Tag Archives: 2015 Review

2015 Review: Acts of the Year

6 Jan

Acts of the Year

#1 – Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder

This is the first year we’ve ever annointed an ‘act of the year’ and we thought it was high time we did so. Like many of our choices this past few days, the answer seemed pretty obvious to us as soon as we started to think about it. Oh Wonder have just had an absolutely incredible 12 months and really, to us, they feel like the only choice.

Certainly, as we mentioned when announcing their debut record as being our favourite album of 2015, they are the band we have listened to more than any other and their live show was just fantastic. That is all the more incredible when you consider that they hadn’t played a live show as a band before the autumn. Now though they are selling out shows around the world and further enhancing their reputation as lovely people and a wonderful band.

This time last year the Oh Wonder juggernaut was just starting to pick up speed. Their early tracks were racking up the plays and regularly looking down on everyone else from the Hype Machine summit. They played a session for Radio One and then the album came out and their stratospheric trajectory spiked even higher.

Oh Wonder reached 26 in the UK charts and their music was heard by 6million listeners on Spotify in 2015 and, according to Hype Machine, they were the third most blogged about band in the UK. Not bad for a pair who started out just writing some tunes together to see what happened.

Unquestionably, 2015 belonged to Oh Wonder.

#2 – Black Honey

Black Honey

Another band to have an absolutely storming 12 months was blog favourite, Black Honey. Like Oh Wonder they have done nothing but enhance their reputation and gain a legion of fans in 2015.

We love everything they have done and seemingly, so do a hell of a lot of other people. Their music was played by 750,000 listeners on Spotify and they were the most blogged about band in the UK. They are an incredibly exciting young band with a raw, passionate energy in their music that sets them apart from other bands of a similar ilk.

They are exciting and people are excited by them. We finally got to see them play live at the Norwich Sound and Vision festival and in the lead up to the gig, Black Honey was the name on everyone’s lips. They were the band most people were talking about, the one they most wanted to see and the one that everyone knew. Those of us who were lucky enough to squeeze into the Mash Tun for their show were not disappointed as they let fly with an incendiary set that damn near took the roof off.

2015 was an amazing year for them and, if there is an album on the way, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Black Honey dominate 2016.

#3 – The Japanese House


This time last year no-one had heard of The Japanese House. Yet by the time the calendar page ticked over to 2016, Amber Bain was one of the most talked about new artists around. In just a few short months she debuted with a Zane Lowe premiere, a place on the Dirty Hit roster and The 1975 on production duties, and left with two highly acclaimed EPs, Pools to Bathe In and Clean, under her belt.

Her music is magical and multi layered with melodies and her beguiling androgynous vocal enchanting and entrancing. She was second on the Blog Sound of 2016 poll as well as on the Tipping Point’s Tips of the Year and if weren’t for the likelihood of an album being released next year, we’d expect her to be on the BBC Sound of 2017 poll.

2015 Review: Gig of the Year

5 Jan

Gig of the Year

All We Are – Other Voices stage, Latitude festival, Friday 17 July.

We knew when we ventured to the Other Voices stage to check out All We Are live for the first time that we were going to have a great time. After all, their debut album was already well on the way to becoming one of our favourites of the year. Even so, we were totally blown away by the performance and left feeling elated by what we’d just been part of.

All We Are Latitude

Recreating their Dingle home, the Other Voices team were to be found in a beautifully bedecked barn, hidden amongst the trees alongside the river that runs through Henham Park and away from any of the other stages. Here, amongst the hearts, glitter-balls and glowing luminescence of the venue, All We Are set about tearing the place down.

Their music has a laidback grooveability to it; a languid swirl of movement and funk that is infectious yet somewhat relaxed. Here though that groove, that funk that imbues all they do vibrated with something else, an unexpected and indomitable energy. Resistance was futile, but there was no one in the room up for resisting.

Everywhere you looked the crowd was dancing as this irresistible groove took hold. Sodden with sweat, All We Are conducted us to move, to sing and to enjoy. Nothing was left on stage as the trio treated us to a show none of us would forget. Such was the passion and desire in the room that, even though they were clearly exhausted, they still managed to give us an unplanned and fantastic encore.

If you ever get the chance to see All We Are play live, take it, trust us.

Photo courtesy of thethinair.net

2015 Review: EPs of the Year

4 Jan

Listen Out For... (1)

#1: Lyla Foy – UMi

Lyla Foy

We said when reviewing UMi that we expected it to feature in our end of year lists and so it has come to pass that the lady responsible for our favourite album of 2014, has delivered our favourite EP of 2015. To say we love Lyla Foy is something of an understatement but even we were pleasantly surprised by just how damn beautiful UMi is.

We said at the time that ”listening to Lyla is like looking at a fine piece of art or a stained glass window. You are instantly struck by the beauty and brilliance but you can come to it time and time again and still get lost, still find new details to enchant and enthrall. Here, as well as the details, the six tracks of UMi melt into one great swirling soundscape, all majestic and magnificent like a cosmic wilderness of stars, nebulae and galaxies”.

The whole thing is just divine, completely hypnotically beautiful with its melancholy, its heart and its gooey caramel loveliness. We’ve talked of Lyla’s crystalline vocal countless times before but hers is a voice we never tire of hearing as it drifts out, fragile and delightful at the same time over these wondrous creations of hers.

If you haven’t heard it already, we heartily recommend picking up UMi and letting it wash over you one cold winter’s eve.

Buy Umi from: Lyla’s Bandcamp page.

#2: Rag’N’Bone Man – Disfigured

RagNBone Man

Another voice we could listen to for hours on end belongs to Rory Graham, aka Rag’N’Bone Man. His remarkably rich and raw vocals, that are steeped in soul, hip-hop and gospel influences is just so evocative and emotional that you can’t help but get swept away by it.

His second EP, Disfigured, had an almost evangelical quality to it, heartfelt and emotional, strident and rousing, thought provoking and considered. Yet it is also dark in places, brooding and sullen without ever losing its emotional heart and without ever sounding anything less than superb. His deep, powerful vocal taking you by the hand, leading on to glory one minute and conveying the kind of gravitas and emotion that brings tears to eyes and touches the soul the next. We bloody love it.

Buy Disfigured from: iTunes

#3: Vallis Alps – Vallis Alps

Valis Alps

Almost a year ago to the day, the Australia-America duo of Vallis Alps appeared out of nowhere and blew the blog world away with their debut, self-titled EP. One year on and we are still utterly in love with their gorgeous blend of cool electronics and warm vocals. The wispy melodies swirl delicately over sparse, sometimes kaleidoscopic synth lines and beats as the four tracks entrance and enchant. It’s subtly infectious (“Oh” will have you nodding your head without you even realising) and sublime in its intricate, intelligent and beautiful majesty.

Buy Vallis Alps from: Vallis Alps

Others We’ve Loved

In no particular order…

FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
Grace Mitchell – Raceday
Lyza Jane – Milk Teeth
Transviolet – Transviolet
The Japanese House – Clean
The Japanese House – Pools To Bathe In
Blonde Maze – Oceans
Bea – Songs of 2K11

2015 Review: Track of the Year

3 Jan

Listen Out For... (5)

Daisy Victoria – “Pain of Dancers”

There have been a lot of great tracks released this year. There have been cracking pop bangers, gloriously melty synth tunes, folky loveliness and funky groove-a-thons aplenty. Yet when we sat down to consider which songs really stood apart, there was only one choice. Much like our Moment of the Year, our track selection is based on very personal reasons, but that’s what music is supposed to be about right?

Like Public Service Broadcasting, Daisy Victoria is an artist we’ve supported for a while now and we have loved seeing as she has become more and more successful, and as she has grown and developed as an artist. Never was this more evident than when she released “Pain of Dancers” earlier this year.

Daisy Victoria

To paraphrase what we wrote on its release…

There is a gorgeously vibrant 80s feel to it that so suits Daisy’s rich, emotive and cinematic vocals. From the second the drums kick in and the keys twinkle like a mischievous glint in the eye, you are transported to some John Hughesian world of teenage angst, coming of age, love and retribution.

“Pain Of Dancers” is a glorious sway of pop-rock that further cements Daisy’s place as an emerging artist we should all be getting very excited about.

And we are excited, excited by her progress, excited by what the future has to hold for her and excited by the quality of tracks like “Pain of Dancers”.

2015 Review: Albums of the Year

2 Jan

Albums of the Year

#1: Oh Wonder – Oh Wonder

Oh Wonder

Without question our most played album of the year (it’s pretty much been on repeat in the car since it came out) the debut release by Oh Wonder was also our favourite. While some may have questioned the practice of having all but two of the album’s tracks up online well in advance of its release, saying it would have a negative effect on enjoyment and interest in the album, Oh Wonder instead had a sense of instant accessibility and sing-along-ability. Rather than putting us off, it just kept pulling us back in.

The album is full of warmth and emotion and of hope in the face of despair. It’s beautiful, melodic and enticing. It works as a collection of gorgeously moving songs and as a single, whole entity. The catchy synthpop sensibilities blend with subtle hip-hop influences and gorgeous harmonies to make a simply wonderful record. It can build up when you are feeling low or just hold your hand and let you know it will all be ok.

Most of all, it is just great to listen to, to enjoy, to sing along with and to come back to again and again and again.

Buy Oh Wonder from: ohwondermusic.com

#2: All We Are – All We Are


Released back at the start of February, the eponymous debut album from Liverpool based, but very international, All We Are is one we’ve come back to time and time again over the last 12 months, and it never stops sounding amazing.

Their laid back psychedelic grooves grind along with effortless and sublime ease. There are moments of celestial beauty, of contemplative meditation and post disco boogie wonderland-ing. It swirls and sways, dances with funky grace and exudes Fonzie levels of cool. If we were an album, we’d want to be All We Are.

Buy All We Are from: Double Six Records

#3: Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

PSB The Race For Space

Following on from their critically acclaimed and official chart bothering debut, Inform – Educate – Entertain was always going to be challenging for Public Service Broadcasting but we’d say they surpassed it (and not just in chart position).

Echoing the single theme narrative of their remarkable The War Room EP, The Race for Space deals with one specific period of the past (which they make come to life). Here the pair delves into the rich history of the American-Soviet space programmes and delivers (amongst others) moments of intense drama (“The Other Side”) excitement (“Go”) and stupidly funky fun (“Gagarin”).

Buy The Race For Space from: publicservicebroadcasting.net/

Others We’ve Loved

In no particular order…

Susanne Sundfør – Ten Love Songs
John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
Lonelady – Hinterland
Gems – Kill the One You Love
Tove Lo – Queen of the Clouds
Empress Of – Me
Lanterns on the Lake – Beings
Brooke Annibale – The Simple Fear
C Duncan – Architect