The sound of 2020: Pop meets indie, and digital DIY

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Porridge Radio, November 2019. Credit: Paul Hudson (CC BY 2.0). 

KCRW DJ Dan Wilcox predicts that pop and indie music will merge even more during this new decade.  

He adds that music overall is becoming more digital, especially with the emergence of so-called laptop artists and SoundCloud artists, who have a do-it-yourself approach. 

“You think of people like Lil Nas X and Billie Eilish. These are artists that were kind of creating their own music and kind of doing it their own way that went on to become superstars. And so I think that is probably indicative of the sound of the past decade. And I have a feeling … just because of the success of so many of these artists, that this forthcoming decade is going to really expand on that kind of digital way of making music,” he says. 

Artists to get excited about: 

Moses Sumney 

Wilcox says Sumney is an incredibly unique, visionary artist who keeps you on your toes with the genres that he creates: “He can kind of shift effortlessly between folk music and electronic soul music, and some of it sounds a little like symphonic rock, almost.”

Sumney’s two-part album, “Grae,” is coming out on May 15. “Virile” is one of the early singles. 

“I think his influences probably come from all over the place. … He's got electronic beats, but he's also using acoustic guitars. I think his real weapon is his voice. He's got this falsetto that's like just drop dead gorgeous,” Wilcox says.

Porridge Radio 

Wilcox says this female-fronted UK band has a dynamic indie rock sound: “They're kind of raw and intense, very witty, kind of confessional lyrics. They remind me a little bit of an indie rock version of the series ‘Fleabag.’ ” 

They have an upcoming album this year, and their single is “Lilac.”

Bonny Light Horseman 

This group is composed of Anais Mitchell, Josh Kaufman (The National) and Eric Johnson (Fruit Bats).

“They could be kind of considered a folk group. But they've concocted this really expansive and panoramic, like Americana kind of a sound. Female and male vocals. Very, very cool, gorgeous stuff,” Wilcox describes.

They’re coming out with an album later this month, which includes the single “Deep in Love.”

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Wilcox says this British male-female duo plays guitars and has a bit of an edge and cheeky attitude. “Apparently they're just blowing audiences away with their live show over in England,” he adds.

And I caught the single it's called right around the clock. And I was just instantly hooked. And they've 

Their album “925” comes out this spring. Wilcox says he was instantly hooked when he heard their single “Right Round the Clock.”

Tame Impala

“I feel like they're one of the few rock bands that have really made a big impact that have come out within the last 10 years,” says Wilcox. 

Their forthcoming record is “The Slow Rush,” with the single “It Might Be Time.” 

Wilcox says of the song, “It's got a little bit more of a crunch. It's a little more of a wild mojo that made their earlier recordings so interesting.”

“They are really experimental, I think. And they can kind of very easily create interesting work using analog instruments versus getting into the kind of digital realm,” he adds.

--Written by Amy Ta, produced by Rosalie Atkinson