COVID-19 is re-shaping the global economy in a way we’ve never seen before, impacting on every single area of our lives.
Music isn’t immune from this, with the ongoing concert shutdown closing off a key area of the industry.
With even established artists forced off the road, many emerging forces have been left with little income and crushed hopes.
The Great Escape was due to take place this month, promising a packed bill with an international focus.
Sadly, it proved not to be. The Brighton bash will return next year, but 2020 represents something of a missed opportunity for so many unsigned and self-funded DIY artists.
It’s more important than ever to support new music, to get behind the voices who will come to shape the future.
Clash writers pick out 12 new acts to get behind.
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During 2016’s TGE I went to a pokey pub just off Brighton’s main strip to see a band that interested me. I got there early, navigated the overly complex floorplan, got a drink settled to witness what I was hoping to be the highlight of my day. The band before made me stop what I was doing.
That band was Egyptian Blue. They are on the cusp of escaping small venue support slots and heading out on their own. Their recent EP is nothing short of glorious.
This would have been their year. Hopefully, they can have it next year. (Nick Roseblade)
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Is there is one album that should be in everyone’s end of year lists then should be Kiwi Jr’s debut. It is a short sharp dose of power pop with some thought-provoking lyrics.
Their live sets are meant to be nothing short of riotous celebrations. Celebrations for the misunderstood and waifs. They would have been my pick for this year’s TGE and the one I would have been most desperate to witness. (Nick Roseblade)
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The Cool Greenhouse
One band that I was excited to see this year would have been The Cool Greenhouse. Their brand of lo-fi post-punk is infectious.
The band’s cassette on Hidden Bay was less of a release and more a statement of intent. On it they laid the foundations for their delirious debut album. Here existential lyrics are propped up by ramshackle post-punk, with a dusting of pop. Henry Rollins loves them and you probably would have too. (Nick Roseblade)
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With recent release Pink Sky (Endless Summer) being the perfect track for lounging back on a field with a can of lager, Abbie Ozard was set for an incredible 2020 festival season. Recently signing to Liverpool-based Modern Sky UK, Ozard is on an upward trajectory. Her coming-of-age pop melodies combine with 90s influences to create a sound that would compliment any tweenage film.
Blast out her EP ‘Growing Pains’ and learn to love yourself. (Megan Walder)
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Newcastle-formed, Brighton-based indie rockers Demob Happy explore funk in their own dark and twisted way. Whilst classics like ‘Be Your Man’, the second single from their second album ‘Holy Doom’ unite creepy lyrics and blissful harmonies alongside funk laced choruses and a heavy finale, their recent release, ‘Mother Machine’ takes us back to 70/80s rock.
The band filter through time and cherry pick elements across eras. It’s a sound that takes you both back and forward, a time warp of music.(Megan Walder)
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Y2K fashion and celebrity backers have seen Nasty Cherry catch the attention of music platforms across the world. They are the band of 14-year-old Charli XCX’s dreams and found fame through the Netflix series I’m With The Band: Nasty Cherry, but in no way are these girls simply a fad. Songs like ‘Win’ and ‘F*ck Modern Love’ are personal favourites, spreading feminist fire and rousing girls and womxn to action. (Megan Walder)
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Elliot Brett’s Lynks Afrikka project allows the producer/vocalist to pair the tongue-in-cheek antagonisation they sling at their audience with some genuinely excellent punchlines (“I’m a flatbread/litter than a cat’s bed/fishiest when battered”). When this attitude is served with a side of cutting-edge club influence, the resulting mix is the kind that wins over legions of gawping strangers at The Great Escape in seconds. (Sean Harper)
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Eastbourne-born, London-bred noise-rap collective 404 Guild lift from a countless many to sound like none. Equally indebted to the uncanny atmospheres of PS1 dungeon-crawlers as the intensity of Slint, a 2018 signing to Dirty Hit brought time to hone their staggering live show and distill their influences into a radical vision of what rap could be.
With so many aesthetic touchstones, there wouldn’t have been a punter present who couldn’t find something to feel rewarded by in a sound so complex in its inception yet clear in its results. (Sean Harper)
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Chubby & The Gang
On 2020 debut album ‘Speed Kills’, Chubby & The Gang unwittingly soundtrack every skate edit yet to be made. Built on a world-class rhythm section that’s forever moments from collapse, it’s a 25 minute sugar rush of oi!, hardcore and down-the-line punk.
Band leader “Chubby” Charlie Manning-Walker snarls a Londoner’s problems in a Londoner’s voice. But, his sentiments are as universal as a great hook, which the band pack in plentiful supply. Theirs is the kind of energy that creates word-of-mouth legend at The Great Escape. (Sean Harper)
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After receiving praise for her first single ‘Monochrome’, AMA quickly rose to the surface as a relevant example of a young artist doing it right in the industry. Just last year she dropped her debut EP ‘Screenluv’, a swirling set of six electro-pop bangers.
AMA’s music exudes positive vibes, as we previously described the album having, “heightened synths and rippling trap beats,” it’s fair to say seeing her at The Great Escape this year would’ve been something to remember. (Laviea Thomas)
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Chlobocop has only been rapping for three years, but the 22-year old Glaswegian has already set tongues wagging throughout the UK rap scene with her distinctive breezy flows over cerebral woozy beats.
Her East-End upbringing has certainly informed her hard-edged content and intonation, but her sonic outlook is more worldly; last year’s breakout single ‘999’ holds its own against the best from across the Atlantic. With a debut album due later in 2020, Chlobocop appears intent to release a work of depth. (David Weaver)
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Gang Of Youths
Witnessing Gang of Youths play a show in their native Australia, with devoted crowds hanging on every word of magnetic frontman David Le’aupepe, you might be forgiven for thinking the world is already theirs.
And while their home country has already caught on, it seems like only a matter of time until the rest of the world catches up – Gang of Youth’s anthemic and passionate indie is a rallying cry for fans of The National, Arcade Fire and Bruce Springsteen. (David Weaver)
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The Great Escape returns in 2021.
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