[sic] Magazine

2019 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”. 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 was flamboyant indie/electro terrorists HMLTD, whose new EP this year (no news on an LP yet) was another extra arty hot-mess of the type that’s quickly become their calling card. The big-time surely beckons, but quite how this living embodiment of sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll will respond is anyone’s guess. The sultry Tess Roby went one better and did table her debut album on Italians Do It Better (so you already kinda know what it sounds like) and, true to expectations, it was a breathy and nebulous dose of synthy songwriting, but one that was ultimately a touch too intangible to really make much of an impact though. Also making themselves comfortable on LP format, Sweden’s Boys (mainly the product of HOLY guitarist Nora Karlsson) revelled in soft-focus psych-pop, Karlsson’s elfin vocal ever so Scandinavian against the backdrop of her fuzzy lullabies. Oakland-based, husband-and-wife indie team The Saxophones, however, were always a bit of an odd pick. You thought at the time that perhaps they’d struck ethereal gold purely by accident on their debut EP and that turns out to be a nagging concern throughout the album that subsequently followed this year. It’s probably for the best to avoid this one – oh, and the album’s artwork is fucking dreadful too. Another disappointment, London ladies Yassassin have only treated us to one new single in 2018 and … it’s ok. So combustible on stage, their struggles to translate that energy to record continue. 2019 will likely be a make-or-break year for them; fingers crossed they can find the right producer to let them be their wild selves.

Mercifully French garage-psych outfit Slift did much better and their debut album – a space-rock, off-world concept piece – was just the ticket. A real guitar lover’s LP, it’s as if their Planète Inexplorée is itself alive at times and the band, playing the role of all mankind, are trying unsuccessfully to tame it. Rather unhelpfully in turn, Richard Young’s AMOR project dropped their debut LP on the day of writing this article, leaving us little time to fully appraise it. A first listen, however, suggests fans will not be disappointed. Full of funky double bass and piano, these are psych-house jams that delve deep into retro grooves and crate-dug metronomic samples. It’s bound to be a grower. Our second group of tipped London ladies, Goat Girl, though, are a bit of a conundrum. No doubt they have the skill to knock out a stunning dose of dark indie-pop (they’ve done so before), but their debut album chose to round off most of their more alluring edges and the result ended up being a bit too safe, predictable and samey. The potential future of indie sadly just became the past. Being Mercury prize-nominated can be a bit of a mixed blessing, but baggy post-punk band Shame probably dodged a bullet by controversially not being nominated despite being the bookies’ favourite to win it! The album is a bit laddish and it robs some previous greats absolutely blind truth be told, but – goodness gracious – it’s a lot of fun. See where it features in our end-of-year write-up soon. Still only 18 and rounding out this round-up, Snail Mail’s singer-songwriter Lindsey Jordan proved only how hard it is when rushed to put out an album on the back of an excellent introductory EP. Sure, the LP plays out in similarly charming and intimate fashion, but in being hurried to market her songs have lost some of the je-ne-sais-quoi that made the early ones sparkle. Mark this one down as a missed opportunity.

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. In order to be more focused in our predictions, however, we’ve only gone with five tips this year. Here goes nothing then; 2019’s ones to watch are:

Launder features Zachary Cole Smith of DIIV on guitar and French singer-songwriter SoKo on certain vocals (John Cudlip elsewhere). The band’s excellent, self-released debut EP was produced by Jackson Phillips of Day Wave and, perhaps predictably, it has a real late-night wooziness to it despite at heart being a shoegazing post-punk release. Expect big things. Key track:

Drahla are a tight UK post-punk band from – you guessed it – Leeds. The incendiary outfit have a bunch of neat EPs and singles under their belt already and this year signed to the always impressive Captured Tracks. Overseeing their development, a new hyper-angular single saw the light of day this year with an album to follow next. It promises to be much anticipated. Key track:

Hairband have enough DIY spunk to have convinced the Scottish record shop Monorail to release their debut EP. The jangling Glasgow band contains members of Spinning Coin and Breakfast Muff (whose LP we very much enjoyed last year) and they sometimes play minimal, danceable post-punk a little like Shopping, elsewhere tidier indie grooves. File under promising. Key track:

boygenius is a super group as super as you’re ever going to find one. Featuring the combined talents of [sic] favourites Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus, Matador have hoovered them up for a sparkling EP. Each singer-songwriter takes turn to complement the others, each given the centre stage and lead vocal where it simply feels right. This could be very special. Key track:

Ohmns’ second EP came out this year on Sentinel, reminding us afresh of the Scouse band’s noisy talents. With the whoosh and burn of a hard-psych Hookworms combined with the snarl of rickety punk made on a shoestring budget, they sound dangerous, just as this sort of urgent, sprawling songwriting should. Here’s hoping for an album full of such messy statements soon. Key track:

Got a new band/artist you want to see make an album in 2019? 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.