Artists to Watch 2020: Ten artists (and then some) to look out for in the new year

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From left: Charlie Hickey. Talker, Jasper Bones, Spare Parts for Broken Hearts, Allie Crow Buckley, Palm Springsteen, BIIANCO, J. Laser

Who knows what 2020 will bring.

After all, at this time last year Kills Birds were barely a blip on the radar, and they ended up releasing one of our albums of the year. Same goes for so-called mystery duo Emotional Oranges, who went on to issue two EPs, garner a bazillion online streams and land in the Coachella lineup. Things can happen fast.

But here is Buzz Bands LA’s annual look into the future — a wishlist of 10 L.A. artists (and then some) we hope to hear from in the new year. As always, we consider only artists for this list who have not released a full-length album. We’re probably forgetting somebody. And there are likely a dozen people we simply don’t know about yet. But here goes …


TALKER

Talker (Photo by Notes From Vivace)

Grunge-pop siren Celeste Tauchar, aka Talker, started 2019 by releasing her very good “Horror Films” EP and finished it with the even-better single “Learning the Feeling.” There’s at least a second EP on the way, so expect the singer-songwriter to uncork more emotions with her characteristic grit and grace.


CHARLIE HICKEY

Charlie Hickey (Photo by Bronson)

Just 20, the singer-songwriter (and occasional Phoebe Bridgers duet partner dating back to their days as teenagers playing venues such as Room 5) has been working on a batch of new songs with Bridgers collaborator Marshall Vore, and from what we heard recently, you won’t want to miss his impending releases. Hickey hasn’t released anything since this, in 2018:


SPARE PARTS FOR BROKEN HEARTS

Spare Parts for Broken Hearts (Photo by Notes From Vivace)

“Everything Heavy Everyone Here” reads the banner draped over the overworked amps at SP4BH’s shows. It’s truth in advertising — the grunge-metal trio is in all ways heavy — and, with powerful vocals over power chords, Sarah Green has made a believer out of everyone. Their lone 2019 single, “Big Win,” left their growing legion of followers hungering for more.


J. LASER

J. Laser

Jordan Lawlor, aka J. Laser, cut his teeth playing for seven years in M83. His solo project fuses buzzing alternative rock with pulsing electronic music — like a downed power line throwing off sparks in the middle of a rainstorm. Expect a new single this month, and more throughout 2020.


PALM SPRINGSTEEN

Palm Springsteen at Echo Park Rising 2019 (Photo by Zane Roessell)

There’s a wry swagger to both singles the L.A. quintet released last year, especially “Hey There Cowgirl,” which belongs in the mythical Guilty Pleasure Hall of Fame. The band — Nick Hinman, Z Berg, Aaron Bernards, Noah Gersh and Seth Trump — has more on the way and (we hear) a deal with an indie label on the horizon. It’s almost enough to make you want to drive to Palm Springs on Jan. 11 to see Palm Springsteen.


THE CEREMONIES

The Ceremonies

Way back when, we were sure the Ceremonies were poised for world domination. They could write songs; handsome brothers Matthew, Mark and Michael Cook sang pristine sibling harmonies; and their band T-shirts even sported etchings of famous literary figures. Then, poof, they went away. (It’s a long story, and one we aim to relate soon.) They resurfaced for shows last year with all those attributes intact, and now they have an album ready. We’ll be buying, and in the meantime here’s an oldie but goodie.


COMMUNICANT

Communicant (Photo by S.Lo)

Singer-songwriter Dylan Gardner’s new psych-pop project got a production boost from Ben Goldwasser of MGMT, although the album originally scheduled for a fall 2019 release was nudged forward into 2020. The onetime Warner-signed artist, still just 22 years old, possesses a classic ’60s/’70s pop aesthetic, updated for the times.


ALLIE CROW BUCKLEY

Allie Crow Buckley (Photo by Emma Marie Jenkinson)

The dreamy folk music on the Los Angeles native’s “So Romantic” EP (and follow-up single “Talking in My Sleep”) has Buckley positioned to make inroads in both the pop and Americana worlds. The ocean is a recurring theme in some of her songs, and her voice is like sunlight, glistening off it.


BIIANCO

BIIANCO

Gabby Bianco — aka Gabrielle Wortman of Smoke Season — dove headlong into chillwave-y experimental pop on her solo project, and also let everybody know what’s for breakfast (“Rice Crispies,” of course). She followed up with the sleek “13 Dead End Drive,” a collab with the estimable Madame Gandhi, and who knows what streets she’ll be driving on in 2020.


JASPER BONES

Jasper Bones (Photo by Zane Roessell)

The latest “Chicano wavy-soul” hero, Pasadena’s Jasper Bones — born Erwin Mendez Jr. — has been giving fans the warm-and-fuzzies since he released his first singles in 2017. He continued his forays into psychedelic R&B with two singles in 2019, and along with the Mariás (who must have a full-length coming, right?), soul singer August Eve (who released a 2019 EP on Mad Decent) and San Bernardino fun bunch Royaljag, Bones is among the next generation of Latinx and Eastside artists to get excited about.

Also keep an ear out for:

Liily
Poppy Jean Crawford
Mara Connor
Loyal Lobos
Boy Willows
August Eve
CMON
Molly Moore
The Jacks
KERA
The Marías
Opus Vitae
Royaljag
The Shakes
Talk Time
Thom Sawyr
Velvet Starlings
Riah
Winnetka Bowling League