Bands to Watch 2018: 20 artists (and then some) for the new year

Photos, from top row left: Moaning, the Marias, Lo Moon, Shey Baba, Sudan Archives, SILENTSHOUT. Bottom row: Superet, the Tracks, Pinky Pinky, Oddnesse, Bekon, Laura Jean Anderson
Photos, from top row left: Moaning, the Marias, Lo Moon, Shey Baba, Sudan Archives, SILENTSHOUT. Bottom row: Superet, the Tracks, Pinky Pinky, Oddnesse, Bekon, Laura Jean Anderson

Time for our annual attempt at clairvoyance — Buzz Bands LA’s Bands to Watch 2018 features 20 Los Angeles artists (plus some others) we’ll be tracking in the new year. As always, our Top 20 highlights artists who have not yet released a debut album.

How’d we do last year?

A bunch of artists we named-checked were in heavy rotation thanks to their albums: Phoebe Bridgers, Moses Sumney, Mondo Cozmo, Warbly Jets, Billie Eilish, Mapache, Gothic Tropic, Lawrence Rothman, MUNA, Alexandra Savior and the Regrettes.

We’re still in a holding pattern waiting for bigger releases from past honorees Lauren Ruth Ward, Kan Wakan, SWIMM, Clara-Nova, Dear Boy, Bishop Briggs, Moon Honey, Valley Queen, Luna Shadows, Kera & the Lesbians and EasyFriend.

Below is this year’s Top 20, alphabetically (and at the bottom of the post, the Top 20 in playlist form):


The bewitching singer finally has a new batch of music to follow up her 2016 EP — and, as recent club shows have shown, it’s high-octane Americana, heavy on the moxie.


So far, the young singer-songwriter has released only “Requiem,” but he has an album in the oven and a bunch of people he impressed on a recent tour opening for Susanne Sundfør.


After toiling as a writer-producer for a bunch of A-listers (including on Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN”), Dan Tannenbaum steps out with his own stylish retro-soul.


On the way is an EP of self-described “Chicano wavy-soul” from the 19-year-old whose open-hearted aesthetic might remind young fans of fast-rising CUCO.


Her debut album of glassy folk and glassy-eyed dream-pop, “Sleepless Dreamer,” arrives in February.


After releasing four ascendant singles over the past year or so, the dream-pop outfit fronted by the daughter of the late Chuck Loeb is scheduled to have an album arriving in late spring.


Three crushing singles, several prestigious tour slots and no small amount of Columbia Records’ muscle later, the ambient rockers will release an album in early 2018 (date TBA). (We think the perfect “L” club bill would be Lo Moon, Lone Kodiak and Lukas Frank.)


Lone Kodiak

Lone Kodiak

The EP “Feet in the Water” introduced fans to the trio’s sprawling, melancholic soundscapes. There’s a long-player somewhere in the future. (We still think the perfect “L” club bill would be Lo Moon, Lone Kodiak and Lukas Frank.)


Gorgeously sculpted indie-rock, the 24-year-old’s debut EP “Storefront Church” was four years in the making. Fingers crossed the next release will come more quickly. (And we still think the perfect “L” club bill would be Lo Moon, Lone Kodiak and Lukas Frank.)


Psychedelic- and jazz-tinted soul for anywhere the lights are low, the L.A. quintet fronted by chanteuse Maria Zardoya released their debut EP, “Superclean Vol. 1” in November and have another on way. Allure alert.


Songwriter-activist MILCK’s “Quiet” became a viral sensation after she and a chorus of singers performed it in flashmob fashion at the January 2017 Women’s March in Washington, D.C. Almost accidentally the muse of #METOO, the artist (Palos Verdes-reared Connie Lim) has an EP on the way in the new year on Atlantic.


From the ashes of the beloved Moses Campbell comes Moaning, who have ramped up their roof-rattling post-punk just in time for Sub Pop to release their debut album in March.


Singer-songwriter Rebeca Arango’s shape-shifting confessionals comes dressed up in producer Grey Goon’s tasteful clothing, full-on shoegazing when resolve is needed, vapory atmospherics when the singer is waxing dreamily. Six singles in, there’s nothing to dislike.


A step beyond the cookie-cutter garage-rock or proto-punk bands populating the scene, the teenage trio of Isabelle Fields, Eva Chambers and Anastasia Sanchez released their four-song debut on Innovative Leisure in April. The have one hand in the past. The other they use to playfully thumb their nose at you.


SILENTSHOUT seems like a lot to capitalize, but we’ll play along since it is the new persona for avant-pop artist Alina Bea, aka Alina Cutrono, who was name-checked here last year. New music coming after the first of the year, but for now, this cover of a Kate Bush song from 1980.


Their “Ultraviolet” EP was four songs, clocking 11 1/2 minutes. It’s enough to convince us that the quartet, originally from Santiago, Chile, have the chops to make an ear-bleeding long-player like folks did in the ’90s.


With a violin and a versatile voice as her weapons of choice, the Ohio-bred artist released her genre-bending debut — featuring looped and plucked strings, African rhythms and a refreshing sense of adventure — this year via Stones Throw Records (and she’ll do a West Coast tour in February with the similarly adventurous Tune-Yards).


After releasing their debut EP in October, the five-piece glam-slammed through their Echo residency in November displaying estimable swagger, technical prowess and a stubborn refusal to be sonically pigeonholed. The spectacle and bombast were plenty to hold our interest; there’s a single somewhere in the near future that will help it all make sense.


The quartet takes the Strokes’ garage-mélange, adds the emo-croon of Morrissey and stirs in narratives of their lives growing up in East L.A. Somebody play this on mainstream radio. A full-length is on the way in 2018.


Self-professed “music nerd” Vanessa Wheeler (ex-LeoLeo) releases her debut EP “The Other Side” in the new year — it’s avant-rock and prog-pop, all pretty genre-smashing and most of it jaw-dropping, that will appeal to guitar sophisticates. And other nerds, of course.


Calamity the Kid
Cheap Tissue
Harry Hudson
Mt. Joy
Katzu Oso
Spare Parts for Broken Hearts
Super Whatevr
Twin Temple
Desi Valentine
Van William