[sic] Magazine

2018 Tasting Notes

AKA our annual feature sub-titled “bands/artists that don’t yet have an album, but from whom we’d like one soon”. And, yes, occasionally we discount a self-released or live 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. No matter, each year we kick off by appraising the progress of last year’s chosen few; what, simply, is the point of a list like this if we’re ultimately not held accountable for it?

So, first up and an axis of pure power combining the holy trinity of industrial, noise and thrash, Uniform’s Wake In Fright LP landed this year on the ever-reliable Sacred Bones and it was everything we hoped it’d be. A real bulldozer of a record, you have our sympathies if you had to endure anything more brutal these past twelve months. See where it features in our upcoming albums of the year list next month. espher too rolled out the red carpet for his beautiful ULTRAVIOLET LP, piano-line tech/house melting into aquatic synth and strings – a crystalline statement ripe for the crossover market; fingers crossed it finds that audience ASAP. Drew Auscherman’s slew of indie/dream-pop EPs as Hoops also happily came to a harmonised head on a 2017 LP via Fat Possum … and it was alright. Seriously it was, but it did find the going a bit tough all the same in a congested field if we must nit-pick. Equally having graduated to album status, Wall enclose the shadows of many a great in their bleak brand of no-wave art-rock and, while there may be fewer hooks on their long-player than on their knock-out debut EP, Untitled remains seriously classic sounding stuff for the coolest of outsiders … at least in parts. Somewhere between LP and EP stardom, House Of FeelingsLast Chance was another to more than make the grade this year, the Brooklyn collective’s inventive and modern house collection as playful as is deep, a rich cast of guest vocalists helping it tread water in plain sight of propulsive pop too.

One of 2016’s most enigmatic artists thanks to her rather brilliant Ryan Hemsworth-backed single “Betcha”, Zoee’s cutesy English vocals dominated her debut 4-track EP, Insecure, and depending on how strong your stomach is for cutting-edge pop, you’ll either hate it or alternatively proclaim her princess of the zeitgeist. For our money, she isn’t as strong without Hemsworth behind her, but – then again – who would be? Quieter after last year’s breakout EP of fantastic R&B-fired electro-pop, Abra is the owner of just one new song this year, however, and it comes in the interesting shape of “Novacane”. Choosing to dial down her full-frontal vocals to almost nothing in favour of chopped and screwed production, sparse trap beats, a guest rap and an oscillating bottom-end, it shows rather a lot of restraint and skill – unexpected perhaps, but not altogether unwelcome. Hopes were similarly high for dreamy psych-pop outfit Exiles after a delightfully woozy 2016 EP, but 2017 has proven somewhat barren for the band with again just the one new track, “Nobody Knows”, not really cutting it if we’re being honest. Pleasant but forgettable, let’s just hope it’s an excerpt that’s not gonna make the album when (if?) it now arrives. Another with just the singular new track (plus a nifty b-side), post-punkers FEHM have nonetheless already progressed to New Wave with “Human Age”, impeccably dressed riffs running a drizzling curtain of glittering synths and typically miserable vocals through at regular intervals. An album, when it does come, still here at least bodes very well. Least productive of all, however, in a release sense in any case, was serpentwithfeet’s Josiah Wise. Evidently still basking in the glow of last year’s gorgeous neo-soul/pagan-gospel Blisters EP, which did get a vinyl release this year to its credit, there was sadly nothing else doing. He remains too much of a personality to fade away into nothing though. Watch this space … for longer, it turns out.

Anyway, with that round-up done and dusted, let’s head on over to the main event. Make of the below what you will, considering the mixed bag above. Here, nevertheless, are 2018’s ones to watch:

HMLTD, formerly Happy Meal LTD, are odd and yet still manage to make thrillingly poppy art-rock. Odd in the right way then, they dress the part, their tracks hit hard and they mostly all come from the grotesque side of tongue-in-cheek. A bit Glam, a bit New Romantics and utterly transfixing with it, they’re the living embodiment of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Key track:

Tess Roby’s album is rumoured to be on its way via Italians Do It Better. Until it does, you could do far worse than keeping company with the young Montreal artist’s lone single. Having caught Johnny Jewel’s ear, you already know it’s a gorgeous dreamscape of a record, swaying around breathy vocals and barely-there percussion. It’s music for any season. Key track:

Boys are, of course, not boys. How behind the times are you? The product instead of Sweden’s Nora Karlsson, the dreamy project practically defines the word swoonsome, 60s lo-fi jangles emoting heavily over wistful reverb and a satisfying light sense of psych-pop hygge. Magical stuff. An album, supposedly coming courtesy of PNKSLM, can’t come soon enough. Key track:

The Saxophones don’t have a depth of material, but what they do have is pure ethereal gold. The Oakland-based husband-and-wife team’s three-track EP re-release this year on Full Time Hobby is led by its mesmeric title-track, a softly spoken, little indie ditty with a strong undercurrent so persuasive you’ll find your pants charmed clean off in a heartbeat. Key track:

Yassassin may be the UK’s current-most combustible live force so it’s a bit of a shame their sparse studio material doesn’t yet do them justice. Capture just some of the loose and wild energy of their colourful rock ‘n’ roll gigs on an LP and they’ll be the first names on everyone’s lips next year. They may not look it, but these sassy London girls mean serious business. Key track:

Slift provide the keys to the universe if your idea of infinity is the sweet spot between Ty Segall and John Dwyer and, keen marksmen, the French blastronauts hit it with supercharged jangle-psych and hooky space-blues every time despite threatening to spin off into full-blown sludge or heavy prog at any moment, strong motorik ultimately helping keep them true. Key track:

AMOR will not be news to regular [sic] readers, their two 2017 12”s already given ample coverage in our pages. Will the psychedelically leaning, funky jam collective led by certified oddball Richard Youngs make it to an album though? What would it even be like given their tracks’ mammoth lengths if it did arrive? More, however it comes, is a must in any case. Key track:

Goat Girl are quickly proving themselves the answer time and again to the question what even is indie music these days? A sponge for misanthropic guitar, dark country, DIY punk and on-the-nose pop melodies, the London ladies offer up a dangerous yet alluring proposition. Said to be sitting on an album for imminent release, it’s sure to make waves when it lands. Key track:

Shame definitely have a 2018 album ready to go via Dead Oceans and judging from the London band’s smart DIY post-punkers so far it promises to be quite something. Doing away with the genre’s po-facedness, they inject a beer-swilling sense of laddish swagger and it partners their angular guitars rather ferociously. Shame sound as hungry as starving artists should. Key track:

Snail Mail’s Habit EP plays out in charmingly intimate fashion, acoustic-led indie-rock that drips melancholy and anxiety, but it’s the cast-iron song-writing beneath it all that shines through. 17-year-old Lindsey Jordan is wheezy, awkward and confused, the kind of underdog we all need to exist because #relatable. An album mustn’t be rushed, but man is one needed. Key track:

Got a band/artist you want to see make an album in 2018? Want to slag my choices off? Know something we don’t about any of the artists mentioned above? Let us know your thoughts using the comments below.