As plenty of musicians know only too well, some artists never get the plaudits or recognition their music deserves. They have a loyal set of supporters, a respectable amount of YouTube views and put on live performances of a lifetime, but their music never catches on with a wider audience, for whatever reason. Well, we’re here to try and change all that.
Here are 10 totally underrated musicians to look out for.
Hailing from Southport, Merseyside, Låpsley (full name Holly Lapsley Fletcher) combines minimalistic electro-pop with a powerful, extensive vocal range. Not that we like to make comparisons, but it’s difficult not to hear similarities with Adele.
As well as being a strong vocalist, Låpsley is an adept producer. She was creating tunes in her bedroom at the age of 17, using just a Juni Gi synthesizer and her voice. The rest is history – we hope.
She was nominated for the BBC’s Sound Of 2015 list and released her debut album, Long Way Home, the year after. Låpsley is currently signed to London-based label XL Recordings, whose roster includes (yes, you guessed it) Adele. Check out her ethereal sound below.
2. Anna of the North
Norwegian singer-songwriter Anna Lotterud, best known by her stage name Anna of the North, is another electro-pop artist with a distinctive vocal style who is making some serious waves in the music industry. Her voice is complimented by the airy synth sounds of producer Brady Daniell-Smith, who she met while studying in Melbourne.
This year alone, Anna has released her debut album Lovers, featured on two tracks with Tyler The Creator and appeared on the The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
Here’s her track ‘Someone’, teeming with 80s synth-pop vibes and featuring a downtown Miami petrol station. We’re not quite sure how this video has only got just under 200,000 views, but we can’t see it staying that way for long!
This five-piece alt-rock band, consisting of members from Los Angeles and Sweden, is more than just a rock band. There are elements of folk, Americana, road-rock and electronica in Grizfolk’s music, which makes them really stand out from the crowd!
They released their debut album Waking Up The Giants in 2016 and have played live on Late Night with David Letterman and Conan O’Brien.
For anyone who’s not heard Grizfolk, their track ‘In My Arms’ featuring Jamie N Commons is a good starting point. It’s not as rock-orientated as some of their other tracks, but it’s just so darn catchy!
4. The Lake Poets
To be clear, we’re not referring to the group of writers from the Lake District during the Romantic era, also called The Lake Poets. We’re talking about Martin Longstaff, a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter from Sunderland.
His voice is enchanting, elegant and at times a bit fragile, and his music captures all the complexities of growing up in a working-class shipbuilding town in the North East. We recognise that each artist is an individual in their own right, but there’s definitely a touch of Ben Howard in Longstaff’s vocals.
He recorded The Lake Poets’ self-titled debut album in Nashville, with the help of producer and Eurythmics star Dave Stewart. One of the standout tracks from this album is ‘Your Face’. Have a listen…
In the wider context of this list, Waxahatchee are hardly the new kids on the block – but as a band, they are definitely underrated in our eyes. This American indie project, named after Waxahatchee Creek in Alabama, was started back in 2010 by American singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield.
In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, Crutchfield remarked: “I would say I’m more emotionally raw than miserable and tortured.” We hear this persona come to the fore in Waxahatchee’s latest album, fittingly titled Out in the Storm, which upon its release received critical acclaim across the board.
Its vibes range from grit and defiance (‘Silver’, ‘Never Been Wrong’) to delicacy and reason (‘A Little More’, ‘Fade’). Feast your ears on ‘Silver’ and you’ll definitely understand what all the fuss is about!
6. Frightened Rabbit
Like Waxahatchee, Scottish indie folk band Frightened Rabbit’s music epitomises emotional vulnerability. Whilst they have a serious cult following and are regarded as one of the best live bands around, it doesn’t feel as if they’ve ever received as much credit as they should.
They’ve been active since 2003, but have only ever had one UK top 10 album in that time. Historically, their music has reflected their scrappy roots, but their latest EP Recorded Songs features more mellow, melancholic undertones.
We were torn between whether to include a track from this EP, or ‘I Wish I Was Sober’ from their 2016 album Painting of a Panic Attack. We opted for the latter… we hope you like it as much as we do.
7. Matthew and the Atlas
This alternative folk outfit from Aldershot has been around since 2009 and was formed by singer-songwriter Matt Hegarty, the band’s frontman. Their sound primarily consists of acoustic guitars, accordion, banjo and Hegarty’s gravelly vocals.
Not to rush to yet another hasty comparison, but Hegarty has been dubbed the ‘British Bon Iver’ and it’s easy to see why. Check out Matthew and the Atlas’ live performance of their song ‘Elijah’, as part of The Mahogany Sessions. If the reverb mixed with Hegarty’s voice and fingerpicking doesn’t make the hairs of your neck stand up, we’re not sure what will.
Sivu, real name James Page, is one of those artists that makes an immediate impression. His music is incredibly intimate on the ear, which is no small part down to his trembling falsetto voice.
Sadly, though, Sivu’s days as a recording artist could be numbered. He recently revealed that he suffers from a rare condition called Ménière’s disease. This is a disease of the inner ear which causes a progressive lack of hearing. However, in an interview with the BBC, he said: “While I can still play music, I’m going to.” We hope this continues to be the case.
‘Better Man Than He’ is perhaps Sivu’s best known song, but our favourite song of his is ‘Childhood House’ – a beautiful, heartfelt and nostalgic tune, we think you’ll agree. The video for it is very well edited too.
The next artist to feature on our list is Raury – a soul, hip hop, and folk-rock singer from Atlanta. As you may have gathered, he’s a jack of all trades… and he’s only 21.
Raury released his first mixtape back in 2014 and followed that up with debut album All We Need a year later. It features collaborations with the likes of RZA, Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, and Big K.R.I.T., among others.
For an idea of Raury’s style, here’s his song called ‘Trap Tears’, featuring Key! This song fuses Flamenco blues and trap music… and pulls it off spectacularly.
10. Los Campesinos!
Concluding our list is Welsh indie rock group Los Campesinos!, who have been around since 2006 and have a considerable pedigree, with six studio albums behind them. As their frontman Gareth David recently pointed out: “There are very few bands formed in 2006 that are still releasing records today.”
It’s a valid point, particularly with the current state of the music industry – and there’s a good reason Los Campesinos! have survived this long. They’ve adapted their style from twee pop in their early days to being one of indie rock’s most consistent attractions – or, as they describe themselves on Twitter, “your ex-girlfriend’s favourite band”.
In an emotional, end credits-esque move, let’s collectively kick back and enjoy ‘The Fall of Home’ from their latest album Sick Scenes.
Hopefully you enjoyed this blog and can namecheck the underrated musicians on this list when trying to make your friends and family feel less musically informed than you.
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