Best New Artists of 2022

The Best New Artists of 2022

The best new artists of 2022 are pushing boundaries as popular music becomes less genre-focused. They are forging new identities and moving music forward.

Poppy Ajudha

South London’s Poppy Ajudha creates thoroughly modern R&B with whipsmart lyrics and memorable melodies. So much so that it comes as a shock that The Power in Us is her debut album. Ajudha possesses sophistication that belies her young age, and she uses that to make a superbly edited record with a vast range of moods and grooves that makes the LP zip by in a snap. Fiercely feminist and socially conscious, Ajudha’s music is empowering for women and inspiring to all progressively oriented people.

“Play God” dissects how religions act to reinforce male dominance and female subjugation. It’s a hugely powerful track full of righteous anger and rage. Meanwhile, “Holiday From Reality” sports an infectious flowing pop sense but speaks to our weariness in these troublesome times. “Mother Sisters Girlfriends” is a paean to the sisterhood of women, while “Fall Together” urges women to unite to create change and draw from each other’s inherent strength. “London’s Burning” weaves electronic beats and a melancholy mood around Ajudha’s warm, unique voice.

With the striking down of Roe vs. Wade in the United States, Poppy Ajudha’s music couldn’t be more timely and necessary. She sees the power in all of us to create change and progress to a better future. – Sarah Zupko


Drill is everywhere in the UK right now. The latest young star in the genre is Brighton’s ArrDee, a 19-year-old who’s ascended the UK charts several times over the last year. His debut mixtape Pier Pressure is a confident and commanding collection – 14 tracks that eschew drill’s penchant for cold violence in place of sharp, youthful exuberance. Party anthems “No Biggie” and “Oliver Twist” are examples of ArrDee’s playful side, while tracks like “Late Night Driving” and “Early Hours” reveal layers of earnest emotions. ArrDee’s infectious confidence and blatant talent guarantee that Pier Pressure is just the start of his journey. — Tom Morgan

Ethel Cain

For Hayden Anhedönia, the 24-four-year-old Tallahassee native behind the anachronistic symbol of pietistic Americana that is Ethel Cain, an anti-religious awakening didn’t ail her anguish but instead merely signaled the start of a long path toward healing. Through eerie and exquisite indie rock tinged with elements of Gregorian chants and Southern Gothic imagery, her music adjusts to this newfound sense of agency. She transports us across whispering cotton fields and between oak-scented church pews, inviting us to consider the generations of women locked within the confines of religious fanaticism, only to subject their daughters to the same punitive lifestyles.

This year, on her debut full-length LP Preacher’s Daughter, she spins a complicated yarn about American disillusionment with a sense of gravitas that matches her forlorn countenance and, occasionally, searing disdain. “American Teenager”, one of the finest and most definitive tracks of 2022, combines the vivid storytelling of Julien Baker with the shoegazey pop refrains of Hatchie to arrive at a volcanic sing-along hymn brimming with cathartic potential. With inventiveness and grace, Anhedönia uses her body and voice as a vessel, queering Christian rock in the process. And as such, the figure of Ethel Cain will have countless stories to tell, wrongs to right. She’ll be proselytizing her narrative, and we’ll all be praising it in the name of Ethel. — Michael Savio

Chat Pile

Chat Pile make an immediate impression on the listener with an unrelenting assault that points to any and every sludge/noise rock band from the 1980s and 1990s that one can imagine: Jesus Lizard, Big Black, Eyehategod, Unwound, and on and on. That writhing mass of angry noise is only rivaled these days by the mighty KEN Mode, but what sets the Oklahoma City band apart from the rest of the AmpRep disciples out there is the vocal and lyrical talents of singer Raygun Busch, whose work on the band’s full-length debut God’s Country elevates an otherwise excellent record to something truly special. His character sketches throughout the record depict the underbelly of 2020s America, mercifully but with a strong sense of compassion, best exemplified in the poignant and harrowing “Why?” Chat Pile’s unflinching view of a country killing itself from within is perfect, tragic timing, essential American rock. — Adrien Begrand


Despite the popularity of UK drill, it’s taken a little while for female artists to rise in prominence within the genre. However, it seems like the time has finally come for the genre to become infused with a female perspective, with artists like Ivorian Doll, Abigail Aswante, and Cristale leading the way. South London’s Cristale has been marked as one to watch for some time, following a string of releases, including the viral TikTok hit “Bong Bing”. Three of her previously released tracks feature on her debut EP, What It’s Like to Be Young, a thrilling drill excursion that combines smart, slice-of-life lyricism with bass-leaden aggression. Cristale’s energy is raw and infectious, especially thrilling when her voice stretches to a shredded yell on the ice-cold highlight “Braids”. She’s one to watch on the UK scene. — Tom Morgan

The Diasonics

Ideally, music should be socially positive. It should bring people together and foster a sense a community, even if only for a few songs. Peace is the desire of drummer Anton Moskvin, bassist Maxim Brusov, percussionist Anton Katyrin, guitarist Daniil Lutsenko, and keyboardist Kamil Gzizov, five young hussar funk-lovers who happen to hail from Moscow, Russia. It’s difficult to be angry when listening to their debut album. Origin of Forms is just too groovy and says so much without any words.

If anything can bridge the gap, perhaps it could start with something as simple as this. Every human can get behind it, and the astounding popularity of Khruangbin shows that there is already an appetite for this kind of summery, exotic vibe. Let funk show us the way.

Released by independent Italian funk label Record Kicks, their debut album Origin of Forms was recorded on an eight-track Otari MX-5050 MK III analog reel-to-reel tape recorder at Moscow’s Magnetone Studio and was mixed in Melbourne by Henry “JNBO” Jenkins (The Cactus Channel). While exotica could often arguably be seen as exploitative, with the camp American jazz aesthetic of tiki increasingly being viewed as nostalgic colonialist’s whitewashing of trans-Pacific cultures, this group’s debut album clearly came by its international flare honestly. It’s a tragedy that their music is able to travel around the world far freer than they are, but one hopes mind-blowing bands like this will help break down those walls. — Alan Ranta


On their stellar debut, The Great Regression, Brighton’s five-piece DITZ come out hard and dark. They deliver an intense and sonically invigorating assault on the superficial politeness that masks systemic inequality while exploring the elements of personhood that cast some from the mainstream.

Singer Cal Francis wrote that the track “I Am Kate Moss” is about “the separation between your visual and personal identities, particularly within the context of masculinity and femininity”. This separation of mind and body comes across in the album’s ten tracks, which balance cerebral spoken word and somatic song structures via familiar rock riffs. With cues from Foals and Ireland’s Gilla Band, DITZ place themselves on post-punk’s heavier, metal side. Their riffs are dark and simple, in the vein of Korn or Slipknot, but with artistic sensibilities more in line with Deftones and At the Drive-In. — Jay Honeycomb


The major label debut from Tampa-based newcomer Doechii, she / her / black bitch is an incendiary warning shot by this ultra-talented 24-year-old. Comparisons to the likes of Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion will surely be made; however, the closest would be to Azealia Banks’ early work. Doechii’s debut EP shares more than a little of Banks’ hyperactive personality, as well as some subtly-experimental production choices. These five tracks all possess completely different energy yet have a clear emotional arc, moving from the hyperactive opening cuts (highlighted by the unique energy of “Bitch I’m Nice”) to the relaxed, SZA-featuring “Persuasive”. It’s a promising and confident work from an artist with huge potential. — Tom Morgan


This keyboard/drum duo from the center of Gen Z (keyboardist DOMi Louna, from France, is 22, US drummer Beck is 19) is up-to-the-minute interesting, with copious jazz chops but a sensibility that channels hip-hop and contemporary pop—but also fusion ala Weather Report, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock (on vocoder here), and (no joke) Steely Dan—in some interesting new ways. Whatever label you want to put on it is fine, what with the contemporary vocals on about half the tracks and the other half consisting of whiz-bang instrumentals that improvise, ripple, fly, and flash.

This music is the next step past Robert Glasper’s jazz/hip-hop—not really grounded in old-school R’n’B, even if the duo has played for Erika Badu. It is more a kind of breakbeat fusion, with Beck playing hopped-up, precise grooves that sound broken and put back together again in the hippest ways. The melodies never sound pre-cooked, which is where the Steely Dan and Weather Report vibes enter—the stuff is quirky, original, not a simulation of “bluesiness” or “soul”, but strange.

DOMi’s keys are agile in the extreme, even if you’ve heard this kind of thing before. But somehow, together, they sound less superficial and show-offy than breathtaking. If you are someone (like me) who begrudgingly admires the British whiz-kid (no so kid anymore) Jacob Collier for his mega-skills but thinks he has nothing to say and sings like a weird old dude in an Irish pub, then DOMi & JD BECK may be more your thing. Collier is busy winning Grammys and gathering the admiration of older folks, but this duo is just as skilled and has new fields they want to—playfully—explore.

“Moon” features Hancock’s vocoder, and two tracks let bassist Thundercat play with these younger cats, putting some Jaco Pastorius wonder into their sound. “Take a Chance” adds Anderson Paak and a bunch of hooks—an attempt at a single, for sure. And it works! Better, maybe, is the track and sets up some MC action from Snoop Dogg and Busta Rhymes. But when they add guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel on “Whoa”, the band sounds like a legitimate rival to those John Scofield funk outfits, but actually more harmonically daring and fleet.

DOMi & JD BECK got famous on social media, jamming and sometimes just goofing around. This traditionally formatted album is not where they live. But they are capable of wow-ing even in this old-school format. Why not give in to the chops when there is this much fun behind them? — Will Layman


The songs on Fanclubwallet’s You Have Got to Be Kidding Me hum with life and animation, but Judge’s equable tenor purrs clearly through the production (thanks to producer and multi-instrumentalist Michael Watson). If she wanted, Judge could sound like emo-imbued indie acts such as Rilo Kiley and Death Cab for Cutie, but she doesn’t. The scratchy, staccato guitar patterns, clunky clavinets, and siren synths could sound like the Talking Heads (whom she covered), but they don’t. The esoteric, keyboard-led lo-fi of Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, the ruminative car journeys of Modest Mouse, and that one Atlas Sound song that sounds like a ringtone (“Walkabout”)—these touchstones make themselves known but never overstay their welcome. 

The album’s mood balances on a precipice between tongue-in-cheek shrugs and tearful despair, with the aforementioned kitsch knocking against plaintive major seventh intervals and affecting personal lyrics. Even the album title is pure exasperation packaged as wry stoicism. For the distilled, emblematic example of the Fanclubwallet sound, see album apex “Toast”, the sonic successor to popular single “Car Crash in G Major”, which appeared on last year’s Hurt Is Boring EP and hit one million streams while Judge lay in a hospital bed. (It has since surpassed six times that.) — Hayden Merrick


Flohio’s debut has been gestating for several years. Given the relentless volume of tracks that the London MC has released in that time, her 12-track debut full-length, Out of Heart, almost feels like an anomaly. Despite this, it’s more of a complete collection than her 2020 mixtape No Panic No Pain, organized intuitively and featuring a broad tonal synergy that makes for a compelling listen. There’s a level of emotional resonance to this collection that strikes in surprising ways, highlighted by the giddy “SPF,” effervescent “2 Hours”, and resplendent “Feel Alive”. More proof was hardly needed, but on the resonant strength of this release, Flohio has a bright future ahead of her. — Tom Morgan