Monday, 5 February 2018

New discoveries of 2017

I had originally planned for these three 'best of 2017' pieces to be compiled, written and published in the last week of December. That was until I was hit with two different strains of the flu at once, and have only really just gotten over it.

I'm not great at keeping track of music, television, and films that I've enjoyed within a given year, hence the absence of a film list at all. And even with this list, these discoveries aren't your typical 'new year, new musicians' list - these are artists that 2017 decided to bring to my attention finally, and have now begun to shape my 2018 playlist compiling and album buying tendencies.

None of these lists are in any numerical order; that would have taken longer than a month to organize and figure out. I can't pit these beauties against each other.

I had heard of Wolf Alice occasionally through magazines and music news outlets, but I had never listened to or watched their music. That all changed once the music video for ‘You’re a Germ’ appeared on my recommended page. I became intrigued by the font used for the title and instantly fell in love with their personalities and their brash style for that single. 

It was so enlightening to open a new world to their discography for the first time; I was not expecting their ability to change and adapt to multiple genres within the alternative rock-sphere. They have two albums now – Love is Cool and Visions of a Life – but it feels as though they’ve been around for decades. 

That’s when you know you’ve found a gem.

I’ve been writing for The National Student now for over a year now and have only just begun to write ‘Hear This’ pieces for the music section.

For these pieces, we’re given the choice of some new music to listen and write about, to elevate their sound and increase their audience.

Listening to these artists, such as Hatchie, allows me to discover favorites that I never knew existed. Hatchie’s music is so up my alley, it’s shoegaze, 90s aesthetic just fits right into my realm of taste. There are some serious Jesus and the Mary Chain vibes in her releases, that’s for sure.

Similar to how I began listening to Wolf Alice, I came across Alvvays’ video for ‘Dreams Tonite’ on my recommended page. I clicked out of intrigue and haven’t looked back since.

Again, Alvvays music style is purely my newly found aesthetic. They take the genre of dream pop and further cement it as one of the top genres of the 21st century. So many bands are coming out of the woodwork – a lot of them female fronted – and it’s just so refreshing; especially when bands like Alvvays mix it with genres such as 80s/90s synthwave and shoegaze.

A few years ago, I was listening to UK radio station Planet Rock on the way home one Saturday night during the Mojo Rocks segment. A song came on, and I distinctly thought it was a Hole / Courtney Love track that I had never heard before. 

Lo and behold, it was actually Milk Teeth’s ‘Brain Food’ from their debut album Vile Child. 

Since then, Milk Teeth have grown and had recently moved from independent label Hopeless and to Roadrunner Records (releasing two EPs), whilst headlining their own tour, which I was lucky enough to attend with my rockin’ mama. I’m loving their new material, and they’re still as grungey and alternative as ever.

I briefly listened to Days Are Gone back in 2013, but it wasn’t until the anticipated release of their second record Something to Tell You last year that I properly got into Haim. After watching the video for ‘Want You Back’ once it appeared on YouTube’s trending page, I listened to that record religiously for at least two months over the summer. 

Danielle, Este and Alana take the conventions of 70s soft rock and R&B to concoct their own sound, spinning multiple genre conventions on their heads to suit a unique soundscape that only those three could create and replicate on two records. 

And they thoroughly enjoy doing it, too. 

I saw Paramore for the first-time last year in Bristol, but funnily enough, they were not the highlight of their own show for me. Of course, I was ecstatic to finally see them, and they did not disappoint at all, but I was not expecting to fall in love with their opening act. 

Radiating lo-fi brashness and beauty, the Californian goddesses Bleached completely flawed me with their aura of badassery. When they erupted into Nirvana’s ‘Territorial Pissings’ towards the end of their set, the opening of ‘Careless Whisper’ began to play in my head and was entranced. 

The beauty of going to gigs is seeing opening acts that you’ve never heard of before. Similar to Bleached, I had never heard of Black Honey when I went to see Royal Blood in Bournemouth. Listening to unknown bands like that for the first time live is an experience you’re never going to forget; you instantly build a connection with the band, one that you will carry with you every time you listen to an album or their music comes up on shuffle in a playlist. 

That’s what’s been happening to me ever since seeing Black Honey for the first time; their indistinguishable blend of Californian lo-fi with pure English rock and roll is so distinct to them, it always brings me back to see their love for creating/performing music in the moment. 

Listening or watching Black Honey honestly does not do them justice. You need to see them to believe them.

Musicians from talent shows intrigue me. Once they’ve won, it’s astounding the stardom that they’re propelled into; it’s seeing whether they deserved all the praise they garnered from the judges and the public, and what they decide to do with it. That’s why I was happy when Camila Cabello finally left Fifth Harmony. 

She left the overtly produced, monotonous chain of beat-orientated singles that the girl group released to carve her own place with an overt love for genres within her heritage, and songwriting/producing music in general. Cabello completely turned the work she produced with Fifth Harmony on its head, distancing herself away enough to make a soundscape that only she could produce by herself

I completely adore her pure heart that she pours into both her music and her image in general. She loves what she does and she’s not afraid to show it.

I still have yet to get around to watching the latest season of Twin Peaks, but I have fallen in love all over again with its soundtrack. From featuring my baes Nine Inch Nails to other classics, it has also introduced musicians that fit the vibe and aesthetic of the show so well.

One band, in particular, is Chromatics. It’s as though they’ve been a part of the Twin Peaks soundtrack from the start; they encompass the ambient/dream pop landscape of Twin Peaks so perfectly. Listening to ‘Shadow’ with your eyes closed immediately transports you to Twin Peaks, the video for the track even more so.

I can vaguely remember Bjork as an enigmatic figure growing up; someone who I had always been intrigued by but had never had the opportunity to explore.

It wasn’t until I began watching The X-Files properly in 2013 and religiously listening to the soundtracks that my familiarity with her music reappeared through the track ‘Hunter’ and so began my adventure of listening to her discography – last year being the most I had listened to her yet.

I’m still in the 1990s era now – because I’m loving it so much – but I am going to eventually listen to her other records. I just keep listening to Debut over and over, both on streaming and vinyl. I can’t get enough of it.

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