The Specials – Encore

For a band that did so little, and in a very short space of time, it is remarkable that they are held in such high regard; the two-tone ska band that really meant something. Coming off the back of punk, the mixed-race Coventry band were a band deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of the UK for a couple of years; from the release of the Prince Buster-inspired ‘Gangsters’ to the epochal ‘Ghost Town’, which hit number one in the tumultuous summer of ’81, when the country was suffering from high unemployment, racial strife, and extensive rioting. ‘Ghost Town’ was to be the last song that founder members Terry Hall and Lynval Golding, were to be involved with. Immediately after appearing on the Top of the Pops stage to perform that hit, they, along with Neville Staple, told band leader Jerry Dammers that they were leaving, to form Fun Boy Three

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Yak – Pursuit of Momentary Happiness

After the release of Yak’s Alas Salvation, a record brimming with Jack White-esque riffs and frontman Oli Burslem’s distinctive howls, which we described as “The best British debut for quite sometime”, the band travelled to Australia to swiftly follow-up the record with Pond’s Jay Watson. It didn’t work out, however, and with a lot of partying had and not a lot of recording done, Burslem was stuck in Australia having spent his album budget. Thankfully, this is the start of a journey with a happy ending, which saw Burslem make his way back to the UK, resulting in the creation of their second record, Pursuit of Momentary Happiness; an at times riotous, but wholly more interesting, record than its predecessor.

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Toy – Happy in the Hollow

Remarkably, Brighton outfit Toy’s fourth, and latest record, Happy in the Hollow, comes almost a decade since the band formed. Since then, they’ve not only grown in confidence but, musically, they’ve become much broader with a vaster outlook and back catalogue. Happy in the Hollow, their first album away from label Heavenly Recordings – they’re now on Tough Love Records – was written and produced in its entirety by the band themselves and that creative control is telling. A sonic journey through the worlds of psych, Happy in the Hollow is an experimental and diverse listen that offers more and more on each listen. For better and for worst, Happy in the Hollow is a project that could only come from Toy.

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Rat Boy – Internationally Unknown

When Jordan Cardy, better known as Rat Boy, first arrived on the scene with ‘Sign On’ – a fast-talking indie delight with an incredibly infectious chorus – comparisons to Jamie T were inevitable. Since his debut record, Scum, however, which heavily resembled Jamie T’s oeuvre, Rat Boy has explored a different avenue which comes to fruition with his latest record, Internationally Unknown. A collaboration with ska-punk legend Tim Armstrong, of Rancid fame, there are times on the record where Rat Boy begins to find his own sonic sound but, on the whole, all this record has done is saturate his own sound.

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The Vaccines – Brighton Dome – 25th January 2019

The Vaccines, whether you like it or not – and that’s very much up for debate – are a UK indie staple. Formed at the backend of the 00s revolution, when the likes of The Strokes and The Libertines were either disbanding or slowing down, the West London band picked up sizeable crowds with their energy-bursting two minute bangers on their debut album What Did You Expect from The Vaccines? Now on their fourth album, Combat Sports, which we described as “a return to form”, the indie quintet have become a far more well-rounded band than they ever were before.

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Blood Red Shoes – Get Tragic

A tale of two bands. Blood Red Shoes, Drill Festival, Brighton, December 2014, playing to a half empty room, looking a little unhappy, in a venue that was shortly to close (Bleach). They soon thereafter relegated the band to the back of the drawer, Laura-Mary Carter off to LA, in search of meaning, and songwriting jobs, Steven Ansell remaining in Brighton, running a label (Jazz Life), bashing the drums, and – according to Laura-Mary – partying a bit.

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Toro y Moi – Outer Peace

I can remember exactly who I was in the heyday of chillwave: a newly come-of-age teenager who was starting to shed his indie kid demeanour and begin exploring the vast ocean of electronic music. Washed Out’s ‘Feel It All Around’ soundtracked what felt like a never-ending school summer holidays, later dubbed as the 2009 summer of chillwave; filled with rose-tinted disposable camera photographs, faux pas heartbreak with a tinge of teenage angst, and misguided youthful drinking abroad on the beach.

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Tim Presley’s White Fence – I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk

Both sides of Tim Presley’s mind, one being White Fence and the other himself as a solo artist, marry together, bringing us I Have To Feed Larry’s Hawk, one of his strongest records yet. The result is an entirely new pathway for the songwriter, bringing together both of his projects where, “Tim Presley meets White Fence and together they move on”. The record was born from the home of Cate Le Bon, where Presley was staying at the time of writing, leaving a familiar level of eccentricity rubbing off on the record.

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Thyla – What’s On Your Mind

We’ve waxed lyrical about Brighton quartet Thyla ever since we heard their debut single ‘Ferris Wheels’ back in 2017. Since then, they’ve developed and honed their sound, subsequently evolving from a band heavily referencing 80s gloom-pop in the ilk of Cocteau Twins, into a behemoth of their own. Whether it’s with each brilliant single, or their quite brilliant live performances, Thyla have etched their way into the Brighton zeitgeist. For Thyla hold their own unique place in indie music right now; where they’re not only bringing something iconically new to the saturated platter, but they’re inducing their own distinct vitality and glamour on their brand of dark and ingenious guitar pop.

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Cancer Bats – The Haunt, Brighton – 23rd January 2019

The Toronto-raised hardcore-punk pirates that go by the name of Cancer Bats did a marvellous job of moving their legacy forward with a brilliant 2018, in which the group released their sixth studio album, The Spark That Moves, and laying waste to The Hope & Ruin after a sold out show. It seems that they are off to an equally impressive 2019 with their new single ‘Inside Out’ and a brand new tour, which sees Cancer Bats return to Brighton once again for yet another sold out gig, this time at The Haunt.

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