2021-01-05T10:30:13-05:00 2021-01-05T01:43:43-05:00

EARMILK's 2021 Artists to Watch [Indie & Alternative]

If we have learned anything from history, it's that times of great suffering produce amazing art. 2020 saw some of the music industry hit a temporary pause at the onset of the pandemic, we ended the year with some artists finding their way through to release some truly amazing new music. Heading into 2021, this set-in "new normal,"—music industry without live events—will see aspiring new artists with a narrower, less defined, path to gain new fans. A class of talent armed with only the digital space as their launch pad, we're bracing ourselves for a year of some truly remarkable art from artists who will surely make their mark on this year. These are your 2021 Artists to Watch, according to our staff.

Alaska Reid

Standout track: "Oblivion"

Her debut EP "Big Bunny" is 9 non-skippable songs that positions itself in the landscape of alternate tunings of vocals and guitars. On the storytelling front, Reid places focus on life in Montana, the stark changes of moving to Los Angeles, and becoming jaded with the everyday hustle. - Sean Kayden, Contributing Writer

Baby Queen

Standout track: "Want Me"

Bella Latham aka Baby Queen is undoubtedly the freshest newcomer of 2020. The South Africa-born, London-based “anti-pop” artist has served up her a killer debut EP of billowing indie-pop anthems. - Sean Kayden, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "New Kid on the Block"

Dear-God's interesting mix of punk, indie rock, and hip-hop is raw and futuristic, while still recalling nostalgia of punk's glory days. He seems to be on the cusp of a new trend of genre-mixing that contemporaries like Jean Dawson are upholding. - Jacob Saltzberg, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "Lonely"

Grabbing attention with his debut release 'tape_01', dvr is one of the most promising artists in the bedroom pop lane. Well rounded production paired with an impressive vocal range and a Kenny Beats cosign, dvr is only just getting started. - Max Rosenfield, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "Satan, Luella, and I"

The specific genre of HMLTD is incredibly difficult to pinpoint, but they immediately provoke dramatic, baroque, stadium takes on indie rock. Their newest album is a fascinating journey of all out, unrelenting power pop that rings proudly with the flair and recklessness of bad boy rock n roll. - Max Pasion-Gonzales, Contributing Writer

Issy Wood

Standout track: "Pressure"

In early 2020, London-based visual artist Issy Wood quietly released a collection of four EPs, titled "The Blame." What initially seemed to be the side project of a well-established painter started gaining traction among labels and music lovers all over the world, and eventually piqued musician Mark Ronson's interest. Now signed to Ronson's Zelig Records, Wood's sound feels slightly more polished, yet retains the same home-made, off-kilter effect that makes her music so intriguing. - Madeline Quach, Contributing Writer

Jensen McRae

Standout track: "WOLVES"

Some artists have the ability to paint a picture, but Jensen McRae goes a step further and puts you at the scene. The indie folk artist released only two originals this year, but with both she evokes raw emotion, as her fervent voice and lyricism have the ability to make you feel understood, but also introspective. If her stand out single, "Wolves," is any indication we can expect that with each new release in 2021 McRae will be creating tiny universes for us to exist in within her music, that are brutally honest and charmingly relatable. - Sloan Pecchia, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "ESTELLA"

KennyHoopla burst onto the scene this past year with an ambitious and exhilarating new sound that blends shattering garage-punk vocals with snappy indie-rock production. Kenneth La’Ron (the Hoopla is a Spongebob reference) is a mad genius at repurposing nostalgic mid '00s indie rock sounds of Bloc Party, Foals, and Maximo Park with the pop punk sounds of Blink 182 into something fresh, modern, and incredibly exciting. - David Sikorski, Senior Editor

Kid Bloom

Standout track: "Hold In, Hold On"

In a few short years, Kid Bloom has expertly turned his hand to myriad of styles, from bedroom pop to synth-pop, to indie-psych, all the way to nostalgia-tinted alt-rock with "Hold In, Hold On." 2020 has been a year of highlights and no lowlights in regards to his releases, and my fingers are crossed for a full-length LP in 2021. - Robin Fulton, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "entertnmnt"

Oklou (Marylou Mayniel) has been a staple of the underground electronic music scene for some time, but after an incredible run in 2020 (releasing breakout mixtape Galore, working with Flavien Berger and Mura Masa, and remixing Caroline Polachek's "Door"), the French artist is at the cusp of becoming a household name. - Madeline Quach, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "Stars Align"

Lists were made for artists like this. Coming out of Las Vegas by way of Carolina, PapiChuloTeej became a hot industry prospect largely on of the back of this incredible single. - Ashton Howard, Contributing Writer

Sad Night Dynamite

Standout track: "Killshot"

The genre-blending duo combines alternative with hip hop to create intriguing and dramatic sounds. - Max Rosenfield, Contributing Writer


Standout track: "Places, Plans"

Los Angeles-based, New York state-bred ambient folk artist Skullcrusher (real name: Helen Ballentine) shared her debut single “Places/Plans” way back in January 2020. The introduction from the Secretly Canadian signee served as a quiet powerhouse of perplexing emotions enhanced by Skullcrusher’s graceful vocals. Her subsequent 4-track EP is an airy yet penetrating effort sharply elevated by stories of ordinary life and cherishing those moments of stillness inside this chaotic world we navigate through. - Sean Kayden, Contributing Writer


Feature · Indie · Lists · Main Stage


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