Here’s some people doing something interesting with their time. 2017's been a year for some really great music by big names: there’s Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Damn’, St Vincent did a new album, and I could name a lot more. But I’ve also heard lots of lesser-known bands this year who have made some awesome music and need to be known more. So, in the name of good music and getting it out there, I’d say check these artists out, see their shows, support their music, and make 2018 a bit of a better year. Groovy.
1) Stanlaey: Kaleidoscope
I might know them personally and all but Stanlaey, Bethany Stenning’s music and artistic collective, make some mad good music. It's difficult to describe their alt-pop whirly-folk style. I tried once and I came out with "both innocent and sinister. Sweet and savage... inspired by Chaucer, classical mythical creatures, wide expanses of coastline and the vastness of the ocean". Read the full review here.
2) The Weather Station: Impossible
This is from what is probably my most played album of the year. There’s something extremely listenable about this album, it’s just quite nice to have it on literally all the time. As a blond, Canadian singer-songwriter the comparisons to Joni Mitchell are obvious, but she’s got a great style and beautiful, conversational voice which is completely her own. She set out to make a 'rock and roll' album with this, and I reckon she's also made an absolute classic.
3) Wovoka Gentle: You Have Saved Our Lives, We Are Eternally Grateful
For a band that was formed to write and perform the score for an avant-garde physical theatre company, you can imagine they're pretty experimental. Because of that it's hard to categorise them between electro-folk and experimental psychedelic, they're just an amazing mix of all the best bits of something and too cool to explain it to you. I saw them at Rich Mix where they rotated around 3 islands of tech and instruments to make one super-music-making-machine. It was probably one of the best shows I’ve seen this year.
4) Bottle Tree: After The End
This is cool. It’s a clunky-jazz collaboration between multi-instrumentalist and singer Ben Lamar Gay and drummer Tommaso Moretti. The drums are all over the place in the best way. They're on the Chicago label 'International Anthem' which has been changing up the jazz scene in a very good way this year, and Bottle Tree is a bit of an unsung hero, so here I am singing about it.
5) Noya Roa: Fly
Making some waves in the jazz scene, this Leeds-based band is adding some cool styling to neo-soul. Recently signing to Manchester label Gondwana which usually handles more instrumental jazz like Mammal Hands, they’ve added some really good production know-how and great lyrics to the neo-soul formular. I saw them at Jazz Re:freshed, the #1 stop-off for new grooves in UK jazz, and they absolutely killed it. Check out my review of their album here.
6) Bedouin: Solitary Daughter
She released her debut album this year on Spacebomb. It's this crazy record label in Virginia which takes all its artists and records them Motown style, with a full band and orchestra, and it did a Revue with Bedouin at the Barbican recreating some of it's albums live which was insane. I feel like she’s a female Leonard Cohen somehow, her voice has a lovely, relaxed tone, to put you in the mood for some charming poetry. I saw her perform at an amazingly intimate gig at 'The Islington' from the front row, and I am in love.
7) John Keek: Come Give It Up
He’s only got three singles out from his EP ‘If + When’, but he’s already got a bit of a following on soundcloud, the producer’s choice of music platforms. He’s a wicked producer, all his tracks are really interesting and I want to hear more soon. He’s probably going to do something very cool.
8) 30/70: Slangin
Some more cool kids from Melborne where they like to mix up their music apparently. The lead singer Allysha Joy sounds a bit like Nai Palm from Hiatus Kayote. Enough said.
9) Skeltr: Monday Flavour
I saw these guys supporting Knower at Scala for the London Jazz Festival. It was two lads from Manchester with flat-caps playing the hell out of the drums and saxophone. They’ve also got a really cool production style. I like it.
10) DAP the Contract: Chains
I caught this on soundcloud a while back, but he's now released his first EP. DAP is a US rapper/singer/producer who was a wonderkid at piano, and adds some nice jazzy chords to his beats which is what I like.
Check out the spotify playlist with these gems and a few more thrown in here.