(My Favorite) Newly Discovered Artists of 2020

What a year 2020 was, full of chaos, confusion and sorrow. Among all of the that, music can usually be a bit of a saving grace. An escape from the real world into a dream world all your own. Music can bring people together when factors of the world can tear us apart.

For me especially, music is a large part of my life. Before the pandemic, when my life consisted of eight hours work days in a quiet office, I would constantly listen to music as I got my work done. With this came a lot of new artist discovery – or at least new to me. The pandemic forced me to be laid off from my job for five months before I was lucky enough to return to an old job. While some of my free listening time still went to music during those five months, I often found myself more drawn to podcasts and television, thus, missing out on some potential new artist discovery, I’m sure. However, I still managed to find a few that have been in my constant rotation and have quickly become some of my favorite artists. Plus, I can’t stop thinking about how exciting it is going to be to see them live for the first time – one day. Until then, I’ll be listening to these artists on repeat, watching their live shows online and sharing them with you…

Molchat Doma

Photo by UT Connewitz Photo Crew via Flikr.

Russian trio Molchat Doma (which translates to “Houses Are Silent”) can be best described as doomsday disco. With dramatic, monotone vocals, a danceable baseline and grooving drum machine and synths, the band first came on my radar when its songs made its way into highly popular TikTok videos, including one of seemingly dancing bats and of a cartoon skeleton. Although the band was not credited in the videos that I originally came across, after some digging I was able to find the band and more of their music (even with a language barrier). Their post-punk, new wave sound brings me back to the fun Friday nights at The Coffin Club (if you know, you know).

Molchat Doma, comprised of members Egor Shkutko, Roman Komogortsev and Pavel Kozlov, released their third studio album “Monument” in November, and it features nine fresh, dancy goth tracks.

Elder Island

Photo by Elder Island via Facebook.

Electronica dream pop trio Elder Island is a genre-defying group from Bristol that incorporates elements of synth-heavy dance beats with meaningful lyrics. The band entered my life just after the new year last year via my boyfriend’s random discovery. We were heartbroken to find out that the band had played Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge just four months prior (little did we know live shows would be a thing of the past for the unforeseen future).

Elder Island’s sound resembles that of pop duo Sylvan Esso, but with a more electronic-based sound, yet the band, unbeknownst to me, has yet to reach the popularity of Sylvan Esso, at least in the U.S. it seems. The band is certainly on the brink of a catapult, though. They just released a new single “Small Plastic Heart,” which features the sweet, deep voice of lead singer Katy Sargent backed by a smooth, danceable drum beat.

Kassi Valazza

Photo by Kassi Valazza via Facebook.

Kassi Valazza defines what true country music should sound like. Her low-toned, twangy voice sings that of sad, not-your-average love songs with a touch a psychedelic guitar tones. The Arizona-born, Portland-based singer played a live KEXP Studio set this past May, which is when she truly caught my attention. Though I had heard her song “Mama” play on my Spotify from time-to-time, I never dove into the rest of her catalog. That is until her KEXP set released that I fell in love with her unique voice and sound.

Kassi Valazza recently pressed a limited amount of her 2019 studio album “Dear Dead Days” to vinyl – which has since sold out. In addition, the country singer has performed various live streams throughout the pandemic and recently announced that she’s working on new material.

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