After a series of well received singles, Foundlings, the South-East London/Brighton indie-pop quartet, are set to take a huge stride forward with the March release of their debut EP, on the Last Night From Glasgow imprint. It’s already been a rapid rise for the band, who only formed back at the start of 2018, and have already toured the country and earned a sizeable audience along the way.
Foundlings sound is one of almost nostalgic melodies, jangling guitars and subtly driving rhythms, pitched somewhere between Allo Darlin’ and Real Estate. Their two earliest tracks, Misery and Your Sister, had an almost handmade feel, conjuring up memories of home demos and lovingly crafted mixtapes, yet it’s the most recent single, Horizon, that really has us excited. With its strutting, almost flamenco rhythms, and wistful vocal delivery, it felt like a band discovering their sound; particularly the latter section, where the guitars become a thrilling wall of noise, atop the clattering drums, before the whole thing fades to the most beautiful of vocal-led outros, as vocalist Amber sings, “can’t you see me there on the horizon, can’t you see me standing tall”. If Horizon is a sign of where Foundling’s music is going next, their EP could be extraordinary.
A band who arguably made the promotional mistake of releasing a record a little too late in the year, Foxwarren’s debut album had the feel of a record that didn’t quite get the praise it so richly deserved. The band from, “scattered small towns across the Canadian prairies”, who bonded over a shared love of acts as diverse as Pedro The Lion and Paul Simon, consist of acclaimed songwriter Andy Shauf, alongside childhood friends Dallas Bryson and brothers, Darryl and Avery Kissick.
Foxwarren’s self-titled debut album, may have only arrived at the end of 2018, yet the project has been underway for the best part of a decade. The record, delayed by both a desire to make the best record they could possibly achieve and Andy Shauf’s hectic solo demands, is a wonderful achievement. While fans of Andy’s solo work will find much to admire here, there’s a certain looseness and freedom that’s unlike his meticulously crafted solo sketches. From Neil Young-like guitar solos on the stunning To Be, to the driving bass of Everything Apart, there are moments here that feel like an artist letting their hair down, embracing a creativity they have found in collaboration which they might not have been able to discover alone. Sure it might have taken a decade, so we can hardly call them a hot new band, yet Foxwarren could just be the slow burning success story of 2019.
Mesadorm, the Bristol quintet formed back in 2015, released their well received debut album, Heterogaster, in 2018, and are wasting no time in getting more music into the world. The band are set to share a new single, The Joy It Joins Us Up, later this month, and have already announced a new album, Epicadus, out in April on Babylegs Records. The album features new material, alongside re-imaginings of tracks from Heterogaster, all recorded live in a church in Eype, Dorset, where PJ Harvey recorded Let England Shake.
The first offering, The Joy It Joins Us Up, is a fine introduction to the wonderful atmosphere the record promises to bring. With little more than just a piano, and front-woman Blythe Pepino’s warm, crackling, Marianna Faithful-like vocal, Mesadorm create something really quite stunning. In stripping their music back, Mesadorm seem to have found the very essence of their songwriting, creating a musical world where every word and every note is allowed to thrive and be admired. It won’t be the loudest record of the year, it could be one of the most beautiful.
10. Corey Flood
Catching our eye as they’re sharing bills with the likes of Mothers and Radiator Hospital, Philadelphia’s Corey Flood are a band we don’t actually know a whole lot about, let alone what their plans for 2019 involve. What we have heard though, we like an awful lot; their excellent debut EP, Wish You Hadn’t, was released on Fire Talk Records in February last year, and it’s a fine introduction to the self-styled, “despondent rockers”.
Across the EP, Corey Flood mange to conjure a bleak, brutalist atmosphere, fusing the post punk of Wire or Savages with the scuzzy noise of Sonic Youth or Forth Wanderers. At the heart of Corey Flood’s appeal is a visceral contradiction; minimal instrumentation is used to create dense, claustrophobic music, their sound engulfs you, yet on closer inspection is actually skeletal and sparse. You can hear the featureless concrete walls creeping in, and still there’s a light shining in from everywhere, blinding you with its intensity, and offering just the faintest glimmer of hope. Whatever Corey Flood end up doing in 2019, it’s going to be well worth keeping an eye out for.
11. Sad Girls Aquatic Club
Definitely new to us, rather than actually new, we recently stumbled across Sad Girls Aquatic Club via an interview with the excellent The Grey Estates blog. Further research revealed an excellent album, with an excellent title, Vodkawine, which the Pittsburgh duo released back in November, and is definitely deserving of finding an audience in the year ahead.
Describing their music as, “break-up music for idiots”, on Vodkawine, Sad Girls Aquatic Club have managed to create music that feels simultaneously familiar and fresh. From their trippy vocal melodies to their buzzing retro-electronic instrumentation, Sad Girls Aquatic Club take timeless break-up pop songs and distort them into something new and exciting. One minute, like on the exquisitie How Do I Get What I Want, they sound melancholic and broken, they’re lost in a swirling dancefloor haze on the Fever Ray-like, Gothic Annihilation. The band don’t seem to yet have anything planned for 2019, that said on the back of a record as good as Vodkawine, we’re excited to see where these songs could take this talented pair.
12. Strange Ranger
Hailing from Montana, Strange Ranger broke all the rules of releasing records, by putting a brand new EP out on December 30th, when everyone was still thinking about what to do with left overs and pondering New Years Eve plans. Thankfully that record, etc., a collection of songs the band suggested have been floating around for a while, was good enough to still get some attention, despite its unusual release date.
The record was shared at least partly to fund the band’s 2019 plans, attempting to solve the issue of a string of tour dates and a van that wouldn’t start. Listening to etc., there’s a certain lo-fi charm to these recordings, they feel like half-formed sketches, songs in the rawest, purest form. Despite being just four tracks long, it manages to highlight so much of what it intriguing about Strange Ranger, from the Grandaddy-like All of The Days to the Deerhunter like departure of Chill Dill. With a fan base slowly growing over a string of releases and relentless touring, Strange Ranger are a band who seem to be doing everything right, expect 2019 to be another stellar year for them.