It’s got moxie, that’s for sure. Because even after 20 years of handing out awards for music of black origin, and taking flak left, right and centre for it, the MOBO Awards are still with us. The MOBOs shouldn’t, and never will, be all things to all people. But, even as it unites its award-winners in celebration, it continues to divide its audience.
Jake Bugg has got nothing on Sherika Sherard. She doesn’t go about attempting to convince people of her musical authenticity. Because she is authentic, that’s who she is. This London-born singer-songwriter caught the attention of thousands – myself included – when a video of her busking went viral in 2014. Since then, her music has taken her around London and beyond UK shores. Her debut album – crowdfunded by her early supporters, and produced and mixed by Phil Holloway – represents a triumph for independence and authorship, even if the end result could use some technical adjustments.
When a humdinger like ‘Swayzae’ comes along, the compulsion to know more about who made it, and what they might do next, can send you on a scavenger hunt across the wild, untamed corners of the web. If only I had such time when I came across this track by Mikoteau, the collective name for Mikkoh and Decoteau, two female DJ/producers from Atlanta.
Newcomer, Rose Gold, has caught my ear this week with her smouldering serenade, ‘Fever’. Taking cues from the Peggy Lee classic and The Door’s ‘Light My Fire’, this Baltimore singer raises the temperature with her vocals, electronically treated though they maybe, over a suave jazz rhythm. (*Tips fedora*) What a gal.
For the mainstream and specialist music press, the annual ones to watch lists are a bit like betting horses for the Grand National. And, of course, they are bets that come with a sneaky bit of insider knowledge as well as a healthy dose of experience and independent judgement.
Apart from avid and discerning music junkies, most people aren’t going to stray beyond the round-up on their preferred media outlet of choice (BBC Sound of, The Guardian, London in Stereo, DIY, Gigwise, Pitchfork, Stereogum, Bonafide, Mixmag, Time Out London, Fact, Loud and Quiet, Echoes, Wax Poetics, The Wire, The Quietus, Pigeons & Planes, Consequence of Sound, The Line of Best Fit, et al). See what I mean?
So expect to hear plenty more about already pipped acts, such as Deers, Shura, Years & Years (this year’s BBC Sound of winner), Aquilo, Raury, Låpsley, Soak, Girlpool, Tei Shi, Coasts, Genghar, Shamir Bailey, Tkay Maidza, Vaults, Sinead Harnett, Rae Morris and Layla.
But for those of you that still aren’t satisfied, here are eight recommendations for 2015 that will give you something else to enjoy alongside this year’s track favourites.