Not much new music has been reviewed this week, due to Christmas socialising, not to mention eating so much cheese that I was physically unable to lift myself off of the chaise lounge for about three days and had to suffer the agony of watching Mel B trying to be funny on The Big Fat Quiz of The Year. Never again! So what I thought I would do instead was tell you about the acts I think that you should be watching to do exciting things in 2015.
Although they have been around for what seems like an eon in contemporary musical terms, Port Erin’s enduring charm is in the evolution and exploratory nature of their music having moved from Zappa-esque, experimentation through to late night jazz inflected atmospheres. Their just released third album, Floating Above The City, seems to encompass all aspects of that journey so far taking in a variety of broad genres; space-rock, jazz, avant-garde, funk, psychedelia, ambient, progressive and more besides, without being fully associated with any one or tarred with a particular generic brush. What’s even more astounding is that they can steer a course through these oft challenging marginal musical genres and still arrive at a destination that has commercial appeal. Surely the sign of a band doing something truly creative?
By contrast, The Tribe are fresh to the scene but have landed fully formed by virtue of the fact that they are comprised of some of the core movers and shakers on the dance groove end of the music scene. Having caught their debut show recently I, like the packed crowd they attracted, were given a master class in accessible, enthralling music and stagecraft. Musically they overlay a solid reggae and funk core with hip-hop and dance grooves, sweet and soulful pop vocals provide the perfect counterpoint to staccato rap deliveries and you can even catch the odd disco beat tipping it’s hat to halcyon dance floor days. First gig it may have been but the professionalism showed through and the band provided a benchmark for live shows that few bands on the local scene would even get close to.
Faye Rogers has already had a successful two-year career as an acoustic player, slowly drawing the perfect band around her to best explore those sweet folk vibes and pastoral sounds. Most artists would continue to cash in and build on an already established sound, not Faye. By re-launching as a band she has drawn a line under what has gone before and allowed herself room to be able to reinvent herself. Drawing on a love of post-punk, indie and more ethereal sounds and introducing saxophone and a more electric guitar core, the band manage to run between the most chilled atmospherics and full on rock drives and everything in between. Not only a brave move but also an essential one to keep your music fresh and relevant. Other artists should take a leaf from Faye’s book.
Colour The Atlas
Another band to undergo a slight realignment this year was Colour The Atlas. A popular and fairly regular fixture on the local scene but with a Sony contract, professional management, esteemed tour supports and a plethora of national radio play under their belt, they manage to exist in both worlds. This year they entered Lighterthief Studios for an injection of that trademark production into their new recordings. The resulting e.p. Opaline, turned out to be the perfect pairing of band and environment, the production itself becoming another player in its own right. Trademark incidental sounds hover around the periphery of the songs providing an additional pallet of colours and textures for the band to play with; exotic tabla beats, haunting vibrato, warped musical motifs and simmering background washes for the songs to float on. This is a phenomenal collection of songs, unique, imaginative, sensuous and achingly beautiful and can only make the following full album one of the most anticipated releases in a long time.
Coasters is a band that came together almost by accident. Having gone into studio to record what was planned to be a solo e.p, Si Hall emerged from the other end of the process with a full band around him with a view to treading the boards to show off their musical wares. Si Hall is a name that you associate with both solo acoustica and previous to that raging pop-punk. By stripping back the wall of sound associated with those skate punk days, injecting some acoustic layering and subtler, more dynamic bass lines, but retaining electric guitar to power through when required, Coasters have found the best of both worlds. The energy, verve and spirit of ’76, and the agit-folk vibe of the solo performer now lock together creating massive scope, from intricate guitar picking to full on white hot six string salvos, pop sensibilities rubbing shoulders with anarchic punk volleys.
Whatever your musical persuasion, 2015 looks like a very promising year for new music in this neck of the woods.
(First posted at Swindon Link)