With the music world gradually gearing up for a brand new year, here are six underground bands to watch in 2016:
I’ve ranted and raved about these guys for years – and frankly, they fucking deserve it. Dorje are an industry unto themselves, topping album charts across the Internet with their latest Catalyst EP, racking up some 800,000 YouTube views for their signature song Aeromancy, and nailing one of Indiegogo’s top crowdfunding campaigns while handling everything in-house with zero label backing.
Respect is due here – and this year will see a second EP alongside much touring. By the time Dorje are done, their peers will be craning their necks to catch a glimpse of them.
2) Black Peaks.
If you just can’t cram enough mind-ruining math rock into your day, Black Peaks’ latest single Saviour is a must-listen. A massively improved version of an already epic track from early EP Closer To The Sun, and a mouth-watering taste of what to expect from Black Peaks’ upcoming album Statues, Saviour will blow you away. Play loud.
As with Dorje and Black Peaks, I’ve written many an evangelical word about Signals over the years. Breaking fresh ground with every note, this Southampton-based math-pop quartet are genuinely unique. Hard-earned technical skills, thoughtful musicianship, never-less-than-perfect production, and an instantly recognisable sound topped off with Ellie Price’s consistently passionate vocals all add up to an act capable of cutting the mustard like a legendary ninja.
When they’re not inducing jawbreaking gurns in Dorje, guitarist Rabea Massaad, drummer Ben Minal, and bassist Dave Hollingworth can be found frying facial features as Toska. Instrumental progressive metal is the name of the game here, departing from the standard Periphery-aping clone formula employed by many of their peers in favour of a genuinely new vibe. Toska’s debut EP Ode To The Author does contain hints of Karnivool, Porcupine Tree, Tesseract, and even Incubus – but more than that, it represents the birth of a meditatively immersive New Sound.
More to come on this one – but for now, just trust me. This will be frickin’ special.
5) Hatton Manor.
Hatton Manor – aka Matt and Hannah – are in the earliest of early days right now. But they are still one of the most flat-out superior acoustic guitar-and-vocal duos I’ve ever heard. Dipping their toes into the live and festival circuits during 2015, as well as releasing their debut EP Eden, Hatton Manor are moving into a new phase full of experimentation. By turns graceful, gritty, joyful and dark, Hatton Manor know how to strap you into an emotional rollercoaster from note one. Awesome.
6) Princess Slayer.
Thoughtful EDM might seem like an oxymoron – but Princess Slayer make it work through a creative approach that blends hedonistic playfulness with ruminative sincerity. Drummer and producer Vince Welch digs up gut-rumbling grooves, cute melodies, and carefully constructed sonic strata while vocalist Casey Lim thinks out loud through an intimate and vulnerable yet confident vocal. With many collaborations and their Living EP behind them, a Princess Slayer album is rumoured to be on the way. With any luck, 2016 will be the year it surfaces – and when it does, expect something exceptional and exceptionally cool.
If you enjoyed this feature, follow TMMP via Twitter and my brand new Facebook page for more from the world of world-class music!