Dec 28, 2022
By Dom Gourlay
With 2022 coming to an end, Under the Radar asked its writers to look into their collective crystal balls and look ahead to the next twelve months. In last year’s 22 for 2022 feature, our esteemed team predicted big things for Benefits, Horsegirl and Wet Leg among others; all of whom went onto have memorably successful years.
So, without further ado, here are the 23 acts Under the Radar and its contributors are most excited about as we approach 2023.
London-based four-piece Automotion cite Marcel Duchamp, John Cage and Neu! among their many influences, which is probably just well considering the eclectic range of sonics emanating from their collective pores. Last year’s excellent Ecstatic Oscillations EP highlighted them as one of the most exciting bands to emerge from the UK underground in recent years, its four pieces drawing comparisons with the likes of Slint, Black Midi, Mogwai and Godspeed! You Black Emperor. While the quartet’s incendiary live shows suggested they have the potential to become a major force to be reckoned with in the flesh, too. (Dom Gourlay)
For Welsh artist Bethan Lloyd, the “voice” is a multi-faceted wonder – a tool, a weapon, a healing tonic. And it shows in her music, which drags Welsh folk vocal and worldly tribal traditions through rave inspired production and harmonic layering. At the centre is Lloyd’s own trance-inducing vocals. Her sonic exploration has taken her from training as a classical singer, through Berlin’s experimental music scene and learning with magicians, masters and ancient teachings of the natural world – yep, her music is an interesting as that sounds. Playful, danceable and often gritty avant-pop. Recent single “Cutting Circuits” glitches up the formula with stunning results, and forthcoming single “Parasitic Yes” is ancient tribes pumped through anthemic rave. With a full album Metamorphosis on the way in April, 2023 is the time for people be taken under Bethan Lloyd’s vocal spell. (James Thornhill)
Nottingham newcomers Divorce made a big impression with their stunning debut single “Services,” a genre traversing masterclass which juxtaposed singer and bassist Tiger Cohen-Towell’s soaring vocals with searing scuzzy guitar riffs.
The band are familiar faces on the Nottingham music scene comprising Tiger Cohen-Towell (Vocals, Bass) and Felix Mackenzie-Barrow (Vocals and Guitar from Megatrain), Kasper Sandstrøm (Drums) from post-punk quartet Do Nothing and Adam Peter Smith on Guitar.
Under normal circumstances, Divorce is a term that would signify a parting of the ways, but in this case, it marked the beginning of a musical union and since their debut they’ve released their debut EP Get Mean which showcases their unique take on “Alt country grunge.” (Andy Von Pip)
19-year-old singer songwriter and producer Eaves Wilder was recently signed to Secretly Canadian and promptly released the quite wonderful “I Stole Your Jumper.” It’s a song she described as being “a very British and passive aggressive revenge fantasy” informed by the sexism she’s experienced during her adolescence in the music bizz. It’s a track full of personality, acerbic wit and charm and felt like a sonic leap forward from her equally intriguing earlier releases such as the ethereal “Man We Was Lonely” and the shoegaze rush of “Won’t be Happy.” Hopefully there’s a debut album in the offing which, based on what’s been released so far, should confirm her as a major new talent. (Andy Von Pip)
Eli Smart packages the tranquillity and laidback nature of his native Hawai’i into tidy soul-drenched, sun-kissed songs that are molded by his casual pop sensibility. The youthful Smart was raised on the island of Kauai in a musical environment with multi-instrumental parents who had a record/ukulele store as well as an avocado farm. This combination of influences, plus completing a degree at Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts resulted in a handful or so select singles and the four-song EP Boonie Town in 2021. Smart’s bedroom studio in his family home is his primary creative space. It is also where his second EP, 2022’s Aloha Soul, was birthed, under the guidance of Gianluca Buccellati (Arlo Parks, Lana del Rey). Aloha Soul keeps the relaxed attitude of his early recordings, elevating Smart with inherent feel for a catchy tune by further sanding down his softly worn edges. With more than an album’s worth of music already recorded with an array of collaborators, Smart is poised to take anyone who wants to come along for a breezy walk down his musical shores. (Lily Moayeri)
Stockholm-based newcomers Girl Scout made quite an impression this year following the release of their stonking debut single “Do You Remember Sally Moore?” They followed that up with “All The Time And Everywhere” which had a kind of melodic slacker rock vibe that Evan Dando used to be so adept at in his pomp. Despite their sunny melodies lyrically their songs cover emotions such as anxiety and vulnerability. The band members were originally all studying jazz full time but the pandemic led to a shift in direction as they explained, “We found ourselves playing the kind of music that had gotten us hooked from the start, bands from the 90s and the Britpop revival among other things. Going back to guitar driven songs in the classic band format felt refreshing to us, almost like it was new again.” (Andy Von Pip)
It’s been an impressive year for West London’s Gretel Hänlyn. Following on from her fabulous 2021 debut single “Slug Eye” and follow up single “It’s The Future Baby” she released a clutch of hugely impressive tracks. “Motorbike”, for example is the sort of grunge tinged pop rumbler that Wolf Alice fans would certainly appreciate. Hänlyn’s debut EP built on her early promise highlighting her exquisite voice and ear for sombre yet darkly beautiful avant-pop. Her unique voice perfectly fits Hänlyn’s oeuvre and her predilection for dark baroque pop-noir,having been raised on the crepuscular poetry of renowned chucklemeister Nick Cave.
Her latest single “Today (Can’t Help But Cry)” released on December 15th, may have been missed amidst the endless “end of year” lists and seasonal sing-alongs, but it’s another beautiful hypnotic release from an artist who looks set to make a big dent in 2023. (Andy Von Pip)
Seeing Nashville-via-Texas singer-songwriter Jac Thompson perform live, you get the sense from her idiosyncratic expressions that she cherishes each word she sings, feeling them animate and course through her entire body before being released in a perfect mix of weightless falsetto and a sure-footed, conversational alto. Thompson’s first two singles, “Pull My Chute” and “Will and Testament,” marinate in the warmth of seventies vocalists Joni Mitchell and Janis Ian and the irresistible indiepop production of Maggie Rogers and Julien Baker. She may be “keeping [herself] to [herself] these days,” as she sings on “Pull My Chute,” but with the promise of a debut record (and a January gig supporting Indigo Girls) in 2023, we can’t wait to share in what’s next. (Chris Thiessen)
Any band that has the audacity to call their debut single “London, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” should already exude the confidence and panache of acts twice their age. Which is just as well in the case of Malady, who despite their youthful years, already exhibit a presence befitting of a band destined for stadiums. Those fortunate enough to have seen them opening for Wet Leg recently will have a got a blast of the songs off their forthcoming EP, which is due for release in the new year. While frontman Percy Junior Cobinnah is almost certainly a star in the making, his forays over the barrier into the front rows of the audience and beyond ensure the band’s live shows are already becoming the stuff of legend. (Dom Gourlay)
You might recognise Maria Uzor as one half of vital post-punk electronic duo Sink Ya Teeth! Since going it alone, Uzor has released a batch of exceptional EPs that traverse electro beats, avant-pop melodic noise, the biggest of techno lifts and dub depths for truly hypnotic but danceable results. This is perfectly encapsulated on the dark hues of recently released EP Songs for Luminous Living, the track “Over This” being one of the biggest tunes released in 2022. Combine this with Uzor’s incredible collaboration on the Acid Klaus album and this past year has been a calling-card for her music. Moving into 2023 there is promise of a full album, which will no doubt be a contender for one of the best all year. Keep Maria Uzor bookmarked for greatness. (James Thornhill)
This Nottingham supergroup-of-sorts might have started life as “mates having a bit of fun”, but a run of sold out shows earlier this year culminating in a record deal with esteemed independent label Fat Cat was enough to persuade the sextet to take things seriously after all. Featuring former and present members of Sancho Panza, Cherry Hex & The Dream Church, The Hijinks and Jiminil among others, Midnight Rodeo fuse sixties-tinged psychedelia with a twenty-first century pop sensibility that sets them apart from many of their contemporaries both old and new. Having already put out three singles in 2022 (“Now You’re Gone”, “Shootout Sunday” and “The Big Melt”) and with more to come in the new year, 2023 promises to be a pivotal twelve months for Midnight Rodeo. (Dom Gourlay)
Those operating in the realm of the self-released EP aren’t likely to generate a lot of buzz on their lonesome. But not so for Brooklyn based Margaret Sohn (who goes by the moniker Miss Grit). Her 2019 EP, Talk Talk, and more so the 2021 follow-up, Impostor, show an artist fully capable of making pristinely produced works straight from their apartment. Though I’m personally a sucker for lo-fi, hiss laden bedroom pop, Miss Grit’s recorded output is the polaropposite of that. Check out Impostor’s “Buy the Banter” for a taste of the crunch of guitar and synths that Sohn peddles in. Recently signed to Mute, their debut album, Follow the Cyborg, is a thematic one with an arresting cover photo and two already released singles in “Like You” and the title track that promises to yield plenty of attention upon its February 24th 2023, release. (Mark Moody)
When we first heard Modern Woman on them signing to End of the Road records (yes, a label from the brilliant festival), we immediately fell in love with the weirdness of it all. Weird but accessible in the best way. Seeing them perform live at Long Division festival over the summer confirmed it, Modern Woman is a special proposition. They combine the rhythmic space of Young Marble Giants, with gothic darkness and the distorted walls of noise of Sonic Youth, and flourishes of avant garde composition. All tied together by vocalist/guitarist Sophie Harris whose vocals are sweet and disturbing in equal measure. Is it folk? Alt rock? Post punk? Who knows and who cares. Whatever comes next from Modern Woman it is going to be exceptional. (James Thornhill)
Brighton’s Opus Kink have been thrilling audiences all over the UK for a while now, having emerged at the tail end of 2019 with the excellent but now completely sold out and impossible to find anywhere seven-inch single “Mosquito”. With a live show that’s borderline confrontational and demands audience participation, their grimy-yet-eclectic take on all things punk, funk and jazz filtered through a lo-fi stream of energetic noise and confusion has drawn comparisons with The Birthday Party, Fat White Family and Warmduscher. Recent EP ‘Til The Stream Runs Dry suggests their next batch of recordings could launch them into the big time, which this bunch of upstarts wholeheartedly deserve. (Dom Gourlay)
Cardiff’s Panic Shack established themselves as one of the most exciting live bands on the planet this year, so it goes without saying we’re expecting even bigger things from this five-piece in 2023. Aside from a bunch of legendary shows and festival appearances throughout 2022, they’ve also released some fine singles and EPs such as “Mannequin Man”, “The Ick” and “Meal Deal” (All compiled together on October’s Baby Shack EP). Comprised of Sarah Harvey (vocals), Meg Fretwell (guitar/backing vocals), Romi Lawrence (guitar/backing vocals), Em Smith (bass) and Nick Doherty-Williams (drums), Panic Shack hit the road again early next year with a show at next weekend’s Rockaway Beach festival followed by an eleven-dates UK tour throughout February. Miss them at your peril! (Dom Gourlay)
If you are a sucker for pop and folk songs with string arrangements, you should know to take notice when an album is coming out on Richmond, Virginia’s Spacebomb label. Spacebomb has released (or provided arrangements for) lushly recorded albums by the likes of Faye Webster, Nadia Reid, and Bedouine amongst others. So, when word broke that Brooklyn artist, Pearla’s (aka Nicole Rodriguez) debut album, Oh Glistening Onion, The Nighttime is Coming, was to be released on the burgeoning label the pre-order impulse should have kicked-in. And sure enough, early singles like the endearingly odd “Ming the Clam,” or what should be the anthem for the current day, “Effort,” show off the album’s charms well. The album’s early year release on February 10th 2023, promises plenty more pillowy tracks to get lost in. (Mark Moody)
Anglo American duo Prima Queen aka Louise Macphail (Bristol, UK) and Kristin McFadden (Chicago, USA) mix huge pop choruses with often dark insightful wry wordplay. Stylistically they don’t nail their colours to any particular mast but tend to traverse dreampop, indie-folk and grungy Americana with effortless grace. When you have tracks as powerful as “Invisible Hand” as catchy as “Chew My Cheek” as cathartic “Eclipse” or as beautifully poetic as “Butter Knife” (produced by their good friends The Big Moon) then you’re certainly a band who deserve to reach a much wider audience. 2023 looks set to be a big year for Prima Queen. (Andy Von Pip)
Another band who released a number of quality singles this year culminating in stunning debut EP entitled A Life Worth Living. Slaney Bay craft wistful dream pop with sparkling guitar riffs whilst singer Caitlin Whitley sometimes conjures the ghosts of Harriet Wheeler and Dolores O’Riordan. The EP is described by Whitley as “a therapeutic diary” which covers living independently from their parents for the first time to the intensity of first love to the loss of childhood friendships. It’s a raw and emotionally honest soundtrack to the band’s own coming of age and also highlights their ability to conjure beauty out of the ether. (Andy
Sprints deliver their music with the kind of power and intensity that other, more hyped and feted bands from the fair city of Dublin can’t really get near. And their lyrics are way smarter too. Their songs are full of wit and wisdom with a devilish sense of humour and at times a genuine and justified anger meaning their music feels real, visceral and without contrivance. Check out tracks such as “Literary Mind”, “Delia Smith” and “Modern Job” for proof and then try and catch them live in 2023. (Andy Von Pip)
Young Glasgow quartet Spyres, who comprise Keria McGuire, Emily Downie, Jude Curran and Alex White began life as a band whilst they were still at school. The band’s sound has been evolving from the grunge pop of early releases such as “Fake ID” and “Otherside” as demonstrated on their debut EP Dear Diary. “Lost Without You” and “Honestly” are soaring slices of indie power pop, “Test” sounds like a full-on punk thrash and EP closer “Hated You First” is a soaring emo pop-tinged anthem. Regardless of genre Spyres certainly know how to write memorable earworms. (Andy Von Pip)
There’s a lot going on with SUEP, not least their genre-hopping, retro-futuristic take on “pop” which takes in everything from disco and post-punk to exotica and lounge jazz, but also their chosen band names. They are a UK “indie supergroup’ led by Georgie Stott (Porridge Radio), Garden Centre) and Josh Harvey, joined by George Nicholls (The GN Band, Joanna Gruesome, The Tubs), Will William Deacon (PC World, Garden Centre) and Ollie Chapman.
If forthcoming mini-EP Shop was an actual retail establishment it would be Woolworths (look it up) and the six oddball, pop songs would be stolen sweet wonders from the pick n mix stand (if you know you know). It’s full of fun, colour and off-kilter playfulness that fans of Paul McCartney’s second solo album, Devo, Jona Lewie and the B-52s will love. (James Thornhill)
Wings Of Desire
Wings Of Desire are a couple, Chloe Little and James Taylor. They are former members of the band INHEAVEN, who Julian Casablancas from some band called the Strokes really liked. What they do is massive tunes that tread along the lines of shoegaze and the biggest anthemic indie. It is ripe for festival stages, for people to lose themselves in. All that! If you’ve played FIFA 23, you’ll have heard one of their songs “Choose a Life” which is an indie classic waiting to happen. Honestly, Wings of Desire should be household names by the end of 2023 after their EP Life Is Infinite – Part 1 is unleashed on the world. (James Thornhill)
Born from Manchester band Yossarians, electro post punk/new wave three-piece Yossari Baby mesh the coolest sounds of the 80s into one updated whole, without ever settling on one clear influence. The title track of forthcoming album Inferiority Complex is Sisters of Mercy playing synthwave for the Stranger Things generation, and it is great! Tim Schiazza, Mark Jarvin and Lucie Forest have perfected a sound that veers close to pastiche but is nothing of the sort, making you dance and contemplate the world in the same moment. Yossari Baby is the soundtrack to having fun at an apocalypse disco. (James Thornhill)