Saturday, December 31, 2016

Looking back on 2016 and ahead to 2017 :: Part 1

So, how was it for you? Some of our writers give their personal view.

On the face of it, 2016 was a dreadful year for the world of music. There were more unwelcome venue closures, major UK festivals like T in The Park took what is likely their final bow and it seemed that every time I got an update on my phone, another hero had died.

Safe to say, looking back on it, 2016 is always going to be remembered as a bad, bad year in music. However, on a more positive note there was a great amount of new bands enjoying success: Blossoms, Hinds, Spring King and Viola Beach (sadly to be cut short in tragic circumstances in February) to name a few.

Fingers crossed the emphasis will shift back on to the music again next year and the celebrity deaths will take a back seat. Here are the bands I’m tipping to have a massive 2017.

I would have included VANT in the bands that had a great year this year, but with their debut album ‘Dumb Blood’ due out on February 17, 2017 is going to be their biggest year yet. The band have worked bloody hard to get to where they are and with songs such as ‘Peace & Love’ ‘Parking Lot’ and ‘Fly-By-Alien’ and a strong political message to back them, I can see them going from strength to strength.

And Yet It Moves. Frontman Dale Barclay’s former band ‘The Amazing Snakeheads’ were one of the most exciting live bands I’d seen in years. I thought last year would have been a big one for them, but the band sadly called it quits on the eve of the NME tour in 2015. Luckily, Barclay formed new band ‘And Yet It Moves’ New video ‘Mark Swan’ directed by Kyle Howells was released on Christmas day this year and is a real triumph. Expect to hear more from them next year.

WHITE ended this year co-headlining the 1300 capacity ABC in their hometown Glasgow with their mates Baby Strange. The show was a real signal of intent and a massive achievement for a relatively new band. The band have recently released their EP ‘Cuts That Don’t Bleed’ and with tracks like ‘ I Liked You Better When You Needed Me’ ‘Living Fiction’ and ‘Future Pleasures’ in their arsenal, expect them to hit the ground running next year.

INHEAVEN- With a record deal from Sony, Julian Casablancas among their list of fans and a tour of England on the horizon, things are looking pretty good for INHEAVEN. This year they’ve played a huge amount of gigs, alongside Blossoms, Jamie T and Sundara Karma which has gained them important exposure. Citing Pixies and Smashing Pumpkins as influences, I reckon 2017 will be a big one for them and wouldn’t be at all surprised if they enjoyed similar success to Blossoms and Wolf Alice when their debut album lands.

Other bands/artists to listen out for next year: The Lemon Twigs, Toothless, Palace, D.D. Dumbo, Willie J Healey, Gloria, Kyiki and Yellow Days.

So, as another year draws to a close it's time to look back at some highlights from 2016, and forward to the new year. Back in February in a hot and sweaty Dingwalls in Camden I had the pleasure of seeing Baby Strange and Pretty Vicious playing on the same bill, with the latter headlining. Both bands have a knack of being able to whip a crowd into a frenzy with their take no prisoners punk rock assault that they deliver.

At the Y Not Festival this year it was my first chance to witness Cabbage, and I wasn’t disappointed: a ramshackle politically viewed guitar band all wrapped up in a bow of organized chaos, and people loved it. Along the similar kind of lines to Cabbage are The Blinders who I caught at the Fightback gig at the Roundhouse in October when they played a makeshift stage in the upstairs bar area. It was only a short 20 minute set, but it was full of fire, passion and some cracking tunes - recent single ‘Swine’ probably the highlight of them.

As for albums this year there have been a few that I keep going back to. Yak’s ‘Alas Salvation’ which is full of heavy guitars and feedback sprinkled with short melodies sucks you in and spits you out in under 35 minutes! DMA’S ‘Hills End’ is full of old school Britpop melodic charm, great to sing along too and Baby Strange with the brilliant ‘Want it/Need it’, guitar punk that bounces along and takes you on a ride through the dark and seedy back streets of Glasgow. Finally, there is Blossoms with their debut album ‘Blossoms’, definitely a standout release from the Stockport boys this year, packed with classics in the making and songs that will fill arenas and then stadiums in the future, have a little bet on them headlining the pyramid stage at Glastonbury in 2019.

And 2017? Well, I’m excited for the release of the debut album from Pretty Vicious, hoping for a spring release, then to them storming all festival stages this year. Also hopefully during 2017 we will have albums from The Amazons, Cabbage and White Room; looking forward to catching The Blinders and Sheafs live a few times and to my first Glastonbury.

2016 has been a little bittersweet with the loss of far too many greats in the music industry: Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Greg Lake and of course, George Michael, to name just a few. But, possibly a little closer to home it also saw the loss of Viola Beach and Gary Watson (lead singer of The Lapelles) which was incredibly sad news for so many people, including those, like us at Little Indie, who are constantly looking for talented new bands to take the spotlight, and both these bands were definitely heading for big things.

I am also personally still trying to get over the announced split of The Maccabees, their 2007 ‘Colour It In’ album was, and still an absolute favourite of mine (although, their 2015 album release is also a close contender), but I have some consolation in the form of their farewell tour heading to Manchester and London in the summer of 2017.

In other 2016 news, Justin Bieber had one too many tantrums on stage, Kanye West worked too hard and Bob Dylan had a slightly unexpected reaction to winning a Nobel Prize. Without a doubt, it has been a slightly odd year in so many ways. However, 2016 has also graced us with some great new music, new albums from Two Door Cinema Club, Bon Iver and Kings of Leon have been personal favourites of mine. And, it wouldn’t be right to not mention BeyoncĂ©, she created a fearless, genre-leaping album with ‘Lemonade’ and the world pretty much lost their minds!

This year I’ve have the opportunity to see so many incredible bands, and its so tough to just talk about one, so I guess I will mention a few that have stuck with me.

Foals with support from Everything Everything at Wembley Arena at the start of this year was quite possibly the best gig ever, and I think anyone that was there would agree the atmosphere was insane. Blossoms with support from The Lapelles at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in the summer, before their amazing Number 1 album release and world domination. Obviously, Dan Croll at the Village Underground and his secret acoustic set at Bushstock were both very different but equally wonderful. And last, but not least, Youth Club at Cargo, Shoreditch and as support for Young Kato at The Garage, Islington never seem to disappoint.

2016 also saw the London (and now New York) based independent record label, concert promoter and publisher Communion celebrate their 10th anniversary. This occasion has led to many great events and gigs over the past few months with lots of big names involved including Mumford and Sons, James Bay and Jack Garrett. Their birthday party at the House of VANS will be one I remember for some time.

As for my 2017 ones to watch, it's got to be No Hot Ashes, the young indie/funk band from Stockport, High Tyde, the indie-pop quartet from Brighton who have been making some real progress in the past year or so.

Finally, The Sherlocks, the Bolton On Dearne (it’s ‘kind of’ near Sheffield)-based indie band who have a great Arctic Monkeys/The Courteeners vibe, they have been buzzing around for quite some time and 2016 has been pretty big for them, but with lots of tour dates for next year I think it’s only going to be bigger and better!

2017 can only be a good’un.

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