Year-end list season is over, festival lineups are getting announced, and the 2018 music industry is officially open for business.
Here are 10 emerging artists across alt-rock, pop-rock, indie rock, hardcore and beyond who are likely to make their presence felt this year, commercially and critically. Some are brand-new; others are about to be exposed to a vastly expanded audience for the first time.
When it comes to American radio, globetrotting singer-songwriter Alice Merton is batting a thousand. Her deeply catchy debut single “No Roots” (an ode to moving between Germany, Connecticut, Ontario, England and New York since she was young) is No. 1 at Adult Alternative, just went top five at Alternative Songs, and broke into the top 25 at Adult Pop. Basically, if you’ve flicked on alt-rock, AAA or adult top 40 radio anytime in the past month, you’ve heard her song -- quite an achievement for an artist with literally one track on Spotify in the U.S. But that’s about to change: Expect a new single in March, perhaps followed by a larger work later in the year.
Already beloved by the hardcore crowd, the Baltimore quintet is primed to reach a much wider audience with its sophomore album Time & Space, its debut for Roadrunner Records (due Feb. 23). Turnstile knows how to chug-a-chug the pits open; the follow-up to 2015’s underground-legend-building Nonstop Feeling finds them implementing the sort of catchy hooks and intergalactic studio effects you’ll seldom hear pulled off on a hardcore record. For that, props are due to esteemed producer Will Yip (a mainstay of the emo revival/modern punk scene) as well as a couple of special guests: Sheer Mag singer Tina Halladay provides guest vocals on one track and Diplo -- yes that Diplo -- helped produce another.
First, Lo Moon hit us with ”Loveless” -- a dreamy, tantalizing smoke cloud of a seven-minute xx-indebted alt-pop song. Then last year, the L.A. trio kept us transfixed with a pair of worthy follow-up singles, leading toward a deal with Columbia Records and a forthcoming debut LP. One of those tracks, the elegant “This Is It,” has been steadily rising up our Adult Alternative Songs chart; right now it’s at No. 6, its highest position yet.
The singer-songwriter has already broken in Australia, with a pair of ARIA awards and a triple-platinum single in her homeland. That track, the gripping, downtempo “Adore,” looks like her ticket to Stateside notoriety as well. “Had [‘Adore’] been released two decades earlier, it would have occupied the same rarefied area of Fiona Apple’s ‘Criminal’ or Alanis Morissette’s ‘Head Over Feet,’” we wrote on our overlooked pop songs roundup last summer. Well, it's finally catching on. "Adore" is currently bubbling under Billboard’s Alternative Songs chart and a North American headlining tour next month figures to bring it and 2017’s Night Thinker EP to hordes of new eyes and ears (she's already toured in support of Vance Joy and Bleachers).
Put simply, Tash Sultana is one of music’s most enthralling live acts right now. The 22-year old Melbourne native (we’re sticking with the Australia theme) can play more than 10 instruments (guitar, sax, trumpet, flute, etc.) and has taken her mesmerizing one-man show from busking street corners to sold-out North American clubs and late-night talk shows last year (see above). On the studio side, a pair of tracks from her heady 2016 Notion EP have over 25 million Spotify spins and our fingers are crossed for a full-length release in the near future.