Manchester’s Pale Waves look like the next ‘dead cert’ to make it to the top of the indie music tree. With huge support from The 1975, including Matt Healy producing their debut single ‘There’s a Honey’ and directing the music video ‘Television Romance’, a record deal with huge indie label Dirty Hit and adoring fans, they’ve got the whole package to send them to super stardom.
PINS have had an absolutely stellar 2017. From the release of their Bad Thing EP earlier in the year they’ve been building a whole new level of traction around them and the spotlight has definitely started to shift towards PINS’ direction. After non-stop touring throughout the year they haven’t shown any hint of losing steam. Their latest single ‘Serve The Rich’ is an extended arm to the alienated and a song that oozes with PINS’ cool charm. Before they embark on yet another tour across the UK, PINS frontwoman Faith Holgate had a brief chat with us about their successes of 2017 so far.
Her debut album Stranger in the Alps is one of the debuts of the year. A brilliant collection of deeply personal, and highly literate songs written by this young LA-based singer/songwriter. Heavily influenced by Elliot Smith and Conor Oberst (who appears on the album), her songs are emotive, brave and confident, and beautifully written. Ryan Adams was a big early fan, and produced her first single ‘Killer’, but she went on to make an album prior to signing a deal, there seemed so much confidence in her talent. Dead Oceans showed the most interest and their faith has already been rewarded, with Stranger in the Alps winning universal plaudits.
Holiday Destination is easily one of the best AND most important records of the year. Her third album, the dark, brooding yet grooving post-punk of Holiday Destination mainly focuses on the plight of refugees, but still talks about mental health issues that heavily informed her debut album, Love Your Dum and Mad. With a band that also features her producer Ben Hillier, their potent muscularity is allied to an intelligent and humane lyricism, with Shah’s – who is of both Norwegian and Pakistani heritage – formidable presence giving it her all.
A 20-plus year veteran of the music industry, who tasted the pitfalls of being a musician back in the late 90s with Britpop band Kill Laura, Jane Weaver has since then ploughed her own idiosyncratic course, that includes setting up her own label, and exploring the weird and wonderful worlds of krautrock, female punk, new wave, lo-fi synth DIY, and psychedelic dream-pop. This year’s Modern Kosmology is her biggest and best yet, and she’s just dropped The Architect EP in time for her long UK and European tour.
Emerging from the London performance art scene and allies with the likes of The Comet Is Coming, they’ve just dropped their debut album, a high energy organic-rave that features home made wood synths, bits of hand crafted percussion, plus some old school analogue synth action, as well as your customary drums and bass. Dressed up as a cross between paganistic Christmas monsters and Nordic, their live shows are a wild enticement to get your best party-on whilst the world drags its sorry arse into the abyss. We spoke to Paddy from the band.
James Lavelle was the founder of the seminal Mo’Wax label back in 1993, fermenting a heady mash up of hip-hop, jazz and trip-hop. It was very much a label with an internationalist outlook, with acts as far afield as Japan, France, and the USA featuring prominently, as well as from the UK. Moreover, it was more than just about music; art and culture were intrinsically woven into the ethos, and Mo’Wax became one of the biggest cult labels of the 90s. At the same time, Lavelle forged his own musical project UNKLE, eventually releasing his debut album Psyence Fiction, in 1998. Featuring contributions from the likes of Ian Brown, DJ Shadow, Thom Yorke and Richard Ashcroft, it set the template for UNKLE, one that has continuously forged links with other artists, musical and otherwise. Mixing a career of DJ’ing, curating and recording, Lavelle curated Meltdown in 2014, and just recently released The Road Pt.1, UNKLE’s sixth album.
One of the most unlikely musical mutations of recent years has to be Jack Steadman’s successfully transformation from frontman of indie-pop band Bombay Bicycle Club to mastermind of Mr Jukes. A project that completely caters for his love of funk, soul and jazz, with a range of guest singers including De La Soul, Elli Ingram, Charles Bradley, Lalah Hathaway, Lianne La Havas, and Horace Andy. It was a high risk endeavour which seems to be paying dividends as his up-coming sold out tour of the UK testifies.
Formerly the hang player with the instrumental ambient-jazz groovers Portico Quartet, Nick Mulvey struck out on his own in 2012, keen to release his own material, as a singer/songwriter and acoustic guitarist. His debut album First Mind was Mercury Prize nominated in 2015 and Wake Up Now, his follow up, is another beautifully realised work that was co-produced with Ethan Johns and Dan Carey. It’s an album that weaves in African and global influences along with electronics, as Mulvey contemplates both life as a new father and the increasingly worrying global refugee and environmental crises afflicting our shrinking planet. Nick took the time to talk to Brightonsfinest prior to the album’s release and a UK tour.
Following in the footsteps of the magnificent 69 Love Songs, an album in which musical maverick Stephin Merritt focussed on love from every possible angle, the leader of The Magnetic Fields released 50 Song Memoir back in March of this year. It’s a musical autobiography of sorts in which Merritt dedicates one song to each year of his life, beginning in 1966. It’s another milestone in a career littered with them, the band’s first release being the 1991 single ‘100,000 Fireflies. Named after the Andre Breton/Philippe Soupault novel Les Champs Magnetiques, Merritt’s highly regarded lyricism remains focussed on love and gender, and is strewn with irony, humour, and the odd bout of bitterness. Here, he talks to Brightonsfinest about the album and forthcoming back-to-back Brighton Dome dates.