Hot new artists to listen out for in 2015 and where they’re playing in the East
10:53 16 January 2015
Last year saw the emergence of Sam Smith, George Ezra, Ellie Eyre and Royal Blood, but who will be getting music fans excited in 2015? SIMON PARKIN looks at 10 hotly tipped talents and where you can see them in this region.
The Bicycle Shop, Norwich, January 28 Renowned for equal parts uplifting and tear inducing live shows, this New Zealand soul, jazz and blues singer-songwriter, has achieved much for his young age. At 13 he picked up the guitar, by 16 he was writing and composing, by 17 his song Three Ladies was a finalist in the prestigious NZ competition Play It Strange. His achingly raw lyrics intertwined with mesmerising melodies and an emotive vocal tone that produces shades of Motown-era soul, leaves no question as to why he has been so heavily tipped as one to watch. Having attended the prestigious Red Bull Music Academy in New York, he spent time in London playing a series of ecstatically received shows and recording his debut EP. That was followed by singles Birds and Just Want to Thank You, showing musical influences from the likes from Sly and The Family Stone. Having spent last year touring, this year could be a big one.
Norwich Arts Centre, February 7 False Lights is the new project from folk visionaries Jim Moray and Sam Carter (both BBC Folk Award winners in their own right), who made their live debut in this region when they headlined FolkEast last summer. The pair’s shared love of folk and heavy guitar music has produced a distinct sound which has more to do with Radiohead than Steeleye Span. By the time they reached Folk East they had expanded from a drunken notion into a line-up that boasts not only Carter and Moray on vocals and guitars but also Nick Cooke from the Kate Rusby band on melodeon, Tom Moore from Moore, Moss Rutter on violin, Jon Thorne from Lamb on bass, and Sam’s long serving drummer Sam Nadel. The songs that make up their debut album, Salvor, came together during a week-long log cabin retreat in Lincolnshire. Child ballad The Wife Of Usher’s Well, a traditional Scottish tale of grief, is set to a new tune from the American shape-note tradition, with a nod to Timbaland; there are echoes of Queens Of The Stone Age too.
Norwich Arts Centre, February 16 Young pianist and singer-songwriter Rae Morris is from Blackpool who had a vocal spot on the last Bombay Bicycle Club album – though it can’t hurt that she’s also modelled for Burberry. She will come to Norwich hot on the heels of her hugely anticipated debut album Unguarded, out on January 26. Recorded in Los Angeles with Ariel Rechtshaid best known for his work with Vampire Weekend and Haim, this is a debut critics have been falling over themselves to praise. Lyrically it deals head on with the highs and the lows that come with life-changing, character-building relationships, as though she’s some old, wisened soul way beyond her young years. The lofty choruses and sophisticated melodies that leaves you in no doubt that Rae is a talent.
Cambridge Junction, February 10 This Dublin duo, brothers Harry and Alfie, have amassed a huge underground following over a series of well-received EPs and singles and their debut 18-track album Singing For Strangers, out on March 23, is a perfect capture of their breezy, beguiling folk-pop. The siblings honed their rockabilly folk harmonies the old-fashioned way, busking in Dublin. Success came via new media, when their acoustic sessions received three million hits on YouTube. Through word of mouth only, their 2012 debut EP Battles went to number one on iTunes Ireland and 14 on iTunes UK. They have certainly been hanging round in the right circles: they’ve supported Jake Bugg, stood in for Tom Odell at the Rolling Stones’ 2013 Hyde Park show, and have been teaming up with Alfie’s girlfriend, singer Gabrielle Aplin. Be prepared to hear a lot of radio airplay when the album arrives. Ward Thomas
Norwich Arts Centre, March 24 Ward Thomas are 20-year-old twin-sisters Catherine and Lizzy Ward-Thomas who grew up on a Hampshire livestock farm and who fell in love with country music when they were introduced to the music of the Carrie Underwood, Johnny Cash, Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss by a Canadian cousin in their early teens. Whilst in sixth form, a rough demo of the track Footnotes found its way into the hands of two respected Nashville session musicians, leading to the recording of their just released debut album From Where We Stand, which features guest appearances from Grammy Award winner Michael Omartian and country music superstar Vince Gill. One listen to the vocal cadences and close harmonies and Nashville and Hampshire suddenly don’t seem all that far apart.
Nothing But Thieves
Epic Studios, Norwich, March 5 Although Southend-on-Sea newcomers Nothing But Thieves’ inception dates back to 2011, it seems they’ve appeared from nowhere in the past six months. The quintet have landed on Zane Lowe’s radar and been courted on Radio 1 daytime. Formed when just out of their teens, the band have a rare commitment to their craft. The collective’s EP, Graveyard Whistling, was a four track mini opus of yearning, operating vocals of singer Conor Mason and ethereal rushes of textured guitars. Citing the soaring, unmistakeable falsetto of Jeff Buckley as an influence, they have set their sights high with sweeping Americana.
Ibibio Sound Machine
Norwich Arts Centre, February 13 Fronted by British/Nigerian vocalist Eno Williams, Ibibio Sound Machine combine elements of West African highlife, disco, post-punk and psychedelic electro soul. Folk stories, recounted to Eno by her family as a child in her mother’s South-Eastern Nigerian Ibibio language form the creative lyrical fabric of their music on their fantastic debut album, released by renowned label Soundways. A dose of electronica with a forward-looking, refreshingly un-retro approach that’s influenced by London as much as by West Africa. They offer a dynamic and, at times, beautiful take on modern afro-soul music. And live the eight-piece outfit are a force of nature.
Open, Norwich, March 27 In 2012, Will Bloomfield met fellow UEA students Stanley Spilman and Henry Kilmister and spent the next few months writing songs and playing gigs around Norfolk, just before bassist Willem Olenski joined to complete the full Port Isla line-up. Their self-released debut EP Steamroller earned the band a support slot with George Ezra on his sold-out UK tour, as well as a deal with Parlophone. Their EP, In The Long Run, released in November won even more praise. Zane Lowe debuted the track on his Radio 1 show. Citing influences that range from The Weeknd to Bruce Springsteen, as well as attracting comparisons to the likes of Fleet Foxes and Band Of Horses, this Norfolk foursome are in line for a big 2015.
The Bicycle Shop, Norwich, February 10 Dig beneath the surface of this almost unassuming, folk/chanson trio, and you’ll find a tangle of rich and varied life experiences. Laurien has an international career as an opera singer, Una is a talented Dutch jazz singer and Laura is a singer, composer and conductor from Latvia. Together they are a group that ambitiously draws upon markedly different musical genres to create a uniquely eclectic sound. The combination and interplay of their voices is a thing of mesmeric beauty. Tunes quietly picked out on acoustic guitar, mandolin, accordion and xylophone subtly underpin the weft and weave of their technically brilliant vocals. They will be in Norwich support of their forthcoming album, Illusions, which shows a marked growth in the band’s repertoire.
Cambridge Junction, April 10 Currently holed-up in the studio working on their debut album, indie buzz band Wolf Alice will take time out to play a string of headline dates, including this one in our region, that will set up a surely gargantuan 2015. It follows a meteoric year, which has seen the band pack festival stages and ignite a fierce fanbase with their heralded Creature Songs EP. Ellie Rowsell and lead guitarist Jeff Oddie met in 2010. An apprenticeship of open-mic nights, after-school clubs and apathetic audiences followed, during which Wolf Alice morphed from an acoustic duo to an electric four-piece whose delicate folk was given a grunge-pop makeover. Two feted EPs followed building the hype for their darkened, dry-ice-drenched mix of goth, indie shoe gaze and trashy rock.