Moving from rural Gloucestershire to London in order to become a dancer, Tahliah Bennett quickly got bored of that dream and started to chase something different. In December 2012 Bennett released a 4 track EP onto Bandcamp under the name Twigs – and the music industry quickly sat up and took notice. Blending brilliantly jarring experimentalism with elements of trip hop and electronic art pop, Tahliah signed to Young Turks to release her second EP – simply titled EP2 – as FKA twigs last year.
FKA twigs – Two Weeks on YouTube
Picked out as one to watch from the very beginning, the swirl of blog hype around her quickly turned into much more tangible plaudits: The BBC featured FKA twigs on their much vaunted Sound of 2014 list, while Billboard magazine had her in their 14 most important artists to watch in 2014. A recent feature on Pitchfork perhaps caught her best: “a serene style that pairs the xx‘s unflinching intimacy with a menacing undertow reminiscent of Massive Attack‘s Mezzanine. [FKA twigs uses] negative space in a powerful way, her high-pitched whisper drifting in and out to narrate eerily charged scenes… gloriously weightless”. Her debut LP – LP1 – is due out in August.
This will be FKA twigs debut headline performance in Manchester.
Pre-sale tickets are available now, priced at £10. Tickets go on general sale on Friday.
While most bands back stories are ponderously plain, John Wizards have one that matches the gloriously engaging nature of their music. Working as a jingle writer, John Withers had a chance meeting with Emmanuel Nzaramba, a Rwandan refugee, outside of a coffee shop and quickly became friends. Falling out of touch for a few years, the two bumped into each other in Cape Town – and discovering that they both now lived on the same street, decided to start making music together. The end result has been some of the most singular, spectacular (and some critics have claimed, hallucinatory) sounds of the past decade.
John Wizards – Lusaka by Night on YouTube.
Although their influences are incredibly difficult to pin down, traces of everything from R&B and house music through to sources closer to their South African roots such as shangaan electro and soukous can be heard in most of their work. Fleshed out by fellow band members Geoff Brink, Tom Parker, Alex Montgomery and Raphael Segerman, Withers and Nzaramba put together a mixtape that ended up being their eponymous 2013 debut LP. Put out through Planet Mu records, The Guardian put it in their top 10 albums of the year and perhaps described the album best, saying “[it is a record} that floats through time, eluding concrete meaning. Gentle synth and piano lines start to squiggle and squelch, rhythms become skittish and then collapses into a lull and Nzaramba’s voice shimmers through the haze… It’s the mood of the record that initially captivates: it is otherworldly but uplifting”.
Tickets are £9 and are available through See Tickets.
For a while, it seemed like Cloud Boat were nothing but an enigma. Their outstanding debut track, Lions on the Beach, was premiered by Gilles Peterson on Radio 1 in 2011 with little or no explanation about who was behind the project or what to expect next – which naturally sent bloggers the world over into a frenzy. Since then, they’ve come from the shadows and proved they’re more than real – notably playing for Now Wave with kindred spirit and former R & S labelmate James Blake – and released their breathtaking debut album Book of Hoursthrough Apollo last year.
Cloud Boat – Youthern on YouTube
As an album, their debut is a mix of eclectic tastes and influences – the aforementioned Lions on the Beach borders on a chilled out RnB classic, whereas elsewhere there are dark, sinister moments of post dubstep and even a sprinkling of heartfelt, tender falsetto. It has proven to be a record that people fall in love with, deeply: noted music blog Gold Flake Paint said of in their review that “the true power of Cloud Boat’s music lies in its minimal form, in the spaces left within. The masterful writer needs very few words to stamp a vivid impression in the reader’s mind – and, if I should dare to say so, Cloud Boat are already approaching that degree of craft.”
Tickets are £7 and are available through Skiddle.
Born and raised in London – but now spending the majority of his time perfecting his craft in Vienna – the rise of Christopher Taylor over the course of the past two years has been little short of astonishing. Starting 2012 as a virtual unknown, Taylor put out his debut EP The Wheel in the February of that year under the name SOHN. Creating his own distinct electronic soundscape, the release was distinctive enough to cut through the noise and earn him a deal with seminal indie label 4AD – through whom he released followup singles Bloodflow and Lessons last year, before putting out his debut LP, Tremors, in early 2014.
SOHN – Lights (live) on YouTube
An instant hit, Tremors has proved to be an increasingly rare album – something that has managed to be both an enormous critical and commercial success. NOW Magazine declared “there’s something pure, clean and uncluttered about the record… It breathes”, awarding 8/10, something backed up by DIY (8/10, “an album’s worth of brilliant pop songs”), Uncut (8/10, “[a] striking debut”) and NME (7/10, “alluring and impressive”).
Tickets are £12 and are available through See Tickets.
Following the announcement of their two dates at the O2 Apollo, Alt-J have unveiled the first track from their forthcoming album This Is All Yours. Entitled The Hunger of the Pine, the song shows the same sense of adventure that made their Mercury Award winning LP An Awesome Wave so well loved, while adding even extra daring that even includes sampling Miley Cyrus. The Guardian have called it “a momentous and shadowy return”, while Stereogum said the track is “an eerie, still, atmospheric song that explodes…interesting and effective”. Listen below.
The remaining tickets for Friday 19 September are available here, and for Saturday 20 September are available here.