[sic] Magazine

2017 Tasting Notes

AKA our annual feature that really ought to be called “bands/artists that don’t yet have an album, but from whom we’d like one soon”. Not as snappy as “tasting notes”, though, is it? And, yes, occasionally we discount a self-released LP from counting just because we want to feature someone and/or we’re torn between a previous release being an EP or a full album, but you get the general picture. In any case, each year we kick off by appraising the progress of the previous year’s chosen few and we see no reason to change that this year. What’s the point of a list like this if we’re not held to account for it?

So, first up in last year’s list and squarely in the R&B/pop category was NAO, then just in possession of a couple of funky neo-soul singles and EPs and now the owner of great major-label LP, she’s more than lived up to our hopes this year. Capable of strikingly wonky rhythms and an FKA Twigs-ish delivery, see where see features in our upcoming albums of the year list soon. As bittersweet as ever, but not quite yet at the album stage (it’s coming in 2017), London all-girl four-piece The Big Moon have nevertheless managed another tumble of likeable indie-pop singles in 2016. No such luck from poppy slacker-punks Diet Cig , from whom nothing has been heard these last twelve months. Let’s generously assume they’re in the studio and 2017 will be their year. As for Spanish garage-psyche troublemakers The Parrots, they too did manage to table an album earlier this year and … it was ok. Clap your ears on it without the context of their blinding debut EP and it’d be good though. Seems they simply set the bar too high in 2015. Keeping the good times rolling, however, Philadelphia’s Sheer Mag are now on S/T EP III and it may be their best to date. Of course it still comes on like someone like Royal Headache covering the Jackson 5 and Thin Lizzy simultaneously, but if that doesn’t sound like fun to you you’re probably dead inside already.

Less impressive, it’s our sad duty to inform, was Milk Teeth’s long-playing debut, their incendiary scuzz-pop somewhat muted if not altogether beaten on album format. More disappointing still has been London-based four-piece Keroscene’s decidedly wet follow-up singles to last year’s tremendous “Cotton Candy”. Can’t win ‘em all, as they say. And the losing streak continues with Toronto’s Total Love. There’s been nary a peep from the promising surf-poppers this year. Zip. Let’s just hope they’re another holed up in the studio. Nothing new either from sultry male-female duo Black Channels, their synths and nightmarish electro-pop sorely missed by its absence this year. Here’s hoping 2017 is a busier year for many of these guys. Last up in last year’s list was Søren Juul, formerly of tasteful outfit Indians, and an artist with whom we can end that did make it to a LP this year. We liked his very Scandinavian synth-pop a lot in 2015 and his tastes remain very similar this year too, but his delivery now seems overly smooth to sufficiently pique ours. Ah, well.

Anyway, with that round-up done and dusted, let’s head on to the main event. Make of the below what you will, considering the mixed bag above. Here, nevertheless, are this year’s ones to watch:

Uniform may already have a six-track “LP” under their belt, but with an incendiary new EP out on Sacred Bones it’s like they’ve suddenly been reborn at exactly the right time and place. Comprising Ben Greenberg (ex-The Men) and Michael Berdan, the duo smash down the walls between industrial, noise and thrash with pure destruction. LP coming Jan 2017. Key track:

Hoops is a hard man to keep up with. A slew of low-key EPs came to light this year, some longer than others, and they culminated in a very tidy indie/dream-pop 12” on Fat Possum a few months ago. With melodies to die for and indie harmonising straight out of the Real Estate handbook, Drew Auscherman’s now full-band project is hitting all the high notes. Key track:

Zoee is short on surname and even shorter on bio. She’s a one-woman mystery out of London and her only track, below, comes with nary an ounce of back story bar that she’s Ryan Hemsworth-endorsed. People are talking like she’s the missing link between Grimes and PC Music. That’s way too early to judge, but you can make your own mind up with a listen here. Key track:

Abra was one of the least likely of the Awful Records crew to break out of Atlanta, but the R&B /electro-pop star-in-waiting now has a killer EP on True Panther to put alongside an impressive S/R catalogue. She’s another in the FKA Twigs/NAO vein, but don’t be surprised when she doesn’t conform in the slightest. Abra might come on all sweet, but she’s often no lady. Key track:

Exiles are an easy one to like but a difficult one to peg. They’re a dreamy, almost shoegazy psych-pop outfit from NYC, but they arrive so fully formed and with such great songs you’d swear they were total scene veterans. The interplay of guitars and straight-up wooze on their material is a delight. Add to that a killer female vocal and surely a great LP beckons. Key track:

Wall have just the one EP to their name but, wow, it’s a good’un. Frosty post-punk/noise-rock as only New Yorkers can manage, there’s shadows of many a great in here. Think, inevitably, of Sonic Youth, but by way of Wire and without too strong an anchor to either, nor a sound bar their own. This is classic sounding stuff for the coolest of outsiders. Tune in. Key track:

espher’s strong eight-track tape on Ramber Records earlier this year was in many ways a summation of his work to date, “a line in the sand” as man-behind-the-mask Ben Pearson called it. Piano-line house, pitch-shifted R&B and lots of beautiful ambient-techno, it was a crystalline work that bodes very well for his upcoming Ultraviolet LP. Expect fireworks. Key track:

FEHM pulled out all the stops on their debut EP, Circadian Life, a political post-punk blast that echoed off the angles of brutalist architecture, slate-coloured rain washing away hazy guitars, broken glass crunching under foot and flickering fluorescence. They’re undoubtedly a strong voice and one that is actually worth listening to in today’s echo-chamber society. Key track:

House Of Feelings is a most commonly a dance night and radio show and, not satisfied with that, the Brooklyn collective also put out the odd and inventive house banger of their own. The pick of the playful bunch so far, and featuring an unrecognisable Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy on vocal, can be heard below. Warning: there’s a lot of saxophone. Key track:

serpentwithfeet landed Tri Angle’s first digital-only release since their opening compilation this year. Not at all a product of the watery beats the label came to be recognised for, nor their more recent electro coruscations, Josiah Wise’s inimitable EP was instead a colourful and astonishing collection of neo-soul/pagan gospel. File, remarkably, next to Anthony Hegarty. Key track:

Got a band you want to see make an album in 2017? Want to slag my choices off? Know something we don’t about those featured above? Let us know your thoughts using the comments below.