Allan’s Tips for 2014

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We promised to point you in the direction of some great music that we think will break through this year and I think it’s about time we started.  A couple of these groups have been mentioned on MusicRiot in 2013, but we think they’re on the verge of national recognition this year, so I make no apologies for bringing them to your attention again.

CATB thumbnailCanterbury’s Coco and the Butterfields kept us entertained for a few nights last year in various venues across London and Brighton and were well worth seeing each time.  The band came together on the busking scene in Canterbury and their live shows still have the feel of a very intimate interaction between audience and performers.  The line-up is unusual (double bass, banjo, guitar, fiddle and human beatbox with two very strong lead vocals with occasional help from trombone and trumpet) and the band are tremendous in the live setting but they have a lot more going for them.  They have some very innovative cover versions and some outstanding original material (the single “Warriors”, for example) and they win over audiences wherever they play.

Gentlemen of FewWhich brings me to my second tip:  I saw Gentlemen of Few supporting Coco and the Butterfields upstairs at The Garage in Islington, and they were tremendous.  They play country bluegrass, they’re young, they’re enthusiastic, they’re from south Kent and they’re a joy to see live.  They play a wide variety of traditional instruments and they play them really well.  The vocal harmonies are the icing on the cake; they have great voices and the four-part harmonies are superb.  They might not break through this year, but it’s only a matter of time.  Go out and see them in 2014 if you can.

BCATGTwo of the Riot Squad have been following Black Casino and the Ghost very closely this year.  I’ve reviewed a couple of singles (as well as their contribution to the “Radio (in my) Head” album) and Klare reviewed their debut album; we’re both very impressed.  Fronted by the powerful and dynamic vocals of Elisa Zoot, BCATG are superb as a studio and live act with a bunch of powerful and original songs and varied live arrangements and visuals.  They attracted some national attention towards the end of the 2013 in The Guardian and it’s only a matter of time before they break out from the London scene.

Hannah optimisedAnother band I saw as a support in 2013 was Bird to Beast (supporting Black Casino and the Ghost at The Finsbury) in November.  The core of the band is Sam and Hannah Hird from Colne in Lancashire and their own description of the band’s sound is psych-folk although there’s an awful lot more going on there.  The songs are very good (certainly strong enough to stand up to a stripped-down live performance) and the vocal harmonies give them a huge lift. Their new single “Elephant” is released officially on Monday 13th January and has already had plays on 6 Music and Radio 2.  I think we’re going to hear a lot more from Bird to Beast in 2014.

Noel Cowley thumbnailThe final tip for 2014 is an artist that I listened to for the first time today and had to listen a few more times because he was so good.  Noel Cowley is a London-born singer-songwriter with very pronounced Celtic influences and inspiration.  His songs are introspective and sometimes nostalgic and he knows how to write a good melody and a very good chorus.  His second EP, “Home is Everywhere” is released on Tuesday January 14th and the title track caught my attention immediately because the vocal had a very strong feel of one of my favourite singers, Iain Matthews and that has to be a good thing.

We’ll be publishing more detailed reviews of the Bird and the Beast single and the Noel Cowley EP in the next few days, so keep an eye out for those.