Music is a huge part of my professional life and I'm lucky enough to spend most of my waking day listening to music or working with musicians. Since there are few greater gifts than music, I thought I'd showcase 10 acts that have made a real impression in the past few months. Some are signed to labels and well along the road, others are just starting out, but all share the potential for great things. No genre bias, just a mash-up of serious talent.
Funking genius. They're from London. They're mysterious. Which is fine by me, because their music says everything. Check out The Heat. It comes with an advisory warning. If it's possible to overdose on cool, then this track will put you in the E.R.
Like most artists on this list, Charlotte is a perfect case study of why overnight X-Factor success doesn't work - it takes time for musicians to find their sound. Charlotte spent years honing her talent, and that experience and development is evident in her latest track, which is already bringing her serious recognition. Zane Lowe recently chose Colour My Heart as his Next Hype track on Radio 1 and it's easy to hear why. If there's more of this quality, Charlotte OC is going to be huge.
Laurel splits people between a vocal majority who fall in love with her talent and a minority who waste their time comparing her to other artists. Comparisons are dangerous in music because no two artists take the same journey and there's no telling what Laurel will produce in the coming years. But there's enough talent on display in Blue Blood to suggest that it will be special.
Remember when hip-hop was about something? That radical art form that had something interesting to say? Too often hip-hop now borders on self-parody with every new spitter proclaiming their street toughs, soon-to-be-had riches, sweet rides, bitches & hos misogyny - it seems stuck in a presampled loop. Shane isn't on the self-proclamation trip, and his tracks have depth and musicality that transcends the bounds of contemporary hip-hop. He's spent the year working on new material and producing other artists. Check out his latest, Die Alone, for a taste of his work.
Josh has a great musical pedigree having sung as a soloist at L'Academie Vocale in Paris. Fantastic song writing and a resonant, rich voice, Josh exhibits real skill as a musician and singer. He is currently building a following gigging and supporting high profile acts. Check out Mountains in Hurricanes which is a great example of Josh's work.
Fred V & Grafix
I've just directed a music video for them, which will be out in the New Year. But this isn't corruption at work; there's not enough money in music videos to buy my vote. I've been a fan of drum & bass since days of yore, before Danny Byrd was a BPM twinkle in Bukem's eye. Fred V & Grafix are putting out some great, melodic tracks and I'm expecting big things from them in 2014. Here's their latest track Here With You feat Collin McLoughlin.
Philip Plested and Grace Ackerman are at the tail end of their teenage years, although you'd never know it. Their music suggests a depth and maturity that comes from years of performing, and unsurprisingly this talented duo started young. Influenced by Ben Howard and Damien Rice, Philip has been writing music since the age of fourteen and playing guitar since he was eleven. Grace has been performing for ten years. Trust is an outstanding track from the Dinner Will Be Served EP.
Homemade Rocket is one of those songs that sounds timeless. There's nowhere to hide when you've only got a singer and a piano. Homemade Rocket evokes sweet purity, without ever turning saccharin. Amy is only 17, and venturing into music while she studies. Her voice is magical, but it's what this song suggests about her skills as a songwriter that is really exciting. I can only hope that Amy continues to get support and encouragement to propel her musical journey.
It's tough not to smile while listening to The Colourist. Must be all that California sunshine. Good for the soul. Adam, Maya, Kollin and Justin are doing strong work and spelling Colourist with a 'U', which will win them fans among dictionary aficionados - a niche, but vocal community in the music world. Check out Little Games.
Formerly known as Lamplight, this acoustic trio recently featured on DJ Zinc's track Feeling My Way. They haven't released anything for a while but earlier work like Circles suggests whatever comes out of their recent studio sessions should be worthy of attention. Check out Circles.