Here we are, then: each of us a year older, and each of us a little wiser as to what’s great about music, and what sucks. In 2006, we were subjected to both inarguable poppy brilliance and unforgivable sloppy shite: for every amazing single from the likes of Klaxons, Peter Björn And John, Guillemots and Mates Of State, there was a Daz Sampson. Daz Sampson. Ef Ef Esssss, indeed.
And that Embrace World Cup song? Let’s not go there. Ever. Again.
2006 saw a number of bands break through, and weren’t we pleased to have them: Arctic Monkeys were the world and its wife’s tip for success at the end of 2005, and they delivered in brilliant style. But did anyone see Lily Allen becoming the megastar she is at this very moment? What about The Kooks? Okay, so the latter combo aren’t actually that great, but they still sold a lot of records. Which next to nobody expected a year earlier.
Now, we’re not saying that our tips for the forthcoming twelve months are going to attain a level of recognition and critical and commercial success comparable with the above. Far from it. What we are saying, as simply as possible, is that these are some of the bands we’re excited about right now, and we want more more more from them in 2007. Some are already making tracks; others are yet to leave the traps. All are great.
Below are fourteen of our gonna-be-brilliant-this-year selections; part two, featuring a few more recognisable faces, we’d wager, will run tomorrow. ‘Til 24 hours from now, explore, investigate, enjoy and get excited.
Oxford-based Foals have a particularly busy beginning to 2007 lined up: the quintet – Yannis, Jack, Edwin, Jimmy and Walter – are to tour themselves silly from the end of January until the end of March. Along the way they’ll play an NME Awards bash on February 26, in London, and the annual South by Southwest music conference in Texas in March (dates). Recently signed to Trangressive – home to The Young Knives among many other quality indie outfits – after a single release through the ever-excellent Try Harder label (review), they might even get an album out before 2007 becomes 2008 (at the very least we’ll get a few singles). Fingers crossed for a long-player, though, as DiS rates their jerky polyrhythms and foot-tapping party beats very highly indeed, so much so that they’re rarely far from the office stereo.
For fans of: Youthmovies, Battles, The Rapture
I Was A Cub Scout
From Nottingham they come, fresh of face and delicate of emotions, this indie duo of no little acclaim already. But deem them emo at your peril, for Messrs Toddy and William write songs far removed from what is today considered that much-maligned of contemporary genres. Although feelings dominate lyrical proceedings – an aspect of the band never clearer than on their superb ‘Pink Squares’ single of November ’06 – the music the pair craft owes more to synth-rockers Stateside such as Minus The Bear, Les Savy Fav and So Many Dynamos than it does any traditional heart-on-sleeve guitar-dominated outfit. They, like Foals, are to tour their little backsides off in early ’07: they’re on the road throughout March, so be sure to catch them at a venue near you (check dates).
For fans of: The Dismemberment Plan, Minus The Bear, The Postal Service
MySpace is great isn't it? Especially if you're a band. Suffice to say this writer found Esiotrot through another band's ‘Space, and it made him happy. Happy enough to write about himself in the third person. Anyway, Brighton's Esiotrot are presumably named after the Roald Dahl novel of the same name (it's Tortoise backwards, innit) and make the kind of twinkly indie-pop that's far too rare on these rainy shores. Think Pavement and The Shins, 'praps. Mmm. You'd like them. WD
For fans of: Those bands mentioned, just there; Neutral Milk Hotel, Daniel Johnston, Sufjan Stevens
A spunky young quartet (three guys and a gal) from Leeds (as ever), who so far have recorded only one tune of note. It's called 'We'll Be Detectives For The Day'. Sounds like a stoned Alkaline Trio fighting off the indie ghetto. An impressively immature six months old as their current entity, the band have been clawing their way through Leeds, attracting a melange of indie kids offering them stick ‘n’ paste record deals. Already. Naturally, we expect bigger things than that, and so, we think, do they... hot rock. GD
For fans of: Bloc Party, Biffy Clyro, angry yet melodic rock and roll
Meet Me In St Louis
DiS has been watching Meet Me In St Louis from not really afar for some time now – in addition to catching them in support slots with some of the best rockers around (These Arms Are Snakes for one), we put them on at one of our regular DiScover Clubs in Notting Hill back in June. Chances are we’ll be seeing them again soon too, listening out for new songs from their forthcoming debut album, set to be produced by Alex Newport. Yes, the same Alex Newport responsible for Rather Good records by The Icarus Line, The Locust and At The Drive-In. Said album, due out through Big Scary Monsters, is unlikely to be the Surrey quintet’s Relationship Of Command (really, come on…), but there’s a good chance it could be their In/Casino/Out.
For fans of: At The Drive-In, Blood Brothers, Joan of Arc
This time last year we doubt there was a single publication, online or otherwise, tipping this decidedly British quintet for pages upon pages of coverage in both the major music weeklies and to be headlining a Koko club night at the start of 2007 off the back of an amazing debut album (review) that featured in even more magazines' end-of-year lists (like ours). The fact of the matter is that Gallows exploded onto the scene with their vitriolic punk rock in such a fierce manner that they forced everyone to take notice. You ignore this band like you ignore a suspicious bunch of hooded teens outside your house just as you're leaving for a fortnight in Majorca with the family. Fuck, even if you acknowledge them they'll still kick your head in and shag your daughter. RR
For fans of: The Bronx, JR Ewing and some very angry young punk rockers
You can hate the nature of their hideously contrived music as much as you want, but we can guarantee that if you see this band live you will struggle to find another set quite as exhilarating for a while either side of it. Just like Klaxons – the other dance-rock hybrid due to hit it big in '07 – Enter Shikari are amazing live and bring their songs to life. That they sold out London's Astoria whilst unsigned is a decent yardstick of how good they can be in the flesh. Music aside, it's very interesting to see that despite every single major label and their dogs trying to court the quartet into signing a mega-quids album deal, they have decided to stay completely DIY and release their album themselves. Now even the most cynical bastard out there has to stand up and applaud that, because you won't see a business move quite as punk rock for a long while. RR
For fans of: Ferry Corsten, Napalm Death and the (other) next big thing with glowsticks
Already one of the finest instrumental acts in this country – a fact backed up by praise on these pages and those of more inky publications – Yndi Halda’s 2007 begins with the release of their debut EP-cum-album Enjoy Eternal Bliss (review); if it doesn’t have critics stunned into adoration at its almost unprecedented beauty, then said individuals are most certainly deaf. That, or they’ve no heart and soul, for Yndi Halda’s music is the sort that tugs at the strings of the former and stirs the latter like a thick soup simmering on a hob. They’re the spoon, you’re the soup, or something. As affecting as Japan’s Mono, Yndi Halda are many an emotional mile ahead of any of their domestic peers. If you’re not moved to tears the first time you witness them, then you’ll at least be moved to the merchandise stall to pick up their wares.
For fans of: Mono, Explosions In The Sky, Jóhann Jóhannsson
Blood Red Shoes
Responsible for DiS Recordings’ final release of 2006, the exhilarating ‘You Bring Me Down’, Blood Red Shoes’ horizons in 2007 look set to be even brighter than those they’ve left behind. The punk-pop-rocking two-piece – it’s hardcore you can dance to, fo’real! – are habitually regularly on the road, and they’re all over the country during the first few weeks of this new year. Catch them with Maximo Park in London on February 21, or in their hometown of Brighton’s Engine Room on January 31; full dates can be found at their MySpace page. Release-wise, another DiS-released single is expected at the end of February.
For fans of: Death From Above 1979, Le Tigre, hip-shakin’ punk-pop
Wires On Fire
Basically the best band to blast their way out of Los Angeles since The Icarus Line unleashed all manner of unholy punk-rock hell with their Mono album, Wires On Fire have been getting certain DiS writers all hot under the collar for months now – their self-titled album arrived in the office ages ago, but doesn’t receive an official UK release until this month, through the Buddyhead label. We’ve got our fingers and toes crossed for some UK tour dates in the not-too-distant future, but American readers can catch them in California throughout January – our pick of the bunch is their show in Visalia on the 23rd, with Hella. With influences as disparate as Neil Young and Black Sabbath, Wires On Fire really aren’t your everyday punks.
For fans of: The Jesus Lizard, Mclusky, The Icarus Line
(Photograph by Andrew Weiss)
Nottingham punk-rockers formed from select ashes of The Murder Of Rosa Luxemburg, Lovvers have been high on DiS’s list of ones to watch since we witnessed them for the first time supporting US hardcore loons xbxrx at London’s Luminaire in September; they’re all set to tour Ireland with Blood Red Shoes this month (see BRS’s details above), and will play DiS’s regular club in Nottingham, at Junktion 7, on February 10. What should the uninitiated expect? Noisy riffs, discordance, vocals full of anger and aggression, and tunes enough to have the slowest mover breaking into a rock and roll sweat. This is what we might have said, once: “Remember their name: Lovvers. As in "spreading the lovve". Only with two ‘v’s - one for violent and the other for visceral. Unmissable.”
For fans of: The Faith, Unwound, Wives
“Bridging the gap between Moby and Massive Attack,” says BBC Music, but don’t let that put you off, as Cardiff producer and all-around hip-hop/electronica fellow Culprit One has also received the DiS seal of approval twice: once for his Sway EP, released in August (review), and again when he played second fiddle on Subtle’s UK tour in November (review). While his music isn’t yet entirely his own – it’s impossible to listen to anything on the aforementioned release and his new Hollow EP without tracing the roots of each song to the influences listed on his MySpace page – 2007 should see Culprit One develop into a very special talent indeed, finding his own unique voice along the way. With an approach that will appeal to DJ Shadow-loving chill-out fans and upbeat beat-freaks alike, Culprit One’s potential audience is massive.
For fans of: Massive Attack, UNKLE, Four Tet
It seems odd to be tipping Youthmovies – or The Band Formerly Known As Youthmovie Soundtrack Strategies – for success in 2007 considering DiS’s long-term love for the Oxford quartet, a love that stretches back so far that the time can’t be measured in smiley face emoticons, let alone weeks and years. Also, the band have already enjoyed no little critical acclaim, with their Hurrah... EP (review), released via Fierce Panda in 2004, receiving adoration from across the critical board (one horrible dad-rock-centric monthly aside). But 2007 will see the band release their first-ever album proper, and we, frankly, can’t wait; a new song on 2006’s Truck compilation, ‘TNGIAM’, only whetted the appetite further. Watch this space is all we’re going to say…
For fans of: intelligent, inventive and heartrending progressive rock music
(Photo by Gregory Nolan, Website)
With certain members still too young to vote, it took DiS totally by surprise that Rolo Tomassi are so damn good – their self-titled EP of late 2006 left us so breathless we had to e-mail the Sheffield quintet to ask if they’d play a DiScover Club for us. They kindly said yes, so now you can witness their keyboard-mangling terror-core in the flesh on February 17, at the Notting Hill Arts Club, for nothing (clicky). Hurray! They’re also playing a number of other dates in February – check their MySpace page for full dates. If you’re a fan of the freakish art-punk purveyed by the likes of Blood Brothers and An Albatross and haven’t yet picked up their EP (review), do yourself a favour and do so, immediately.
For fans of: An Albatross, Daughters!, Trencher
Words by Mike Diver with Raziq Rauf (RR), Gareth Dobson (GD) and Will Dean (WD)