Welcome to 2019, a year that as everyone has probably already pointed out sounds like something from the distant future in a Sci-Fi movie. With the current state of the music industry, it’s perhaps not the easiest time to be starting a band and sharing your musical offerings with the world, yet thankfully for us, plenty of people are still doing so. After the always quiet month of December, there’s a whole host of things to be excited about as the year turns, and in an attempt to be topical we’ve picked out 19 of our favourite new bands, who we think are going to be soundtracking our 2019. Some of them have releases on the horizon, some recently shared music we’re excited about and quite a few of them are just people we’re hoping to hear more of in the year ahead. Do let us know what has got you excited as we enter the New Year.
Falling firmly into the, “we’re just hoping to hear from them”, category are the somewhat mysterious London-based band, Blackaby. 2018 saw two excellent singles, My Paula & Georgie Wants A Garden as well as a handful of live shows, all of which left us wanting to hear an awful lot more.
The band, who feature another of our favourites, Rebecka Reinhard on guitar, deal in woozy layered pop-songs, with prominent bass-lines, laid back vocal tones and a decent blast of reverberating majesty. Recalling acts like, Here We Go Magic or Local Natives, the London act seem to have emerged fully formed and ready to make a musical splash, whatever form that will come in, well we’re excited to find out.
2. Katy Rea
Although now based out of Brooklyn, the inspirations of her home city, Dallas, are equally present in the music of Katy Rea; a sound equal parts Texan roots and New York swagger. Katy has already released an excellent EP, Same Kind Of Woman coming out back in October, and it’s the sort of slow-burning record you can imagine catching the ears of a far greater audience as it gets the exposure it so richly deserves.
Listening to Same Kind Of Woman, it’s the classic country lilt of Katy’s vocal that instantly hooks you in, and thankfully there’s a depth to her songwriting as well. The guitar playing is constantly exquisite; dense and intricate yet never afraid of putting their foot down for a fuzzy flourish, while the heady bass-lines sound more akin to Talk Talk or Jonathan Wilson than any straight-up country record. While we’re not sure what her plans for 2019 are just yet, we’re confident Katy, currently one of Brooklyn’s best kept secrets, won’t remain that way for long.
3. Worst Place
2018 was a monumental year for London’s Worst Place; the band followed up the sublime Dreamer, their contribution to the Art Is Hard Singles Club, with the brilliant double-A single, Square Eyes/Soak, caught the ears of many with a superb main stage slot at Indietracks, and generally went about doing everything you could want a new band to be doing.
We’ve featured the band a few times in the past and raved about their widescreen approach to the world of indie-pop and shoegaze, equal parts Veronica Falls and My Morning Jacket. As shown on their recent recorded offering, Worst Place are a band pushing the boundaries of their own sound; Square Eyes turns up the jangling guitars and becomes a new indie-classic, while Soak sends them driving off into a desolate desert vista propelled by intricate guitar work and a complex rhythmical pulse. While no official confirmation has been shared, rumours abound about an alleged EP being recorded and there’s already a first show of the year to be going on with, if the stars align we wouldn’t be surprised to find Worst Place are one of the year’s breakout acts.
It’s only taken a handful of singles for Austin-trio Fanclub to make a very big splash. The band formed when guitarist Mike Lee, inspired by his love of, “twee pop, synth pop, and dreamy guitars”, set out to find a vocalist and stumbled across the stunningly talented Leslie Crunkilton. Alongside drummer, Daniel Schmidt, the band create a beautiful take on indie-pop, equally nostalgic and forward thinking, like discovering your favourite band of the indie hey-day, have just made the best record of their career.
We were first hooked on Fanclub by their debut single, Reflection. The beautiful Pains At Being Pure At Heart-like intro, gives way to Leslie’s vocal, “I want you to count me in, even with your worst intentions. I want you to count me in, with all your glitches and deflections”. It instantly created a musical world, that Fanclub keep bringing us back to; they offer three-minute slices of escapism, a chance to cast aside the everyday and revel in the honesty of their emotional musings. Throughout, they weave emotional tapestries, where the most brutal heartache and the headiest joy are only ever a heartbeat away. The three singles the band have shared so far, are to be packaged up alongside two brand new tracks to create the band’s debut EP, out later this month on Friendly Reminder: it could be something very special indeed.
5. Eerie Wanda
Some of you may already have discovered the music of Eerie Wanda, aka audio and visual artist Marina Tadic. The Croatian born, Amsterdam-based songwriter, already has an album out in the shape of 2016’s Hum, yet with the release of their second album, Pet Town, later this month, we’re expecting a far bigger audience to catch onto Marina’s undeniable songwriting talents.
Pet Town was a record created out of a desire to explore the creativity found in isolation. Marina and her band decided to record each of their parts alone, then stitch the songs together from the various ideas they’d individually formed, as Marina explains “I’ve written the songs in a period of my life in which I was feeling quite alone. I wanted the recording process to feel like that too”. This approach seems to have bled into the music that is created; there’s an intricate woven feel to the recordings, ideas that exist in ghostly isolation and come together to form something atmospheric and intriguing. Listening carefully to the record, you notice how bare it is; drums are replaced by hands clapping, fingers snapping or the retro-pulse of an ancient drum machine, almost all the guitars are acoustic and unadorned. Despite the production, it is a record that never feels minimal or sparse, it just feels intimate, like you’re being invited to hear something special, secretive and utterly intriguing.
6. EB The Younger
While you might not yet have heard of E.B. The Younger, you’ve almost certainly heard the music made by the man behind the project, Eric Pulido. As a long-term member, and current frontman of Midlake, Eric has been involved in some of the centuries finest records, and after many years doing that, he is for the first time stepping out solo, with his new record, To Each His Own, due in March via Bella Union.
The record comes from a period of “waywardness” Eric went through, where he wanted to explore projects, “less physically demanding”, than his other band. It equally allowed him to explore other influences, music less associated with the general minor-key tones of Midlake. Eric cites The Band and Harry Nilsson as key influences, in his attempt to make music, “more playful and buoyant and major key, while still making deep, thoughtful music.” Recent single, Used To Be, is a fine introduction; with its War On Drugs-like rhythmical pulse and bright shimmering guitar lines, the track is about ageing but accepting rather than lamenting it, as Eric puts it, “this is 40 and I’m OK with it”. A hugely talented songwriter embracing change and pushing his music in new and intriguing directions, E.B. The Younger is an intriguing prospect, and one you’ll be able to see live at the end of the month when Eric joins label-mate John Grant on his UK tour.
Check out Part 2 of our 19 for 2019 HERE.