Part two of our 20 picks for 2020, featuring bands, solo artists and a whole load of music we’re really looking forward to hearing this year. If you missed the first part, you can check out numbers one to seven, HERE.
Although they originally formed back in 2013, we’re more than happy to shine a little light in the direction of London-based art-rock quintet, Post Louis. Seven years in the making, the band’s debut album, Descender is due for release next month, and already feels like a re-invention for the band. While a series of well-received EPs set the scene nicely, they perhaps don’t prepare the listener for the kaleidoscopic ambition of Descender. It is a record about existing in the exhausting musical middle, of spending nights making music and days working to pay for it, and the result is a record of great focus and determination, an album that simultaneously celebrates and bemoans the state of the creative process.
What’s clear listening to Descender, is that Post Louis have unashamedly refused to compromise on their sound. There can be a temptation for a band to settle, to accept that their vision will need to be watered down to ever come to life, yet Descender refuses; whether it’s squalling French horns, shimmering harps or densely layered, frenetic guitar playing, you feel as a listener that nothing here is anything but exactly how the band wanted it. As well as ambitious, the results are also eclectic, from the almost country-licks of Fishwife to the dense string-laden Labyrinthitis and the wild Mothers-like creativity of the six minute plus title track. Best of all might just be the unnerving, gentle angularity of Little Jack, a reflection on how society fails so many boys, and forces them into gendered stereotype of a, “real man”. This is a creation as an act of resistance, making music with a fiery ambition in an economic climate that has made that almost impossible, Post Louis are a beacon of artistry, burning brighter than almost any other band you’ll hear this year.
Throughout the music of Reine, is a certain outsiderness, a feeling of freedom and estrangement that comes from a life on two sides of a sea. Born in France, Reine moved to England at a young age, before returning to her native France. The result is a nationless exploration, with a certainly slinky Frenchness, a bit of Kate Bush artistry, a touch of Angel Olsen-like dreaminess.
The evidence was there for all to see on Reine’s recently released EP, Eden. The record’s five tracks create a beautifully tranquil place to get lost in, Reine flicking between synth and piano, as her collaborator, Emmet McCleary, added textures of guitar, bass and drums. At the centre of the scene throughout is Reine’s vocal, whether used as a choral accompaniment or a prominent lead, it is always demanding the lime light, jumping out from whatever backing it is placed above. Wherever this unique artist takes us in 2020, it’s going to be a journey well worth keeping track of.
It has been three years since we last had new music from Finish Flag, and in our opinion that’s probably three years too long. That was on their excellent debut album, Hey Also I Love You, and while there’s only a promising Tweet to go on so far, we’re hopeful 2020 might just be the year we hear from them again.
On, Hey Also I Love You, the London-based quartet seemed to tap into a certain musical thread that felt like a step out of the hectic nature of the real world. The music Finish Flag make is so deliciously dreamy; full of processed vocals, twitchy electronics and rich atmospheric guitar-lines, it was like pausing the world for twenty minutes and re-rooting yourself into what really matters. Three years on, we arguably need that reality check more than ever.
Originally formed back in 2017, North Carolina’s Wednesday look set for a big leap forward in 2020, with the release of their second long-player, I Was Trying To Describe You To Someone, due in February on the increasingly wonderful Orindal Records. At the heart of Wednesday’s appeal is a dichotomy of noise and beauty; the dark dissonance of their three guitar assault, playing off against the crystalline vocal delivery of lead singer, Karly Hartzman.
They recently announced the album with the twin singles, Fate Is… and Billboard, which we premiered back in December. Equally good was their most recent offering, November, which caught the ear of the Line Of Best Fit, among others. Wednesday is a more slow-burning affair, yet from its gentle beginning it still manages to fit in a healthy dose of white-hot noise towards the end. With their ability to combine the chaotic and the calm, Wednesday might just prove themselves to be a band for every day of the week.
One artist with a decent chance of breaking-out from the pack, is Los Angeles’, KERA, formerly known as Kera & The Lesbians. Early in 2019, they teamed up with Devendra Banhart for the single, Bright Future Ahead, and they have since signed to the hugely influential Mama Bird Recording Co, home, at one point, to the likes of Hayley Heynderickx, Courtney Marie Andrews and Damien Jurado.
Celebrating their signing, KERA recently shared the enticing new single, Vitamin T, an attempt to, “honor my past relationships and to celebrate those that have given me the tools to identify the type of support I want to give and surround myself with”. The message is set to a backing of shuffling guitar lines, complex rhythms and lightly distorted vocals and a production that’s just the right side of being too fuzzy. While we’re not sure exactly what Kera will be bringing us in 2020, we’re pretty confident that it will be fascinating to find out.
We may only have one song to go on, yet so exciting was Small Man Society’s first offering, Songs I Write About You, they’re more than deserving of their place among some of the more established names on this list. While details are a little thin on the ground, we do know the Leicester-based band are a quartet, based around the songwriting of front person, Dylan.
Songs I Write About You was a compelling blend of indie-pop and bouncy DIY-punk, that Doe or Martha would be proud of. Lyrically, it seemed to hint at misunderstandings and the ability of someone you care about to be utterly incapable of hearing what you’re saying, “I don’t even know why I try to get through to you, string me along, and now you’re singing along the songs I write about you”. While 2020 plans are still taking shape, they’ve got a huge gig coming up in their hometown supporting Nervus and Itoldyouiwouldeatyou, which looks to be the first highlight in a hugely exciting year for the band.
When’s the obvious time to release a single called Halloween? January of course! Don’t believe us, just ask Captain Handsome, the solo project of Lily from Fightmilk, who just a few weeks back decided to do exactly that. The track was the second to be lifted from Lily’s upcoming EP, I Am Not An Animal, due out at the end of this month on Reckless Yes.
Halloween follows hot on the heels of Lily’s debut single, I Wish I Had A Dog, which we premiered back in November, and declared, “delightfully straight-forward and winningly, just the right amount of weird”. Halloween seems to dial down on the delightfully melodic qualities of Lily’s songwriting in a fitting tribute to both, “Goth Christmas” and horrible parties, that Lily herself describes as a, “three minute lo-fi mope”. We’d not necessarily disagree with that summary, although we would add that it might just be our new favourite three minute lo-fi mope, and we’re big fans of the genre. Roll on the release of I Am Not An Animal, a weird and wonderful world we can’t get wait to get lost in.
Click HERE for the third and final part of our 20 for 2020.