22 For 2022 | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Tuesday, January 25th, 2022  

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22 For 2022

Under the Radar selects its top tips for the New Year

Dec 22, 2021 Photography by Andy Von Pip Web Exclusive
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With 2021 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. While the second half of this year brought a spell of respite for a beleaguered music industry ravaged by the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit, the ongoing surge associated with its latest Omricon variant has created more uncertainty as we head into 2022.

Nevertheless, that hasn’t curtailed the creative outputs of our choices. All of whom have put themselves on the map this year by way of some incredible releases and incendiary live shows (where possible).

So, without further ado, here are the 22 acts Under the Radar and its contributors are most excited about as we approach 2022.

Amelie Siba

Back in October at Nouvelle Prague festival, we sat in a congregation of hushed, mesmerised faces, every person present being converted to the gospel of Czech artist Amelie Siba. With just voice and a guitar, and simple songs, Siba imparted tales of love, longing, loss, hope, pain and joy at once both seductive and fierce.

A hotly-tipped name in her home nation, Siba is yet to make an impact in the US and UK. With exposure to her latest album Love Cowboys (yet to get an official release outside the Czech Republic) that is likely to change. The sparse tracks we witnessed live are enveloped in a warm wave of dream-pop, accentuating Siba’s breathy vocals. Think Angel Olsen fronting Cocteau Twins, or something like that.

“Lay Down” captures that strange moment of sharing a bed with someone for the last time before the relationship ends, grasping onto something you know is over and “Ljubljana” finds an optimistic tone in betrayal. At just 18-years-old Siba writes as if she has already lived many lifetimes over but not lost her wonder at life. Amelie Siba is one of those rare, pure talents that speaks on a universal level. (James Thornhill)


Arch Femmesis

If a little attitude goes a long way, then art punk pairing Arch Femmesis have everything it takes to become seriously big. Armed with just mic and a Groovebox, vocalist ZERA TØNIN prowls the stage with savage style as Meddla provides the seriously dark techno sound which feels like meeting Grace Jones in the most devastating mood whilst on some seriously nasty trip. (Jimi Arundell)


Benefits

With the right-wing monstrosity that’s Boris Johnson’s Conservative government responsible for a disastrous Brexit that’s crushing the UK’s economy, rights and freedoms. It’s left to the arts and music world to rally against Johnson and co whilst holding them to account in a way many journalists have failed to do.

So, step forwards Benefits, hailing from the North East of England. A region that’s seen its manufacturing and mining industries decimated by successive Tory governments. Benefits write heartfelt diatribes set to the most subversive of industrial beats shrouded in white noise. Think Consumer Electronics, Whitehouse, Einsturzende Neubaten and Sleaford Mods only with Teesside accents. Brutally honest and definitely not for the faint of heart. (Dom Gourlay)


Bulp

The alter-ego of Slovakian producer Samo Štefanec, Bulp is developing into something to watch in the electronic music space. Appearing first as the backing to the sweet vocals of his sister Jana Salvi on nice, but largely unremarkable chilled electronic-pop, last year’s Parvin EP added a wider sonic palette on tracks like “Auri”, a soulful, blend of dubstep and Radiohead at their electronic height. Now solo, Štefanec is using his live shows to experiment for future releases, and after catching him at Sharpe festival in Bratislava we can attest to it being something special.

Štefanec is mining electronic music history, revelling in experimentalism but delivering it with dancefloor euphoria. Everything from Vangelis’ classicist synth to jungle bass and minimal techno builds via dubstep, rave, trip hop and, when he sings, pure synth-pop, is packed in.

New single “Mahri”, suggests a downbeat Prodigy with a kinetic synth line and future bass warmth putting him immediately in the leagues of Jon Hopkins and Bicep. (James Thornhill)


Chroma

If there was any justice in the world, Chroma would already be household names. The Pontypridd based trio have been wowing audiences in and around their native Wales since forming five years ago. While the band’s subsequent trail of releases from 2016’s self-titled debut EP onwards already feels like a diary, each one highlighting their progression and development as a band. Vocalist and songwriter Katie Hall is their focal point, drawing comparisons with Karen O and Beth Ditto among others. One of the standout performers at October’s Focus Wales event, Chroma have amassed a growing army of fans which should come as no surprise to anyone that’s ever seen their unforgettable live show. 2022 promises to be a big year, and one that will almost certainly see their name travel far and wide. (Dom Gourlay)


English Teacher

Leeds post-punk quartet English Teacher - led by the enigmatic wordsmith Lily Fontaine, have released a slew of magnificent singles over the last few years. Their sense of poetic imagination seems boundless. On “The World’s Biggest Paving Slab”, with Fontaine sounding like a post-punk Grace Slick, they imagine the world from the perspective of a paving slab. On “Wallace” they draw comparisons to Wallace Hartley, the band-leader of the Titanic, who plays on to distract passengers from their impending doom with the rise of right-wing politics in England. It’s utterly brilliant and hopefully, a debut album will surface in 2022. (Andy Von Pip)


Grandmas House

Bristol’s Grandmas House (no apostrophe) don’t mess about, they go straight for the throat with their infectious jagged punk sound. There’s a dark gothic undercurrent fused with an acerbic Riot Grrl snarl. There’s grit, humour and incisive “cut to the chase” wordplay which marks them out as ones to watch. (Andy Von Pip)


Horsegirl

If it seems irrational to get excited about a band’s prospects built on only four singles strung across three years, perhaps you haven’t heard Chicago’s Horsegirl’s output to date. A recent signing by Matador as well as a booking for 2021’s SXSW makes it likely that next year will be a breakout one for the trio. The under 20 group of upstarts are led by songwriter/guitarists Penelope Lowenstein and Nora Cheng, who are joined by Gigi Reece on drums. The band’s earliest output draws comparisons to mid-80’s Sonic Youth classics, while their latest single, “Billy,” recalls the blissfully cruddy lo-fi output of a differently spelled Loewenstein populated band, Sebadoh. And just to be sure all their influences are worn fully on their DIY sleeves, the vinyl only b-side to “Billy” is a dues paying cover of the Minutemen’s “HIstory Lesson - Part II,” even if they didn’t exactly “drive up from Pedro.” (Mark Moody)


Lemondaze

London-via-Cambridge outfit Lemondaze make the kind of ethereal noise that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on labels like 4AD or Creation towards the tail end of the 1980s or early 1990s. However, don’t for one minute think they’re any kind of pastiche. On the contrary, they’re one of the most exciting new bands currently treading the boards, and May’s excellent Celestial Bodies EP was undoubtedly one of this year’s finest debut releases. With influences ranging from Slowdive and Wolf Alice to S Club 7 and Jodie Foster, their panoramic soundscapes and glacial melodies are a breath of fresh air that will almost certainly ensure 2022 is a pivotal year for these emotionally charged shoegazers. (Dom Gourlay)


Loose Articles

Loose Articles describe themselves as ‘feminine and threatening, working and class’ hail from Manchester UK and comprise Natalie Wardle (vocals/bass), Tree Nah (vocals/guitar), Erin Caine (guitar) and Louise Rivett (drums.) After just a few singles they have picked up plenty of admirers with their winning mix of irreverent, scathing quick wit and edgy scuffed up surf meets post-punk. If you do visit Manchester you’ll probably find them in a pub, or outside a pub, or possibly getting a bus to a pub, or playing football whilst drinking cans of Stella Artois. Before going to the pub. Which have all been the subject of their songs, such as “Buses” which was picked up by BBC 6 Music and “Kick Like A Girl.” They’ve also caught the ear of Dave Grohl who has asked them to open when the Foo Fighters visit the UK in 2022 for their stadium tour. Erin no doubt will wear a Nirvana T-Shirt. (Andy Von Pip)


Lynks

Queer electro-pop doesn’t come anymore brash and beautiful than Lynks (AKA Elliot Brett). Perpetually decked out in wonderfully outrageous DIY outfits which look somewhere between avantgarde artist and haute couture terrorist, bringing the high energy dance routines and lo-fi beats; Lynks has already impressed on the festival circuit plus played support for Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes – expect total global domination by this time next year. (Jimi Arundell)


Mumble Tide

Bristol couple Mumble Tide who met through Gumtree when Gina Leonard advertised for a bassist and Ryan Rogers responded; (“the boyfriend part was a bonus” ) The duo craft beautiful uplifting DIY indie-pop which doesn’t particularly conform to any particular hip and happening scene, but instead expresses the liberation of being able to do exactly what you want. 2022 should see them continue to progress and they really are an exciting proposition. (Andy Von Pip)


My Idea

Everyone would agree that the best ideas are always your own. So, it follows that the pairing of Palberta’s Lily Konigsberg and Water From Your Eyes’ Nate Amos would go by the moniker My Idea. The two joined forces as a result of Amos serving as producer of Konigsberg’s debut album, Lily We Need to Talk Now (Wharf Cat). Regardless of who claims ownership of the possessive pronoun of the group’s title, the duo released a fine debut EP back in July, That’s My Idea (Hardly Art). The five songs span from the revved up guitar pop of “Stay Away Still” to the skittering synths of “Birthday.” Similar to Konigsberg’s roots as a member of the kookier Palberta, almost anything seems to go with this project. And if good ideas bear repeating, as proven by the duo’s double song video, looking ahead for more to come in 2022 might be one of your brighter late year thoughts. (Mark Moody)


Nuha Ruby Ra

Poetry meets trip hop in an innovative and daring mix of words and soundscapes. Watching the involving sets of Nuha Ruby Ra leaves the distinct impression of having witnessed a piece of arresting performative art rather than having simply seen a show as she pours every fibre of her very being into moment, without a single move or syllable delivered unless it’s with maximum impact. (Jimi Arundell)


Priestgate

Currently tearing their way through the North East and getting ready to explode in the new year with only a handful of essential singles to their name; Driffield born quintet Priestgate haunt the darker fringes of dream pop, presenting a sugary sweet yet melancholic and wonderfully morose sound drawing comparisons with The Cure and Cold Cave. Far from shrinking violets, expect many more riotous shows ahead. (Jimi Arundell)


Raveloe

Scottish multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Kim Grant embarked on her solo career after leaving her previous band Glasgow’s Tongue Trap just before the pandemic hit. Taking the name Raveloe after the fictional village at the centre of Mary Ann Evans’ (George Eliot,) Silas Marner. The novel’s protagonist finds escape through weaving and Grant felt a kinship as her escapism is derived crafting music and weaving ideas together. She’s released some compelling music to date. “New House” arrived in May, whilst her recent single “Catkins” demonstrated her ability to fuse dark poetic lyrics with driving guitars and a sweeping chorus. Massive talent alert here based on what she’s released so far. (Andy Von Pip)


River

There is an air of mystery combined with wanderlust surrounding the German duo, River. The Hamburg-based Aljoscha Christenhuß and Christian Vorländer met in California and wrote their debut album, for the most part, at an idyllic brookside house in Sequoia National Park. They channel the spirit of Jack Kerouac captured through his classic novel, On the Road, with rose-tinted glasses that filter everything with a romantic lens, and the benefit of detachment from their “real life,” for their own particular brand of sublime indie pop. This is heard in their three already released singles: the happy take on the classic break-up song, “Inappropriate,” their melancholic attitude toward separation on the twinkling “Dance in the Darkness” and the soul-baring mellow to emotional and back again “Brother.” River has one more single, the Phoenix-meets-Foster the People fluttery “Someday,” on deck for mid-January before their debut album, Untitled, drops in February. (Lily Moayeri)


Sinead O’Brien

Irish poet, performer and musician Sinead O’Brien’s hypnotic sprechgesang delivery is intoxicating and completely immersive. She doesn’t so much craft songs as create atmospheres, with her band’s tight propulsive playing swirling around her intelligent agile poetry and giving it a real sense of urgency. O’Brien takes her influence from the likes of Patti Smith, Flan O ‘Brien, John Cooper Clark and Mark E Smith, and it really is mesmerising stuff. Her debut album is rumoured to be landing at some point next year and promises to be one of the most fascinating releases of 2022. (Andy Von Pip)


Swim School

2021 has been a big year for Edinburgh quartet Swim School. They released a glorious debut EP making sense of it all, they managed to play several high profile festival slots and sold out their debut London shows. They’ve ramped up the guitar’s and embraced a more shoegaze influenced sound whilst still retaining their melodic pop sensibility. And that juxtaposition of beautiful noise with singer and guitarist Alice Johnson’s mellifluous vocals works beautifully. You can read our interview with the band HERE . (Andy Von Pip)


The Umlauts

Having met and conceived the idea of forming a band at Wimbledon Arts College, the four founder members of The Umlauts – that’s Annabelle Mödlinger, Maria Vittoria Faldini, Oliver Offord and Alfred Lear – conspired to create one of 2022’s most confounding yet compulsive debuts in the shape of Ü. Comprised of six pieces of music that range from the industrial post punk of “Boiler Suits & Combat Boots” to the politically charged and highly danceable “Energy Plan”. It’s an impressive taster yet one that only tells half the story where this international, multicultural collective are concerned. Their live shows – of which they’ve barely made double figures so far – have become events of sorts, with anywhere up to seven players on stage. Each conspiring to concoct an inspiring and distinctly unique musical experience entirely of their own doing. (Dom Gourlay)


Wet Leg

There’s little doubt Wet Leg, the brainchild of Isle Of Wight musicians Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers, have made a huge impression in 2021. Initially their mesmerising debut single “Chaise Lounge” really struck a chord with music fans due to its off the wall lyrics, deadpan delivery and soaring chorus. Since releasing two more equally impressive singles in the form of “Wet Dream” and “Too Late Now” they have been wowing fans with their live performances on both sides of the Atlantic. Next year sees them release their eponymous debut album in April which should cement their reputation as one the most exciting and idiosyncratic bands to emerge from the UK in quite some time. They have genuinely been a much-needed breath of fresh air during a challenging year for many of us. (Andy Von Pip)


Wych Elm

The music of Bristol, UK’s Wych Elm is steeped in history, echoes of pasts they haven’t lived but are obsessed with. Firstly, that of alternative rock as the 1980s morphed into the 1990s, namely that of Pixies at their height, but also the Breeders and Veruca Salt. Singer Caitlin Elliman’s vocals burst with the emotive snarl heard from Kat Bjelland and Courtney Love.

Her lyrical subjects are drawn from the darkest recesses of British history and folklore to depict modern feminist tales of life and relationships.

The latest EP Rabbit Wench is a stunning collection that collects all these ideas and wraps them in twisted grunge melodies. “Scolds Bridle” is the band at their best; jagged and raw but with deep pop sensibilities. Using a historic instrument used to both silence and humiliate women as an analogy for fraught relationships conjures fascinating imagery.

Personally selected by Idles to support them at Brixton Academy, and with over a million streams, there is a worthy momentum to one of Britain’s best new bands. (James Thornhill)



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