15 for 2015

I welcome and seek your ideas, but do not bring me small ideas; bring me big ideas to match our future.

Arnold Schwarzenegger said that…yes we’re starting with an Arnie Quote!

Today is the day when we attempt to predict the future – or perhaps if we’re being cynical the day we look at the release schedule and spot the good bits. Either way it’s the day we tell you what’s going to be big in this little corner of the musical world in 2015. We’re not predicting they’ll all get to number one, we’re just saying they’re all worth keeping an eye on over the upcoming year, and by the look of it 2015 might be every bit as musically wonderful as 2014 has been!

THE WAVE PICTURES
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We’re certainly not on new ground here, but the return of one of our absolute favourite bands is always a cause for celebration, so welcome back The Wave Pictures!

With an extensive UK tour and a brand new album on the way both in February, 2015 is shaping up to be yet another stellar year for the trio. That album, snappily entitled Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon is the result of the band teaming up with legendary painter, author, poet, photographer, film maker, singer and guitarist, Wild Billy Childish.

The result of those studio sessions? The most streamline rock’n’roll record the band have released to date. Whilst David Tattersall‘s way with words remain key to the bands charm, the afro-beat influenced indie-pop feel of previous recordings makes away for storming blues records equal parts The Troggs, The Kinks and Jack White. It all adds up to a thrilling, loud and very fun record, from a band who are fast becoming the darlings of the UK indie scene!



MOUNTAIN RANGE

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Mountain Range started off life as the bedroom project of, Shropshire born, London based producer Stuart Thomas. A former music-production student, who, had the good sense to realise that spending days tweaking the drum sound of yet another wannabe Arctic Monkeys was a lot less exciting that what he could do himself! His take on electronic-music seamlessly blends the beats and bleeps of electronic maestro Baths with the emotional clout of wide-screen post-rock from the beauty of Sigur Ros to the soaring noise of Explosions In The Sky.

After the undeniable success that was the early single, It’s Lonely Around People Too, which was remixed by the likes of Sun Glitters and Teen Daze, came the beautiful Adjustments EP – ever since that came into the world they’ve been locked in their home-studio writing, tweaking and perfecting their ambitious album, and by all accounts it’s nearly finished!

Whilst the album launch date remains unannounced, there are signs of them re-emerging, a recent support slot with Vessels, showcased a new live set-up, expanded to a two-piece. The stunning live show sees the care and attention to detail of a bedroom-producer combined with an appreciation of the raw thrill of live instrumentation, guitars are battered and thrashed into submission as a whirl of beats and bleeps plays out behind them. They’re back on stage on January 19th, supporting Maiians at the Sebright Arms.



JOANNA GRUESOME
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Joanna Gruesome‘s debut album, Weird Sister, may have just won the Welsh Music Prize and sent the buzz around the band stratospheric, but you wont here the band singing its praises! As guitarist Owen recently put it on Twitter…

“worked this out and am pretty sure this nu record we’re doin is 20% better than our previous record. eat our dust “weird sister” fckin loser”

The band are currently hauled up in the studio, working once again with MJ from Hookworms, and despite the fact it’s not recorded yet, they’ve confidently scheduled in the follow up to be released on Fortuna Pop in April.

If the album, working title Peanut Butter, lives up to the promise of being 20% better than Weird Sister we’re all in for a treat!



IDLEWILD
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To anyone who remembers Hope Is Important-era Idlewild their current status as returning Indie-veterans is a surprise, but a very welcome one!

Amazingly it’s been six years since their last effort, Post Electric Blues, but unlike most hiatuses theirs always seemed likely to be just a break not a break-up. They were back in the studio as of the start of 2014, and in February next year the fruits of those sessions will emerge in the form of new album, Everything Ever Written. The albums lead-off single Collect Yourself has been doing the rounds and gradually crept it’s way onto the 6-Music A-List.

A new album, an extensive UK tour in March, and it’s basically business as usual for one of the UK’s most well-loved bands – a welcome return!



TIGERCATS
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Mysteries is the new album by Tigercats, due for release on Fortuna Pop on February 2nd. The bands second album, following on from their well received debut Isle Of Dogs which came out on Fika Recordings back in 2012, has the feel of a big step forward for the band. Whilst their debut merged afro-beat and jangling guitars into a danceable and highly enjoyable strain of Indie-Pop, it was of a certain vintage, an almost niche curiosity unlikely to reach beyond the reaches of the scene let alone trouble the mainstream. Mysteries is an all together different prospect.

Mysteries fuses all the best bits of Tigercats, but makes them all together more streamlined, sophisticated and nuanced. It’s the sound of a record crafted with attention to detail, of a band pushing their songs as far as they can and of taking their time to get this album right, and they undeniably have! From the Chess referencing opening track, Junior Champion, all the way through to the beautifully, wistful closing track, Wendy & Lisa it’s a record that’s perfectly formed and one that seems set to bring them to a far wider audience. There’s hints of their Indie-Pop roots sure but there’s also hints of more well known acts from Alt-J through to the Mystery Jets, and it might be the year they join them in the upper echelons of the wider Indie world.



DAN MANGAN & BLACKSMITH
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After three albums of solo musing Dan Mangan has expanded both his name and his line up with the inclusion of a new backing band Blacksmith. After the success of his last album Oh Fortune many would expect an artist to push on, so Dan’s decision to put his work on hiatus was a tad surprising. Though with a film to score and perhaps more importantly, or so the traditionalists will have us believe, a baby to look after, the context of not being constantly on tour makes a bit more sense.

On new album, Club Meds, the break doesn’t seem to have dampened either his songwriting prowess or his gritty lyricism, notably on Mouthpiece where he sings “Those who pretend to believe hardest might actually begin to / The nature of the bliss the warmth of ignorance gives in to” suggesting his work might follow in the footsteps of Horse Thief on their similarly theistically questioning album from last year.

Musically it’s the most advanced recording he’s ever done, initially recorded in a free-speaking, full band environment, before Dan retired with producer Colin Stewart, working on and off over a period of four months, meticulously adding and subtracting layers of noise and background, the results are well worth the labour of love that created it.

Explaining the title, Dan has suggested the album is about sedation, not so much chemical but as a vacation from reality and the masses sleeping as the horrors of the world progress around them. Dan aims to blow away the fog that acts as our safety net, there’s no better artist to lead you screaming into reality.



EMMY THE GREAT
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Emmy The Great is in many ways an old-hand at this music lark. It feels like she’s been around for a very long time, yet has only released two albums. We remember seeing her almost a decade ago, yet she never seems to have stopped being seen as an up and coming artist. She also seems to have perfected a habit of popping up just when you were about to forget she existed.

One such occasion occurred back in November, when from nowhere Emmy emerged with a new single, her first new material since a Christmas album with Tim Wheeler back in 2011. That track, Swimming Pool was probably the most interesting track of her career to date, a hazy wash, perfectly suited to her beautiful and utterly charming vocals, not to mention the rich baritone of her special guest Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts.

The brilliance of that track bodes well for her upcoming EP, coming out on Bella Union at the end of January. Entitled S, Emmy has described it as “a record of me trying to engage with the outside” and being curious about what it is like to be a person in the modern world as we know it. With an album penned in to follow the EP, 2015 might be the year Emmy finally comes of age as a songwriter, or perhaps she’ll always remain a fascinating talent, floating on the peripheries of a commercial break through without ever reaching the upper echelons, either way it feels a big year for Emmy The Great.



MENACE BEACH
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Having gently and gradually built a buzz of excitement, Leeds‘ Menace Beach are set for a huge year, starting with the release of their debut album Ratworld on Memphis Industries in January.

The band are the brainchild of co-singing duo Liza Violet and Ryan Needham. Indie fans of a certain age and underground persuasion might remember Ryan from the superb Komakino. Working with MJ of Hookworms and producing pretty much everyone fame, Sky Larkin drummer Nestor Matthews and bass player Matt Spalding, the signs for Ratworld are highly promissing! Based on what’s out there so far we should expect a collection of scuzz-laden rock songs that take the listener back to the mid-90’s, recalling the likes of Sebadoh, Sonic Youth or even Blur at their most American influenced!

They’re destined to be labelled slackers, which always seems harsh for a band who clearly work very hard to sound this laid back!



SAN FERMIN
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San Fermin‘s new album Jackrabbit, started off life entirely in the hands of band-leader and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone. The album was essentially finished when he headed out to tour his debut album San Fermin. A year on the road playing Indie clubs with an 8-piece band changed something in Ellis, he returned to the studio and whilst not quite ripping the entire thing up, he re-evaluated it entirely and working with Peter Katis he plotted the recordings that would become Jackrabbits.

The result is a record that’s an all together more aggressive and raw affair than the complex and grandiose strains of it’s predecessor. Listening to new single Parasites it’s clear that the influence of his fellow band mates has given Ellis a new found enthusiasm for the feel a live band can give you, whether that will result in an album as good as their debut, we’ll discover when Jackrabbits comes out on Downtown Records in April.



Matthew E White

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Back in 2013, Matthew E. White’s debut album Big Inner burst onto the scene, a sparkling modern remake of a classic soul sound. It started off as essentially an advert for Matthew’s own Spacebomb Records, an analog studio, record label and production house with in-house strings, horns and even a choir. The simple premise was that by showing what Spacebomb could do to Matthew himself it would show what they could do to other artists, taking the inner workings of a songwriter and bringing those ideas to life into full blown, grandiose, orchestral statements.

The only problem was that it was so bloody good that Matthew probably doesn’t find much time for hanging out at Spacebomb any more, it saw him signed to Domino Records, touring the world with the likes of St.Vincent, The National & Bon Iver, and garnering near exclusive critical acclaim. If it was meant to turn Matthew into a super-producer it turned him into a superstar! Big Inner was stunning, and with a stunning debut album comes expectations, pressure and most importantly for us excitement!

Next year all of that anticipation will come to the fore, as Matthew releases the follow up, Fresh Blood. The album will once again arrive on Domino Records. He’s promising us “a bracing, beguiling record, a bold advance. A record that feels like the brilliant bloom to Big Inner’s striking bud.” Which all sounds like a rather horticultural way of saying it’s going to be one of the year most unique, brilliant and exciting albums. The album trailer previews a brand new song Tranquility, which is a tribute to one of our all time favourite actors, the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, and is every bit as complex and moving as a performance from Philip himself!


Bernard & Edith
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Manchester electronic-pop duo Bernard & Edith might be relatively unknown at the moment, but having signed to Bella Union it’s unlikely to stay that way for long!

Their highly promising single Wurds came out earlier this month, and it’s a delightful introduction to the bands sounds. Singer Greta ‘Edith’ Carroll’s vocals recall the likes of Bat For Lashes and Beth Gibbons whilst musically alongside Nick ‘Bernard’ Delap they sketch out electronic soul soundscapes, with the far-eastern twang perfected by Fever Ray and the gothic-gloom of The Cocteau Twins.

Their debut album is set to be unveiled on Bella Union later in the Spring, and if the few snippets on the internet thus far are anything to go by it’s going to be a delightfully dark delight!



Father John Misty

Father John Misty

Father John Misty aka J.Tillman has a confession he needs to get off his chest, he has never actually called anyone Honeybear… phew there we go, that’s the headline news out of the way. In his press release/essay he delivered for new album, I Love You Honeybear (with explicit instructions that music critics should skip past this part) he pontificates long and loudly on the subject of love songs, or more how unfashionable love songs have become, it’s the sort of word heavy ramble we like here at For The Rabbits!

Whilst he never quite gets to the point, it would appear the gist is that this album is pretty much a complete history of his sexual failures, with some schmultzy bits thrown in along the way. Along the way he meets Emma, “who inspires in him a vision of a life wherein being truly seen is not synonymous with shame, but possibly true liberation and sublime, unfettered creativity.”

The former Fleet Fox, teamed up with another one of our favourites round these part, none other than Jonathan Wilson. Tillman describes the record as considerably more soulful, at least partly as a result of him “singing his ass off all over this motherfucker” whilst musically it’s a grandiose statement in the mould of Scott Walker or the excess of Gene Clark when he wrote No Other. He also promises something special with every track be it “orchestral strings, a mariachi band, questionable electronic drum solos, ragtime jazz combos, soul singers, or what have you.” It sounds like whether it’s awful of brilliant it’s certainly not going to be dull, and it’s one album we cannot wait to hear in 2015.



Evans The Death

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Evans The Death are a London based four-piece, named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood. They released their self-titled debut album back in 2012. Released on the twin-Indie-Pop-towers of Fortuna Pop (UK) and Slumberland Records (US) it introduced the song-writing talents of guitarist Dan Moss and the vocals of Katherine Whitaker. The songs of the former veered from gently-strummed moments of self-reflection to thrashed out, tense, punk screechers fuelled by a sense of discontent with the world that appears before him, all perfects foils to the latters voice which, like label mates Joanna Gruesome, managed to veer rapidly from gently-melodic to raw and raging.

They’ve taken their time on the follow up, but the new album Expect Delays is set to land at the start of March, and if the albums lead-single, Don’t Laugh At My Angry Face is anything to go by it’s going to be more than worth the wait. It’s a gentle maturation of their sound that builds on all the promise of that record whilst also leaping forward to something new and thrilling. Droning organs and scuzzy guitars Sonic Youth would probably consider a tad too messy are the palette as they once more beat up a pop-song and leave nothing behind but it’s beautiful, broken bones and beating heart lying in a wall of stunningly violent noise.



Vessels

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Leeds based five-piece Vessels have gradually been warping their sound to the point their wikipedia page now describes them as an electronic band, well back in our day they were a post-rock band, so relistening to them came as something of a surprise. Listening to On Monos, the first track taken from their forthcoming Dilate album, it was very clear that Wikipedia was definitely right, out were the guitar laden soundtracks, in was a sort of minimalist techno, resplendent with a gorgeous vocal courtesy of Snow Fox, it sounded if not bound for a club, at least bound for a sweaty dive bar in somewhere cloudy!

Whether Dilate ploughs a similarly beatsy, electronic path or blends seamlessly into some deliciously wide-screen post-rock soundscaping remains to be seen, but whichever way they’ve turned, these talented chaps will surely make a record perfectly unique and exquisitely crafted! Talent will do that!



Darren Hayman

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Former Hefner frontman Darren Hayman, may not find himself on Radio 1 as much as he did in the days when John Peel was alive, but whilst his sales might not be quite where they once were, his unique and brilliant take on the world of making music remains as fascinating as ever.

If you’ve not kept up with his solo output it’s been, shall we say, different! His back catalogue includes a trilogy of albums about the history of his home county of Essex, an album of gentle piano music after being beaten up to the point loud noises were painful to his ears, a song a day for every day in January, and  an album of instrumental pieces for all his favourite Lidos! What can we say? The man loves a concept album!

His upcoming album/project/social movement comes in the form of Chants For Socialists. Released on Where It’s At Is Where You Are in February next year. It sees Darren and a small-band of like minded and enthusiastic helpers set the words of a William Morris pamphlet to a modern musical backing and a distinctly 21st century viewpoint. Recorded at three of Morris’s homes; The William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow (with a choir of left-leaning locals), Kelmscott House in Hammersmith (where they used the Albion press used by Morris to handprint the record sleeves) and Kelmscott Manor in Gloucestershire, (where Hayman played Morris’s own piano). It’s a fascinating, and surprisingly easy listen, full of hope, community spirit and some cracking tunes! Achieving Darren’ aim of offering “these songs as political, historical curiosities and as something to comfort ageing lefties like myself.”

Head over to http://chantsforsocialists.blogspot.co.uk for more information

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