TOP 5: Bands and Musicians

Rex Orange County

Mellow, sentimental and wistful – these are the first words that come to mind on listening to British artist and songwriter Alexander O'Connor, aka Rex Orange County. “Every song sounds like a classic” praised Annie Mac on her BBC Radio 1 show. Meanwhile, NME has called him a “multi-talented prodigy worth getting excited about”. 

His voice has the melancholy of an indie band lead, but the jazz- and RnB- inspired vocals and instrumentals combined with self-critical introspection give Rex Orange County a unique quality.  He even incorporates rap and scat singing into some songs. 

Anteros 

Originating from London, Anteros is an indie-pop band combining 70s New Wave with 90s Britpop.  With a light-hearted tone, their songs tell the story of “disappointment, alcoholism and mid-life crises” – they call it “bitter dream pop”. Take the first lines of their song Breakfast, for example, which encourage living in the moment rather than focusing on life’s worries:

Save your sorrows, you're wasting daylight

There's no tomorrow's, we're chasing tail lights

The Amazons

This rock band formed in Reading made it into two longlists last year: BBC’s “Sound of 2017” and MTV’s “Brand New 2017”.  The Amazons’ mardy, dramatic music provides hope for the survival of rock music in the UK.

I wanna burn my eyes again

I wanna see you dancing

To all my favourite songs

Burn My Eyes (2017) is one of those feisty, frustrated tracks that you would hear in an indie rock club in a back alley of Manchester.  If the predictions of the BBC and MTV hold true, maybe this will soon become a reality. One of their YouTube videos, In My Mind, has already reached almost half a million views (as of March 2018). 

RAY BLK

For those who prefer something more chilled, Ray BLK’s soulful tunes are worth a listen. Although the song’s lyrics criticise the selfishness of casual relationships, its video tells a wider story – that of the expulsion of a transgender community in Jamaica.  Ray BLK has explained that Chill Out is an allegory for “female empowerment and not letting society tell you how to act”. Socially engaged and lyrically talented, this London-based female songwriter came first in the BBC’s “Sound of 2017” shortlist.  With the current popularity of RnB, it is safe to say she is going to become a nationwide hit.

Khalid 

Having worked with Calvin Harris and Kendrick Lamar, Khalid is a rising star in the world of RnB music.  On the subject of his first album, American Teen (2017), he said: "My album was a melting pit of emotion. I wanted to write songs with a story. What happened at the beginning? How upset or happy was I? Did I end happy or sad?”

One of the album’s singles, Young Dumb & Broke, made it to number 17 in the UK charts last year, and proved even more popular in Khalid’s home country, the US. Given his skillful live performances and participation in Kendrick’s The Heart Part 4, Khalid’s popularity is set to rise this year.