Matthew Bark’s ‘Hot-to-Trot’ Music for 2013

Yes I know it’s a little late into January for a ‘ones to watch’ music list but here’s my tuppence worth all the same! I’m keeping it short and simple: a Top 3 Irish list followed by a Top 3 International one.



Girl Band

This Dublin-based four-piece grunge-rock band have already released a single, In My Head, and an E.P., France 98, on Dublin indie label Any Other City records but having just procured an international booking agent for the live circuit, 2013 should, with any luck, see them gallivanting worldwide and making inroads with international audiences. Fingers-crossed this means an album for 2013. Whether or not this album will see them continue with their down and dirty, lo-fi grunge aesthetic or mean a step towards the more sonically expansive, hi-fi territory is yet to be seen but either way, many more ears will stretched by the guitarist’s impressive and crazy tones in 2013. (See here for my review of a Girl Band gig from November 2012).




Hailing from Cavan, and with one independent album already under her belt, Lisa O’Neil is set to have a bright 2013. She signed a publishing deal with Domino Records at the end of 2012 and is (as I type) recording album number two (under the guidance and knob-twiddling of David Kitt and Karl Odlum I believe).  Just think quirky contemporary acoustic folk music with a slightly squeaky (but totally endearing) and undeniably Irish (or is it ‘Oirish’?) vocal and you won’t be too far off. In other words, it’s perfect ‘warm the cockles of your heart’ music.




Seriously hip, seriously young, no-nonsense, straightforward, 60’s bluesy-rock ‘n’ roll, all-boy 4-piece also from Cavan. The likes of Paul Weller, Zane Lowe and Jeff Beck have already publically given them the nod (not to mention signing with Elton John’s management and going for dinner in Elton’s house – as well as getting bought expensive guitars as gifts from Sir Elton! (if my sources are to be believed that is)). So I’d be very surprised if 2013 didn’t see some sort of a splash from these guys.  How big and how long of a splash? Who knows. But as they’ve also signed to Mercury Records (and Domino’s Eugene McGuinness has been drafted in to ‘oversee’ songwriting) something’s definitely going to happen. Let’s just hope that the major label machine (or Sir Elton) doesn’t gobble the chizzlers up before the album sees the light of day!




American rapper Raykeea Wilson, a.k.a. Angel Haze, is on pretty much every new music list for 2013 but with good reason. She garnered a lot of attention in 2012 for her take on Eminem’s ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ – to be found on her free ‘Classick’ mixtape – and even more recently for her Twitter spat with (and the subsequent online release of ‘On The Edge’ diss track against) Ms. Azelia Banks at the start of January. But attention-grabbing antics aside, Haze’s flow is both sick and slick – although she has yet to nail it fully when it comes to the production side of things. And this is where Azelia currently has the advantage, not with vocal technique or delivery but with her super-slick and innovative production. But fingers-crossed, when it comes to the release of Angel’s first proper album, this issue will be resolved; otherwise she might not rise to the top like she should.



Laura_Mvula_Like Angel Haze above, many polls have listed Laura Mvula as one to watch in 2013 and it only takes seeing one video of her performing live to see why. This 26-year-old British lady just oozes soul and charisma, possibly even more so live than on studio recordings, which is surprising, as she has performed very few gigs to date. Predictably enough, Mvula generally draws comparison to Nina Simone, Erykah Badu and Jill Scott but if you ask me she is quite distinctive in her own right. Her distinctiveness may cost her any huge mainstream success though but who cares, her debut album, ‘Sing To The Moon’ – due for release in March on RCA records – still promises to delight and intrigue in equal measure.




Hi. Yes. I know. It’s that guy from series one of the British version of The Voice. But please, don’t hold that against him! I honestly think this guy can deliver something quite special – provided his debut isn’t decimated by too many dance beats or an overzealous R&B production that is. It‘s not that the dirty, dangerous and sexually affronting R&B dance element doesn’t work (see his initial single ‘Sick Love‘ for example), but Vince has such an amazing and soulful pop voice that I just hope his upcoming debut has some laid back, piano-led moments which allow his voice (and genuine soulfulness) to lead the way – just see the amazing acoustic rendition of ‘The Last Train Home’ beneath for instance – rather than his unabashed sexual brazenness alone. Simply put, Vince Kidd looks the part and sounds the part and, once the album finds the right balance between sexuality and soul, he has exactly what it takes to be a truly interesting and relevant contemporary pop/soul/R&B star in 2013.

Matthew Barks

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