Fifteen For 2015 #15 - Arctic Lake


My final 'ones to watch' post of 2015 is a little bit of a chance, Arctic Lake are a band I've heard just the one track from and I'm yet to see live but that one track is a good 'un and what are lists but a way to hopefully introduce a band to a new audience, be that one person or ten.

The delicate, shimmering guitar textures and haunting vocals that introduce the trio's debut track  belies what is to follow, transforming "How Long Can You Stare" from widescreen London Grammar-esque ambiance to a level that rivals the more ambitious post-rock soundscapes of Explosions in the Sky.

The whole loud/quiet dynamic fits together perfectly, coming across completely unforced as the track weaves a serenely beautiful melody to a devastating, emotive voice before building to a peak of gut-wrenching instrumentation and crashing percussion that sweep you off your feet with an aural storm of noise.

From looking on Facebook, Arctic Lake have a new track due on January 21st, here's waiting optimistically. 

That's it for 2015's ones to watch. That doesn't mean there aren't more bands I'll be following with interest, Lapsley would have been an obvious choice, I almost picked Sisters after how good they were live supporting Lazy Day and than there are plenty of other acts that I'm interested to hear more from,  Abbey Bowden's new band Sanarme to name just one.

If you landed here and want to see a handy list/slideshow of all fifteen of my tips, well you can, just follow this link.

Fifteen For 2015 #14 - Sophie Jamieson


Another returning 'tip' and an act I've talked about so often on these pages I could almost be accused of turning stalker fan. Sophie Jamieson has long been a huge favourite on these pages and next year when her latest EP drops, the quartet are sure to see their ever increasing number of admirers further grow.

Their latest single "Take" signals a bigger progression to Sophie's intimate songcraft than ever before. Now tackling beautifully constructed, experimental rhythms and spiraling guitarscapes far and beyond her beautifully affecting solo material (that's not to say those tracks aren't still wonderful, see "Waterloo" or "Ode to the East" for proof).

Earlier single, spring's wonderful double A-side single Stain/Other hinted at as much. "Stain" leaves exactly that on you, combining Sophie's delectable vocals, heart shattering lyrics and restrained instrumentation, the perfect marriage of space and structure to get under your skin with spine-tingling effect. "Other", a fully realised beauty which highlights her bands influence more than ever. A stark, haunting drip feed of emotion. 

Aside from the EP, I'm not sure what else Sophie has in store for us in 2015, hopefully some more live shows, they've been too sparse of late and the universal acclaim that she so richly deserves follows.. Perhaps 2015 is still too soon for that album, I'll keep on waiting...

Fifteen For 2015 #13 - Oh, Rose


I only realised last week that I hadn't written about Oh, Rose previously. I thought I had so I can only apologise for this belated post. Coming to my attention through the blog I've probably discovered the most new bands from this year, aside from self-discovery, Gold Flake Paint back in April and compelling me to promptly order their now sold-out tape EP That Do Now See, Washington's Oh, Rose specialise in raw, foggy folk-rock that instantly (and apparently to the disdain of Olivia Rose herself) recalls the intensity and brilliance of Angel Olsen. It should be a compliment, both individual in voice and style but the comparison comes from the way they both convey emotion and immense breadth, captivating the listener throughout, be it dreamy bliss, hauntingly yodeling or nonchalantly hushed heartbreak. 

The opening track from that EP "Prom" lets you know what Oh, Rose are about, drawing you instantly into their world with a rough around the edges beast, moody and magical, big riffs and compelling in terms of lyrical and musical character. "Out of Sight" is a softer thing of beauty with floating acoustic gliding Olivia's drawling, transfixing vocal yet my favourite is possibly the title track "That Do Now See", it simply hits you for six with a raw, bluesy riff that recalls the atmosphere and intensity of She Keep Bees . It's the sort of introduction that as a music blogger you live for, sensational.

The more recent "Lottery" is an all out, high energy rocker with fuzzed up riffs and gnarling vocals, it's equally great. What will 2015 bring? I have no idea but Oh, Rose is one band you simply must be following.

Fifteen For 2015 #12 - Lazy Day

Lazy Day, led by Tilly Scantlebury, one of this blog's favourite voices may have only formed as a band towards the end of 2014 and played their very first show just last week but have already given me more than enough to line-up as a devoted follower (plus I have the t-shirt).

The debut, sold-out, live show saw Tilly's magnetic voice joined by layered guitarscapes and carefully placed percussion with plenty of reverb and immersive noise adding an extra dimension to the already wonderful recorded output we've heard so far.

The newest of which "Oldest Friend"  lets you straight into the secret, a mid-paced jangle that rings around Tilly's luxurious voice and pulls you firmly within its cascading melody. "With My Mind" has a brooding intensity and a hypnotic guitar riff oozing around sumptuous, soothing tones whilst much like the recorded version, the live performance of "TV" saw the band down tools and let Tilly take over solo on her most intimate and beautiful track to date, her echoed vocals and reverberating guitar chords are all it takes to steal your heart.

2015 will surely bring some further live dates and hopefully an EP too, you should join the queue too.

Fifteen For 2015 #11 - Novella


Like Embers, Novella were one of my 'Tips for 2012 and 2013' and whilst they've released a wonderful EP in 2012 and a smaller scale one in 2013, the London quintet (I'm still yet to see them as a quintet, having only played a small handful of shows this year on dates that I could not make) are yet to fulfill their promise with a debut album. 2015 should surely be the year that changes...

I've been hooked on Novella since the very start, their debut songs "The Things You Do" and "Oh Brian" over three years ago now. The buzz was apparent and fulfilled by 2012's debut EP and subsequent single "Mary's Gun", the former appearing at number eight in my releases of 2012 list, a 'sumptuous cocktail of sugary vocals buried in a sea of hazy, grungy guitars and battering drum beats'. 

This year saw no releases for Novella at all so it's still "Follow" the single from the brilliant Murmurs EP that counts as their most recent track, a long, winding intro hints at what the band are about, a raw, sprawling blend of psyche-guitars and repetitive rhythms infecting your head before finally, just after the two minute mark Hollie's luscious vocals enter, floating nonchalantly with a dreamy hue of hypnotic beauty to a spacey, exhilarating conclusion.

Their live show is even better. Making a whole lot of wonderful, sprawling noise. Let's hope 2015 finally makes me a happy bunny with news of a record and more live dates, I'm sure I'm no the only person eager for more.

Fifteen For 2015 #10 - Lisa Alma


I wouldn't ordinarily include an artist in my ones to watch lists that has already released an album but I don't think the record in question (her self-titled 2013 full length) has ever been released in the UK and even if it has, Copenhagen's Lisa Alma has received nowhere near the backing her exquisite music deserves.

My introduction to her was 2014's EP Oh Darling, Let’s Be Adventurers, the releases' stand-out "Bittersweet" soon becoming one of my favourite tracks of the year, a devastating marriage seduction and longing. I gave it one of the biggest compliments you could ask for from me, a Prince comparison: 'backed by little more than subtle drum pad beats and minimal, spacious synths, it's Lisa's vocal that steals the show and has me hooked. It immediately makes me think of Prince's falsetto, not just any old Prince either, the Purple One at his 80's best, seducing with every note, whispered, extended words that make you fall hopelessly under their spell. I love the extended outro too where a smouldering guitar captures the essence of heartbreak, it's just bloody gorgeous'.

Lisa is no one track pony, "Oh Darling" purrs like the softer side of Metric's Synthetica LP, a fragile but sparkling melody full of catchy hooks, rhythmic beats and crystal clean production, "When I Knew" flutters in equally heavenly plains, an effortless marriage of dream-inducing synths, soul filled vocals and sadness whilst latest track, "Fine" is another gem, here sparse electronic pulses and subtle beats guide Lisa's truly incredible vocal, at times melancholic, rousing, haunting and always, always beautiful.

I'm not sure what 2015 has in store for Lisa Alms, her output has been prolific to this point but I'm greedy for more and for the world to catch on, such spacious, ethereal and devastating music deserves to find a home in listeners all around the world.

Fifteen For 2015 #9 - Eliza Shaddad


I've been listening to Eliza Shaddad for a couple of years now and yet still I was surprised by the progression and brilliance of her 2014 EP Waters. Four tracks that wrapped up what I already knew about Eliza, her knack of making a beautiful song and singing it beautifully' but also added an altogether new, expansive sound to her repertoire. The result was spellbinding and the EP is easily one of the years finest.

The title track to that release "Waters" is the first time Eliza has used a 'full band' sound and it's absolutely bloody stunning, transcending her 'traditional folk' roots with an adventurous, darker turn. As a listener you immediately get swept up amongst the stirring melody and as soon as Eliza's world-weary tones join the ever present drum march and ringing guitar patterns you cant help but skip a beat. One of those whoa, where did that come from moments.

"You For Me" really is as pretty a moment as I've heard all year, a genuine love song with ringing guitar patterns and a delicate, haunting backdrop which slowly introduces Eliza's stunning vocals, gorgeous and pristine, here coupled with lyrics as optimistic and heartfelt as you're ever likely to hear. "You For Me" is the sort of track that will bring you to a stand still whatever you are doing - simply magical. The other two tracks on the release stand up equally, just as beautiful are "Alright Again" and "When We", which wrap those pure tones in stark, circling guitar patterns and Eliza's timeless vocal tone. The result is a lovely, warming sensation that will leave you feeling better than were some twenty minutes earlier. You can't ask for more than that.

Eliza has just completed her first UK headlining tour, I couldn't make the London show this time so I'll have to hope it was good as her summer EP launch. Looking ahead, 2015 might be a transition year before perhaps an album in 2016, either way Eliza Shaddad should be a name on your lips.