MTV Artist To Watch: Jake Bugg

MTV Artist To Watch: Jake Bugg

Meet MTV’s latest Artist To Watch: freewheeling alt-folk wunderkind Jake Bugg.

When The Telegraph calls you “an East Midlands Bob Dylan,” you know you’re doing something right. I’m referring to, of course, 19-year-old alt-folk singer Jake Bugg (aka Jacob Edwin Kennedy), a very young artist with a distinctly older, wiser sound. While other guys his age are busy emulating the British invasion via ’90s boy band throwbacks *coughOneDirectioncough,* Bugg seems more interested in re-energizing vintage genres, and sonically channels everyone from — yep — Bob Dylan to The Beatles (albeit LATE Beatles) on his self-titled debut album.

Read more about Jake Bugg after the jump.

Born and raised in Nottingham, England, Bugg started playing guitar at 12 years old with some encouragement from his uncle Mark — AND a particular Simpsons episode featuring Don McLean’s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night”). Although he enrolled in music courses, Bugg was a more freewheeling type (gosh, who else is like that?), and eventually dropped out to write his own songs. And sure, Jake might shrug his shoulders at those Dylan comparisons (he told The Telegraph, “Bob Dylan’s cool, you know, he’s great, but he’s not a major influence”), but musically there’s just no escaping it: Bugg might as well be singing “Hey, Mr. Tambourine Man” while puffing on a harmonica in the East Village.

Now signed to Mercury Records, Bugg has popped up in all kinds of (mostly British) venues: In 2011, Bugg earned a spot on BBC’s “Introducing” stage at the 2011 Glastonbury Festival, and he opened for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at the Belsonic Music Festival in Belfast. To top that off, Bugg’s 2012 self-titled album reached No. 1 on the U.K. charts, and he nabbed a British Breakthrough Act Brit Award nomination to boot.

And speaking of his full-length disc, Bob’s — sorry, BUGG’s — album opener, “Lightning Bolt” comes packed with thumping bass drums, tinny acoustic guitar, and anxiety-ridden lyrics: “Morning, it’s another pure gray morning/ Don’t know what the day is holding/ When I get uptight/ And I walk right into the path of a lightning bolt.” Bugg may also draw further comparisons to contemporary folk-pop singer M. Ward on “Two Fingers,” a jangly, upbeat tune with a grim plotline: “He’s down in the kitchen drinking White Lightning/ He’s with my momma, they’re yelling and fighting.”

Now one of MTV’s Artists To Watch for 2013, Bugg is currently on tour in Europe, but plans to hit the States in early fall with a stop at New York City’s Webster Hall in September. Get your Bugg/Dylan fix below, and give his new album a spin (preferably on vinyl) while you’re at it.

+ Download Jake Bugg’s “Two Fingers.” 

+ Watch Jake Bugg perform “Two Fingers.”

+ Watch Jake Bugg perform “Lightning Bolt.”

+ Watch Jake Bugg perform “Country Song.”

+ Watch Jake Bugg discuss his first experiences with music.

Photo credit: Mercury Records

Check out everything that went on at Hangout Fest 2013, including interviews, performances and getting chill from the Shores at Hangout.MTV.com.