When I was going through my favourite Brighton based music of the last twelve months, there was one band who stood head and shoulders above the rest for me personally. A band who I got a bit evangelical about and told everyone I knew they had to listen to, including my friends from outside of Brighton. That band were Momotaro, who at the end of last year had a few demos up on Soundcloud and had given away the fantastic dubby Reverie in return for signing up to their mailing list, yet managed to come out with a fully formed album on the first of February this year. Second Side featured much improved versions of some of those demos that we’d already heard as well as tracks which they’d been refining live, where despite sounding electronic most of the instruments are played live making them considerably more engaging than someone with their head down behind a laptop. The addition of a bassist and a visual artist to their line up later in the year as well as the continual evolution of their electronic post trip hop sound has turned things up another notch, and with a new EP due imminently 2015 could be a very good year indeed for Momotaro.
With the release of the first proper debut album (last year’s Early Fragments discounted because it was just a collection of singles), Fear of Men have finally come of age. As you would expect Loom has an abundance of cultural references set to classic indie pop, bookended with intimate vulnerability but packed with strength inbetween. The album got great reviews across the board – NME gave it 8/10, and The Line of Best Fit 9/10 – which scored the band a tour support with Pains of Being Pure at Heart giving them a ready built audience all across America and Europe before they returned to play their own headline homecoming show at The Hope in September. Fear of Men are already working on demos for their next album which we can’t wait to hear.
As I said when I made the first post of our end of year round up anyone’s lists will always be subjective. Until everyone listens to the same music and responds to it in the same way we’ll still see lists we disagree with. Vive la difference I say. However we fully endorse the record that The Quietus have picked to top their end of year list. Unflesh by Gazelle Twin unsettled and impressed us in equal measures, it’s force multiplied by compelling live performances.
Sometimes a chance encounter can lead to magical things – Rachel from GAPS met Maya Jane Coles at a house party long before GAPS were formed or Maya had found the success she now enjoys, but that meeting long ago is what led to them collaborating on this year’s In Dark, In Day EP. Where Rachel’s warm vocals and acoustic guitar are normally paired with Ed’s electronica, things were taken to another level on the three tracks (plus one instrumental) on this collaboration with the addition of Maya Jane Cole’s deep house beats.
Cate Ferris’ live performances have always been a joy to behold – her voice always surprises and her effortless use of her looping kit belies the true skill involved. There’s always been a question mark over how that transfers to record though. She recorded an EP at Tim Bidwell’s Clockwork Owl studio a couple of years ago, but by his own admission he just let her do her own thing. Since then she’s built a studio in her home and the Disappear EP is the first fruits of that endeavour, transforming four live favourites into tracks which stand on their own without having to be impressed by her one-(wo)man-band live show.
News of a new Fujiya & Miyagi album is always welcome, and May’s release of the band’s fifth long player Artificial Sweeteners didn’t disappoint. The first taster we got was the acid house number Tetrahydrofolic Acid which hinted at a new dancefloor led direction for the band, with analogue synths over pulsating beats. While the rest of the album was certainly more electronic, long term fans would have been pleased to hear that they hadn’t lost their krautrock groove.
If your main exposure to the local music scene is through the live route, then you might assume that IYES have had a pretty quiet year – By our calculations they’ve only played in Brighton once, supporting Raleigh Ritchie a few weeks ago at the Haunt. Actually though, they’ve been pretty busy. In the spring ‘Til Infinity, which featured in out 2013 list, got a 7” release backed with their cover of Crazy in Love, and there have been numerous remixes which have appeared (including a turn for Jack Garratt, who’s hotly tipped for big things next year). More recently they’ve signed to Sony and had their track Glow feature in mobile phone ads and get scheduled for release early next year. They have had one proper single this year, the sultry, effervescent, MNEK produced Breathe:
Right now we’re in deepest midwinter, less than a week away from the shortest day of the year. Thankfully though, it won’t always be so – Give it a few months and it’ll be spring. The days will be getting longer and the weather will be getting better, and then out of nowhere we’ll have a day that almost feels summery, where you leave your coat at home and bask in the warmth of the sun for the first time in months. Swim by Fickle Friends sounds like that day feels.