[sic] Magazine

2024: Half-Term Report

Glastonbury co-organiser Emily Eavis recently said there “aren’t a lot of new rock acts to choose from” by way of excusing the bland pop acts headlining her increasingly corporate megafestival. We, of course, beg to differ, but – protective as we are of our current favourites – we wouldn’t want them anywhere near the main stage anyway!

The double-edged sword of success never guarantees a formative fan will remain a future fan in any case and this is an important consideration for some artists as they move through their career, and not so much to certain others, who seem to wear their fans’ appreciation just as they inauthentically try on new sounds, social statuses and styles (fuck it, we’ll name names – IDLES, Fontaines D.C. – both of whom incidentally, for better or worse, did play Glastonbury … we’re looking at you!). Diplomatically, we’ll finish this mini rant by saying the jury’s still out on both of their new material and, consequently, neither make this list.

Like us, you undoubtedly will have had your favourites this year though. Here are mine.

Starting with sugar before moving onto spice, Austin dream-pop/shoegaze band Blushing’s third is a love letter to the swoonsome end of the early 90s and it nails nostalgia without being sickly sweet. These sounds are currently undergoing a massive revival, and no-one is riding the wave more convincingly. We slept on the 2023 CD release of Dutch band Volksempfänger’s debut album but couldn’t resist the charms of its vinyl drop earlier this year – a gorgeous garage/noise-pop record with a Girl Group heart on which beehive harmonies run into clouds of dissonance and woozy strains of psychedelia.

From one pretty much perfect record to another, Split System’s second slice of garage-punk is immaculately researched and delivered, every lean second hitting its mark. It’s a lot harder than it sounds to make a record like this and these Melbourne lads are making it look easy. Striding ahead of the Dublin pack with a beefier take on indie/alt-rock than was to be expected, long-time [sic] tips-for-the-top Sprints’ debut LP is in turn about as vital a listen as 2024 has yet mustered, the band’s magnetic stage presence now married to stinging guitars.

Over in the post-punk camp, London outfit Girls In Synthesis have delivered a career high with their third album proper, a stand-out collection that doesn’t waste a second while pushing boundaries both into more visceral and melodic spheres. Dark as it is, some might even call parts of it catchy. Darker still, VR Sex’s own third LP embraces the seedy, Gothic end of the movement to such a degree the two should get a room back in the band’s native LA. Black light and satin sheets only, of course.

Keeping things in the shadows, Houses Of Heaven’s impressive second outing is another to quicken to the pulse. With enigmatic drum machines driving the Oakland trio towards the dancefloor, this is a striking record making itself at home at the first-wave crossroads of New Wave and darkwave. Inhabiting a similar space, but harsher and more minimal, MAQUINA have brought the throbbing rhythms of Portuguese industry to the late-night party and the result is suffocatingly euphoric.

Making the step up to Sub Pop look effortless, Slift’s latest is huge, heavy and monstrous, the French psych-rock band knowing exactly when to rev up with proggy abandon and when to use the subtler arts of war. And finally, master experimental black-metal team The Body are no stranger to a collaboration and their latest with extreme, Berlin-based electronic artist Dis Fig is a next-level meeting of minds that conjures some angelic techno holding court during the apocalypse.

While few stinkers are yet to cross our path this year, The Smile’s new record was flat-out disappointing after a decent debut, Sheer Mag’s one trick seems has finally worn thin, Francis Of Delirium’s ho-hum indie-rock has been stripped of much of the band’s early charm, and The Last Dinner Party have clearly been forced into making an album too early when they still only have two good songs. Nevertheless, with plenty more releases to come during the second half of the year, 2024 is looking a lot more hit than miss.

List in full (no particular order):

BlushingSugarcoat (Shoegaze/Dream-Pop) [Kanine]
VolksempfängerAttack Of Sound (Garage/Noise-Pop [Cardinal Fuzz/Feeding Tube]
Split SystemVol. 2 (Garage-Punk) [Legless]
SprintsLetter To Self (Post-Punk/Indie-Rock) [City Slang]
Girls In SynthesisSublimation (Post-Punk) [Own It]
VR SexHard Copy (Post-Punk/Goth) [Dais]
Houses Of HeavenWithin/Without (New Wave/Darkwave) [Felte]
MAQUINA.Prata (Industrial/EBM) [Fuzz Club]
SLIFTIlion (Prog/Psych-Rock [Sub Pop]
The Body & Dis FigOrchards Of A Futile Heaven (Black Metal/Experimental) [Thrill Jockey]

Not a fan of the album format? Hear some of our tracks of the year so far too: