Said to be “quite representative of the whole album”, the experimental title track from Scottish indie rock stalwart Franz Ferdinand sees Alex Kapranos croon over a wispy piano melody before coming to life with a delectably funky chorus and onslaught of synths. The first new song to be heard from the band since they added Julian Corrie (aka Miaoux Miaoux) and Dino Bardot, it is clear that Always Ascending marks an exciting new era for Franz Ferdinand. Recorded with French producer Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Beastie Boys, Cassius), the band’s fifth album will be titled Always Ascending and is slated to arrive on 9th February 2018
Blackpool’s Strange Bones turned in an incendiary performance at this year’s Tenement Trail, unleashing savage chaos in The Priory as frontman Bobby Bentham got up close and personal with a wild crowd. The band started the year off with the release of their EP ‘We The Rats’, of which the title track is a huge highlight. Perforating your ear drums with big, dirty riffs and rolling drums, the fragmented outbursts of fuzz and playful use of dynamics are what set this band apart.
‘Haim Time’ came into full effect this year with the release of the band’s long-awaited second record Something To Tell You. Quickly dispelling any notion of a ‘sophomore slump’, the band came out with a banger of a lead single called ‘Want You Back’. Luckily for their diverse and widespread
Loaded with the gorgeous vocal interplay that we’ve come to love from the band alongside heartfelt lyrics and the surprise inclusion of slap bass, it marked a welcome return from an outfit have fast become a global phenomenon.
Inspired by the world’s tumultuous political state and sardonic baroque pop troubadours such as Leonard Cohen and Scott Walker, Matt Maltese’s ‘As The World Caves In’ is among the closest that anyone has came to capturing this lingering sense of helplessness which we’re all engulfed by at present. Centred around one final tryst between Theresa May and Donald Trump before the world is plunged into nuclear induced darkness, the track is a lavishly produced rumination on our gloomy prognosis that peers over the brink of annihilation with a sense of infectious gallows humour.
The prelude to the next stage of their career, The Temperance Movement’s hiatus from the studio has been brought to an earth-shattering halt with the phenomenal ‘Built-In Forgetter.’ Brimming with their signature combination of high octane riffs that manage to be both sultry and imposing in one riveting note alongside the unparalleled vocal stylings of Glasgow’s very own Phil Campbell, it is a track that left us entranced during their Tenement Trail headline set and has only been consolidated with its digital arrival. An insight into what to be expect from their third studio LP A Deeper Cut, their pretense-free brand of blues rock that heeds the teachings of the past whilst bringing things to a daring and contemporary vantage point has never brimmed with more vitality and the record cannot come soon enough.
This year, FOREIGNFOX found themselves among a crop of Scottish bands that seem to be on the cusp of making their way to pastures new. Drenched in that anthemic and unflinchingly honest alt-rock sound that our homegrown bands excel in to a near disproportionate extent, ‘Lights Off, Carry Me Home’ sees the track’s protagonist purge his demons and insecurities over a thrillingly rugged backdrop. While ‘Bonfire’ marked a progression and an increased level of comfort in their collective skin, the release of ‘Lights Off, Carry Me Home’ is indicative of the band’s decision to take the reins and place crafting their most authentic material to date at the forefront.
Continuing to expand their palette with the arrival of their second album Volcano, one of its highlight tracks ‘Strange Or Be Forgotten’ is inundated with shimmering textures, inviting synths and a vivid vocal turn from frontman James Bagshaw. A sound which is at once futuristic and yet could nestle comfortably alongside the enlightened and subversive bands of the past, the band renewed their momentum with this bold and ambitious statement of intent.
Caro followed up their brilliant debut single with another exquisite offering in ‘Eyes On The Ground’. Propelled by a throbbing bassline, the track twists and swells through jittery melodies, syncopated guitar lines and a wonderfully warm and melodious lead vocal. Reminiscent of Alt-J when they first burst onto the scene and fellow art-poppers Everything Everything, Caro are able to make entirely unique soundscapes that display a sublime command of their craft.
Armed with a sensational voice and a bold, utterly fearless approach to her craft; Carly Connor is back and she’s sounding better than ever. First tipped for success a few years ago, the young singer-songwriter from Easterhouse re-emerged a couple of months ago seemingly ready to fulfil her well-documented potential with the release of a fantastic Motown inspired stomper by the name of ‘Who’s Gonna Love You?’ CWith a raw and powerful voice that is able to lend itself to rock as well as vintage soul, the single saw her inject her old-school influences with a modern flair. Delivered over a clean, sixties-indebted instrumental, her heartfelt lyrics are delivered with all the grit and authenticity of her bygone heroes.
Channelling the contemporary jazzy stylings of Amy Winehouse while paying heed to the soulful giants of the sixties, ‘Old Ones’ is a stunning introduction to a singer who promises a hugely exciting future ahead. Deeply affecting and stirring in her delivery, Kitty’s effortless vocal performance is enhanced by some beautifully crafted instrumentation – bluesy melodies and rich flourishes of brass coming together to create a debut track that oozes authenticity and raw talent.
A band who have caught the eyes and ears of a number of notable industry experts over the past year, The Shimmer Band followed up their previously acclaimed singles with the most bold and emphatic offering to date. Adding a muscular weight to their already substantial sonic palette, the track possesses a thunderous rock & roll swagger and punky attitude; the hip-hop inspired beats adding a new dimension to their massive sound. Full of smashing drums, electrifying synthesisers and infectious chorus harmonies, Tom Newman’s visceral vocal performance lending a bullishness to the track. Channelling the bombastic rock & roll of the nineties, it’s a sound that feels familiar yet ambitious all at once.
Re-energised after a hiatus from the studio, Future Islands picked up exactly where they left off when they unveiled ‘Ran’ earlier this year, the first track to be taken from their brand new album The Far Field. Anthemic to its very core, ‘Ran’ is the epitome of exactly what the Baltimore based group do so well. Having honed their own brand of deeply emotive synth-pop into a fine and unmistakable art, Sam Herring’s guttural vocal melds perfectly with the ethereal backdrop and rousing bassline. While it’s immediately apparent that you’re listening to a new track from Future Islands, this is not in any formulaic sense due to the fact that this is a band at the peak of their powers rather than relying on old glories.
A year on from the release of their debut record, Ulrika Spacek unveiled their second full-length Modern English Decoration this June. Opting once again to record, produce and mix the whole record in their shared home, a former art gallery called ‘KEN’, the five piece stayed true to the self-reliant creativity and tireless DIY ethic with which they have become synonymous; picking up exactly where they left off on the brilliant ‘Mimi Pretend’. Traversing into the cavernous world of lo-fi experimental rock, the track is a sprawling arrangement of fuzzy guitars, looping rhythms and distorted vocals; oscillating between soft melodies and heavy, reverberating guitar sections
A group whose alluringly dark sound has been making considerable waves over the past year or so, Goat Girl constantly seem to be on the cusp of exploding and their latest work solidifies that. Released via the iconic Rough Trade, ‘Crow Cries’ is a routinely unsettling piece of fuzzy pop that features gripping desert rock-inspired riffs and an adds an overall air of menace to the proceedings.
A band that has routinely impressed with every twist and turn along the way, Glasgow’s very own Breakfast Muff are more defiant and pungent than ever on the seething ‘R U A FEMINIST.’ Taken from their debut album ‘Eurgh!’ that emerged in May of this year, this track is authentic in every sense of the word and a testament to their unique approach. Taking aim at the poseurs, hypocrites and deluded men that claim to hold feminist values until it no longer works to their advantage or they feel that they’ve been ‘aggrieved’ by women, it’s a punchy, sardonic but above all important track that is more prescient than ever when the climate of institutionalised abuse continues to be dragged to the surface.
Proponents of an ominous, hard-edged sound that could only manifest itself within the confines of an industrious nation such as ours, Bluebirds have arrived and are preparing to challenge convention and fascinate audiences with their alluringly gritty material. Leaving us awestruck at last year’s Tenement Trail, the band have continued to develop their material while barging their way through the crowds to be in line as the heir apparent to The Amazing Snakehead’s sordid throne as the country’s most darkly fascinating band. The focal point of this year’s There Is No God EP, TTV had the distinct pleasure of providing you with the first listen of their new single ‘Subcultural Love’ in April. The sound of modern discontent condensed into five minutes of menacing guitars and devilish proclamations, the track positions the band as the sort of provocateurs that are all too sparse in modern rock ‘n’ roll. Recorded at Green Door Studios alongside Stu Evans, the band’s frontman Daniel Telford revealed that the track is a nihilistic look upon our incessant need for definition: “It’s about this modern day culture of people constantly categorising groups of people, coming up with ridiculous new names to separate themselves or other people from one another; crusties, spice boys, electro heads, my most hated one – glam goths, whatever, the point of it is we’re all dying from the day we’re born and utterly insignificant. Can we not just get on it and make a dick out ourselves anymore? Nobody cares basically and if you do you should be sent back to the factory in my eyes.”
Among the most influential bands of the the 90’s, Slowdive’s reconciliation was confirmed with the emergence of ‘Star Roving’, their first release since 1995’s Pygmalion. A modern interpretation of the classic sound which cemented their storied legacy, the band embraced a handful of modern production techniques in order to create something which is at once robust yet maintains the haziness of their most seminal tracks. A notably up-tempo outing for the band, the lustrous textures by which the band mesmerise the listener are as arresting as ever, they managed to prove that their insatiable chemistry is still intact; a fact reinforced by the release of their self-titled fourth record.
Exploring themes of female empowerment and womanhood, Dream Wife’s sparkling combination of driving bass lines and jagged guitars provide the perfect backdrop to their message of pride and vindication on ‘Somebody’. “I am not my body, I am somebody,” vocalist Rakel Mjöll repeats in one of the band’s most powerful statements to date. Already a regular feature of their exhilarating live shows, the track sounds even more cutting laid down on record. One of the breakout bands of 2017, ‘Somebody’ displays an impressive level of songwriting that will undoubtedly take them to unassailable new heights over the next 12 months.
Accredited with a unique drawl that ensure anyone who’s exposed to him feels an almost gravitational pull towards his music, Louis Berry is a British artist with immense upside potential. Known for a sound that has hallmarks of the genesis of rock ‘n’ roll but with a distinct flavour that separates it from any form of homage, he put the world on notice ahead of his set at our very own Tenement Trail with the rollicking sound of ’25 Reasons.’ A track that recalls volatile alcohol-soaked liaisons in smoky bars, Berry’s latest work is a celebratory affair that exudes the sort of raucous energy that has made him such an imposing figure in the live arena. Demonstrating impeccable songwriting craft and a brand of grit-filled charisma that resonates from his guitar playing and vocals all at once, now is the time to acquaint yourself with this hot prospect before he’s a permanent fixture in the UK’s musical landscape.
There’s something about the intermingling of dance-based influences and jagged post-punk that seldom fails to strike gold and this is most certainly the case on the debut single from The Orielles. Somewhere between the dissonance of Gang Of Four and the immersive sounds of New York’s DFA collective, the Halifax-based trio have made a ploy for the world’s affections and they’re likely to get them if there’s more where this came from. Citing the work of Quentin Tarantino as a major influence, it’s not hard to imagine that this track could be summoned from the bowels of his blood-splattered, amoral and unrepentantly fun universe or manifest itself in the vampire ridden dystopia of he and Robert Rodriguez’s ‘From Dusk Till Dawn.’
Hypnotic, expansive and deeply original; Domiciles have been known to leave listeners mesmerised by their immersive compositions and exhilarating live shows since emerging in 2015. Heralded as one of Scotland’s most exciting propositions, the five-piece from Fife have rapidly accrued new followers with each impressive release so far. Inspired by the psychedelic minds of the sixties and shoegaze bands of the eighties, the young outfit have managed to develop a sound that is entirely of their own devising in a remarkably short space of time; a notable achievement that has catapulted them to the forefront of Scotland’s music scene. Continuing to push boundaries and expand minds with their thrilling brand of psych-pop, the band are ready to make their mark on 2017 with the release of their new single ‘100 Miles’; a track we were delighted to premiere on TTV. Originally shared back in 2015, the new cut finds the band in particularly spell-binding form and comes armed with a more nuanced production. A warm glow of keys sets the foundations before swaggering guitar lines are woven together with driving hypnotic rhythms. Casting a spell on the listener with its deeply hazy and esoteric lead vocal, the track flits between strutting verses and swirling choruses before striding through a kaleidoscopic sequence of dizzying psychedelia.
Bristol-based punks Idles didn’t hold back at the start of the year with the release of the visceral and political ‘Mother’. Following a string of acclaimed EP releases and featured on their debut album Brutalism, the song oozes vitality and bursts with cathartic anger with a violent crash of guitars, drums and bass. Driven by brutal but intricate drumming, frontman Joe Talbot squares up to the Tories as guitars get increasingly distorted as the song builds.
A dark brooding menace makes itself known from the moment you press play on Shame’s ‘The Lick’. Having established themselves as one of London’s best new live bands without so much as a release, the five-piece are ready to introduce themselves and spread their snarling message to a wider audience by way of their debut double A-side single. Having already heard the clattering sounds of ‘Gold Hole’ on one side, ‘The Lick’ comes in with the right hook; both coming together to create one of the more memorable introductions you’ll hear from a band in some time. Where the former unleashed its pent up aggression more readily, this new track is far more menacing in its progression. A crawling bassline instils a threatening sense of foreboding before Charlie Steen’s apathetic drawl comes in, painting a picture of the world around him that is less than appealing. You can almost imagine him curling his lip through delivery, mocking music that is ‘relatable not debatable’. One thing is for sure; this band do not fall in that category. Fuelled by a disillusionment towards modern society, the track has all the earmarks of a punk anthem; bursting with a youthful rage and exasperation that will feel all too familiar to many in today’s current political climate.
Displaying a remarkably sharp and accomplished sound for a band who have been together for little over a year, Voodoo’s breakout single ‘Natalie’ is a foot-stomping rock & roller which comes armed with the kind of massive singalong chorus that demonstrates the outfit’s unbridled potential. Taking influence from indie bands such as The Strokes and Palma Violets, a formidable rhythm section gives the track a menacing edge under searing guitar lines and a commanding lead vocal. Produced by Johnny Madden and Chris Marshall, lead singer Piero Marcuccilli spoke to TTV about what it was like to work with the pair of them on the track: “Working with Johnny and Marshall really helped us out with our songwriting process. We used to try and do everything all at once without realising it sounded like a big mess rather than do the simple things like having bass and drums only during a verse with wee bits of guitar here and there.”
“Johnny helped us come up with ideas we would never have thought of without him like the breakdown section near the end of the song. I think the main thing we took from recording with him and Marshall was the fact that less can sometimes be more.”
The enviable combination of a striking vocal style and innate songwriting ability has stood artists in good stead throughout the years and it’s safe to say that Emme Woods possesses these dual talents in abundance. Thoroughly impressing all that came into contact with her material over the course of 2016, her tales of torrid, wine-drenched love affairs and minimalistic approach to the blues seems predestined to carry her far as we dive headlong into the coming year. Dark and contemplative, ‘I’ve Been Running’s opening salvo sees Woods examining the world’s many disheartening flaws over alluringly juddering lead guitar before a burst of optimistic brass heralds the arrival of the chorus. Candidly declaring that “I’ve been running, I’ve been running, just to keep myself from falling”, the bleakness of Woods’ sentiment is juxtaposed by the aloofness of the instrumentation before the track once again descends into the darkness whilst led by her sincerely delivered lamentations.
Known for his hard-hitting lyrics and provocative brand of indie-rock, Declan Welsh reveals new depths to his talent on latest single ‘Useless’. A slow moving follow-up to the scathing, politically-inspired tunes that came before it, the new track sees Welsh take on wistful guitar pop with compelling results. Easily his most emotionally vulnerable offering to date, the frontman ruminates over a lost love; his poignant lyrics delivered over a potent blend of steady rhythms and melancholic guitar lines. With his delivery as sharp and effective as ever, the track bursts with a sense of longing on its punchy choruses; Welsh completely lovelorn as he concedes ‘What am I to do?’. Following a hugely productive 12 months, everything has been put in place to suggest that the Declan Welsh and his talented band are all set for a massive 2018.
Not content to leave listeners in a reflective malaise, the curtain is brought down on Medicine Men’s debut album with the pulsating sound of ‘Out Of The Light.’ A fitting closer for an album that has traversed all over the musical spectrum, this exhilarating track basks in the waters of modern psychedelia that are inhabited by The Horrors and Unknown Mortal Orchestra. Whilst infusing influences from the likes of experimental pioneers Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Built around a succession of thrilling synths and complete with a sly nod to frontman Ian Mackinnon’s dalliances with electro-rock outfit Crash Club, this is post punk reconfigured to their own specifications and is a triumphant climax to the record.
In the midst of a period of upheaval and uncertainty for the country at large, Frightened Rabbit took it upon themselves to perfectly summarise the situation in their own trademark style.
After Theresa May’s snap election plans to attain a majority capsized and we now stare down the barrel of an archaic Tory coalition with the DUP, the acclaimed Scottish outfit delivered a scathing retort to the malevolent direction in which the country was headed. Eschewing any conventional genre definition on the Soundcloud link and opting for a succinct message of ‘Fuck The Tories’ instead, the sincerity and poignance of this defiant message only intensifies once Scott Hutchison’s heartrending vocals burst into life. Backed by little more than downtrodden guitar and a sparingly usedo synth, ‘Fields Of Wheat’ (A prodding jibe at Theresa May’s proclamation of the ‘naughtiest’ thing she’d ever done) personifies the potential grimness that many face with thought provoking statements such as ‘pretty soon apart from the love we give and get back from our families, nothing will be free.’
Purveyors of electronic pop music with an apocalyptic edge, London’s Drones Club are a group with a clear manifesto and it’s serving them very well. Inspiring cult-like devotion among fans that find themselves lured down their sonically rewarded rabbit hole, the collective played our own Tenement Trail in September and it became abundantly clear that they acrued a steep influx of Scottish fans in the wake of their enthralling set at The Garage’s G2. Premiered on Huw Stephen’s Radio 1 show, the Tottenham-based group have delivered the fantastic ‘International.’ Filled with intrusive, prodding synth lines that wrap themselves around your brain and cause you to surrender to their formidable ferocity and power, their latest offering is Drones Club at their laser focused and antagonistic best and points towards a continuation of their auditory exploration. Uniformed in a manner that mirrors their near militaristic devotion but not afraid to divulge their underlying emotions, it’s a piece of work that you shouldn’t miss out on.
The final single that stoked the anticipation for their tremendous debut album Permo, Glasgow’s Spinning Coin affirmed why the prospect of the record was inciting such excitement from far and wide with ‘Money Is A Drug.’ Filled with the fuzz-laden and enrapturing melodies that have became something of a trademark, the band’s indelible knack for hooks continues to be placed at the forefront even whilst critiquing the malevolent and misanthropic elite that are all too happy to see the underclass wallow in a constant state of economic disrepute. Recorded by Edwyn Collins, it is fitting that the man who once spearheaded Glasgow’s indie movement should work alongside a band that is undoubtedly fitting to carry the torch.
There’s something inherently exciting about finally receiving recorded material from a band that’s been discussed in such lofty terms by those that’ve had the opportunity to catch them live. As the hyperbolic statements continue to grow in stature and more and more plaudits are allotted to the elusive band in question with each rare, all too fleeting sighting, it can become hard to fathom that every glowing review from their contemporaries isn’t some sort of ploy or an act of kinship rather than based on musical merit. Although this could well be the case for many bands who’ve accrued such a reputation, all of those who’ve been forced to remain impartial when they hear the name Pleasure Heads can now rest easy in the knowledge that they’ve proven themselves worthy of the wild conjecture on ‘Concrete Lips.’
Hailing from nearby Falkirk, the first studio recording to arrive from the band finds them as a group in possesion of a strident, dynamic sound that off-handedly dispenses with the arbitrary indie rock bluster in favour of a streamlined assault that recalls artists such as The Walkmen and Interpol. Brimming with an infectious energy that provides a sense of urgency to a track that speaks of disillusionment with all that’s before them, Pleasure Heads have came raring out of the gate with a daring mission statement and Scotland’s music scene are collectively eager to hear more.
One of the cornerstones of his Mercury Prize winning debut Process, Sampha’s ‘Timmy’s Prayer’ is an ode to heartbreak that won’t be quickly banished to the annals of musical history.
An album that ruminates on what it is to love, lose and lament over what went awry, his smooth brand of R&B and its infusion with healthy doses of electronica is never more awe-inspiring than on this track which sees the widely adored artist dolefully lay himself at the mercy of the object of his affections and attempt to broker a reconcilliation.
From performing as an acoustic duo to becoming a fully-fledged band and rising to the forefront of Scotland’s music scene, it seems as though The Van T’s ascent into the public consciousness at large is very nearly complete. After inking a deal with the internationally revered LAB Records, the Scottish four-piece have proven that they are ready for all of the newfound pressure with the authoritative ‘Fresh Meat.’ Harnessing and expanding on the mountainous, stadium-ready sound that they’d begun to experiment with on ‘Blood Orange’, their newest offering is an unrestrained alt-rock statement in the vein of Siamese Dream era Smashing Pumpkins whilst maintaining hints of hazy psychedelia. As Hannah and Chloe Van Thompson continue to grow as vocalists and frontwomen, this song is free of any timidity or trace of inhibitions and is sure to bring them plaudits from far and wide.
2017 has been a huge breakthrough year for Anteros who smashed slots at Reading & Leeds, TRNSMT, Glastonbury and our very own Tenement Trail along with tours supporting Two Door Cinema Club and Sundara Karma. Perhaps their biggest and most irresistible track to date, ‘Drunk’ is a Blondie-inspired number that sees frontwoman Laura Hayden deliver a self-assured vocal over swaggering rhythms and vigorous riffs. With a huge hook-laden chorus thrown in for good measure, the track possesses all the shimmer and glitz of 70s new wave while retaining a modern sensibility.
Emerging from seemingly nowhere at the tail end of last year, Dundee-based duo St.Martiins have wasted little time in asserting themselves within Scotland’s diverse scene. Released days before they supported Pronto Mama at their album launch/ triumphant victory lap at The Art School, the pair ensured that there was a captive audience awaiting their arrival with the wondrous ‘Othr Grls.’ Their strongest work to date in many respects, their latest offering builds on the foundations of shimmering indie and sleek pop that shined through on tracks such as ‘About U’ and expanded on them with aplomb. Accessible and yet in no way saccharine or overwrought, the emphatic vocal performance proves to be the perfect sparring partner for the track’s vibrant guitar lines which fuse the more experimental garage rock dalliances of The Strokes’ Nick Valensi with the demure and composed slickness of the 1975.
The first single to be taken from their debut record upon its announcement, the discontented bombast of Catholic Action’s ‘Propaganda’ may be an exciting track at sonic face value but becomes increasingly mesmeric with further exploration. An enraged middle finger to the mountains of passive, languid, landfill indie that threatens to bury us all in a cascading avalanche of marked indifference, Chris and co utilise unorthodox production techniques, icy synths and filter it all through their own unique blueprint in order to produce something which is the antidote to all there is to revile about the lack of ingenuity in today’s rock ‘n’ roll.
Wistful, sumptuous and containing just the right amount of playful cynicism and heartbreak , Alvvays have been an indie pop poster child ever since the release of their eponymous debut in mid 2014. The second single to be taken from their phenomenal sophomore record Antisocialites, the shimmering ‘Dreams Tonite’ encapsulates exactly what they do so well. Emulating the unrequited yet unique love stories that have long been a staple of bands ranging from The Smiths to Camera Obscura and Cocteau Twins, their dreamy sound continues to expand and shift and now contains allusions towards the more spacious, shoegaze-inspired side of the spectrum in its brooding guitars.
Having first burst onto our radar earlier this year with the release of their exhilarating debut EP Every Time We Meet I Want To Die, garage rock outfit Shredd returned sounding bigger and bolder than ever with ‘Cobra.’ While their debut EP fizzed and popped with infectious hooks, fuzz-laden riffs and a loose, carefree attitude, this addition to their catalogue sees the band build on their rough and ready formula with great power and intent; the result being a sonic assault of thunderous proportions.
Few will have expected such a marked progression in such a short space of time, but with Bruce Rintoul at the helm of production duties (Twin Atlantic, Fatherson, Vukovi) everything is far bigger, louder and more aggressive; all while allowing the band to retain the same ramshackle appeal and chaotic energy for which they have become known at their raucous live shows. Fuelled by an intense anger and industrial abrasiveness, the track erupts with a head-banging onslaught of searing guitar lines and menacing bass rhythms before driving onward with an irrepressible swagger. As in previous offerings, the distorted lead vocals are offset by the band’s signature backing harmonies; this time though, they add a dark sense of foreboding to the surrounding anarchy and It all comes together to create one of their most thrilling and volatile offerings to date.
While they may have sadly disbanded in order to pursue other projects, there’s no denying that London trio Dead Pretties have left an irremovable imprint on the UK’s rock ‘n’ roll landscape. Adhering to the belief that it’s far superior to burn out as opposed to fading away, the band’s final single ‘Water’ will stand tall as a summation of all that made them such a hotly tipped prospect. From its low-key opening, it doesn’t take long for the song to burst to life as frontman Jacob Slater’s venomous snarl takes over alongside an onslaught of barbed guitar lines and crashing rhythms. Wonderfully melodic yet brash and boisterous, the band proclaimed that it revolved around the concept of “deliberate self-destruction, allowing something to slowly kill you because you think the kick you get from it makes you feel more alive than anything else.”
In a world where scores of artists fall into the fallacy that their music must be stern and poe-faced in order to retain any merit, we can be thankful that we have Confidence Man’s sprightly and exuberant brand of dance-pop to serve as the unfaltering antidote to this pomposity. A track that is acutely aware of its own absurdity in the modern landscape, this eccentric and partially masked Australian four-piece built on the success of unexpected hit ‘Boyfriend (Repeat)’ with this lavish piece of big-beat infused pop that harked back to the days where the off-kilter and wildly imaginative sounds of Fatboy Slim and Basement Jaxx regularly occupied the pop charts. Embellished with the dual vocals of Janet Planet and Sugar Bones that heve quickly became synonymous with their vivacious and incorrigble take on the realm of dance, Confidence Man’s live show is a spectable that must be seen to be believed and this is unquestionably its crowning glory
Taken from their EP Extended Play, ‘No Coin To Play’ was undoubtedly the most openly political offering we’ve heard from Baby Strange. Comparing the life and the state of poverty induced entrapment which the average person finds themselves in to an indecipherable game, the Glasgow-based trio capture the disparity between how the elite operate and how we’re left to fend for ourselves with thought provoking clarity and aggression. Addressing Theresa May directly and lambasting the ‘gullible bastards’ that allowed themselves to be lulled into poor political decisions by fear and smear campaigns, it is punk in the manner that its originators intended and is an exciting development for the band.
Perhaps one of the most emotionally rousing moments on Neon Waltz’ long awaited debut album Strange Hymns, ‘Heavy Heartless’ is an absolute triumph from the Caithness six-piece. “Nothing’s OK/I’m going through a phase/Heavy heartless” Shearer exclaims over a colossal chorus and thunderous key change. It’s an introspective moment which delves into the band’s sensitive sid whilst staying true to their knack for massive soundscapes and heart-swelling melodies.
Bursting out of Paisley with a wealth of ambition and infectious charisma to become one of the nation’s most exciting young outfits, SWAY are a band who have seen their stock significantly rise since the start of 2017. After what has undoubtedly been their most productive 12 months together as a band, the four-piece concluded this year on a high with latest single ‘To Be A Man’. Initially given a run-out during the band’s triumphant display at this year’s Tenement Trail, it is with huge anticipation that a fully-fledged version of the song arrives courtesy of Jamie Savage at Chem19 Recording Studio. Sounding more focused and self-assured than ever before, the follow-up to ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Give You It All’ sees the band build on their idyllic yet striking amalgamation of indie-rock, shoegaze and power pop in even more robust and exuberant fashion. Driven by fast-paced rhythms and an instantly addictive guitar line, the shimmering track is enhanced by a lyrical frankness that sees them tussle with the notion of what it is “to be a man” in today’s world. Another fiercely impressive outing from the four-piece, it’s the sound of a band becoming increasingly confident in their songwriting abilities; a fact made all the more remarkable by their youthful perspective and relatively short tenure as a group.
‘Pull The Other One’ was our first introduction to new album-era Big Moon and it comes armed with even bigger choruses and catchy melodies over a backdrop of dirty guitars and wonderful harmonies. Leaving you on tenterhooks with their powerful dynamic between quiet and loud, Juliette Jackson’s unmistakeable croon weaves the impassioned, and often wry, narrative throughout; effortlessly shifting between howling dramatics and seductive croon. A song that encapsulated exactly why we were overjoyed to have them at this year’s Tenement Trail, it is one of the litany of highlights on the astounding, Mercury Prize nominated debut.
Seemingly capable of subverting from any expectations that their audience may have about their material at will, Glasgow’s Pronto Mama threw yet another ingenious curveball our way in the shape of ‘DoubleSpeak’ as we charted their every move on the road to their debut LP Any Joy.
Led by the unique percussion style of Martin Johnston that goes far beyond the limitations of the usual indie rock paradigm, the track is a thoughtful analysis on what it is to be young, naive and entitled.
Touching upon the notion of feeling as though the world owes you something without any justifiable evidence to support such a claim, the dichotomy that resides at the heart of the song is faithfully mirrored in its musicality as it intermittently flits from soulful and docile to unglued and incensed.
Already a firm favourite as part of their thrilling live shows, the arrival of The Vegan Leather’s ‘Shake It’ reinforced the band’s commandeering approach to the art-pop genre as they continue to carve out their own individual niche in the Scottish music scene. Exploring the unique boy-girl dynamic that has proven so compelling to fans and critics alike, it is the inimitable musical chemistry between Marie Collins and Gianluca Bernacchi that lies at the heart of the track; Collins’ soft and alluring vocal providing the perfect foil to the frontman’s commanding delivery. Boasting a solid foundation of funky basslines and synths, it quickly develops into a heady mix of sparkling choruses and sweet harmonies before a truly explosive finale; gang-like chants of ‘Shake It!’ bellowing out over a blast of heavy guitar-funk and head-spinning electronica as the track draws to an almighty finish.
The second single to be taken from his fearsome, trunk-rattling fourth LP DAMN, the emergence of Kendrick Lamar’s ‘DNA’ was perhaps the precise moment that any misconceptions or theorisation over whether we’d receive another instalment of soul-infused hip-hop in the vein of To Pimp A Butterfly were eradicated. The track that reasserted him into the prevailing zeitgeist of gargantuan, trap-influenced beats and proved that he can best with this new emerging crop of diluted, mumble-rap MC’s at their own game without compromising his unrivalled verbosity, ‘DNA’ sees Kendrick explore and examine the duality between good and evil that resides within the human condition whilst also delving into the intrinsic issues that he sees as the plight of the black man in America.
Beginning life as a low-key bedroom project before being renovated and reimagined as a fully fledged band, Glasgow’s Fauves have been on a campaign to seize hold of your attention in earnest with a series of enticingly original tracks. Steadily making a name for themselves amid the ever-shifting landscape that is Scotland’s modern day scene, the group may be in their infancy but they harbour massive amounts of potential in both songwriting and execution. As opposed to carrying on within the confines of a home set-up, Ryan Caldwell and co took it upon themselves to decamp to a proper studio and the end product was the shimmering ‘Hit Like This.’ Bustling with the sort of restless energy that can only be elicited from a band with an exciting road ahead, their first foray into recording music as a band is a sleek number that lies somewhere between the exotic sounds of Australia’s finest psychedelic bands and the exquisite balladry of Whitney. Led by a wonderfully unorthodox bassline that Thundercat would approve of, the band’s knack for constructing catchy indie-pop music whilst adhering to their own set of rules is to be admired and is sure to inspire a great deal of excitement as they continue to make their presence felt.
Where its predecessor may have embodied the essence of punk and new wave, the musical lifeblood which spurs the action of T2 Trainspotting forward was created a lot closer to the film’s spiritual home. Formed in Edinburgh, the Mercury Prize Award winning Youth Fathers have assumed the role which was once filled by Iggy Pop in the tempestuous world of Trainspotting; acting as the group which will be irretrievably associated with the film as it becomes a part of our collective culture. Affectionately described as ‘the heartbeat of the film’ by director Danny Boyle, the trio revealed the cathartic ‘Only God Knows’ and it continues to enthrall us to this day. Featuring a stirring performance from the Leith Congregational Choir, this track is among the most cathartic that the band have produced to date. Punctuated by rich organs and led by the enrapturing vocals of Kayus Bankole, ‘Only God Knows’ had all the makings of a composition which would soundtrack the film’s most pivotal moments given its emotional range and heart-wrenching honesty.
The track that heralded the dawning of this exciting new phase in the band’s career, ‘Coalition Of Chaos’ sees The Dunts set aside the revelry that they’re most known for in favour of a discontented diatribe against the rising tide of inequality in Britain. An act of defiance to the culture of hatred that’s given credence under the rule of the Tories and the DUP, it is a track fuelled by blistering guitars and equally pervading drums that set the scene for the band’s vibrant take on the storied tradition of the protest song. With the whole project overseen by Johnny Madden and Chris Marshall, it is a move that appears to have established an exploratory agenda in the mindset of the band and has given them the confidence to dispense with the dischord for moments of coherence and clarity. A thoughtful and propulsive rebuttal to a government informed by intolerance, it would be easy to categorise the band’s lyrical bent as a product of a rough-and-tumble enviroment but this is not the only moment in which they prove themselves to be far more naunced and contemplative than many would be willing to give them credit for.
Finally unveiled to the public two weeks before they invaded the legendary King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut for a weekend residency, Tijuana Bible’s ‘Pariah’ firmly stopped us in our tracks. Eschewing the bluesy tendencies of past incarnations in favour of an imposing, post punk-infused sound that juts toward you with almost predatory intensity,the band are all too happy to subvert from what had perhaps been seen as their preordained musical direction in order to deliver material that reflects the seething rage that lies beneath the surface. A warped hymn for a disenchanted generation, this sermon on a social outcast’s journey through a treacherous landscape is delivered emphatically by frontman Tony Costello whilst the band continue to contort their sound into uncharted new shapes. Brimming with ambition and newly liberated creativity, if the band continue to mine this nihilistic new direction then it seems that we’re in for a hellacious and captivating journey
Three years since the release of her career-defining self-titled album St. Vincent back in 2014, the artist otherwise known as Annie Clark has unveiled a deeply moving new track by the name of ‘New York.’ Trading in her trademark electric guitar licks for a delicate piano melody, the stirring track finds her reminiscing over dramatic strings and a majestically layered chorus. And while her gentle vocal portrays a sense of personal loss and melancholy, Clark maintains a distinct edge in her delivery of the line: “You’re the only motherfucker in the city who can stand me.” Stunningly intimate and gripping to its very core, it signposted the beginning of another exciting stage of St Vincent’s compelling career so far.
A touching piece of pop music in its purest form that avoids succumbing to the lure of heading down a saccharine route in order to maximise its commercial impact, Rex Orange County’s ‘Loving Is Easy’ is three minutes of sheer ecstacy and escapism. Rendered in a soulful brand of R&B that’s crafted in collaboration with Benny Sings, this is one of the most engrossing singles to have emerged from the English singer/songwriter and epitomises why he’s the recipient of so much adoration on both sides of the Atlantic. Attesting to the fact that he’s far from just an also-ran or bit-part player that is used as a flourish on the records of others, ‘Loving Is Easy’ highlights the many attributes that make him such an exciting prospect and is one of the most ebullient yet unorthodox odes to a significant other that you’ll hear.
Taken from LCD’s sensational American Dream LP, ‘Tonite’ subverted away from the sounds of ‘Call The Police’ and ‘American Dream’ in order to veer more towards the band’s classic canon. Filled with James Murphy’s atypically snarky lyricism, riveting percussion and Giorgio Moroder-esque synthesisers that hark back to the heyday of 70’s disco, it was a sign that the band have in no way lost that vitality that brought them to the world’s ears and hearts during the golden age when DFA very seldom put a foot wrong.
Despite their latest album dividing fans all over the world, its splendorous title track ‘Everything Now’ is undoubtedly one of the best songs of the year. Possessing the sheer grandeur and pomposity of 70’s disco-pop whilst leaving the schmaltzy lyrics and insincerity on the sideline, ‘Everything Now’ is at once lighthearted yet incredibly thought-provoking once you begin to chip away towards its epicenter. Summing up the uncertain times in which we are stranded in a manner that only Arcade Fire could conceive of or aspire to, it’s quite simply a track worth marvelling at and it has catapulted their record into an unprecedented realm of hype.
Featuring guest vocals from Roxy Agogo, Lucia’s ‘Saturday Is Dead’ is her most immediate and upbeat offering to date; built around a brilliantly infectious chorus that will have you hooked from the outset. With cutting guitar lines making themselves known over fuzzy riffs and driving rhythms, it is another slice of perfectly executed garage pop from the songstress who continues to stir excitement with each release. Discussing the song, she has said: “It’s about those repetitive nights when the party picture has gone from being great, to being completely dead”. It’s a surprising observation given that the track elicits the opposite response; the ultimate anti-party anthem if such a thing exists. Introducing a defiant edge to her distinctive vocals, the chorus harmonies transform into gang-like chanting as the track rushes to a finale; drums and guitars let off the leash in riotous fashion. The party may be dead but you sure as hell want to be there.
Steeped in the traditions of the troubadours that have gone before him yet blessed with a refreshingly attention grabbing brogue, Lewis Capaldi had been an elusive outlier on the scene for a number of years but it was his smash single that most definitely served as his musical coming of age. Instantaneously flooring fans with his staggering vocal work, ‘Bruises’ may be mournful and solemn in tone but it highlighted a glaringly bright future for this Scottish singer/songwriter that has certainly came to fruition in the months that have followed. Given the immense power which is emitted from every syllable and the emotional depth that pervades in his lyrics, it’s not hard to see why Capaldi quickly followed in the footsteps of countrymen such as Paolo Nutini or Roddy Hart in establishing himself all over the world and has all of the attributes needed to become a bonafide star that the nation can be resoundingly proud of.
Unquestionably one of the foremost breakout bands to have emerged from the bowels of Glasgow’s cavernous music venues in recent years, brash punk four piece Rascalton have been on an absolute tear ever since they clambered onto the stage to open 2016’s Tenement Trail and it’s been a journey that’s entirely devoid of low points. The track that solidified their potential and truly put the nation’s tastemakers on notice, ‘This Is It’s’ enduring appeal and the rapturous response that it garners whenever it’s performed live serves as the perfect summation of the restless energy, righteous discontentment and creativity that flows through their veins. High octane guitar music that rallies against the culture of discriminatory hate and anguish that impedes the progress of the human race, the spirit of the revolutionary days of 1977 can be felt in its every twist and turn and yet it retains an indie rock immediacy that turns its harrowing sentiments into something altogether more anthemic and invigorating.
A band who have balked in the face of expectation since the very beginning of their career, Wolf Alice’s comeback single ‘Yuk Foo’ saw the four-piece return in the most incendiary and uncompromising fashion when it arrived earlier this year. However, those expecting a similarly thunderous follow-up were left surprised by what would emerge in its wake as it couldn’t have been more different. A mesmerising departure from what came before it, ‘Don’t Delete The Kisses’ is perhaps the band’s most synth-heavy tune to date. Recalling ‘The Wonderwhy’ from their glorious debut album My Love Is Cool, Ellie Rowsell speaks the lyrics as if delivering a beautifully written poem; all while wrestling with the nagging self-doubt that comes with love and lust in the modern world. With her echoing vocals at their most entrancing, a dreamy combination of crisp percussion, swirling guitar parts and shimmering synths come together to create one of the band’s most beautifully crafted tracks in their discography
The song that defined what has been a pivotal year in the band’s development at both a local and international scale, The Ninth Wave’s ‘Reformation’ isn’t some mere catchy track but served as the dawning of a prosperous new era for the four piece. Departing with the sounds and sights of the past in favour of a newly reconfigured agenda that strikes a harmonious balance between substance and more stylised elements, ‘Reformation’ is macabre in its post punk-tinged sound but in no way despondent or without levity. Maintaining the innate knack for a cathartic chorus that rose to prominence on tracks from last year’s double AA single, it is an optimistic affair that espouses a message of longing for personal growth and the pursuit of better days ahead that material of this magnitude would be sure to facilitate.