This post follows the previous one and provides my personal opinion on the UK Blog Sound of 2015 long list. As I said on my write up of last years list, this is genuinely the only time throughout the year when I will post about artists that I don't like, dismissing an act isn't something I necessarily enjoy, after all taste is subjective and one persons idea of heaven is another's hell and all such clichés...
Two of my three selections made the Blog Sound list, I won't reveal all now (my own personal tips are coming later this week, fifteen in total, posting two a day from tomorrow). If you want to read about The UK Blog Sound of 2015 check out the original Blog Sound 2015 post here. A play list of the artists is found at the end of this post.
The list follows and accompanies the BBC Sound of 2015. The two lists share just three acts (Shura, Lapsley and Soak). In comparison to last year when I'd posted about zero of the Beeb's list, this year I've posted about four; Rae Morris, Shura (both originally in 2011), Wolf Alice and Lapsley). That means little alone of course and it's easy to be critical of the Blog Sound list for its lack of diversity in comparison to the BBC list which covers the full musical spectrum. Of course it also highlights that those who responded to the call for tips were middle of the road 'indie' bloggers like myself.
Of the fifteen acts on the Blog Sound list I have seen live and blogged about seven of them and I'd never heard of two, perhaps three of them. Anyway, playlist listening time... In alphabetical order:
ALL WE ARE - FACEBOOK
I enjoyed All We Are when I saw them at Glastonbury earlier this year, here's what I said back in June in my review:
'groovy, dreamy soft-pop with shimmering guitars and smoldering dual vocals carrying a sweet, exotic flavour as their falsetto vocals channel the Bee Gees crossed with early 90's R&B. Lush'.
Yeah, that's about right.
BLACK HONEY - TWITTER
Not at all surprised to see Black Honey in this list, myself included, they hit a sweet spot amongst UK bloggers during the second half of this year. "Teenager" and "Bloodlust" especially impressing.
Their blend of cinematic noir-pop track fits perfect for the UK crowd, a jangly assault of guitars and sing-along vocals. I'm expecting to hear more from this lot soon. If I was a betting man, I'd have Black Honey down as one of the favorites to 'impress most' at the forthcoming The Great Escape (they've not yet been announced as playing, but it makes sense)...
CHLØË BLACK - FACEBOOK
It takes about five seconds to hear a Lana clone. There are even references to drugs, guns and American musical legends within a minute too. I like Lana, Born to Die was my favourite album of 2012 and Ultraviolence works a lot better in the solitary confinements of your home than it did at Glastonbury but, and I'm probably being extremely hypocritical here, I'm not enamored.
I won't dismiss Chloe totally until I've heard a few more tracks but as good a voice as she seems to have and as 'gritty' and 'haunting' as the words and music may be, it seems a little too manufactured (as Lana undoubtedly is too).
COASTS - FACEBOOK
Ah, here's one for XFM. It's incredible, especially to myself, to think ten years ago this is the sort of music that I liked. Think a driving Keane / Coldplay melody and rousing, anthemic lad soft-rock at it's finest. The title of the track on the playlist is even the same as CP's best record...
I've changed since, sadly music like this has not. The PR done good.
DEERS - FACEBOOK
Deers were one of my stand-out discoveries of 2014 even before I stepped foot in The Lexington last Monday. After a wonderfully enthusiast, thrilling and enjoyable show I walked out with that opinion quadrupled.
It's been a long, long time since I saw a band enjoying themselves SO much on stage, the banter and friendship between the four was infectious and it rubbed off on their playing, sound problems quickly dispelled amongst fun, admittedly ramshackle riffs and quirky vocal interplay. We even got to hear "Trippy Gum" twice. Let's hope their enthusiasm doesn't wane anytime soon.
FICKLE FRIENDS - FACEBOOK
There aren't many bands doing what Fickle Friends do, better than Fickle Friends. Bright, adventurous pop with spiraling guitars, crisp, quirky synths and smooth vocal hooks combining with effervescent results. The combination looks sure to earn them even more admirers next year after a hat-trick of pop hits in 2014.
FLYTE - FACEBOOK
I feel like I've heard of the band name before from years ago, I'm probably getting confused, I certainly have never listened to "Over and Out" before. It does however serve as a decent introduction.
Reminiscent of Fanfarlo's new, uplifting direction is an instant, fun and enjoyable indie pop track. I even went and dug out another track, "Light Me Up" which unfortunately isn't quite as good, 80's Talking Head influences run throughout. It's decent, if not quite the sort of thing I'd put on my list, I wouldn't run out of the room if it was on! What a compliment lads, sorry!
HALFRICAN - FACEBOOK
One of the bands I've never heard of before. The tracks called "Cocksucker" and I know I'm going to hate it before I press play. The thrashing guitars at the start don't help to ease that opinion and then there are some riotous vocals added too. I actually plugged in my headphones just to make sure my speakers hadn't blown such was the abrasiveness of the "melody". Who voted for this? The same idiots that told us Royal Blood / The Neighbourhood were going to be good no doubt. Avoid!
HONNE - FACEBOOK
I thought I would have written swoon-pop before now, I'm quite surprised I haven't actually. 2014 as been a great year for 80's inspired softly hushed romantic pop. Sadly for Honne and me as friends I could name a good dozen bands doing this better than this, minimalist synth glitches and smooth, intimate melody. I'm reminded of a trip advisor review of Brussels Notre-Dame du Sablon which said something very similar to 'it's alright, if you like churches'. Well "All in the Value" is alright if you like swoon-pop, but there's nothing to quite get my pulse racing.
LAPSLEY - FACEBOOK
Sound hiccups aside Låpsley's performance at Glastonbury earlier this year showed the teenager's promise, later track "Falling Short" confirmed it. Her layered vocals sound lush, the melody is sparse and subtle, the lyrics and wounded and intimate and as a listener you are rewarded a little more on each listen.
Her place in this list and also the BBC Sound of 2015 list was almost a forgone conclusion. I hope she manages to fulfill all the early promise.
PRIDES - FACEBOOK
Forgive me if it's just me being a miserable so and so but here we go again, it's Coasts but worse. Juddering, exuberant synth pop that sounds like it's been formatically made to sell as many records as possible. It's probably great if you're into that sort of thing, I'm not. We'll leave it there.
SHURA - FACEBOOK
Shu is here to save the day. I've already named "Touch" as my favourite track of the first half of 2014 and I'm not changing its position at the end of the year either.
I was gutted I couldn't make her debut London show and will hope to set that right next year, I'm sure I'll get plenty of chances.
Tales of intimate frustration, vulnerability and heartache have never sounded so good.
SOAK - FACEBOOK
Another act to be included on both lists, another certainty to do so. Hyped and lauded by everyone under the sun already.
It's impossible to criticise "Blud" either, it's soft, intimate and undoubtedly lovely throughout yet, and this is after listening to Soak quite a few times, I can't quite find myself to fall smitten. It's quite nice, that's okay some times.
SOPHIE JAMIESON - FACEBOOK
I've talked about Sophie Jamieson a lot on these pages for a couple of year now and with good reason too. Latest single "Take signaling a bigger progression to her intimate songcraft.
Now tackling beautifully constructed, experimental rhythms and spiraling guitarscapes far and beyond her beautifully affecting solo material. It's just left to be seen if it is 2015 when we get an album and the universal acclaim that she richly deserves follows. Let's hope so.
TEI SHI - FACEBOOK
It's taken a while but here we are, the last of this years Blog Sound of list... I can remember blogging about Tei Shi's "See Me" not too long ago, a sparse, bewitching electro-pop beauty. "Basically" is more up-tempo, radio friendly and has over 400k's worth of plays on Soundcloud alone, clearly the New Yorker is doing something right. Nice, albeit perhaps too safely.
There we go. The Blog Sound of 2015 list. I'll be interested to see how many of the fifteen acts actually release an album in 2015, one big difference between bloggers and the 'tastemakers' (yuck) who the BBC select is that bloggers tend to go on impulse and who they are really enjoying, whereas BBC's seemingly tend to pick acts with a massive campaign behind them already. There really is no other excuse for James Bay.