mjoll over a hailstorm of punk-pop chords and a buckshot spray of beats. Those lines can be found in “Somebody,” an anti-objectifying anthem from Dream Wife’s debut. The catchiness of its chorus and the relish in the delivery makes the song a relatable rallying cry. An Icelandic/British amalgam, Dream Wife came together at Brighton University when the three visual arts students realized they could have more impact in music. Singer Mjoll (the Icelandic member), guitarist Alice Go, and bassist Bella Podpadec comprise the group. Their debut, which comes out in January 2018, flings together the discordant chords of Gang of Four with the force of Hole and the panache of the Go-Go’s. And as much punk attitude as the group channels, their songs have the catchiness of fine pop. (Photo: Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Calum Scott

Those who swoon for Sam Smith will fall just as hard for Calum Scott. An uber-earnest Brit singer of the pop-soul breed, Scott has a voice of impeccable grace. His sensitive flutter earned him a finalist position on the TV show Britain’s Got Talent, where he showcased a version of Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own” refigured as an elegant ballad. The song went all the way to No. 1 in the U.K., becoming Britain’s best-selling single by an English solo artist in 2016. Later, Scott’s “Rhythm Inside” amassed more than 25 million streams worldwide. If those performances don’t win you over, check out his acoustic version of Bob Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet,” a song covered by many but rarely so sparely. In March, Capitol will issue Scott’s debut, Only Human, a work filled with songs of charm and candor. (Photo: Roberto Ricciuti/Redferns)


Classic torch songs fire the music of Rozzi. The singer born Rozzi Crane has pipes powerful enough to make you feel the deep ache of a love she can’t let go. Case in point: “Never Over You,” a vow of one-way fidelity that would make Adele kvell. Like Adele, Rozzi has a luxurious instrument, rich in feeling and lithe in play. The enterprising singer released her first, self-titled EP as a teenager, leading to gigs singing backup for Don Henley and Sergio Mendes. No less savvy a talent scout than Adam Levine was so impressed by her skills that, a few years back, he gave her a guest spot on Maroon 5’s song on the Hunger Games soundtrack, “Come Away to the Water.” In 2017, Columbia Records snapped her up, with plans to start releasing her music in early 2018. Songs like “66 Days” and “Joshua Tree” continue Rozzi’s torch-song forte, while “Never Over You” has as much staying power as her love. (Photo: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for J/P Haitian Relief Organization)


Few rapper/singers perform both ofthose skills with equal élan. But 20-year-old Boston native Caye slips confidently from soulful singing to slippery rapping in his recordings. Caye’s vocals have a husky sexiness, while his raps have an elastic ease. Lyrically, he leans towards the randy, especially in a lilting, island-flavored song like “Paradise.” The song will appear on his first official album, Pink Tree Paradise, out this spring; the release will follow a hugely successful, seven-song mixtape issued just over a year ago. One song from that set, “Coma,” picked up more than 5 million streams. For the new album, Caye convinced Wiz Khalifa to guest-star on “Easy,” a song title which nails the artist’s summery core. (Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

Mt. Joy

Could Jesus Christ be a Jerry Garcia fan in some parallel universe? The band Mt. Joy speculate on that scenario in their striking debut single, “Astrovan.” With a yearning vocal from Matt Quinn and some Allman Brothers-like guitar work from Sam Cooper, the song has the flinty authenticity of classic Americana. Quinn and Cooper met in high school in Philadelphia and bonded over a love of vintage folk-rock. They formed their band after “Astrovan” took off, earning gigs at roots-oriented festivals such as Bonnaroo and the Newport Folk Festival. Relocating to Los Angeles, the five-person band recorded its forthcoming debut. Standout tracks like the politically attuned “Sheep” have a homespun feel, while Quinn’s mellifluous vocals lace them with a hint of soul. (Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Dave B

There’s a wink in both the singing and the rapping styles of Dave B, a coded humor that lands somewhere between a hug and a leer. Small wonder the artist’s forthcoming album, Pearl, recalls the most animated work of Outkast. A native of Seattle, Dave B released an EP back in 2015 titled Punch Drunk, intoxicating the local scene while creating a buzz in national hip-hop media. A tour with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis followed, leading to the creation of his new album. The music on it anchors on a liquid keyboard, while the star’s vocals mix Prince’s sexiness with André 3000’s wit. (Photo: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

Jealous of the Birds

“Your name fizzes on my tongue,” goes the main refrain from “Goji Berry Sunset,” the debut single from Naomi Hamilton (who performs under the name Jealous of the Birds). To mimic the creatures of her moniker, Hamilton used a whistle as the song’s hook. It makes a clever foil for vocals that pull the listener close. It entranced enough of them at a South by Southwest music showcase to earn the singer from Northern Ireland a U.S. record deal. The music on her forthcoming album has a spare appeal, centered on the artist’s voice, as well as on her acoustic guitar playing and sharp point of view. (Photo: Carrie Davenport/Redferns)

Kalu and the Electric Joint

The funkiest new blues-rock album in memory comes from the Austin-based Kalu James and his band, the Electric Joint. The Nigerian-born guitarist came to this country at 25 and began mixing West African influences with American rock, creating a psychedelic kaleidoscope of sound. Releasing an indie album in Austin, James held a day job as an Uber driver. But the new music has enough heft to earn him full-time employment as a star. Members of Widespread Panic and the War on Drugs backed him on the album, while he and his live band opened a recent national tour for George Clinton. On the just-released Time Undone album, wah-wah guitar solos and soulful vocals highlight some of the best-written rock songs of the year. (Photo: Joshua Timmermans)

I’m With Her

As individual artists, they’re far from new. But as a unit, the group named I’m With Her is just getting their start. Collectively, Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan have released nine acclaimed solo albums, along with co-founding two cherished Americana bands, Nickel Creek (Watkins) and Crooked Still (O’Donovan). Meeting on various tours over the years, the three waited for the right time to align their talents. For their debut, See You Around, coming in February 2018, each of the trio play guitars, while Watkins adds fiddle and ukulele; Jarosz, mandolin and banjo, and O’Donovan, piano and synth. Though no drums come into play, the songs have a strong sense of momentum and rhythm. There’s an uncanny sync to the women’s talents, cemented by harmonies that fly high and free. (Photo: I’m With Her via Facebook)


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