2015 was an exciting year for music, with the rise of BBC Music Sound of 2015's Years & Years, Kent-based punk duo Slaves, and grime artist Stormzy just a few examples of artists who had a very rewarding year. So what does 2016 hold for other talented musicians, and who amongst them will be the most successful?
The six-piece indie band have come on in leaps and bounds since recording a set of demos in a cottage-turned-rehearsal-space in the Scottish highland town of Thurso in early 2013. Developing their psychedelic 60s sound in the UK’s most northerly mainland county of Caithness, the boys gigged locally and released a few rough tracks, drawing the interest of former Oasis manager Marcus Russell.
Upon hearing a demo version of song ‘Sombre Fayre’, Russell travelled north to meet the band after telling them how good he thought they were. Before long, Neon Waltz, consisting of Jordan Shearer (vocals), Liam Whittles (organ), Calvin Wilson (bass), Kevin Swanson (guitar and vocals), Jamie Swanson (guitar), and Darren Coghill (drums) were gigging around the UK, building up a devoted fan base and a reputation for their lifting, lo-fi indie songs. Journalists including NME’s Matt Wilkinson began drawing comparisons to Mancunian legends the Stone Roses and The Smiths, and in a 2015 feature Wilkinson said, “Every song in their live set could be an album opener, and everything they’ve done so far has been near perfect.”
Well-received demos released by the band including ‘Bare Wood Aisles’, earned attention from online publications The Skinny and Clash Music, who said they were “a band with perfect song writing with a psychedelic flourish”. The indie groups tight live performances and distinctive style led them to sign with Atlantic Records in March last year, who released Neon Waltz’s debut EP First Light in April.
The collection of demos and live recordings underline the quality of a band who are sure to be on every publication's ’Ones to watch in 2016' list, and if there is a band who could replicate the success of comparators the Stone Roses, it is Neon Waltz. With their second headline tour of last year over and the festival season finished, the eagerly-awaited debut album is expected early this year, and is sure to bring the band success.
How they would summarise themselves: “A democracy, everyone is expected to contribute to song writing”.
What they sound like: Melodic rock, as close to perfection as you're gonna get.
Most likely to: Release the breakthrough album of 2016.
Least likely to: Lose a Buckfast downing competition.
Listen to: 'Perfect Frame'.
Nottingham-based duo Liam Arnold (vocals, guitar) and Robin Hearn (synth, electronics) have been recording music together since they were schoolkids, and since sampling Robin’s pet cat on a track made in his bedroom they’ve come a long way. At Nottingham Trent University they began song-writing, naming themselves Shelter Point and releasing their debut EP Forever for Now via British label Hot Flush in 2012. The EP was well received, the unique combination of ambient electronic soundscapes with Liam’s powerful falsetto drew comparisons to James Blake and Mount Kimbie.
Since then the lads have gone from strength to strength. They gained support from Radio One DJ’s Zane Lowe, Annie Mac and Huw Stephens, Lowe specifically commenting on the band's inventiveness and ambition during his show. After performing tirelessly at small venues across the UK during 2013/14, they tightened up their live shows and released the Weird Dreamers EP in February last year via Space + Time records.
Weird Dreamers proved to critics that the band had their own musical direction, the duo’s chemistry and sheer quality of the EP earned rave reviews. Online music magazine Never Enough Notes gave their efforts 4/5, and when performing at a Clash Music live session, the online magazine praised the performance, saying “their intricate, intimate set of soulful electronica is emotional and uplifting.”
After the success of Weird Dreamers, the next few months were spent touring the UK until latest single 'Pale' was released at the end of last year. The track was well received and 2016 is a year full of opportunity for the Nottingham duo, who have plans to release their debut full length album in the months to come. Expect big things from these guys.
How they would summarise themselves: “We’re like two peas in a pod, if peas knew how to write killer songs”.
What they sound like: James Blake after an adrenaline injection.
Most likely to: Take next year by storm.
Least likely to: Feature on Scuzz.
Listen to: 'Fossil'.
Acoustic duo Jake Melles and Harry Alexander formed Castle last year after the pair began co-hosting Open Mic nights across the Midlands. They were originally performing solo, yet since the formation of Castle the lads have already developed a strong fan base and following, supporting The Enemy in Coventry only a few months ago.
After performing a number of gigs, the debut single 'Reverse' was released near the end of last year, reaching number 10 on the iTunes download chart. Many are hopeful of the debut EP being released soon, and a UK tour is no doubt on the cards. With their impressive songwriting, vocal talent and immaculate guitar playing, Castle are destined for great things in 2016.
What they sound like: A symphony of acoustic euphoria.
Most likely to: Win the hearts of teenage girls everywhere.
Least likely to: Be seen at a death metal gig.
Listen to: 'Scars' (James Bay Cover).
So there you have it, the three artists tipped for success in 2016. Hopefully come December I'll be able to show people this article and say, 'I told you so!'
Who are you tipping for success in 2016? Let us know in the comments below!