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Slow Motion Panic Masters' Best New Artists of 2020

Recognising the Very Best Emerging Musicians of 2020

2020 was, obviously, a terrible time. Locked indoors, many of us descended into banana bread, houseplant obsessions and general insanity, but not everyone. For a few inspiring individuals, 2020 was an opportunity to express themselves, bringing light to a world desperately in need of an escape. Here at Slow Motion Panic Masters, we want to celebrate the musicians that arrived last year with an astounding musical creativity in the face of overwhelming difficulty. Today, we're proud to celebrate SMPM's Best New Artists of 2020:



Fuvk’s gentle earworms hit with familiarity, her voice like an indie-film soundtrack amidst catchy harmonies that fall like lullabies. With raindrop guitars and wandering intimacies, the acoustic layers of her bedroom-pop sound unfolded across 3 singles last year, from the oh-so short and sweet ‘Will I See You Soon’ to the collaborative reveries on ‘Katie’. It’s exciting to see what 2021 will bring for an artist who has consistently delivered tracks that standout on any playlist set to chill, and Slow Motion Panic Masters awaits the standalone promise of a future EP with keen anticipation.

- SAM HARDING (@samoharding)

Fuvk: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



We really love BAXTR here. This is firmly a "we love BAXTR" zone, and you are forcefully invited to join us. When debut single 'Bloom' arrived hot off the presses into our submissions inbox, we were collectively floored by just how confident this alt-pop-rock hybrid of a trio sounded. Swirling creatively between The 1975's second (and best) album, and an undercurrent of particularly self-assured songwriting, BAXTR immediately announced themselves as a radio-ready outfit of envious talent. Their discography is tantalisingly short at the moment, but everything released so far has us desperate for more. There are big things in line for BAXTR, and we're so lucky to have heard it as early as we have.

- BEN WHEADON (@wheadsauce)

BAXTR: Spotify / Instagram



This Toronto-based musician slid into our DMs just last month but, oh man, he stole our hearts. Glitter Party has produced some of the best lo-fi rock we've listened to in a long time: a perfect blend of chill, beach rock vibes and intriguing electronica sonics. :) was one of the dreamiest albums to be released this year and, if I’m honest, its title track is still up there in my heavy rotation one month later. Yep, it’s that good. It was a phenomenal album that stood out confidently in a saturated landscape of underground rock, but to be honest, it was hard not to fall for such a charming musical project. It was as sensitive as it was fun; as relaxed as it was deadly serious. Keep an eye on Glitter Party folks; he’s coming for all your hearts.


Glitter Party: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



South East London producer and multi-instrumentalist emil’s 2020 was a relentless showcase of his talent, his EP Ambrosia packed with hypnotic soulful instrumentals that combined melodic hip-hop acoustics with drum programming and featured a breadth of talented collaborators and peers. Yet on Ambrosia emil was by no means a facilitator, his production instead taking direct control, the vocalists delivering features to herald in intricately well woven tracks. The result is an emphasis on dusty soul inspired cuts interlaced with samples that begin to glisten with modern day hip hop flourishes, each track entering in quick, bustling vignettes and random vocal clips, sequenced to leak into the next and create a breathless, tightly knit listening experience. The fragments were skilfully placed and arranged to compliment the recordings, a celebration of a producer bristling with talent and a wide-ranging sonic palette. The stream of compliments at the end of ‘Bakerloo’ only functioned as acknowledgement that emil knows it all too.

- FIN COUSINS (@fincousins)

emil: Spotify / Instagram



In a year that needed some music to make you move more than ever, neo-soul and hip hop collective T.ill APES cannot be overlooked. Following a few performances uploaded to YouTube in 2019, the group had a productive 2020, releasing an 8 track EP Lift Off and three singles, the stand out being ‘Scissor Salad’, a dense and excellently produced cut with tight drumming sequences, decadent horns and bass licks. T.ill APES found their strength in a synthesis of rap and hip hop elements swirling cohesively under producer Doc.Awes, while MC Hanumankind’s verses remained consistently charismatic in a deep and propulsive tone, sometimes kicking into triplet flows. His cadences tie together tracks that often flow in multiple directions, the looseness of grooves cloaking their music in silky sunset textures. They’ve built quite a launch pad for themselves.

- FIN COUSINS (@fincousins)

T.ill Apes: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



Man. There's productivity, and then there's JON.. It's downright ridiculous just how much this Bristol artist achieved in 2020. Given everything that transpired in a plague year, you'd totally forgive artists for taking it easy, allowing themselves to rest through 2020 in order to come back stronger. Yeah, JON. didn't do that.

Lets run through his achievements from last year quickly: this guy started March off by dropping Is It Too Early, a two song project featuring fellow SMPM favourite Reppatwa on the incredible 'Satin Flows'. A month later, three song project Before It's Too Late made in collaboration with Musaormuse stunned us, with second track 'Soul II Soul' ending the year as one of our top 50 songs. JON. then went on to feature all about the place, demonstrating greatness not just on his music, but on everyone else's too, and his final song of the year, 'Deal or No Deal' remains unmissable. But its not just productivity with this artist, its consistency. Everything JON. touches turns to gold. If he appears on a project, you're getting an 8/10, minimum. This is the David Silva of underground rap. Relentlessly brilliant, consider this a command to listen to whatever JON. drops in 2021 and beyond.

- BEN WHEADON (@wheadsauce)

JON.: Spotify / Instagram



There were a lot of exceptional bands that surfaced from the Irish underground in 2020, and Magazines were one of the very best. Where do I even start? The vocals are stellar, the drums propulsive, the bass and guitars are perfectly toned and punchy - all while pads and soundscapes enveloped some of the very best alt-rock released in 2020.

Its staggering just how good Magazines sound in everything they attempt. 'Pink and Blue' sounds like a long lost Dirty Hit tape, 'Happy Alone' soundtracked my commute to university and 'Moonlight' introduced me to the majesty of Magazines. First single 'Wet and Wild' was fantastic, but independent bands, simply put, should not sound as good as Magazines did as 2020 came to an end. There is an increasingly exhaustive list of groups I am desperate to see live when the pandemic subsides, and there's probably no better compliment to give than saying that a Magazines gig is at the very top of my wishlist. What's more alarming though, is that this band are absolutely nowhere near their peak. The improvement in songwriting and production from song to song was astonishing. Magazines started 2020 as a group dripping with ridiculous potential, but they ended it as a band entirely ready to decimate the Irish alternative scene.

- BEN WHEADON (@wheadsauce)

Magazines: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



Right. By now you should know that we love moa moa, and you should know exactly why. This London-based alt-pop group are genius. Their glitchy, gnarly synths and distorted bass chords are unlike anything you will hear in the underground, or anywhere else for that matter. They are impressively polished, yet defiantly experimental, toying with time signatures and tone wizardry in the formation of some of the best songs of 2020.

The release of debut single 'Yellow Jacket' demanded attention, animated short series Please, Slow Me Down blew us away, and their follow up single 'Spinning' only added fuel to the fire of astonishing hype swirling around this collective. Trust us, we mean it when we say that their brilliant instrumentals have underpinned some of the most ingenious songwriting we came across in 2020. Complicated relationships, self-acceptance, and isolation are only a few of the subjects they have explored throughout their outrageously successful 2020, with more music (and live shows!) to come in 2021. So, you’d be wise to get into moa moa right now, dear readers. If they keep this up, they're going to take over the world.


moa moa: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



RoRo remained impressive throughout 2020, as her August EP Mood Forever delivered smooth tones directly rooted in her Bajan influences, constructing sticky refrains and flicking between seemingly endless vocal inflections and cadences. Her features were consistently brilliant, sometimes intimate and seductive, and sometimes brimming with attitude, and her venomously sultry performance on Savage Gary’s ‘Wait & See’ remains a shimmering example of what she is capable of.

In contrast, her previously unreleased track ‘Black – Palace of Me’ was incredibly disarming, revelling in closeness and meditating on blackness in response to the activism of the Black Lives Matter movement. In one take she moved through her own most intimate thoughts, baring herself to the listener and providing deep responses to conflict and struggles which float between the external and internal over a watery instrumental, breathing life into the closest of her own admissions. Roro stamped her authority on us from all directions, and we never quite knew what to expect. It’s a testament to an artist with consistently effortless versatility.

- FIN COUSINS (@fincousins)

RoRo: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



Sometimes, when an album emerges from the underground, it utterly charms you. The debut record from England's The Birthday Letters absolutely astonished me. A truly fantastic expression of inventive production decisions, honest songwriting and gorgeous soundscapes, Human Beauty was every bit one of my favourite underground albums of 2020, and deserves your attention. Loaded from top to bottom with totally enchanting music, 'New Thought Leader', 'Open Heart Learning' and 'My Kronstadt' remained in my regular listening throughout the hellscape of 2020. As a songwriter, the man behind the moniker of The Birthday Letters, Joseph Hughes, still stands as one of our very favourite discoveries of last year.

- BEN WHEADON (@wheadsauce)

The Birthday Letters: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



One of the bands that garnered the most attention from us throughout 2020, Keep Dancing Inc are the trio from Paris that set our year alight with Embrace, an animated album of dance and synth-pop bursting with effervescent energy. It was the sound of young musicians who came into their own as creatives, moving through modes of electronic dance, with tracks that are at times psychedelic, and at times utterly anthemic. Our pick for the 13th best album of 2020, even the sadder points on the project feel strangely warm; from the image of the three on the cover to the instrumental interlude ‘Embrace’ that falls at the halfway point, allowing each sides of the project to envelope the other. Their music is propellant, excellently produced and always focused, oozing with the glamour of European disco which forms the backing for songs which are effortlessly tinged with satire and self-awareness. Keep Dancing are a group that remained endearing in their quiet confidence, on a project that was resoundingly brilliant.

- FIN COUSINS (@fincousins)

Keep Dancing Inc: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



Look: I'm from Cwmbran. When I see bands emerge from South Wales, I get very excited. Hell, I've been celebrating Catfish and the Bottlemen for the better part of the decade, and they barely even qualify as Welsh. So imagine my excitement when Mawpit arrived, fully formed from Cardiff and ready to melt faces. Make no mistake, this is one of the most promising alternative rock groups to appear in 2020, and even removing my intense biases, its impossible to overstate how much this group is capable of.

There's a real sense of hard nosed rock goddess revivalism coursing through the veins of Mawpit. They are ready to obliterate anybody that has poor enough judgement to stand in their way, and having won funding from a competitive Welsh arts fund, they are ready to make 2021 their own with a debut EP. I've been shouting about this band for close to a year now. Hurry up and listen to Mawpit, they're fucking sick.

- BEN WHEADON (@wheadsauce)

Mawpit: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



all cats are beautiful is an inspiration. Not only is their signature alternative pop/electronica blend one of the most comforting sounds to have graced my ears all year, but the project they have committed to as a collective remains one of the most exciting groups we have come across in 2020. This Hackney-based queer music collective does not mess around: love, loss, grief, and friendship are all central to their music, influencing everything from their lyrics to their sound itself. Soft keys, gentle synths, and smooth harmonics work perfectly in unison to create a sonic space that sounds exactly like a hug. It is moving, not to mention rare, to find a group of artists who wear their hearts so boldly on their sleeves, who engage with themselves and the world in all their dazzling complexity. Watch out for these cats; they are certainly beautiful.


a/c/a/b: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp



If you were here in the real early days of Slow Motion Panic Masters, you've probably heard us obsess over this group already. Somewhere in Ireland, there must be a musical laboratory specifically designed to create my ideal band. That's the only possible explanation I have for Cooks But We're Chefs, a group so perfectly in tune with everyone of my musical obsessions that I have to suspect someone did it on purpose. This nine-piece Irish phenomenon is part jazz, part funk, part hip-hop and I cannot get enough. Every frequency that vibrates from them is injected with such an incredible chemistry and creativity, and their 2020 EP Sports Day still dominates my spotify account with constant playtime. What they did on 'Tembé Road' defies description, so I won't even try. Just know that this music comes with a big fat 'SMPM recommends' sticker on it. I still cannot get enough of this group, and I am counting down the days (incredibly impatiently) until they release something new.

- BEN WHEADON (@wheadsauce)

Cooks But We're Chefs: Spotify / Instagram / Bandcamp


Thanks for reading! Slow Motion Panic Masters is a music, arts and culture website created and co-edited by Ben Wheadon, a literature student and musician based at the University of Oxford. He is also a Fleet Foxes shill.

Ainhoa Santos Goicoechea (pronounced "I-know-ah") is a culturally confused Creative Writing postgraduate student from the Basque Country, Spain. She is passionate about film, music and politics, and she should probably know more than she does about all three.

Fin Cousins is a postgrad literature student studying at King’s College, London. He loves sport, music and writing and he is still waiting for Love Island to accept his application. He also made our logo.

Sam Harding is a student at York and an enthusiast of mosh pits. He is trying to marry music with writing but is running out of onomatopoeia. Life soundtrack includes underground rap and electronic bleep bloops.

Make sure to read our list of the Top 50 Songs of 2020 and the Top 20 Albums of the Year with these links to hear about the very best music you might've missed from the underground and beyond in 2020.

Do you make music? Send it to us via instagram and follow the account so we can contact you if we like what we hear. In the meantime, like us on facebook and subscribe to our mailing list below to be alerted every time a new post is published on the site.

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