21 rising stars under 21

With tours from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young and Black Sabbath hitting Australia this year, the baby boomers have really made their presence felt in 2013. But beyond the big-money tours, nostalgia trips and hyped releases by established acts like Kanye and Daft Punk, there’s an abundance of prodigious musical talent climbing the ranks, pushing boundaries and producing music’s future sounds.

To highlight the brightest of these rising stars, FL has collated our inaugural 21 Under 21; a collection of the most talented emerging acts from Australia and beyond. From indie darlings to emerging rappers, we believe all of these artists are destined for big things in the near future – some are even well on their way. Let us know in the comments if your favourite act has been overlooked.

When you listen carefully to the lyrics of Lorde’s hit single ‘Royals’, it’s difficult to conceive how a 16-year-old New Zealander is creating such sophisticated pop. Elia Yelich O’Connor released her Love Club EP late in 2012, and has been riding a wave of hype ever since. In March she signed a deal with Universal Records, while Canadian electro-pop queen Grimes has already given her tick of approval. Lorde’s second release, The Tennis Club EP, is due out on July 22. Here’s the first single, ‘Tennis Court’.

Nineteen-year-old Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt’s self-titled debut album was an impressive release to say the least – his verses were tight and polished, and his lyrics complex and confronting in typical Odd Future fashion. It’s even more shocking when you think that he was just 16 at the time though. After two years at a therapeutic retreat for at-risk boys in Samoa, Earl is back and better than ever. His new album Doris will hopefully be out next month, and its content is starkly different from the lyrics about rape and murder of his first release. On Twitter he admitted that he expected to lose some fans with the new style, but that he still “fucking loves how it sounds”. In the meantime though, his latest single ‘WHOA’ is as good as anything he’s brought out before. Earl recently toured Aus with Tyler, The Creator. Full report here.

Alana (aka Baby Haim) comprises one third of the Haim sisters, and at 21 years of age is the only member of the band who could officially make our list. Nonetheless, the decidedly young Haim stormed to prominence following the release of their hit singles ‘Don’t Save Me’ and ‘Forever’ in 2012, and their top ranking in BBC’s influential Sound of 2013 poll. Their catchy R&B take on classic Cali-folk has resonated so much in Australia that the band are due to play Splendour In The Grass in July, and have already sold out all of their sideshows. All this, and they haven’t even released an album yet.

London’s Lawrence brothers – Guy, 22, and Howard, 19 – have already cemented themselves as 2013’s hottest electronic act with debut album Settle garnering a 9.1 on Pitchfork. Mixing 4×4 British garage sounds with modulated pop vocals, the pair have managed to break through to the mainstream thanks to their indie-club friendly tunes. Last year’s hit ‘Latch’ even found itself at #21 on triple j’s Hottest 100, while singles such as ‘Tendlerly/Flow’, ‘White Noise’ and ‘You & Me’ earned their own share of airplay, too. The pair played an acclaimed show at Field Day in London in May, while they’ve already been booked as headliners for new IDM-based festival Listen Out. That’ll follow a huge run of European festival dates, including stints at Reading/Leeds, Bestival and Croatia’s Unknown Festival. Not too bad, considering the fact that two years ago dance music “wasn’t a plan” for the duo.

Like any modern teenagers, The Jungle Giants seem to be preoccupied with three things in life: relationships, partying and Facebook. This jangly indie-pop four-piece out of Brisbane stormed onto triple j last year with their hit single ‘She’s a Riot’, managing a very respectable #83 on triple j’s Hottest 100. Since then they’ve been busy playing shows at Falls Festival, and got a chance to support Two Door Cinema Club on their sold-out shows around the country. Their new single ‘I Am What You Want Me To Be’ will surely cement their place as a summer festival fixture. A debut album is due out sometime this year.

While US hip-hop has been dominated by the gritty, gangster style of the West Coast for years, its laidback cousin in the east has been making massive strides. At the forefront is Joey Bada$$, an 18-year-old kid out of Brooklyn, New York. Don’t judge him on the name though. His quick flow and complex lyrics have earned him critical acclaim from tastemakers like Pitchfork and NME, and he’s been recently been putting in guest verses for the likes of A$AP Rocky, Action Bronson and Mac Miller. His debut album _ B4.Da.$$_ is due out early next year, and if it’s anything like his 1999 mixtape, it’ll be one of the albums of the summer.

Humbly rising out of the Sydney suburb of Blacktown, Northlane have rapidly grown into one of the best metal/hardcore acts in the country over the past year. Earlier this year they released Singularity, a truly excellent album that showcased a bit more range than their 2011 debut Discoveries. The release saw the band’s popularity skyrocket, scoring them an ARIA #3 and a place atop the iTunes chart. Their fierce live show has earned them a support slot on Karnivool’s upcoming national tour.

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After making the switch from a bedroom producer (thanks to a program found in a cereal box) to headlining stages in a little over a year, Future Classic signing Harley Streten spent most of last year conquering Australian music with his “”crossover beats””: (a winning combination of pop-sensible sampling/vocals with warped, bass-heavy backing music). His “Infinity Prism” tour saw him selling out massive venues like Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion with ease, while he managed to snag no less than four different tracks on last year’s triple j Hottest 100.


Now Streten is turning his sights overseas, where he’s been busy playing shows and making friends with the likes of fellow EDM champions Diplo and Skrillex. He’s already rostered down for a string of festival dates in Europe throughout July, which he’ll follow up with another tour of the US straight after. The world is definitely Streten’s oyster right now – the fact he’s younger than Nirvana’s Nevermind just makes it even more incredible.

Snakadaktal have a sense of timing and maturity that belie their age (youngest member Phoebe Cockburn just finished high school last year). After winning triple j’s 2011 Unearthed High award amid a ton of hype, this Melbourne quintet have cooled off a bit over the past two years – taking time to play some festivals, release the Dance Bear EP and really refine their sound. The result? Debut album Sleep in the Water, which is described as “simultaneously ambitious yet tranquil, accomplished and otherworldly but still down-to-Earth”. If ‘Ghost’ and first single ‘Hung On Tight’ are anything to go by, we’re in for a brooding, contemplative and dreamy affair.

Hailing from Sheffield in the UK (like a very similar band of recent years), the Loveless brothers – 21-year-old Eoin and 19-year-old Rory – comprise this two-piece garage-punk band. Their menacing riffs and aggressive tracks simply suck you in with sheer force – Eoin’s deep, crooning vocals contrast perfectly with their frenetic sound. Though they’ve only recently released music publicly, they’ve been playing together for over a decade (so when they were just 11 and 9 years old!). It shows, too – they’ve got a sense of cohesion and understanding that’s beyond their years. A self-titled debut album is due for release in August.


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