Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Looking For The New Sound

2008 Preview (rework for Inpress)

There’s only so much you can pick up from MySpace or foreign rock press. So our man in the UK James McGalliard has suggested some acts to watch out for in 2008

Foals, Laura Marling, The Pigeon Detectives, The Wombats, Palladium… It’d be fairly easy to list bands who will make an impact this year. But this is more about acts I’ve seen and been impressed by over the past 12 months, acts I’ll be spending my time and money keeping an eye on. Hopefully some of them will find success as well…

The Twilight Sad was the band of 2007 for me. Yet somehow their brilliant debut album missed many end of year lists. Live the act is powerful and unforgettable. And bloody LOUD! There’s a special something about them; even though their music is entirely different, I keep thinking Here Are The Young Men. . Andy Yorke is that Radiohead guy’s brother, and at Truck he had me totally entranced; the understanding between the people onstage translated to a magic and beautiful hour. I’ve told Evi Vine that she’s a future Mercury Music Prize candidate; she thinks I’m joking, but her unique music is worthy of such accolades. She is transported when she plays and takes the audience with her; the journey may be sometimes unnerving though, as she is a singularly spectacular talent touching some dark places. And while Model Morning may never find huge success, they still make my jaw drop, and my soul sing, each time I see them.

The Early Years were another live highlight of 2007. They’ve officially expanded to a four-piece and are currently recording a second album – it should be blinding. When Fuck Buttons played Truck festival, such was the interest I couldn’t even get into the tent they were playing. But what I heard though the tent walls definitely made me want to find out more. SPC ECO is Dean Garcia of Curve coming back with something reminiscent of his previous act, but also entirely new. But Exit Calm are the where the smart money is; their music is tight and large, even if the vocals are yet to catch up. Think U2, but in a good way. They will playing big venues by the year’s end…

But it’s not all about big music; sometimes it’s one man and his guitar. Or in the case of Simple Kid, a guitar and a laptop - which allows him to duet with Kermit the frog on It’s Not Easy Being Green, and spew out the lyrics of set highlight Serotonin. Josh T Pearson has been stunning UK audiences with his openhearted, scary, long, involved, honest one-man songs. He’s due to release his first real material since Lift To Experience soon – it will have been worth the wait. Kid Harpoon first hooked me with his brilliant live cover of Leonard Cohen’s First We Take Manhattan. Now he has a full band (The Powers That Be) and together they play some of the best folk-influenced rock since The Pogues.

Blues is making big inroads into the indie scene, and leading the vanguard is Seasick Steve. He’s the real deal and is playing to bigger and bigger audiences every tour. It’s a little like Top Gear - folks who usually have no interest in this sort of thing are flocking to see him. With a renewed interest in “punk rock blues”, maybe Archie Bronson Outfit will progress from being one of the best live acts in the country, to being a big one too? Also not to be missed are Joe Gideon & The Shark – a brother and sister – him on guitar, her on drums - but nothing like that that red & white duo!

Reunions are generally a disappointment, but in 2005, the Gang Of Four’s live shows wiped the floor with newer pretenders. Sadly drummer Hugh is not currently in the band, but they’re recording new material and its release is sure to be eagerly awaited. Similarly James played the arenas this year, but it was more than a nostalgia trip - they have written and recorded a new album. The live shows were great and if radio gets behind them, they may have a second coming.

My Latest Novel produced a great debut album, and are a fabulously adventurous live act, but never really found a big following. But their new songs are particularly strong, so hopefully this will change. Fields progressed enormously over 2007 and the touring helped then to keep the intensity levels sustained throughout their shows. Maybe their hybrid shoegaze folk-rock will makes its mark this year? On the other hand The Duke Spirit were always great live, but sadly their debut album failed to capture this. However this seems to have been rectified with their new recordings, and their forthcoming album Neptune may yet make them a household name.

Other trends to look out for in the coming months are classical strings in postrock (see Spiritualized Acoustic Mainline, Yndi Halda and The Monroe Transfer) and also expect an indie pop revival in 2008 (Tim Ten Yen, Poppy & The Jezebels, Strange Idols, 586, The Chaira L’s, and others). But now that the ukulele has overtaken the recorder as the most played instrument in UK schools, who knows what the future will bring?

© James McGalliard 2008