The christmas lights and tinsel are packed away and you cracked open just a few bottles for NYE and rued the hangover after it, 2014 is now here.
2013 provided us with heaps of incandescent musical output that, with great satisfaction, we listened to and gave our verdict on. Some records will stay with us for the foreseeable future while others will, for the best, burn out in forgotten memory.
We had two seminal acts return without caution, the Thin White Duke David Bowie and revered Shoegaze icons My Bloody Valentine. Both Bowie and MBV released new material to great critical acclaim, reminding everyone of not just their influence on alternative music but their ability to still make a piece of work that stands up with their beloved art they’ve meticulously painted previously.
In terms of debut releases or artists we have come across, an array of records kept us extremely engaged and excited by what the year was offering us. Parquet Courts, with their LP ‘Light Up Gold’, led us to a slacker rock utopia. Fifteen tracks of controlled garage that infected us with a penchant for the sharp-as-a-knife catchiness and poignantly frivolous. An EP followed, and if what we are lead to believe is true, a new record could reach us as early as this year.
Waxahatchee, much like the Brooklyn four-piece, followed a DIY ethic that gave Katie Crutchfield, the mind behind the punk-infused solo work, a voice which people latched onto. Her second album ‘Cerulean Salt‘ depicted the everyday reality of life in a don’t-hold-back manner, every string plucked unruly and untouched. It carries Crutchfields’ burning words that sit on her tongue, at times as sweet as Elliot Smiths’ lulls, at others as rasping as a fist fight. Her ability to write an infectious progression, proven with ‘Coast To Coast‘, could perhaps open a door into an even more dynamic and electric sound, not that she needs any more vibrancy with the amount of passion she extrudes.
Now another year arrives and it sure isn’t going to be any different in terms of providing us with superior records that we will cherish for many years to come.
Eagulls are Leeds premier purveyors of droning, destructive post-punk. Their 2012 EP contained five rasping anthems of discontent, all the while fulfilling their creative passions visually through the likewise dark and disturbing video for recent double-A single ‘Nerve Endings‘. Much like last years’ adored, the five-piece are set heavily in the realities of mundanity, the depressing harshness of the grit life can throw at you. They challenge it with their self-titled debut album, a sometimes punishing yet incapsulating listen.
Cheatahs now lay their heads in the capital having come from far-stretched places (Canada, US, Germany and Leicester) but could quite easily of settled in Seattle, or Dublin. Shit place comparisons to Nirvana and MBV aside, the four-piece, who released their self-titled debut album this month, channel every aspect that was good about Grunge and shoegaze into dynamically expansive and melodically tight deities. The bands ability to entice you into a journey of experimental instrumentation in comparatively short bursts is a credit to them, the bliss inducing chords they can mould from such distortion and feedback is an added bonus to listening to this band.
Drawing a more haunting picture with 60s surf-punk and pysch-garage flowing through their veins are The Wytches. The Peterborough trio awoke us from our slumber with swathes of feedback that mirror the soundtrack to a B-Movie horror your mother didn’t want you to watch. Vocalist, Guitarist and sometime Organ player (giving their sound a Doors like tremor) Kristian Bell is the protagonist, exorcising his demons through his throaty shrill. The retro polish the band possess just adds that extra level of rawness and flair, their debut will be another intense listen.
Perhaps slightly different from the others we have featured, Oliver Wilde is a prodigious musician of many tastes. The Bristol artists’ debut album ‘A Brief Introduction To Unnatural Light Years‘ opened the minds of anyone that listened to it, and garnered Wilde unanimous and universally-felt critical acclaim. Releasing his music through ever-developing Bristol label Howling Owl Records, Wilde’s ability to create a feeling of ease through luscious, acoustic instrumentation and reverb drenched vocalisation while leaving you on the edge with angular arpeggios and motorik sparks of synth make for another encompassing listen. His second LP, ‘Red Tide Opal In The Loose End Womb‘, is released May 5th.
With the announcement of their debut album ‘pilot‘, Brighton-via-London duo playlounge‘s first long-player will dictate your summer, whether it’s blazing or in true British fashion, pissing it down. Their sound is a cataclysmic amalgamation of melodic pop nestled in a cocoon of noise that fuzzes from Laurie Foster’s guitar. It always takes people unawares the amount of power and pure dynamism that can come from a duo, and playlounge are no different. Tour buddies Joanna Gruesome would be a suitable comparison in terms of their ability to meld infectious sounds from within a noisy template, while the album is released through Dog Knights Productions, home to Sheffield pals Nai Harvest, who can also relate.
As well as new albums from Real Estate, Beck, The Horrors and an undoubtably high number of brilliant self and independently-released records expected this year, expect a great twelve months for alternative music. As proven in 2013, maybe we should also expect the unexpected.