Yard Act, Nick Ward and Joy Crookes: UK & Aussie acts you need to know

As the Ashes kick off and the year begins to draw to a close, I thought I’d take a moment to bring your attention to a hat-trick of acts I’ve been introduced to this year; two from England and one here at home in Australia.

Yard Act (Leeds, England)

Ever wondered what the love child of David Byrne, Ian Dury, Blur and The Streets would sound like? Wonder no more, as Yard Act are very likely to be the offspring you’re looking for. Hailing from Leeds, the four-piece are here to deliver an off-kilter and dry take on English life in a post-Brexit world. With only a handful of singles to their name, the band has already managed to pick up a notable following in their homeland, with none other than Elton John heaping praise on their wit and dishevelled delivery of absurdist pop and indie rock. With their debut album, The Overload, due for release in January 2022, expect to hear more from Yard Act as they’re bound to be booked on every European festival next year.

Key tracks: “The Overload”, “Payday”, “Peanuts”

Follow Yard Act on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Nick Ward (Sydney, Australia)

Managing to build a name for yourself just as a pandemic takes hold is probably one of the tougher things a musician could think about doing, and yet that’s exactly Nick Ward has managed to do. Hailing from Sydney, Ward has managed to craft a tidy and unique spot in the Australian music landscape on the back of his delicately layered, empowering, smart and sweeping displays of pop. Sitting somewhere between the grandiose elements of Sigur Ros and Arcade Fire with the pop sensibilities of Rex Orange County, Ward has managed to already sell out a stack of shows in 2022, so do your best to get to one of them if you’ve got the means.

Key Tracks: “Princess”, “FMF!”, “Holding the Man”

Follow Nick Ward on Facebook and Instagram

Joy Crookes (London, England)

Bringing an old sound into 2021 isn’t an easy task, but Joy Crookes has managed to absolutely smash it in every which way. While trying to avoid drawing comparison to their vibes, Crookes’ voice has a smokey sound in the same realm as Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, while drawing on influences from reggae acts like Black Uhuru, Motown legend Marvin Gaye, modern rappers like Kendrick Lamar and everyone’s crush from 2008 Kate Nash. Her voice is mature beyond her years, while the music accompanying her lyrics and stories of her culture, identity and familial roots incorporates elements of soul, jazz, dancehall and pop. Having been on the British scene for a couple of years now, Crookes released her debut album, Skin, in October 2021 to critical acclaim both at home and overseas. Booked on the 2022 edition of Splendour In The Grass, Joy Crookes is one act you won’t want to sleep on over the coming 12 months.

Key tracks: “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now”, “When You Were Mine”, “Kingdom”

Follow Joy Crookes on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter