• Andy Wors

2021 Tips - artists and bands to watch (part 2)


David wrote about his prospects and tips for 2021 yesterday (read them here), and it’s certainly true that we’re expecting the year to start with a rush of new albums. One name he didn’t mention was Gurli Octavia, the Danish songwriter who he had at the top of his Singles of the Year list, and actually her debut album lands at the end of January (with the vinyl release a week later). I’m guessing that’s going to be one of the 1st albums we’ll be looking out for.

A slightly noisier option, and more in my listening sphere will be fellow Danish band Kúlu, who are due to release their debut album ‘Lucidity’ on the same day as Gurli. Influenced by both noise and post rock genres, they released a couple of interesting singles last year entitled ‘Grandees’ and ‘Biggest Tone’, and although I didn’t have chance to write about them at the time, I think a full album of their chaotic noisy racket might be pretty interesting. I guess I should point out that I’m also pretty excited about more established Norwegian acts Pom Poko and the experimental Sturle Dagsland who are also due early 2021 album releases too.

Staying in Denmark, I wrote about singer songwriter Øyunn (also multi-talented artist and drummer) in September, and actually that single almost made my Singles of the Year list. But it got me thinking a little, because there was mention of an album in the making, and although clearly she’s a really busy girl with multiple projects on behalf of 'other people', her quirky and quite gentle style of alternative pop has a lovely appeal, and I really hope we get to hear more of her music.

There’s always so much music coming out of Iceland, but one project that continues to intrigue me is Bony Man. He debuted with just 2 tracks in 2020, and it’s a slightly different style of music that I would normally cover – timeless songwriting that seemingly takes musical influences from the 60s onwards. Behind the project is Guðlaugur Jón Árnason, and he has such a distinct voice, using soft string arrangements to back him up, I get the feeling we’ll be hearing more releases this year.

Norwegian songwriter døssi made a real impression with me later in the year with her single ‘Beloved Sun’, and she’s signed to the same management as Aurora and Sigrid, who can clearly can recognise pretty good talent. But that has nothing to do with why I wanted to mention her for 2021, it’s simply that she’s been clearly taking her time developing her songwriting skills, and that single last year had a sensitivity and poise that I felt showed that she was likely to make a big impression going forward. Her performance at Sofar Sounds in Bergen was particularly lovely.

We haven’t featured Knife Girl from Finland before, simply because there’s been no releases from the Helsinki artist, but prior to this moniker, they were the artist known as olli, who we did cover a couple of years back. Olli wrapped up the project in November with a release of material originally recorded back in 2016. I’ve really enjoyed listening to that album and regret not writing more about it - quirky innovative bedroom pop, influenced by the likes of Four Tet and Sigur Rós, and I'm really looking forward now to Knife Girl material. Here’s some of the older material:

But given I finished 2020 with a post rock album as my Album of the Year, I guess I should recommend a band influenced by that genre for 2021. Hellhounds are from Oulu in Finland, and they’ve only released 2 songs, with the instrumental track ‘Velour’ particularly capturing my attention, although similarly to Ghosts on TV, they have experimented with vocalists too. Early in 2021 the band will head into the studios to record an EP apparently, and with their clever string arrangements adding an extra dimension to their sound, they are definitely one of my personal 'favourite' new Nordic bands.

Best wishes to everyone for 2021!