The 5 Best Songs By New or Emerging Artists in 2017… So Far

The 5 Best Songs By New or Emerging Artists in 2017… So Far

Soundcloud Rap, Intimate Folk and (I Honestly Don’t Know Anymore) Maybe Kylie Jenner

It’s been a pretty decent first half of the year for new music, both for radio-friendly (Calvin Harris’ “Slide“, featuring Frank Ocean) and impressionistic pop (Dirty Projectors’ “Cool Your Heart“, featuring D∆WN), not to mention the fantastic Our First 100 Days protest collection.

Still, no matter how hard you look sometimes it’s tough to find songs of the same calibre from more unheralded acts. If you’re a part of that particular struggle, this list has you covered. Whether you lean more towards glitchy, poptimistic beats, grinning punk snarls or chirpy indie rock, there’s guaranteed to be something here you’ll enjoy.


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“Come First [Felix Snow Based Mix]” by Terror Jr, featuring Father & Lil B

The least interesting thing about Terror Jr is that Kylie Jenner might be the lead singer. Really, that’s just a tiny ornament on the flaming neon Christmas tree that is this band and the remix of their 2016 track “Come First”. When it first dropped last year, this song didn’t make much of a splash in the U.S., but it charted reasonably high in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. And now there’s a version of the song with Lil B rapping over it. See what I mean? Who gives a fuck if it is Jenner singing, this shit is already mighty intriguing on its own.

The song itself, when taken on face value, is not actually all that compelling. Some basic-arse synths that wouldn’t be out of place in a Chainsmokers song run through the whole thing, the vocals are warped into a twee whimper and Father’s verse makes him sound like a second-rate Big Sean, which might be the meanest thing I’ve ever said. But there’s something here, dammit; there’s a feeling I can’t shake that this track may have accidentally alchemised vapidity into pop perfection. There’s just enough flavour throughout to entice – whether in the form of the absurd lyrics (“Even ISIS wanna be like this”) or the undeniable hook – and convince you that maybe sugar is all you need.


“Guts” by Grim Streaker

Grim Streaker have something to tell you, but they don’t know quite how to say it. It’s not that they’re shy, or inarticulate. It’s just that they’d prefer to make you feel it rather than explain it to you, and they’ve never been very good at inside voices. But they’re fully willing to concede that, once it’s over, you might not understand what it is that’s happened or why your chest is heaving, your hands shaking, your ears abuzz with violet fury. That’s not really they’re problem, though.

This is “Guts” in a nutshell, the debut single from punk and skate rockers Grim Streaker. Amelia Bushell, the band’s slurry vocalist, sings (or barks) withs an insistence that is unstable, abrasive and maybe just a little giddy. Cascading drums rub shoulders with a skyward guitar figure, a plucky bassline makes itself known at odd intervals and Bushell proceeds to call your mum a slut (seriously). “Guts”‘s pace defines “frenetic” but is also wildly unchainable, harnessing a start-stop rhythm with all the grace and tenderness of a train hitting a brick wall and reversing direction. It is indifferent to how you feel or what you want, but would really prefer that, if you’re gonna stick around, you just let it happen.

Read our interview with Grim Streaker.


“The Light” by Maryn Jones

It’s not easy, the things Maryn Jones achieves on her soft, dusty folk song “The Light”. She creates an atmosphere of wide open space just to subsume it, sitting in the centre of an empty room and acting as the only conduit of life for miles around. It has the fragility of a flickering candle in a place of stillness, and is as unperturbed as a wheel turning by itself, uttering an ancient creak with each revolution. She sounds like the only person left on the planet and, in that solitude, she offers comfort to any who might feel the same.

All of this, the grandness and beauty of it, Jones summons with a bracing simplicity, employing a stateliness that she has honed over her time fronting the bands All Dogs and Yowler. The entire song is just her pained but impeccable vocals, a gentle, musty guitar and the timid sense of isolation that permeates the whole thing. According to Jones’ Bandcamp, “The Light” is actually an old song, one that’s probably been kicking around for a while without ever getting a proper studio recording. The track has that feel to it: lived-in and beleaguered, wanting to recapture a long forgotten feeling and render it new again. It’s in listening to Jones chase that notion, wandering along her memories for an emotional catharsis, that “The Light” defines itself as a taste of sublimity, of sadness that could make you smile.

Follow this link to listen to Maryn Jones’ “The Light”.



“OG” by James Wynn

Quick-step rapping is impressive, but hardly game-changing. Same goes for singing your own hooks, decent wordplay and a varied vocal approach. All are great ways of conveying skill, sure, but they feel empty when employed for no other reason than showing off. Even when paired with great lyrics, style and substance will only get you so far. Every great rapper – from Eazy-E to 2pac, Lil Wayne to Vince Staples – needs one thing to cut through the deluge of MCs out there: they need character, or at least, they need “a character”.

So, whether he’s playing at it or it’s legit, it’s to James Wynn’s credit how much his buoyant, confident personality elevates his music, and never moreso than on the frantic boast rap track “OG“. Spitting over ominous strings and a complete lack of trapped out percussion, Wynn comes in sounding like that shit-talker you went to school with who ended up on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. Not even giving you a second to brace yourself for the onslaught that’s to come, he proceeds to snarl, rev up his pace, dispense pithy smackdowns (“Look at me, then look at yourself”) and then, on the hook, croon with the best of them about his money making skills. His cockiness is palpable, his competence is obvious and his complete lack of interest in appeasing anyone makes his entire approach incendiary.

Read our interview with James Wynn.


“The Ropes” by Yucky Duster

Few bands are as suited to their name as Yucky Duster. Taken at first blush, it sounds like gibberish. Say it a few times over, though, and you’ll notice an indescribable phonetic sensibility at play. It feels effortless, a tiny bit juvenile and, eventually, grin-inducingly silly. A perfect fit, as their yelpy, unvarnished and crazy jubilant track “The Ropes” pulls of the exact same trick, no matter how many times you listen to it.

Opening with a dense, warbling harmony that sounds like a recording of a children’s choir being fed into a depressed VCR, “The Ropes” wastes no time establishing its hopscotch ideals and jaunty disposition. “Try to stay composed”, the song intones, contradicting the hiccuping sonics surrounding it, from the fidgety marching band percussion to the screeching vocals that stumble in and out of the song like a toddler running circles around the house. The distinct sensation you’re left with (if I had to pick just one) is the certain sense of joy that can be mined from refusing to forego the messiness of youth, for taking fun seriously. There’s not a lot of grace or dignity in pretending you’re not getting older, but there’s no point acting your age if it means forgetting why you’re alive in the first place.

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