Rex Orange County
After guest slots on Tyler the Creator’s album ‘Flower Boy’ and playing live with Frank Ocean and Skepta, Surrey musician Alex O’Connor’s place on ‘Ones to Watch’ lists of 2018 should come as little surprise. Self-released debut album ‘Apricot Princess’ is full of breezy hooks, R&B inflected piano-pop and soul-bearing lyrics. Indebted to everyone from King Krule to Frank Ocean and Bill Withers, O’Connor was originally a drummer but ditched the sticks after feeling isolated at the back of the stage while playing in bands. Since then he’s never looked back, and this gig at Bitterzoet will likely be your last opportunity to see him in a space this intimate, for, well, probably ever.
2 Mar, Bitterzoet
Matching acerbic wit with heart-tugging melodies and a genuine knack for writing genuinely brilliant pop songs, Alvvays are quickly becoming one of those bands you really shouldn’t live without. Following up an almost precociously accomplished self-titled debut album with last year’s equally impressive ‘Antisocialites’, live the bittersweet jangle you hear on record transforms into a dizzying pop-rock assault on the senses, while singer Molly Rankin’s lilting voice is as enchanting as ever.
6 Mar, Paradiso
Dream Wife are an Icelandic-Brightonian three-piece who started out as a performance project and describe what they do as a ‘way of life’. Definitely a conversation starter, but when you actually dig deeper you’ll discover a group making music with the attitude of punk and an energy that should propel them straight them onto your ‘most listened’ lists. As well as all this, they cite Bowie, Debbie Harry and Madonna as influences and have an unblemished love for the 1990s. What’s not to love?
7 Mar, Sugarfactory
It’s to the credit of 25-year-old British singer-producer Jack Ritchie— AKA Bearcubs — that despite seeing about 1,000,000 comparisons to James Blake when googling him, he still manages to sound original. True, Bearcubs’ music’s immersive synths, steel drum and echoing vocal does feel very Blake meets Jamie XX, but repeated listens reveal a lighter sound than some of his peers – more attuned to the dancefloor than darkened bedrooms. Without doubt one to watch, and now is the time to do it.
26 Mar, Sugarfactory
Featuring a four-day line-up of top DJs playing across multiple stages on the NDSM Wharf, the indoor-outdoor DGTL festival is certainly worthy of its reputation as one of Amsterdam’s finest dance music events. Typically the first major festival of the season, this year’s roster features some of the world’s best producers – Jackmaster, Floating Points, Laurent Garnier – and dozens more that you might not have yet heard of, but probably soon will.
30 Mar – 1 Apr, NDSM