We have the impression that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope that we will be able to see the return of live music by the end of 2021. And with the possibility of hitting the road this year still in the cards, many emerging artists are preparing to make their defining statements. Everyone has had time to experience the different cycles of emotions that accompany the attempt to navigate a global pandemic, with some artists reframing their entire musical identity around our new reality, and others going ahead and refusing. to slow down.
Whether it’s a rising pop star, rapper, or indie rocker, 2021 is sure to be the year for some great bands. You might recognize some of the names below from our list of the most anticipated albums of 2021, and there are even some that we’ve discovered and become optimistic about over the past month or so. With more definitions than ever for “indie rock”, here are the emerging independent musicians to watch in 2021.
After making waves in the DIY scene, Philadelphia trio Another Michael turned heads with their recently released debut album New music and great pop. The album showcases their tight knight chemistry and modest but fun attitudes, which give them the opportunity to create airy and contagious tunes. As they have already generated excitement for their first outing, Another Michael is sure to move. – Carolyn Droke
New York collective Michelle burst onto the indie scene last year with their contagious and joyful single “Sunrise,” which featured a unique blend of R&B and funky indie rock aesthetics. The band are reportedly working on a new full album for release soon, preceded by the singles “Unbound” and “FYO”, all of which showcase the band’s versatility and ability to cross genre boundaries and sonic sensibilities. – Zac Gelfand
A self-released EP was all that John Ross’s band Wild Pink needed to grab the label’s attention. After a release on Texas Is Funny Records, they found their way to Tiny Engines, where the band spread their wings over their first two albums. This includes 2018 yellow in the fur, an indie rock album inspired by the heart of the country that first landed them on the radars of many people. Their first album on Royal Mountain Records, A billion little lights, has just fallen, showing that Ross and his company are continuing their upward trajectory with an exciting and natural progression forward.– Derrick Rossignol
Brooklyn rocker Quinton Brock caught our eye late last year with the contagious standalone single “To The Moon,” which blurs the lines between anthemic indie rock and reserved punk aggression. The trail grew out of a particularly difficult time in Brock’s life, when his best friend passed away, then his dog passed away, then his longtime girlfriend packed and left. The track is Brock’s attempt to come to terms with his difficult new reality, something he manages to do with grace and poise. While there has been no official confirmation of the new music to come, we can’t wait to see what Brock comes up with next.– ZG
Kississippi (aka Zoe Allaire Reynolds) has gone through quite a transformation over the past few years and the whole trip has been worth keeping an eye out for. She started her musical journey in a more indie-folk way, but she has new things to prepare now. She signed with Triple Crown Records last year and released “Around Your Room”, a propulsive synth-pop single that shows her adaptability, vocal smoothness and melodic talents. She hasn’t released a new song since then, but it’s also the kind of song that lives in your head without rent, generating all kinds of interest in whatever it is to come. – DR
20-year-old British singer-songwriter Arlo Parks has gone from creating melodies in his bedroom to writing music that has literally saved people’s marriage. With his first album collapsed in the rays of the sun, Parks combined poetic lyrics on relatable but often overlooked aspects of adolescent depression and anxiety, while reminding listeners that there is always hope. Her words resonated with many and thus catapulted her into the indie spotlight, so keep an eye out to see where Parks will take her floating music next. -CD
The Austin, Texas band called their music “pillow coreâ, And although it was said half-jokingly, it’s an accurate description of the downtempo, heartwarming music they do best. Their 2020 single “I’m Sorry”, the band’s last track released since their 2019 third album. Heavy lifting, sums up this energy well, as it is an alternate-leaning track apparently designed to calm the nerves while maintaining a musical interest. Hopefully this is also a sign of things to come.– DR
Although Sasha Spielberg’s latest album Spoiled love just released earlier this year, the album’s intercontinental writing process imbued every song with a sense of space. It’s this new approach to songwriting that makes Spoiled love very interesting listening that will surely reward listeners and help develop Spielberg’s following both inside and outside the indie-folk scene. – ZG
Making comparisons is a useful way to give a new listener an idea of ââwhat an artist looks like. It doesn’t really work for Petey, though, because he’s justâ¦ Petey. He’s borrowed from emo, indie pop, folk, and pretty much everything else on the handful of EPs he’s released since 2019. 2020 has been particularly fortuitous, as the year has given highlights such as the LCD Soundsystem meets the trap meets the electronica of âPitch A Fit!â and the emo-folks of âMore To Life Than Baseballâ (both of which, coincidentally, are baseball-related). “You never know what they’ll do next” is a worn out saying, but the only thing you can expect from a new version of Petey is that she’ll be distinctly Petey.– DR
After gaining significant buzz with a series of EPs and other abridged releases over the past few years, UK quintet Squid is finally preparing their first full album for release later this year. Light green field finds Squid at the crossroads between the melodic sensibility of Talking Heads and the modern avant-garde experimentation of a band like Black Midi. So far we’ve only heard one snippet of Light green field in the form of “Narrator,” which highlights the group’s eccentricities and promises a wild ride from the rest of the album. – ZG
Upon releasing their debut album in 2018, Sun June, five musicians from Austin, Texas, spent the year touring with Lucy Dacus. Change of gears with their second album Somewhere, the band focused on producing their songs using the mantra âmelodies are kingâ, which resulted in open spaces and discernable textures. Their focus on production, coupled with poignant lyrics, created an album that expertly examines grief in all its forms with both humor and humility. -CD
MiloÃ©’s 2020 EP Tight was is an incredibly exciting taste of what this young artist from Minneapolis via the Democratic Republic of the Congo has to offer from an upcoming full release. With just five tracks, the effort showcases Miloe’s seemingly almost effortless talent for simple yet captivating melodies and instrumentals that make the project as a whole unmistakable. Not much is known about what’s on Miloe’s record for 2021, but consider us excited for anything. – ZG
Katy Kirby grew up in the Bible belt, an identity she both explores and dismantles throughout her debut album Cool and dry place. The album brings its unique touch to folk rock, combining soft melodies with playful instrumentation. His disarming voice and unsettling ballads are often interrupted by well-timed pauses and wind chime samples, which also give his soul music a unique sense of place. -CD
2020 was supposed to be the year Baltimore’s Pinkshift really made their mark as a band, with their first official tour as a quartet on the books and new music in the works. The pandemic turned all of those plans upside down, but they didn’t let him stop them. They unleashed their fierce pop-punk single “I’m Gonna Tell My Therapist On You” in July, when it quickly went viral due to its My Chemical Romance-like grandeur and Ashrita Kumar’s incredibly catchy voice. . With viral success under their belt, Pinkshift is already buzzing like crazy, and new music is sure to be on the way. – ZG
Proper’s latest single. “Don’t” was co-produced by Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years. at any moment. The powerful message comes on top of the trio’s unique and serious approach to emo and pop punk, a promising look at what’s to come from the buzzy Brooklyn outfit. The trio used the pandemic to hone their songwriting, with Garlington again attending virtual writing sessions with Campbell which will hopefully result in a new LP for 2021. – ZG
Some of the artists covered here are artists from Warner Music. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.