As I write this it has just been announced that Ms Britney Spears will be gracing the stage of this year’s Brighton Pride. A spew of cornflakes sprinkled its way on to my keyboard, made even worse by the truly sarcastic media headline of: “Britney Spears to play Brighton Pride… and Scarborough”! Something to look forward to, eh, you pop loving, schoolgirl outfit wearing Britney Spears fans? Along with Chic‘s appearance at the same event during the August Bank Holiday weekend, the city will be truly buzzing.
Other notable gigs this year include Orbital‘s home show at Brighton Racecourse at the end of June, Patti Smith at the Dome, the annual global new music jamboree that is The Great Escape, and the musically brilliant Love Supreme Festival, which last year sold out for the first time. With Glastonbury fallow this year, many an opportunist have taken advantage with a slew of new events happening in around mid-summer. Easily the best in my book will be All Points East, taking place at the end of May in Victoria Park and featuring some top notch acts such as LCD Soundsystem, Glass Animals, Lorde, Sampha, Bjork, Beck, and Father John Misty.
2017 was a tremendous year for new music, and I expect 2018 will be equally good, with releases spanning the spectrum. Highlights for me include Gaz Coombes’ follow up to his masterful Matador album of 2015, Brighton’s Demob Happy and their second album, the return of Eels, Yo La Tengo, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Jack White and David Byrne.
2018 is already shaping up to be even bigger and better than last, I can see this year being one which opens many up to music they’d never even considered trying and for myself too, I’m making it my mission to attempt to delve as far out of my comfort zone as possible and relish in genres which I didn’t even know existed.
This being said, there are some definite upcoming rock releases which have already caught my eye. To see Marmozets return at the end of this month after such a long wait since their smash debut studio release will certainly be something worth waiting for. Also having another Don Broco album on the horizon, which is already stepping up to be one of the biggest releases of the year, is almost too much to bare.
Equally, Brighton’s live scene is proving once again that we do play host to one of the most dynamic places in the country. I personally can’t wait to get stuck into Electric Six’s show when they play Concorde 2 in March and even before the larger acts have been named, this year’s The Great Escape is already turning into something huge. Just some of the names to already be announced who I implore you to look up: Pale Waves, King Nun and Wild Front, seriously, you won’t regret it. As more acts continue to be announced throughout the year, I’m sure that the city will bring forth numerous other gems gracing our shores.
In terms of predictions for 2018, I can certainly see political material making an even bigger presence this year. With attitudes towards governments being probably the worst they’ve ever been, it feels like we’re overdue on a resurgence of pure, anarchic, and chaotic punk, and I for one can’t wait. The days of DIY leather jackets, ludicrous mohawks and putting a big middle finger to society may be a mere flicker of the past, but it feels as though that’s what we all need right now. One band to definitely check out in this respect is Riskee and The Ridicule, a fresh name who are seriously waving the nu-wave punk flag high and at the forefront of bringing the art form back to the UK scene. Seems as Brighton has such a strong punk legacy, it’d only be more fitting to see the movement stem out from our wonderful city, so if you’ve ever wanted to start a punk band, for the love of God, now’s the time.
When I was a kid, 2018 sounded like a time that was so ridiculously far in the future that we would surely all be flying around in jetpacks and teleporting ourselves around the globe by then. The reality is sadly a bit more grounded, and now my main hope is that we all get through just fine without any major global calamity. In the British music scene, it feels like we could be on the cusp of something special again with an awe-inspiring array of bands rearing their heads. Here are a few of my highlights.
Halfway through the opening month, we have already had an album I was ridiculously excited about with Shame’s Songs of Praise. We are surely reaching a similar point in society to that which brought about the onset of punk, with social inequality acting as a catalyst for change. In a similar vein of frustration, my band of 2017, IDLES have been hard at work in the studio on album number two – that is unquestionably the release that I am most excited about, as the Bristol lads face the challenge of surpassing the sleeper hit of the year. Equally, we must be creeping ever closer to an album from HMLTD, those art punks who burnt their images into my retinas with one of their two scorching Great Escape shows last year. Locally, no surprise that I am looking forward to the long-awaited debut album from Fickle Friends – and that I have my fingers crossed that we get a full-length from Black Honey too. And hey, if The Magic Gang can drop something too, then the year’s going to be perfect. Out of the big bands, then the recent hum of rumours after a suspicious silence from Muse and Arctic Monkeys bodes well – though of course, I am sure we are in for some surprise releases once more.
There may be no Glastonbury, and no Wild Life from a local point of view, but there are still a huge amount of festivals to get excited about. I’m hoping for a new generation of headliners, as we have had the same bands closing shows for far too long. With the likes of Wolf Alice, Royal Blood, The xx and Stormzy showing they are more than capable, it’s time to give them the chance. Britney Spears at Brighton Pride is going to be RIDICULOUS, so that warrants a mention. With gigs generally, and The Great Escape in particular, it’s the surprises that I am looking forward to. It’s the nights that you take a chance on a band that you don’t particularly know yet blow you away, or the support act you turn up early for, that are always the biggest treat. I’ve already experienced that with Calva Louise and Fangclub in January, proving that you should ALWAYS turn up for the supports.
Lastly, speaking as a man, if 2017 taught me anything then the #metoo and safegigs4women campaigns shone a bright light onto the disturbing reality that at least 50% of the population have to go through on a daily/weekly basis. Barely a gig goes by without reading online that some low-life idiot has spoiled it for someone else so guys, time to shape up and sort it out. If you see it happening (even if it’s a mate), call them out on it. Not strictly something to look forward to, but it’s what needs to happen the most in 2018.
2018 has only just started and it already feels like it’s moving too fast. With ace albums from the likes of Shame, Ty Segall and Starcrawler as well as gigs by The Cribs and a huge homecoming celebration in the form of a Tigercub show, January is blasting by at a rollicking pace. So, with 2018 in full swing, just how great is it set to be? From the looks of it we can expect huge comebacks, awesome debut albums and, of course, the brilliantly diverse Brighton music scene to thrive and them some.
In terms of albums, though, it’s looking like an exceptionally exciting time to be a music fan. From what’s been announced so far, we’ve got indie returns from the likes of MGMT, The Wombats and Ezra Furman, as well as grunge returns from legends The Breeders and Superchunk. Two of my most anticipated albums are Rejjie Snow’s Dear Annie and Insecure Men’s eponymous debut album. Rejjie Snow’s latest EP, Dear Annie: Vol 1 was a fantastic 90s r’n’b and hip-hop throwback that had such a nostalgic vibe that it wouldn’t have seemed too out of place on a mixtape written to a school girlfriend. Meanwhile, Insecure Men, the supergroup formed of members of Childhood and Fat White Family should be reason enough to be excited for their debut, but the two singles released so far are absolutely brilliant. Low-key with an ounce of attitude, they sound like the best attributes of both of the bands thrown together beautifully.
Most importantly, however, 2018 is the year that Arctic Monkeys return. It seems like an age since AM’s brilliant mix of hip-hop beats and rock ‘n’ roll came out back in 2013, and Alex Turner’s mid-life crisis with The Last Shadow Puppets did nothing to fill the void of the great Sheffield four-piece. Whether it’ll be a further development from AM or a throwback to the working-class spouted lyrics of Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not is anyone’s guess but, for me, I’d like them to go back to the desert-tinged, long haired, sultry tones of their best album, Humbug.
Additionally, if I can dream for a little bit I’d love another Childish Gambino record. Awaken My Love! was one of the best records of 2016, and any year with a new Gambino record is a good one. Talking about it last year he said it would be “The last Gambino album” so it’s clearly in the works, and 2018 would be an excellent time to drop it, Either that or the much anticipated joint record by Chance the Rapper and Childish Gambino. I’m not picky!
Furthermore, the live scene is sure to be exciting in the coming months. Brighton has the BBC Sound Of 2018 winner to look forward to in the form of Sigrid, as well as second on the list Rex Orange County. Both of these artists are two of the most exciting around at the moment, while being radiantly different. Sigrid is sure to be the biggest pop star of the year, with massive tunes ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’, ‘Fake Friends’ and ‘Strangers’ already under her belt, while Rex Orange County combines hip-hop, jazz and pop to create brilliantly funny and unique worlds.
On top of all of this, we have festival season to look forward to. Of course, Brighton’s very own The Great Escape Festival is the most fun you can have in three days without a doubt, while London’s All Points East seems to be bringing indie’s biggest stars for a week of incomparable entertainment. Of course 2018 is going to be great!
It’s still very early on in the year to know what’s going to creep around the corner and jump out at you album wise. That’s half of the fun though, what releases you’re going to find in time, what’s going to surprise you and what are you going to hear at the end of the year wishing you hadn’t shrugged it off because you didn’t like the cover enough. Having said that, 2018 isn’t going to be a mystery dip and there are some certified bankers on the way, quite soon in fact.
One band I’ve been following have a had the pleasure of seeing many times live are The Orielles who are now releasing their debut album Silver Dollar Moment on Heavenly Records in February. There’s something about watching a band grow at the rate they have that’s very exciting. Their sound is something unique and quite special. It’s almost the sound of growing up. It’s not aware of what it is yet, it can sound uneasy at times but it’s something very joyous and willing to go anywhere. Their first single from the album ‘Sugar Tastes Like Salt’ was a nine-minute epic which sounded like a pivotal moment in the band’s songwriting. They’ve taken their naive sound and given it a scrub-up and a boost of confidence. The single is almost them saying “yes we can do this” and it’s one hell of an ambitious first single. This is my most anticipated release of the year and it’s only a few weeks away. Silver Dollar Moment will be out on 16th February 2018.
I’ve been waiting for a follow up for Ought‘s Sun Coming Down for quite a few years now. Ought themselves had remained quiet until late last year. Frontman Tim Darcy released his first solo album last year which hit the spot but left me more hungry for a new Ought release. Titled Room Inside the World, Ought’s third album seems to indicate a turning point for the band. Their post-punk sound is still as disjointed as before but they’ve grown and morphed, adding to their sound. The band now sound more rounded and from the singles ‘Disgraced in America’ and ‘These 3 Things’, Tim Darcy has taken to singing from the gut. Ought are doing what every great band does. They’ve carved out their sound and now they’re expanding it, seeing what else they can throw into the mix. A great band’s new album will always surprise you and won’t ever be predictable, which is exactly what Ought have done.
2018 is looking very likely to see the return of some artists that we were, being honest, fully expecting to hear from again this year. Teased on an Instagram post, Courtney Barnett has been working away on new material which we should be hearing this year. There doesn’t seem to be a moment where she takes a breath from recording and touring. We’ve had a taste of some of her new chops on her collaborative album from last year Lotta Sea Lice which showed a familiar side to a developing songwriter. Needless to say if we do get a solo album, which all signs suggest we will, it’ll be one of the biggest releases of the year.
Leaving us even less of an idea of what’s going to come are Parquet Courts. They gave a rare interview late last year where they said a new album would be on its way. We know nothing more than the brief comment they gave. Given the band’s almost yearly release schedule, it’s unlikely we will be left high and dry after 2016’s Human Performance, the bar will be set incredibly high.
Word from the Sleaford Mods‘ camp is that there will be new sounds at some point. Jason has been teasing from the studio that they’re back at it. Not that they ever slowed down. After last year’s English Tapas I’m incredibly excited to see how Sleafords’ sound has evolved further.
Something which is pure speculation only (but a good gamble) is a follow up to Snail Mail‘s much loved Habit EP from last year. She’s become increasingly popular since the release of her single ‘Thinning’ and in the space of a year, she’s gone from releasing bedroom singles to being signed to Priests’ Sister Polygon Records; toured all over America and has now signed to Matador Records. All signs point towards another release this year and hopefully a tour this side of the pond.
The joy in music is finding new sounds and expanding your listening – finding something new out about yourself. Speculation is fun and banking on albums being good from artists you like is easy. The fun is having new things turn up in unexpected places and being shown you’re wrong about artists you’d already made your mind up about. My favourite releases from year to year are nearly always things that found themselves to me out of nowhere. Pushing the boundaries of what you listen to, to places that are so far out, only you will understand how you got there and why you’re staying. That’s the joy in it. My advice for 2018, reach out as far and wide as you can. Put on albums for the silliest of reasons just to see what you’ll like – you’ll surprise yourself. Try that record from that artist you’ve always heard of but never really bothered with. The discovery is what makes the best albums great.
Dusting off thoughts of some of the incredible releases of 2017, it’s time to look ahead and focus on what’s exciting us at the Brightonsfinest office as we plough ahead into 2018.
Following an announcement way back in 2016 from DJ Khaled that, “Nas Album Done” there was a painstaking silence from Nas and the gang in 2017. So, after the surprising success of Jay-Z’s heart on his sleeve 4:44 album of 2017, hopes are high that we’ll be seeing a return to form for nasty Nas this year.
Sticking in the hip-hop world, my biggest wish for the upcoming year is that we’ll see the first album released by Anderson .Paak under Dr. Dre’s Aftermath label. I spent the best part of 2016 and ’17 listening to Malibu and Yes Lawd! and if the upcoming record from the astonishing singer-songwriter-instrumentalist is anything close to his previous work we’ll be in for a treat.
Elsewhere in the hip-hop arena we’ve heard rumours of a release from Chance the Rapper. After the experimental styles and themes of Acid Rap and Colouring Book took on sounds of jazz, gospel and hip-hop, we’re seriously hyped to see what’s in store next from this superstar.
While on the subject of Chance, although his collaboration album with Childish Gambino seems to have been put on the back burner for now, a fresh album to follow up Awaken, My Love!, has been announced, while talk of a new Kanye West album continues to circulate after revealing he’d begun work on The Life of Pablo back in 2016.
Moving on and another highlight from 2018 looks to be the second album from soul’s newest icon, Leon Bridges. Launching onto the scene in impressive style in 2015 with Coming Home – nominated for Best R&B Album at the Grammy Awards – the Fort Worth, Texas native had soul aficionados foot tapping away as he evoked memories of 60s soul, a la Sam Cooke and Otis Redding.
Finally, and most pressingly, I’m excited to see the comeback of Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats with their album, Tearing at the Seams, due to hit stores on 9 March. Having just released an anthemic teaser of what’s to come in ‘You Worry Me’, the follow up to 2015’s self-titled debut looks set to be another dose of southern soul-inspired rock, arousing memories of Sam & Dave among others.
With plenty of other albums in store for the upcoming year as well as our plentiful line-up of festivals and gigs locally, stay in touch with Brightonsfinest for the latest news and reviews coming out of the music world.
Having stated in my Review of the Year that I was going to be looking out for new discoveries this year it is a little ironic that I’m going to start off this piece by acknowledging I am more than a little excited for the next album from the Manic Street Preachers. Resistance Is Futile is set to drop in April, but they’ve already teased us with an advance single, ‘International Blue’, which got me pumped. A big melodic power-pop single showcasing the band’s ability to look backwards and move forwards simultaneously. I suppose it’s hard to write much of an article where the main thrust is saying you’re looking forward to things you haven’t heard yet, aside from asserting that I plan to get fully invested in this year’s Great Escape Festival in May, where I intend to head spoiler-free into the arms of acts I’ve never heard.
In terms of heritage acts, the Manics aren’t the only old dogs returning with new tricks. The Breeders are returning with All Nerve, their first album in ten years, possibly related to Kim Deal no longer having commitments with Pixies. It seems weird that MGMT have been away for eight years, as their heydey still seems like only a blink of an eye ago. They’ve been teasing Little Dark Age since 2016, but the singles came thick and fast towards the end of last year, so it feels like it could drop any minute. I’ve also heard rumours that Vampire Weekend are returning, after the confusing dual announcements that founder member Rostam Batmanglij was leaving the group and that they were in the studio working on a fourth album with him back in 2016. Now I loved their last album, covered in synths and studio vocal manipulations, but I must admit I’m excited by the early reports for the next. Apparently the guitar is not dead and there’s more of a spring-time vibe: I can’t wait.
There are also a few prospects that have piqued my interest which don’t belong to bands who are returning from long sabbaticals. Ady Suleiman is an artist who has been cooking for some time – I saw him live in February 2016, based on a recommendation from the previous year’s Great Escape. I find that the live show, and live performance videos you can look up on YouTube, are often much stronger than the over-produced mainstream-baiting fare that has been released. He’s been signed to Sony under Simon Cowell’s wing since 2014, so it’s not really a surprise that they’ve been aiming for the big time. He’s an artist with a fantastic soulful voice, writing heartfelt love songs in a smooth, jazzy style. I think they’d do well to strip back some of the production and let him shine through. The full length album should finally drop this year and I feel like it’s make-or-break: either they nail it and Suleiman becomes a star, or they over egg the pudding and he gets released to what could be a much more interesting independent career. Only time will tell.
Demob Happy, who broke through here in Brighton, are going to be releasing their second album, Holy Doom, but what’s it going to be like? They’ve shed a member and potentially some of their heavyweight leanings along with him. I actually liked it, but I couldn’t help notice the first single, ‘Dead Dreamers’, sounded reminiscent of the bad end of Muse. Thankfully the songs that followed have been more up my street – like Tame Impala fronted by John Lennon, or something else similarly sound-bitey. Finally I’d like to highlight the new Laish album. Danny Green is a great songwriter, with something of a local connection as the former drummer of Sons of Adrian and Noel and a member of the extended Willkommen Collective. I love his last album, Pendulum Swing, and expect he’ll continue to go from strength to strength with his next, Time Elastic, which is due in April, a mere 15 months on. The band are filming a live session in the afternoon at Brighton Electric on 10th February 2018 – a great chance to hear some of the new songs first and to potentially get your face into a video: who could ask for more?.
On quick inspection, it’s going to be a big year for new releases if January to March is anything to go by. Shame have already proven with their debut that they’re one of the best new bands to come out of the UK in recent years and they could soon be followed by the likes of Brighton’s own The Magic Gang, Scottish krautrockers Man of Moon and the melodic-pop of The Howl and the Hum, with each of these pencilled in for debuts in 2018.
As far as established artists go, Public Access TV will soon be bringing out their sophomore effort and the singles indicate a more expansive palette, with catchy funk and a more melodic flavour taking hold. Hookworms’ Saturday night show in Brighton is one of, if not, the gig I’m most looking forward to in the early part of the year. As is the Franz Ferdinand Brighton Dome concert the following day, which should prove to be an exciting weekend.
This aforementioned pair also have records coming out earlier in February after long absences. Microshift being Hookworm’s first new work in over three years and is claimed to mark a seismic shift in their sound, dynamic songwriting and production, whilst still bearing all the ferocious energy, intricate musicianship and bruised but beautiful songcraft of the previous releases. Franz, meanwhile, believe that Always Ascending’s ten songs are a triumphant recasting of the group, bursting with fresh ideas and vigorous sonic experimentation. We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the case.
Canada’s finest Suuns also have an LP on the radar in the early part of the year, with singer/guitarist Ben Shemie stating that, “This record is definitely looser than our last one. It’s not as clinical. There’s more swagger. You can hear this freedom flowing through the 11 tracks.” The return of Young Fathers’ album (and hopefully a Brighton headline show) is another I can’t wait for. Cocoa Sugar is set for a March release and follows 2014’s Mercury Prize-winning album Dead, and the stupendous White Men Are Black Men Too. If first single ‘Lord’ is anything to go by, it’s going to be sinister, soul-driven masterpiece.
Released on the same day as Young Fathers, Editors also have the potential to issue one of the surprises of 2018 with Violence, produced by Leo Abrahams and additional twiddling coming from Benjamin John Power (Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons) and the first single ‘Magazine’ hints at a powerful post-punk fuelled return, with elements of industrial sprinkled in there. Frontman Tom Smith has described it as, “A pointed finger aimed at those in power… some corrupt politician or businessman… a character, and a tongue-in-cheek poke at the empty posturing and playing to the masses of the power hungry…”
Elsewhere across the year, two of my favourites are scheduled for releases in the form of Interpol and Arctic Monkeys, whilst Noel Gallagher and Belle And Sebastian’s welcome returns to Brighton look set to be noteworthy shows. On the festival circuit, All Points East in London has a stellar line-up including The National, The War on Drugs, Future Islands, Warpaint and The Districts. Whilst Mad Cool in Madrid has an equally mesmerising list of names including Pearl Jam, Young Fathers, Jack White, Massive Attack, Franz Ferdinand, Justice, MGMT, Fleet Foxes, QOTSA, Depeche Mode, Tame Impala, Erol Alkan, Dan Avery and Beach Fossils to name just a few.
Brightonsfinest Radio Show currently live on Juice 107.2 Mon-Thurs 9-11pm continues to go from strength to strength with many of the biggest names in music appearing or being featured on the show. Playing the latest tracks as well as Album and Track of the Week, live sessions and Brightonsfinest Listeners Chart. New developments are in the pipeline so watch this space!
Brightonsfinest.com will also be launching a new Subscription scheme in the weeks ahead with lots of special offers throughout the year exclusive to Brightonsfinest Club Members.
Brightonsfinest Alternative Escape event is planned for 19th May at St Mary’s Church Brighton. This will be our fourth year running the event having featured many local artists including The Magic Gang, Demob Happy, Tigercub, Moulettes, Los Albertos, The Fiction Aisle, Laish, Fragile Creatures, Gaps, Lebeaux, Penelope Isles and The Hundredth Anniversary. Line-up for the May event will be announced shortly but is sure to be a must-get ticket featuring the finest artists around performing in a stunning venue.
Brightonsfinest is also set to announce a new live two day event later in the year under the title ‘Brightonsfinest Trail Blazer’ in conjunction with Brightonsfinest radio show and Brightonsfinest.com. Featuring completely new and emerging artists.
Having already released Volume 1 & 2 of Brightonsfinest Presents compilation on double vinyl and digital featuring 21 tracks from major and emerging artists Volume 3 is scheduled for a May release and a taste of what is to come will be exclusively featured on Brightonsfinest.com and the opportunity to pre-order the album. Later in the year we will also be releasing all three albums as part of a three x CD Box set featuring 63 tracks.
Finally no year would be complete without mentioning Brightonsfinest’s in-depth coverage of The Great Escape (17th – 19th May ) via our website, radio show and Brightonsfinest.TV. The most amazing festival located in Brighton with more than 450 artists performing over three days as part of the Brighton Festival.
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