Last year we stuck our neck on the proverbial line and named 15 acts that we loved and thought would go on to do something in 2013. We didn’t say unequivocally that these bands were going to go on and rule the music world or anything, not even we could be that bold, but we think they were certainly talented to step up a level and do even better than they already were.
Some did just that, a couple – not so much. Before we start to look at acts we love who we think/hope will continue to grow and become bigger in 2014, let’s take a look back at those fabled 15 and have a squizz at what they got up to in the last 12 months.
15. Polaroid 85
If asked, and we have been (albeit by ourselves) to judge the year Polaroid 85 had, we’d say it had been a quietly successful one. A few live session videos helped whet the appetite for their second EP release, Escapist which came out on Reel Me Records and of which we said, ”layers of sound entwine and dance together as one; orchestral arrangements, jazz flourishes, drum and bass, glitchy electronica, breakbeats, trip-hop; all live a symbiotic existence to produce cool, swirling marbled soundscapes.” and there was radio play aplenty as well. Next up, an album? Here’s hoping.
Waylayers are, in our humble opinion, poised for something big next year. A lot, and we mean a lot, of ground work was done in 2013 with the band performing at 20 or so festivals, including an appearance headlining our stage at Norwich Sound and Vision, travelling all over the country and across the world, picking up critical acclaim and big name support along the way. Their Fault Lines EP, was a minor success here in the UK but hit the Billboard Top 100 and the iTunes Top 50 in the US. Unsurprisingly there is likely to be a reasonable amount of focus on America in the Waylayers camp next year but their infectious and properly atmospheric synth pop should see their fellow Brits catching on to them soon enough as well.
Errr, yeah. We’re not sure what happened here to be honest. 2012 started strongly and Kites seemed on the precipice of breaking through, then nothing happened. We’ve heard whispers that there could be news on the horizon so we’ll see what’s next, but the almost total disappearance of Kites in 2013 was not something we predicted at all.
Not only did the VVV gang play the debut Alphabet Bands Presents… show back in July (which was no doubt the highlight of their year – ahem) but they also saw their profile rise and rise across the months. The year is culminating with the release of “Your Thoughts Are A Plague” and “Deaf Epic” on a double A-side 7”, a new video for “Empurrar/Puxar” and a headline UK tour. Before that there was radio play coming out of their Appliance, the creation of their own imprint which meant they finally got to use Energy Snake as a name for something, and of course, a fantastic debut album that perfectly showcased the analogue meets digital world they inhabit, with brilliantly catchy tunes and dark themes.
11. Paper Crows
2013 was a quiet-ish year for Paper Crows but one that could be leading to a big 2014. There were gigs and guest spots and one fantastic free download, “White Noise”, but more exciting was the release online of “Anomaly”. A dark and menacing track overflowing with strength and the overwhelming sense of a coming evil from below, it will be their first single release of 2014 and one we hope will signal the start of some very big things indeed for the duo.
Undoubtedly, one of our high points of 2013 was watching Rhye play in the candlelit surroundings of St. Giles in the Fields Church. A performance that not only captivated all those in attendance with its subtlety and elegance, but that also provided the best improvised lyrical response to faulty sound kit we heard all year. This followed the release of a gorgeous debut album that will probably feature on number of end of year lists and preceded a number of festival performances, even more critical acclaim and even a solo album from the androgynously voiced Mike Milosh.
9. Spring Offensive
Another band who have had an openly quiet-ish year, but whose feet have no doubt been swishing crazy swan like under the water. There were a couple of singles, the fantastic and innovative video for ”No Assets” and a bunch of shows, but as the year draws to a close, it is clearly all about 2014 and the release of the debut Spring Offensive album, Young Animal Hearts. An album that was fully funded within 10 days of a very impressive Pledge Music campaign and that we are very very much looking forward to.
8. Alice Jemima
Another of our tipped artists who went on to have a quiet year, Alice started it with a BBC Radio 1 session (that was recorded in 2012) and then put up a fantastic cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. There were support slots with the likes of Valerie June but also a lot of silence; silence with good reason though as we have heard on the grapevine that things continue to look up in Miss Jemima’s world and that we should start to hear more from her ( a lot more we think) in 2014.
The trio of Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella released their debut album, If You Leave in March and watched it hit the UK Top 20 and receive much critical acclaim. There have been sold out shows a-plenty and an unexpected (and unwarranted) overlooking from the Mercury Music Prize judges as Daughter have continued on their steady upward trend. There is a UK tour to end the year and then perhaps some new songs to come in 2014.
It was a fairly quiet year for the three sisters from LA with not much happening or being achieved really. Just topping both the BBC and Blog Sound of 2013 polls, releasing a couple of great EPs, a Number one album, sold out tours across the globe, bassface becoming a phenomenon and festival appearances all over summer including Glastonbury. Yep, fairly quiet all things considered.
After a storming end to 2012, which included a rapid rise to the top of the Hype Machine chart and a plethora of blog love, the Seasfire gents had a relatively calm and quiet 2013. There were a couple of singles and a few shows but generally speaking they were quite reclusive. Here’s hoping it’s in readiness for a big 2014.
After telling us she was ready to sign with a major label in Spring last year, we were getting ready for a full-on Florrie assault on the music world in 2013, sadly (apart from the Sony sponsored “Live A Little” in April) it didn’t quite materialise but there are reasons for optimism the coming months. Work is continuing on her debut album and the new tracks she debuted at her headline KOKO show proved our excitement is not misplaced. Blending the best of pop’s heritage with her Xenomania education, the likes of “Stupid Boy” are sounding like her best work yet. Maybe we just went a year too soon, maybe 2014 will be the year of Florrie after all.
3. Ms Mr
Seeing Ms Mr blow the roof off the Norwich Waterfront was one of our gig highlights of the year and gave us a sneak peek of the delights that their debut album would provide later in the year. Purveyors of the finest tumblr-glitch-pop around, we love the Addams Family of brilliantly dark and danceable tunes and our excitement for the last season of Game Of Thrones was accentuated further when the trailer commenced with the opening moments of “Bones”. A perfect sync if ever there was one. Lizzy and Max have had a stellar year, achieved a truck load and will no doubt be ready and raring to kick on and knock 2014 for a loop as well. Oh, and we got to go see them play in Norwich again this week as well. Good times.
2. The Good Natured
2013 wasn’t kind to The Good Natured. A reasonable start with quality singles and an album on the way soon fell apart when they got dropped from their label and lost all their music. They explained at the time:
A few months ago we were dropped from our record label. Our album has been shelved. Over this time we have been trying to get our masters back so that we can release Prism, however, it has not been possible.
To say we are devastated is an understatement. Believe us when we say we have tried everything possible to get our album to you. Sometimes life gives you lemons and you gotta make lemonade. When one door closes another opens.
You have to pick yourself up, be bigger, be stronger. For The Good Natured it is the end of the road, but it’s safe to say there is something better around the corner.
Evidently they are working hard on new material and teaching themselves more about production etc to maintain greater control over their own music and direction. Fingers crossed we get to hear something new from them in 2014.
1. Public Service Broadcasting
What a year it’s been for the esteemed gentlemen of Public Service Broadcasting. As we’ve noted numerous times, they never seem to stop and are certainly reaping the rewards from such a diligent work ethic. There’s been a couple of singles, one Record Store Day exclusive, videos (one which actually featured the guys themselves) a free download here and there, two tracks in Dutch to celebrate the world’s largest ice skating race (because why not right?), tea-towels, a superb album, two AIM award nominations, a never-ending tour across every corner of the UK and beyond that sold out pretty much everywhere, including the Forum up London (and from the pictures we’ve seen the new live set looks gorgeous as well) AND they played out the end of year highlights package on the BBC’s Formula One coverage with a fabulous hybrid of “Signal 30” and “Everest”. Not too shabby for a couple of guys in corduroy.