On The Up highlights five artists each month that you should definitely be listening to right now. November’s picks are especially intriguing because they all have a lot of energy coming into the new year and you’re certain to be hearing a lot from them in 2023. There’s a Bristol rocker with an album out in January, a Brazilian artist who just appeared on a Fleet Foxes track, a Brooklyn trio of singers with head-turning harmonies, a Japanese-Canadian multi-instrumentalist about to drop an album produced by Badbadnotgood, and an R&B singer who slipped through the cracks for us this year. Check them all out and listen in below.
Bristol’s music scene is a storied one for its decades of innovation and pioneering acts like Portishead and Massive Attack. Now with her Billy Nomates project, singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Tor Maries is primed to join Idles as the next breakout act from the British city. Dare you to spin “Blue Bones (deathwish)” and not feel totally moved. It has a palpable ’80s influence, with its upbeat synths and Maries’ unapologetic lyrics like, “Death don’t turn me on like it used to.” “Balance Is Gone” is just as arresting, with a punishing bass line that gets a boost from quick-paced drums and Maries’ vocal layers. Her new album, Cacti is out January 13 on Invada Records, run by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, and they’ve found a powerful singular force in Billy Nomates. This music takes exciting, unpredictable turns and this is nothing short of one of the most exciting artists coming into 2023.
If you’re a fan of Badbadnotgood, then you’ve come to the right place. In fact, Jonah Yano’s upcoming album, Portrait Of A Dog, is co-produced by BBNG and is due out on January 27 on the Innovative Leisure label. Yano is a Hiroshima, Japan-born, Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist with a voice as sublime as tranquil Japanese cherry blossoms. He supported Clairo on tour this year and his beautiful songs are etched with jazz instrumentals and mellow folk sensibilities. Yano’s latest songs purposefully weave through his ancestry and a meaningful love that came and went. The album’s title track is a perfect place for an introduction, with lush strings, steady jazz drums, and Yano’s pensive coo on the chilled out tune.
File this as one you might’ve missed earlier this year, but should definitely have on the radar. Yaya Bey’s latest album, Remember Your North Star, came out this past June on Big Dada and it’s a glorious confluence of R&B, jazz, soul, hip-hop, and Caribbean music. She’s an incredibly honest songwriter, who asserts her strength and agency as a multi-faceted Black woman throughout the album. “Reprise” hits like a rhythmic spoken word diatribe at a jazz club, punctuated with Bey spitting, “I put a brick through your window boy, ‘Cause you ain’t gone just play me like Nintendo boy.” Then on “Meet Me In Brooklyn,” a reverb reggae swing lays the canvas as she teases her sweet side and co-existing nasty streak: “Come little baby, tell me that you love me so. Come little baby, never wanna let me go. Come little baby. Tell me what I wanna know.”
In 2018, São Paulo’s Tim Bernardes received a Latin Grammy nomination for his debut album, Recomeçar, in the Best Alternative Album In Portuguese category. As his star slowly started to rise, he drew the attention of Fleet Foxes, who tabbed Bernardes as the opener for their tour of the US and Europe this year. Bernardes was also recently featured on the latest Fleet Foxes track, “A Sky Like I’ve Never Met,” but it’s imperative that you backtrack slightly and journey into his latest album, Mil Coisas Invisíveis, as well. Bernardes is one of the most accessible Brazilian artists making music right now, influenced by ’70s Brazilian titans from the psychedelia of Os Mutantes to the rock and roll of Raul Seixas. But his blissful sound, forged atop acoustic guitar, imaginative arrangements, and his evocative delivery, feels decidedly of this present.
Say She She
Led by the trio of singers Nya Gazelle Brown, Piya Malik, and Sabrina Mileo Cunningham, Say She She are a Brooklyn group making inviting psychedelic indie pop. Their debut album, Prism, came out last month on Karma Chief Records and it’s a delightful offering of throwback soul and funky disco diva harmonies. “Fortune Teller” might be the best example of how they blend silky Rhodes keys, groovy ’70s bass lines, and three equally head-turning voices in harmony, while “Apple Of My Eye” pairs spaced-out guitars and popcorn snares as the three vocalists soar. Their album tour is currently wrapping up with a slate of West Coast dates.