Whether you’re sobbing into your screen now you’re back in the office; realising that yep, there’s only that many weeks until your next uni deadline or watching celebrations wrappers fall to the floor every time you take something out of your pockets, the truth is here – Christmas is over and the worst month of the year is upon us. But y’know what? It’s really not the worst month of the year when this lot are around. We take a look at some of the best acts to get excited about in 2016 and what’s more – some of ’em are even making a stop in Bristol.
Father/Daughter records have had a phenomenal year. The New York-based label has gifted us with some of the best bedroom pop, rock and indie, proving their expertise to never waver. With a fair few breakthroughs under their belt, it comes as no surprise that they snapped up two-piece Diet Cig and their EP ‘Over Easy’ – with Bristol’s very own Art is Hard Records picking up the UK release. With just a guitar and drums, their simple execution makes for a certain euphoric adolescence, recalling the energy of say, Le Tigre, that never lets the smile on your face falter. Admitting, among other things, their lack of shower curtains or kitchenware, their specifics hold universal truths that just about anyone will understand.
They’re unafraid to be silly and unafraid to point fingers at those who take themselves too seriously – on ‘Scene Sick,’ vocalist Alex Luciano belts, “I’m sick of hearing about your scene / I’d rather talk about something more exciting,” a revelation we’re sure many of you can relate to. Short bursts of punk-pop perfection, Diet Cig know how to draw you in, teasing you with hooks and sing-a-long choruses and leaving you hungry for more. Much to our delight, the duo are making their way over to our shores in the depths of January, headlining a show at The Louisiana on the 11th. You’d be silly to miss it. Like, really, really silly.
Track: Dinner Date
Live: The Louisiana, 11th January
Referencing Sylvia Plath and holding Sleater-Kinney and The Ramones responsible for their sound, Muncie Girls are our kind of band. Hailing from Exeter, the three-piece have already drummed up a heck of a lot of excitement for their emotional, punk output. Addressing the anxiety of modern living, but with a mindful flair, they’re granted the chance to go far beyond the usual punk influences and instead showcase songs that are so damn catchy, you’ll soon be cursing those choruses. They’ll be supporting indie-punk favourites Tellison this coming year, with a stop at The Stag and Hounds on 3rd April.
Track: Gas Mark 4
Live: Stag & Hounds, 3rd Apr
East-London’s NAO has been making deft future-pop replete in funk undertones for a while now. Yet a smattering of small releases and an infamous Great Escape performance later, her unique and, at times, eerie style has blossomed into one of the most promising names to sail the internet.
End of year single ‘Bad Blood’ was an inimitable, ultra-modern jam which – if it does indeed keep company – could be sit at the more accessible end of fka Twigs. She had her first taste of the mainstream earlier in the year by way of a collaboration with Disclosure, but her solo output is streets better. Long, bustling, London streets.
Her as yet untitled album is set to drop in summer 2016.
Track: Bad Blood
Live: Thekla, 25th Apr
The standard to which rock music must be done to cut through the smog these day is, well, quite stellar. However, this somewhat surprisingly British garage-grunge outfit are on their way. UK surprises aside, frontman Mattie Vant (Eddie Van Halen?) does profess to hail rather from Planet Earth than the UK – “I don’t believe in borders” – which is kind of helpful when singing in a thick American accent.
Check out ‘Parking Lot’, and if you’re not singing “Wait a minute, ‘cus your heart’s not in it!” for the rest of your wicked life, you’re missing part of your brain.
Track: Parking Lot
Show: Great Escape 2016
Aged just nineteen, Canadian Alessia Cara is already crafting the kind of R&B/pop bangers that would easily slot up there with some of the greats. Single ‘Here’ sampled our very own Portishead and had Cara singing of a disdain for lame house parties, instead wanting to go back to the time where you would just hang with your buds and talk about your dreams. Earlier this year, she joined Taylor Swift during her guest-appearance frenzy but, to be honest, she doesn’t need to join any squad when her songs are this good – sultry, atmospheric and catchy-as-heck.
Live: Electric Brixton LDN, 23rd March
As soon as you treat your ears to Loyle Carner, you’ll find it difficult to tear yourself away. Effortless is the first word that jumps to mind, but Carner is also incredibly candid, vulnerable and above all, original. At age 20, he talks of his struggles with adulthood; we’re not talking the little stuff here, rather lines like “Of course I’m fucking sad / I miss my fucking Dad” after the death of his step-father. Praising grime as a big influence on his output, Carner’s confessional hip-hop is a breath of fresh air in a world that often cares way too much about keeping a stiff upper lip.
Track: Tierney Terrace
Live: Village Underground LDN, 16th February
If psychedelic pop is your bag, Manchester five-piece Blossoms could very well be your new favourite band. Blending together 60s cinematic influences and classic British pop, their single ‘Cut Me and I’ll Bleed’ already caused plenty of sing-a-long moments on their recent tour. Effortless, fuzz-fuelled and full of woozy desire, Blossoms describe themselves as ‘a mosaic’ rather than a band – piecing together every aspect of their output with the kind of perfection to match their beatnik attire and era-perfect haircuts. Showcasing their influences on their sleeves, yes, but expertly putting their own spin on a genre that is often full of mere impersonators.
Live: The Old Fire Station, Bournemouth, 18th Feb