London – Continuing Best New Band’s weekly round-up, last week was owned by the Grammys. This week the focus switched across the Atlantic to London where the Brit Awards were aired in a never more cavernous-looking London’s O2. Long gone are the days of Mick Fleetwood and Samantha Fox proving an unlikely couple in the 1989 hosted car crash; the Brits get slicker by the year. Yet whether it was his ex-Wham band mates’ tearfully long spoken tribute to George Michael or Katy Perry’s dancing white houses, excepting the one that fell off the stage towards the end, the show is never without its moments. With two awards for David Bowie and a moving performance of George Michael’s “A Different Corner” by Coldplay’s Chris Martin which included a sound-mixed duet with Michael and a clip of Prince in the accompanying video montage, the Brits reached some high-water marks.
Winners in the Best British Group category, The 1975 is hardly a new band having got together as teenagers in 2002, coincidentally at my old High School. The Manchester four-piece only really came to the fore with the release of its debut album in 2013. The band provided one of the major talking points of this year’s awards ceremony with a tongue-in-cheek snipe at its critics during its performance of “The Sound”. Messages proclaiming “bland monotone beats”, “Is this a joke?” and “out of tune” were flashed across giant screens during the song. The fake news stories floating around the tabloids the next morning about the performance being hacked were almost as hilarious.
Feisty four-piece Little Mix (top photo) opened the show with a suitably full-on performance of its huge hit, “Shout Out To My Ex”. The X-Factor graduate girl band went on to win Best British Single with the song but then set a record for the time they took to reach the podium to collect the statuette. Then again, they might have just been expecting Zayn to win it instead.
The Brit for Best British Breakthrough Act went to the much-tattooed, dues-paying Rag N’ Bone Man. The beats n’ blues man who released his commended debut album, Human, this month also scored with the Brits Critics Choice award. This is a live version of the title track from last month’s Brits Nominations show.
Away from the Brits, another name new to many who is likely to create waves in 2017 is Bella Union signing Will Stratton whose debut album for the label, Rosewood Almanac named after his cherished acoustic guitar, will be out on 12 May. Stratton has shared “Some Ride”, a beautifully fragile yet affirmative first track from the album.
Stratton’s arrival ends what Bella Union boss Simon Raymonde described as “a very long search.” Inspired by the female songwriters he’d signed, such as Holly Macve and Marissa Nadler, Raymonde had “struggled to find a male artist that I could truly be excited about, that was at least the equal of the above… Someone of the calibre of Elliott Smith, Cass McCombs and Justin Vernon.”
The Hudson, upstate NY singer-songwriter will perform at SXSW in Austin next month and join label-mate Holly Macve on a short UK tour in April.
Hippo Campus has just dropped its debut long-player Landmark reviewed here by Best New Bands. The fast-rising Minnesotans have a brand new live video for the album cut “Simple Season”, a song lauding friendship and the importance of holding on to the simplicity of youth as you reach coming of age. Filmed live by collaborator Dan Huiting, the shoot took place back at home following a sold-out UK run earlier this year. The band has now announced a full UK/European tour in October 2017 including a headline show at London’s Koko.
London alt-rockers Curse of Lono caught live by Best New Bands last year have a debut album, Severed, due out on 7 April. The band has just released the video for one of the tracks, the boisterous rocker “Pick Up The Pieces”. The new album follows the release of its self-titled debut EP last October. It promises a set of songs written over a fourteen-year period covering themes from sexual jealousy to the death of friends and personal struggles with infidelity and addiction. The subject matter might seem heavy yet anyone who has seen Curse of Lono live will testify to this being a band who equally know how to party.
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Tony’s great passion in life is music and nothing gives him more pleasure than unearthing good, original new music and championing independent musicians. His association with Best New Bands brings great opportunities for this. He also writes for Consequence of Sound and is a judge for Glastonbury Festival’s Emerging Talent Competition.
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