Still only in her mid-20s, former Brighton resident Marika Hackman has been making spellbindingly personal music since the Johnny Flynn-produced debut single ‘You Come Down’ was released in 2012. Both Flynn and Hackman are former pupils of the esteemed Bedales School (Hackman was there after winning a scholarship), where she met model Cara Delevingne, and subsequently formed a short-lived band with her. A self-taught guitarist, her recent album I’m Not Your Man introduced a bigger, more guitar-orientated sound, enabled by the recruitment of her buddies The Big Moon on most of the album.
Formed in 1993, Spoon have slowly developed into one of the finest alt-rock bands from America. Known for their incredible consistency, they dipped their toes in rock, pop, and even disco over the course of nine studio albums. This year they released one of their best yet, the eclectic Hot Thoughts on Matador, a label that released their very first album back in 1996. Although a band with a big cult following in the UK, they’ve never played Brighton before, which they’ll be doing this autumn as part of a European tour. Guitarist, singer and main songwriter Britt Daniel took some time out to chat with Brightonsfinest.
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.