With a new year, comes a whole new bunch of releases from some of the most revered artists around, let’s look at some of the biggest and best to come during the first half of 2014…
American indie rockers Warpaint see their second studio album released in just a couple of weeks time. The follow-up to 2010’s ‘The Fool’, is more “keys-based”, and has already had a single on a Calvin Klein advertising campaign, a hint that the all-girl trio are ready to explode onto the mainstream perhaps? Maybe not, bit with rap and hip-hop influences thrown into the mixture, a diverse record is very much on the cards, and with touring ongoing across Europe and Australia, before a UK stint in February, you can be sure to catch them somewhere!
Bombay Bicycle Club
One of the UK’s most ‘bookish’ groups doesn’t mean Bombay Bicycle Club are boring. Sure they’re never going to match the sheer energy or aggression as a band like Enter Shikari, but then that is why they’re completely different from their English counterparts. No, whilst BBC have their roots heavily steeped in acoustic guitar music, they have introduced some electronic elements, as seen in first single ‘Carry Me’.
They’ve also told fans that the album will be full of ‘unexpected surprises’, a quote often used by bands promoting a new piece of music, but with this lot you believe what they say, as they’re experimenting with new instruments and creating some interesting tunes, that sound as good as their previous work, whilst differing just about enough to remain fresh. With a UK tour in support of the record, I’ll see whether they’ve improved on the live music aspect, but 2014 will be a strong year for the guys and gals of BBC that’s for sure.
It feels like Beck’s been around for an age. The 43-year-old rose to prominence back in the early 90’s with his experimental records, and his Valentines Day release will be his 12th studio album! So why is he still on an ‘anticipated list’? Let me tell you. Still regarded as one of the most creative men in modern day music, ‘Morning Phase’, is harking back to his 2002 album ‘Sea Change’, with a potentially pretentious press release stating it will “hark back to the stunning harmonies, song craft and staggering emotional impact of that record, while surging forward with infectious optimism”.
As I said, pretentious, eh! But keep the faith, three singles self-released by the artist last year are strange symphonies of work, that may not be fully fledged success in themselves just yet, but are snippets of what goodness is potentially just around the corner.
One of the most talked about names in modern-day music, Ms Banks is a strange character indeed. This first collection of tracks has been in the reckoning since way back in 2011, with every ‘Anticipated’ list garnering her name, yet here she is in 2014 with nothing other than some single releases and festival appearances to the rapper’s name. With a riotous following on Twitter, and these live performances strengthening her stature within the music world, if her debut release ever manages to arrive, expect it to be loud, brash and, most importantly, challenging.
Metronomy are one of those bands that really should’ve blown up by now. They’ve had quirky tunes aired on advertisements and songs that ‘you’d know but not know who was the artist’, but never really been admired alongside some impressive tracks. Hopefully, ‘Love Letters’, the release of which is imminent, will change all of that. First track, ‘I’m Aquarius’, is a song that delivers on so many aspects, whether it be the poppy, repetitive ‘shoop-doop-doop-ah’, that is insanely catchy or the down-played backing beat that follows it all the way throughout, lead singer Joseph Mount’s haunting vocals completing the piece in such a subtly impressive manner.
This slice of the album is so promising, it’s getting me into their back catalogue in anticipation of the new release, but what strikes me the most is the confidence amongst the band. ‘I’m Aquarius’, is an amazingly-confident track to introduce an album with, it seems so subtle and modest that it takes a few listens to truly get under its skin, but once you manage that, you’re locked in and it’s on solid rotation from now till I get more of a listen to this interesting album.
Another interesting artist, St Vincent is as close to a piece of living artwork as there can possibly be at the moment. Her work with David Byrne is daring, yet full of quality, produced to the maximum to great success. Past solo projects are more of the same with the result defining the term ‘art rock’, but gaining little more than critical success. No, St Vincent is never going to hit the popularity of a Lady GaGa, despite their similar ‘projects’, but that is a very good thing, for the unique qualities of her song-writing and high production values, mean that this new record, whilst it may not be heard by millions or sell a whole lot, will be as exceptional as her previous three releases. Electronic, acousticy goodness.
Stick around for a look at the second half of the year, coming up very, very soon!