Whether it be an artist doing something new with the medium or a group destined for fame, check out Motley’s take on who to watch for 2020, writes Niamh Browne.
Alex Gough: Cork’s own (well, sort of) and recent Motley cover star, Alex Gough is set to go from strength this year. Ireland’s hip-hop scene is having a moment, from Rejjie Snow to Soulé to Kneecap. Comfortably in the company of these talented artists is Gough. Hailing from Waterford, Gough began drumming at the age of 6, taking lessons until he was 12. He began writing music at 16, eventually going on to study music in Cork’s School of Music. Waterford-born, Cork-bred, he is going to other places. His style is a marriage of drums, rap and electronic music and is definitely something new for your ears. Releasing absolute tunage, ‘Breakfast’, ‘Fool’ and ‘Step On Me’ are all tasty morsels for his EP, set to come out later this year.
Gerry Cinnamon: Without music videos or any form of press, Gerry Cinnamon has somehow managed to become a star in his own right. His first album Erratic Cinematic was released in 2017 and since then he has been absolutely crushing it at the festival circuit. Cinnamon is the newest edition to Glasgow’s rock tradition, singing anthems in his own accent celebrating working-class people. Raw, loud and proud. He is empirical evidence that word of mouth still holds the most weight. If you like a good anthemic rock tune, look no further: Check out ‘Belter’ and ‘Sometimes’. His second album, Bonny, is set to release on his own label ‘Runaways’ in April 2020. He is going to play Scotland’s largest venue this year, 50,000+ seater Hampden Park, and tickets are already sold out. This year’s ultimate DIY star.
Pillow Queens: Another firm favourite on the Irish festival circuit, Pillow Queens are set to release their debut album this year. Formed in 2016 with their first EP Calm Girls, they have since performed with Pussy Riot, Soak and played Electric Picnic. Their second EP State of the State also has given us a taste for what we can expect and with previous bangers including ‘Rats’, ‘Gay Girls’ and ‘HowDoILook’, our expectations are high. The four women from Dublin play tight drums and even tighter riffs, managing to make indie/rock/punk sound fresh. No mean feat. Steve Lamacq of BBC Radio described them as “deceptively infectious, with sharp hooks and sharp nails”. I don’t know about the nails, Steve, but you’re defo onto something about the music.
Georgia: You want to have fun? You want to dance? Well, look no further than Georgia, an electronic music queen. In the same vein as Alex Gough, Georgia uses drum beats in her music which is high-energy and absolutely bops. From West London, her music has been described as “animated by Chicago House piano lines, vintage drum machines, and Georgia’s bespoke street sass”. Retro and fun, she’ll get you dancing and seeking hedonistic thrills. ‘Started Out’ is the perfect party-starter tune. Her sophomore album Seeking Thrills is now available to stream on all platforms. It’s a fantastic good vibes album that we can expect to hear this summer at the trendiest of seshes. Give it a listen there.
Obongjayer: Fusing afrobeat and rap with gospel and soul, Obonjayer’s work still manages to sound coherent and slick. Nigerian-born London artist Obongjayer may not be the most “commercial” artist on this list, but he is definitely one of the most interesting. Steven Umoh, the man behind the artist, fled Nigeria when he was 17 with his mother to escape his father, who was abusive. Devoutly Christian until he began university in Norwich, Umoh’s style evades description. He was an Eminem fanatic who, growing up in Nigeria, sang verses in the schoolyard, enthralling classmates. It was not until he arrived in England that he realised he rapped in an American accent. Feeling a loss of his identity, he formed a band at university where he began singing. Here he discovered his ‘voice’, with his own accent and all. As he effortlessly glides from rap to singing to spoken word, the unifying force is his rich deep voice. There’s nothing quite like Obongjayer out there. Check out his most recent EP Which Way is Forward.