February Fortunes – Who We’re Watching in 2022

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Vinyl Mag staff names nine artists that they’re keeping an eye on in this most transcendent year.

1. Nija

Nija is well-known in the industry as a songwriter and producer. She’s been writing songs for big-name artists since she was 20 years old. Beyonce, Jay-Z, Summer Walker, Cardi-B, Ariana Grande – the list goes on and on. In 2019, she was featured on a track on The Lion King: The Gift alongside Beyonce. In 2021, she finally released a trio of her own singles. Her solo work features her warm voice in silky R&B tracks. There’s a lot to look forward to in a potential full-length album from her. Luckily, she’s been teasing upcoming projects on her Instagram.

Listen to: Ease My Mind (Come Over), Finesse, On Call

2. Allison Pontier

Fairly new on the scene is Texan Allison Pontier. She has a transfixing voice with a southern accent that peaks through at select moments which meshes beautifully with how she embraces her roots in her songwriting and overall image. After a string of singles, she released a short EP in 2021. Even before she had released any of her own work, Lord Huron liked her voice so much, he asked her to be on a song with him. 

Listen to: Cowboy, Late Bloomer, Hell Is A Crowded Room

3. Pom Pom Squad

Mia Berrin began performing under the name Pom Pom Squad in 2015 when she was just 18 years old. Since then, Pom Pom Squad has transformed into a fully fleshed-out pop-punk band, and they released their debut album Death of a Cheerleader in 2021. The band is crafted around cheerleader aesthetics. However, Pom Pom Squad subverts the typical cheerleader image applying its femininity (the glam, the artifice, the attitude) to ideas that rarely co-exist in the cannon of cheerleaders like queer love.

The result is an authentic reflection of punk and a version of cheerleading that feels freer in its dismissal of everything we believe cheerleading is supposed to stand for – an accomplishment the likes of which Olivia Rodrigo hoped to achieve with “good 4 u.” A carefully crafted homage to punk DIY is, at the end of the day, a re-appropriation of its aesthetics rather than a true embrace of its original intent. But, I’ll step off my pedestal for now. You can catch Pom Pom Squad on tour right here

Listen to: Head Cheerleader, Lux, Crying, Popular (Nada Surf cover)

4. Mustafa

Toronto-born artist, Mustafa, released his debut solo album When Smoke Rises in May 2021. It’s a stunning collection of introspective folk songs about loss and grief. Mustafa began to share his poetry at an early age and his incisive writing comes through brilliantly in his solo work. Originally starting out in hip-hop, he was a member of the hip-hop collective Halal Gang, and produced and released a documentary, Remember Me, Toronto, about Canada’s hip-hop scene. Through his collaboration with the producer Frank Dukes, he has written songs for The Weeknd, Camila Cabello, and Justin Bieber. His minimal production; brassy, gentle vocals; and profound lyrics make him the ideal artist for times of reflection and meditation, even when the challenges you face seem too difficult and painful to approach. 

Listen to: Ali, Air Forces, The Hearse

5. Hikaru Utada

With their first full-length release in 4 years, J-pop star Hikaru Utada returns by way of a full-length effort, Bad Mode, whose tracklist boasts nearly an hour twenty of material. The collaborators on the project are not anything to scoff at either, seeing the likes of Skrillex, Floating Points, and A.G. Cook mark their stamp on the tracklist. The tracks veer side to side from lounge music to disco all the way over towards minimal techno. Not to mention the inclusion of the triumphant “One Last Kiss”, featured on the Evangelion: 3.0 + 1.0 soundtrack.

Listen to: “Somewhere Near Marseilles”, “Time”, “Find Love”

6. Bear1Boss

Atlanta-based rapper, Bear1Boss, has already blasted through the beginning of 2022 with a handful of singles and mixtape, Sicko Space X. The lineage of Bear1Boss’ influences seem quite obvious (see: Sahbabii, Bladee, UnoTheActivist, etc.) yet the 23-year-old rapper continues to push the boundaries of the current hip-hop meta. With some promising collaborations on the horizon and unrelenting release stamina, 2022 will see Bear1Boss add to his already prolific collection of works.

Listen to: “Quit”, “Material Bwoy”, “Yuued”

7. Huerco S.

After 6 years away from the project, Kansas-born producer, Brian Leeds, is returning to the Huerco S. name with LP, Plonk. The hiatus without new Huerco S. has left a void in the hearts of fans fiending for another hypnogogic ambient excursion. But since making decade-end lists and a Frank Ocean co-sign of 2016’s For Those Of You Who Have Never…, Leeds has decided to keep the project away from a possible pigeonhole. Plonk will see Leeds exploring where he is now, or in 2019, rather, as most of the material has been sitting on a hard drive for the past few years. He urges listeners to keep an open mind as the Huerco S. project is free-flowing in form and will simply allow Leeds to make the music he is feeling at any given moment.

Plonk is out on February 25th via Incienso Records.

8. LANNDS

Hailing from Jacksonville, FL, somewhere close to home and quite influential to me in my formative years, I can’t help but think LANNDS is definitely a duo to watch. Recently being spotlighted as Album of the Day by Bandcamp, it is almost a ticking time bomb to watch them increase in following and recognition. LANNDS seems to do it all, bringing achey beats, haunting vocals, and synthy wavelengths to funnel through you. I look forward to catching one of their shows.

Listen: ninety four

lotus deluxe has just dropped on Run For Cover Records. 

9. yeule

yeule is no one new to the scene, with tracks of their 2019’ album, Serotonin II, compiling multimillion plays on streaming. but, with their recent release, Glitch Princess, growth and evolution is evident. Waking up from a massive software update, the robot — the embodiment of the album — tells us their story of placing themself back into this earthly plane. Gauging the ebb and flow of music and style influence, yeule is someone to watch as we trickle closer and closer everyday into the uncanny valley.

Listen to: Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty

Glitch Princess is available now via Bayonet Records.

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