In the era of SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube and Kanye West forums, it is getting increasingly difficult to invest in the mainstream success of musical artists. Artists without any seriously strong background in music can now make it big, and it can literally happen overnight. Yet within the relatively unpredictable climate of pop music, there are some artists and bands that you just kind of get a hunch will find increased success when the calendar turns over. These are ten acts that we think will make big moves in 2018.
If you are a hip-hop fan and have not heard “With My Team” yet you are in for a treat. The Baltimore-based crew is equal parts Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Migos. They can croon over a starry R&B track and flip the switch to wildin’ out on a trap beat in an instant. Their vocal/lyrical versatility working in tandem with their chemistry and genuine pleasure they seem to gain from working together give them the makings of one of rap’s next big groups.
Earlier in January they announced that their debut mixtape 1:11 will be out on March 2. The announcement came with the release of two new singles titled “Loco” and “Trap Digits.” And while “With My Team” is undeniably the group’s driving track to this point (Lil Yachty hopped on a remix of it to make it even bigger), all of Creek Boyz’s songs to this point have had the same rough but fun swagger. If that can keep 1:11 in that same sweet spot between rowdy and smooth they could be everywhere in 2018.
Gift Wrap is the solo project of Brandon Avalos, the bass player of Brooklyn indie punk band B Boys. In January, independent record label Captured Tracks (home to DIIV, Wild Nothing and former home of Mac DeMarco) announced that on March 2 the label would be releasing Gift Wrap’s debut album, “Losing Count.” The announcement came with a music video for the album’s title track.
If “Losing Count” and it’s accompanying video are any indication, there are a lot of reasons to be exciting about what Gift Wrap has in store. The track is a moody but still energized synth number with some ominous guitar chords and stilted, jolting vocals from Avalos, almost like if The Style Council or even New Order were on a modern indie label. Avalos has found a really solid sound that he fits into well, and with the notoriety of Captured Tracks pushing his upcoming album forward he has the potential to skyrocket in the indie rock world over the course of the year.
Colombian born Kali Uchis had a big 2017 thanks to her feature on Daniel Caesar’s smash hit “Get You” and teaming up with longtime collaborator Tyler the Creator on “See You Again.” Behind those songs she established herself as being the extravagantly stylish, cold, smooth voiced mystery woman that turns good songs into great songs. Naturally her features have garnered new fans looking for new music past her 2015 EP, “Por Vida.” Last year she dropped two singles (“Tyrant” featuring Jorja Smith and “Nuestra Planeta” featuring Reykon) and she opened 2018 by dropping “After the Storm,” which features Tyler the Creator, funk legend Bootsy Collins and production by jazz/hip-hop group Badbadnotgood. Those features alone are enough to make music nerds’ mouths water.
The three singles are supposedly going to be on an upcoming album entitled “Fool’s Paradise,” though there has not been much information released about the album itself. There were speculations that it would drop last fall, but we should be willing to give Kali all the time that she needs to make the album she wants to put out there. After all, we may be living in her world soon.
Up to this point, Chicago psychedelic rock outfit Post Animal has been known to the public as “the band that Steve (Joe Keery) from ‘Stranger Things’ is in.” While Keery has now part ways with the band, that extra exposure has helped put the group on indie rock radars around the country, which is as it should be. Post Animal specializes in a sunny, boisterous brand of psychedelic rock that most indie fans can cling to.
The band confirmed via a Facebook post in December that new music is coming in 2018 and that they have signed a contract with Polyvinyl. Their last release came in May of 2017 with the single “Special Moment.” Before that the band released “The Garden Series” EP in 2016 and “Post Animal Perform the Most Curious Water Activities” in 2015. On top of the Polyvinyl signing, Post Animal has spots on the 2018 Bonnaroo and Shaky Knees lineups as well as a tour with J. Roddy Walston & The Business. To put it as simply as possible, there are few acts in the rock world that have more going for them in the coming year.
Twenty year old singer/producer Kevin George has only one song that has been released to the public, and yet he already has people talking. The aforementioned single, “High Like This,” has not even been out for a month and it’s already taken him to over fifty-five thousand plays on SoundCloud. It also got him an interview with acclaimed online music publication Pigeons & Planes. In that interview he made it very clear in his very first response that he is taking pages from the playbooks of Prince, The Weeknd, Calvin Harris and Tame Impala “to become one of the world’s biggest pop stars.” With the recognition that he has gained from just one single it seems like he is well on his way there.
Also in the Pigeons & Planes interview, George promised a string of singles leading up to his debut EP, “LOVELAND.” Despite its initial success it does not look like “High Like This” is going to be the single that propels him to superstardom, but George certainly has the voice, pop sensibilities and momentum to get there by the end of 2018.
Clairo is just about unstoppable at this point. She is only nineteen years old, has not yet put out a full project and only has four singles on Spotify to this point. Yet from those four Spotify singles, she has over ten million total listens to go with seven and a half million views on her “Pretty Girl” music video in only five months, a gig last year in which she opened for Tyler the Creator, Brockhampton and Steve Lacy and got a shout out from Zane Lowe (she also has a stellar social media presence).
In what seems like no time at all, Claire Cottrill (a.k.a. Clairo/DJ Baby Benz) has become the queen of lo-fi, DIY bedroom pop behind the internet primed singles “Pretty Girl” and “Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.” Her singles rely on synth tracks that could fit into a Nintendo 64 game and a lethargic (but really damn charming) tone. She was easily one of the most captivating artists to rise to prominence last year and her climb up the independent music ladder felt almost meteoric. Whether or not we will get a full Clairo project in 2018 remains to be seen (fingers crossed), but as long as Clairo keeps dropping songs and videos, keeps playing big time shows and continues to build up her rapidly rising internet presence, this is going to be her year.
Colombian-American “tropical futurist” band Combo Chimbita is a stand out on this list because chances of a new project in 2018 are slim, given that they released an eight-track EP entitled “Abya Yala” in June of 2017. The reason why they have made this list is that people just now seem to be catching on to the 70’s afro-funk infused psychedelic rhythms that Combo Chimbita does oh so well. They could be compared to a more energized, South American Hiatus Kaiyote. Lead vocalist Carolina Oliveros is a generational powerhouse of a singer and the band flexes a different muscle on every song on “Abya Yala,” which includes tightly wound cumbia dance numbers and guitar shredding jam sessions. It is all united by that “tropical futurism” flag that the band so proudly flies.
They are touring with indie-jazz darlings Crumb this Spring, and those shows are bound to produce a lot of new listeners for Combo Chimbita. Honestly, the expansion of exposure that will come from that tour is likely going to be enough to get a lot of people excited about what Combo Chimbita will bring next. There is something for everyone to appreciate in the band’s red hot, raw sound. If their tour rolls through a city near you, make sure you don’t miss it.
Every member of Brockhampton
Yeah, this should count as cheating on this list given that this inclusion extends to nine artists, and that’s not including the members of “the Internet’s first boy band” that specialize in management and design. It was impossible to highlight just one member of the band, given that all of these guys are in prime position to make moves this year. The world is Brockhampton’s oyster entering 2018 after their the monumental “Saturation” trilogy was released throughout last year – not to mention they are scheduled for a number of major festival appearances on the horizon.
Though after releasing three albums and a statement from leader Kevin Abstract implying that “Saturation III” may be the last Brockhampton album for a while, the stove is hot for the group’s individual members to put out some solo projects (similar to how the members of Odd Future began building up their solo catalogs in 2012 and 2013 after they burst into the public eye). We have already gotten some brief but very promising solo work from Matt Champion, Ameer Vann, Merlyn Wood and Dom McLennon in years past, and of course, there’s Kevin Abstract, who already has two solo albums to his credit. The difference in 2018 is that now there are a few hundred thousand new Brockhampton fans who want to hear from these guys.
It seems to be high time for Josiah White (a.k.a. Serpentwithfeet) to drop some more of his breathtaking “pagan gospel” on the world. There is no evidence that we are getting a new Serpentwithfeet release in 2018, but it is going on two years since he released his masterful “blisters” EP. Thanks to his hauntingly powerful and minimalist stages performances, a lengthy tour with Grizzly Bear in 2017, a shout out from Eric Andre and some great press from Pitchfork among other publications, Serpentwithfeet is in a great position to take major strides this year.
White is an expertly trained jazz singer who has experience in opera, soul, classical and gospel. You can hear all of those influences in every one of his songs, which he roots in a type of gospel music fueled by romance, gothic darkness and classical arrangements that stay in consistent accordance with White’s voice, whether through the beaten tenderness of “flickering” or the apocalyptic wails of “penance.” There is no one quite like Serpentwithfeet working today (or maybe ever) and at this point he has built up the following that he needs to take the music world by storm.
Triathalon’s new album “Online” is dropping on February 16 of this year, and even though it has only been two years since their “Cold Shower” EP and three since “Nothing Bothers Me,” it feels like it has been a long time coming for this album, probably because the singles are so tight that every day that we have to wait seems like an eternity. “Online” will be Triathalon’s first album since the band relocated from Savannah, GA to New York (though the album was recorded in Savannah). The geographic relocation along with a slight alteration in the band’s smooth lo-fi sound gives the vibe that the trio is turning a new page in their now four year career of releasing music together.
In their past efforts Triathalon has specialized in the indie/surf rock tradition with some R&B bits thrown in for good measure. The “Cold Shower” EP showed something of a transition towards a stronger R&B influence and now with their new singles “Day One,” “Sometimes” and “Couch” it is apparent that Triathalon is an R&B band. They are holding absolutely nothing back. “Day One” and “Couch” are so damn smooth they are like sleeping on a cloud with Chinese silk sheets. As solid of a rock act as Triathalon was/has been, they have found their niche and these new songs are more than ready to groove through speakers everywhere.