So, our final box in our Advent Calendar is filled by IYES, who have barely been going a year yet are more than worthy of our top spot. Right from the first moment we heard them, when Lighthouse appeared on Soundcloud, we knew that IYES were something special. Since then there’s been a few more tracks that have appeared from them this year – a more upbeat number called Glow, a Balearic instrumental called Daddy, a cover of Beyonce’s Crazy in Love and their debut single ‘Til Infinity. The production on each of these has been spot on, as has their timing – holding off on playing the new single until it was ready to be released, and not releasing it until the time was right where they could get a good buzz behind it. And what a buzz it got, getting over 2,400 likes on Hype Machine, nearly 150,000 plays on Soundcloud and coverage from all the major music sites – The Line of Best Fit said “You know you’ve found a beauty when melodies rattle around your head after just one listen”, and This is Fake DIY described it as “pristine pop skewed to the point where it’s pushing boundaries”. Look out for IYES in 2014, we think you’ll be hearing a lot more from them.
Our penultimate choice in our advent calendar is the band who brought out our favourite album of 2013. Back in the spring, Thomas and Alex White released the Electric Soft Parade’s first single in over six years with Brother You Must Walk Your Path Alone, which was followed up by the widely acclaimed album Idiots, which we called as Album of the Year on pretty much first listen. It’s difficult to pick out just one track, because everything on the album is so well crafted – apparently over thirty songs were rejected as not being up the high water mark that the band had set – but it’s breezy Summertime in My Heart that got the most spins, the perfect accompaniment to warm, blue sky days we had this summer.
Accepted wisdom is that if you combine electronic music with folk, you get folktronica. Most of the time you do (and Le Juki’s album Capillaries was a fine example of this), but GAPS have broken the mould with the first few singles. Instead of glistening electronica, GAPS use bigger beats more suited to the dancefloor. Their debut was a double A side – Keep You backed with the track we’ve chosen for our Advent Calendar Cascade. Of all of the tracks we’ve picked throughout December, Cascade is arguably the most Brighton – It starts quietly with nothing but the sound of seagulls and acoustic guitar before the beats and the keyboards kick in, building up hypnotically throughout the track.
I got the tip off about Momotaro from the Green Door Store zine which first appeared in August, where they were featured as the local band to watch. At the time they had a busy Soundcloud page, now cleared up in advance of their album due early next year. Their sound is dubby reverb drenched electronica with laid back vocals, shown off best on Reverie, the track we’ve picked for the advent calendar, which you can grab as a free download by signing up to their mailing list. They’re also an interesting live band – instead of tucking the drums at the back of the stage, each of the three musicians are given equal prominence and as many samples are triggered by the electronic drum kit as they are by the rest of the band who alternate between keyboards, guitars, and drum pads of their own. If the album is as good as what we’ve heard already, then 2014 should be a great year for Momotaro.
What made Crayola Lectern’s The Fall and Rise of… album so satisfying was that it ploughed its own furrow. Chris Anderson set out to make a record that didn’t sound like any other than the one in his head. There was no desire to be influenced by anything or anyone and what we were served with was one man’s psychedelic yet very English vision. Slow Down is one of the less out-there tracks on the album, advice for those a bit less experienced. Album number two is written and is in the process of being recorded so hopefully we’ll see that next year sometime.
Bentcousin burst onto the local music scene early in 2013 with a twitter stream which did it’s best to try and rile anyone and everyone. They made outlandish claims like the two front people being twins but also being a decade apart in age, and their guitarist being a member of PiL. It turns out that the twins were born either side of midnight on 31/12/89, and Keith Levene joined them at Patchfest in July. And then they released their EP called Everybody’s Got One, which was packed with lo fi indie tunes, pitched somewhere between Orange Juice and the Shangri-las. As a live prospect the band have bags more charisma than most other local bands – a band might have the best songs in the world but what’s the point of going to see them if they’re just going to go through the motions? I Think I Like Your Girlfriend More Than You is the quiet closer to the EP, more bossa nova than guitar pop, which allowed the simple yet intelligent lyrics to shine through.
2013 has been a good year for Laurie James Ross, better known as Eagles for Hands. His productions, which to these ears recreate the best bits from 90s dance legends 808 State and Orbital, have let to plaudits from the likes of Resident Adviser and XLR8R. The Lisbon EP hit the shelves at the end of September and its title track is one of our favourite tunes of the year.
At this stage of the advent calendar posts, I’ve been posting up a soundcloud link or a youtube video, but right now Lisbon is only available to buy via sites like iTunes, so I can’t embed anything directly. Lisbon is easily worth 79p of your hard earned cash though, so treat yourself. It’s almost Christmas!
The obvious choice for a DA-10 track in our Advent Calendar would have been something from their Shape of Space EP which came out back in April. It was really good – DJ Shadow dropped Redshift in one of his mixes he did for Radio 1. But the track that pushed our buttons was a separate low key release which appeared around the same time. Watching Her Dance was more aimed at the dancefloor and was a bona fide four to the floor banger.
Curxes put out two singles this year but we’d already kicked off our rundown of our twenty five favourite tracks of the year when Avant Guarded appeared. Further Still is a classic example of Blitz Pop – the name that Curxes have given to the genre. Drums turned up to 11 and a gutsy vocal performance all tied together with a decent tune. There’s been a few pointers to some more tunes that Curxes have got waiting in the wings ready to release, so we look forward to hearing them in 2014.
When Milk & Biscuits put out their epic single White Noise in 2012, it was described as being the first single to be taken from their album Spirit Nap which was meant to be due early this year. We didn’t get an album, but we did get the brilliant Belle & Sebastian-esque single Hairstyles, which we loved.