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2022 ones to watch

We did it! We survived another year. Congrats, you, for making it another 365 days. To kick start the new year, I've compiled a list of nine acts you should check out this January. Though I've added a song by each, I highly encourage you to listen to their discographies, as my choice doesn't necessarily reflect your possible favourite! Without further ado, let me introduce my 2022 ones to watch.

iris @iris_caltwait iris released her debut album love and other disasters last year, and me, oh my, is it a goldmine. An intricately knitted web of emotions and impeccable lyricism ties together fragments from genres that, on paper, shouldn't work well together. Thanks to cleverly placed interludes building bridges between worlds, they transition seamlessly into one another. iris bounce off of each genre in perfect, effortless harmony, and the entire album exudes sensuality and power.

The song I've chosen for this playlist is a collaboration between iris and SKAAR, another Norwegian powerhouse you should familiarise yourself with. They deep dive into cathartic darkness, exploring desires and hunger in their utmost divine femininities. Despite womxn facing shame and scolding for expressing something so natural, the duo dissects it so shamelessly; you start to question why we're told to hold our tongues. Throughout the album, iris continue to examine the norm from different angles and what femininity can mean to different people. There's no set way to experience life nor express yourself, and iris' debut album lay down the foundations for further exploration delicately and darkly.

Grant Kilpatrick @grantkilpatrickmusic A distinctive rawboned rock sound and aesthetic caught my eye when digging around for new artists to check out last year. West Lothian indie rocker Grant Kilpatrick channels rich, deep- rooted energies in his single When It Comes Around.

Though it resembles a nostalgic alternative sound, there's for sure that twinge of modernity burying its roots in the present day, dishing out a main course of urgency. The same urgency is felt in the music video, shot and edited by the brilliant Marc Sharp, tying it all together through movement and colour grading. Bigger crowds would further elevate the energy and I, for one, have no problem seeing the masses of a festival soaring along with it. With more music on the way, it's clear no matter what Grant does next, just know it'll always be bold.

swim school @weareswimschool swim school are a force to be reckoned with. Formed in late 2018, they had by early 2020 built a growing listener following with their soft indie singles. When the pandemic hit, the band suddenly had the free time to experiment and expand their sound, leading to a hard- hitting return, disrupting their previous ways. Any nerves the band had around their new sound were met with love and support, and fortune certainly favoured the bold.

Emphasizing their heavier sound came naturally. The band's new drummer brought a fresh opportunity to amp up and come into their skin. Absorbing influences from 90s grunge and modern dream-pop alike, their 2021 debut EP making sense of it all have made vocalist and guitarist Alice's skill for navigating a thick haze of complex feelings in a beautifully provocative manner perfectly clear. She gives a loud voice to the feelings often hidden from view, making their music a safe space for anyone willing to listen. see red is my favourite track off the EP. Its vibrantly distorted energy brings forward a feeling of dissonance that I've felt more during the last year than ever before. This song, to me, is an ode to those feelings and a reminder that there's a community, even in the most excruciating moments.

To Kill Achilles @tokillachillesband The five-piece emotive hardcore band from Dundee has been one of my go-to bands of 2021. It's no secret that I've strayed away from heavier music over the years. Alongside bands like Architects and Polar, To Kill Achilles remind me how at home I feel in this part of the sonic terrain.

The band released their second album, Something To Remember Me By, in early 2021. They've created a concept album picking up on an unnamed protagonists 25th birthday and charting his 12-month descent into a suicidal abyss, elevating their heartache into intricate narratives, comforting the disturbed. My choice, 21:36, feels utterly helpless and damaged yet fills me with so much hope and love. Their lyrics encapsulate the listener in a warm embrace through the darkest, coldest moments. Their visuals are just as impressive as their sonics and build an entire cosmos for their art to expand freely.

Jonathan Floyd @jonathanfloydofficial Moving on to the soundtrack of the second half of my 2021 and creator of earworm after earworm, Jonathan Floyd. The Oslo-based artist and producer entered the Norwegian music scene with a boom, gained solid airplay on every single release, and wrapped up 2021 by winning Newcomer of the Year at P3GULL.

By fusing atmospherical and retro-inspired R&B with melancholic and catchy productions, he concocts pieces that feel familiar yet entirely contemporary. Full disclosure, I have not watched a single Tarantino movie in my life (bring on the film bros yelling and tearing their hair). Still, Tarantino bring bravado and drama resembling the scale of a giant production movie. Paired with the brilliant music video directed by Amund Teien Lund and Erik Carswell, it was one of my favourite releases last year. With one hell of a year to look back on and his debut EP lined up for 2022, you better keep an eye on Mr Floyd.

Covent @_covent_ Initially formed as a college project by three music students with roots in indie rock, melodic hardcore and beatdown by a shared love for grunge and a longing for a different sound, Covent provided just that. Their influences are from far and wide, and varied experiences within different genres bring new angles to their sound, both live and on record.

The band has started to come into their own during the last couple of years, musically and visually taking more artistic risks to represent their music in its truest form. This comes as absolutely no surprise as a listener, as their sound grows more consistent and mature with every release. Deep, prosperous sounds captivate the listener from the get-go and drag us into a faraway universe of dark and light, good and evil and everything in between. With great determination and no more time to lose, their debut record, set to commence in March, will expand their growing sound and showcase the world just what the Yorkshire band has to say. The band is looking to hit the ground running, and I have no doubts that 2022 will see the band take up the space they damn well deserve.

Jessica Luise @iamjessicaluise

Another remarkable release of last year was Manchester-based Jessica Luise's debut EP Going in Blind. The EP showcases her perception of human connection and range as a songwriter and singer (my dad even asked, is this Stevie Nicks? the first time he heard Three Steps Back). She dissects growth in such an authentic way; you've got no other choice than to sit back and revisit your own journey, good and bad, alongside Jess.

In Three Steps Back, she manages to do something that genuinely surprised me; putting a positive spin on a dark situation without sounding gimmicky. Written to thank her parents, it expresses an amalgamation of wise words and accumulated experience offered throughout her life. Stepping back, taking a look at where you are right now and where you might have been had you taken the pieces of guidance, you may find hindsight is bittersweet. Jessica says of the EP: "To think that I would be the proud creator of a piece of work like this after being in this industry for such a short time baffles me". I, for one, cannot wait to follow Jessica further into her luminous world of beautifully crafted lyrics and melodies.

bexx @bexxmp3

She might have felt tiny for the longest time, but bexx soars above all after the release of her two 2021 singles. In fact, the only reason why I didn't add her debut single, Hard To Love, in my favourites countdown of 2021 was because I wanted to include her in this piece. I have been blasting (yes, BLASTING) her music this past year. My pick for this playlist, Biggest Mistake, draws inspiration from pop-punk yet has a twinge of Nashville, seamlessly blending the two.

It's an exhilarating ode to personal growth and urges the listener to raise their god damn heads, take up space and get out of their own way. Can we all collectively keep this in mind from this moment on? If you're having a shit time, I recommend blasting bexx's singles a couple times and you'll feel a bit more equipped to go out and kick some ass. I also have to mention her debut single because, holy shit, WHAT a debut. It's contagiously catchy and an obvious pick for dancing and belting out around your flat. Her voice is glassy and gleams all over in the glam rock banger, reminiscent of icons like Heart and Miley Cyrus revived.

Good Boy Daisy @goodboydaisy Twins Hallie and Dylinn Mayes released their debut single Grey in November 2020 and cannot have sat still since then. The world seems to continue the return of disco, yet there's an extra component involved this time: a mix of good old alt. rock and pop-punk. The two were raised on a steady diet of 90's grunge and inherited a lot of their early music taste from their father. Their musical horizons began to expand through many rounds of the video game rock band - in which Dylinn would take over the guitar while Hallie did drums - and countless visits to their local record stores. When they saw a group of their friends perform at a local show, it was the first time they had seen someone their age playing in a band, and it changed the game.

They got their hands on real-life instruments. Dylinn stuck with guitar, and in addition to drumming, Hallie began to take on singing duties. Today, Good Boy Daisy offer an authentic sound, honouring their precursors yet creating something entirely modern and true to them. Their energy and drive seep through every word, as does their spines. Because while the world has repeatedly told women and gender non-conforming people to lower their voices and sit still, Dylinn and Hallie blast their music unapologetically, and you best believe there are people scattered all around the globe singing right along.

There you have it, folks!

Suppose you're dreading the ascent into everyday life again after the holidays like me. In that case, I hope this playlist can offer at least a wee bit of a breather. If not, I hope it sets you right on track for a fab January! Remember to check in with yourself and those around you. Let's make this a good one, eh?

With best wishes for the new year,

Eirunn out.

Written by Eirunn Oppheim


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