Is it just me, or has the fuss around end of year lists significantly decreased in the 2016-2017 crossover compared to previous years? It seems like bloggers and music fans who usually comment on the next big craze in the form of a Ones to Watch in 2017 list have disappeared under a gigantic rock labelled 'Don't Know, Don't Care'.
A few things have happened that may explain the lack of:
It could be because of the death of the Blog Sound: a list compiled by a group of ever-increasing UK blogs with Breaking More Waves' Robin at the helm, it presented an at times explosive alternative to the BBC Sound list for the past few years. Criticism of the Beeb's tips for the following 12 months - compiled by 'carefully selected' industry experts including some presumably self-serving music professionals and practically every BBC honcho under the broadcaster's roof - was this year reserved to the likes of Twitter and Facebook. From where I was standing at the time, few had anything to say about it at all. Have those with a different view of the music industry resigned themselves to disagreeing with the BBC forever more, and shut the door on giving their feedback? That would be a shame, if so.
Another resource draining issue is the all-but dissolution of the NME. You've probably seen it by now, towering over unsuspecting teenagers at HMV and Head: the once popular weekly has crumbled into something that better resembles a tabloid newspaper with an affinity for Robert Pattinson (?!) than the music-pushing haven it once was. (I mean, the current issue has Liam Gallagher on the front cover. REALLY?) How has this affected the already rebellious blogging world? Whether us bloggers want to admit it or not, we had our affiliations with the NME of pre-2015: either because we shared a similar taste and therefore relied upon the magazine to support emerging artists (Wolf Alice and the oh-so-sexist Catfish and the Bottlemen being two recent examples), or because we were so appalled at what it stood for we felt compelled to present a suitable alternative. I know that, hypocritically, DrunkenWerewolf fell into both of those categories.
Finally, I expect many of us have just given up, period. Without going into semantics and individual situations, many of the original blogs have now shut down and their writers moved on to embrace better or totally different career and life choices. Many fresh faced blogs are trying out newfangled forms of online media that better resemble a computer game and/or Issuu than a straightforward chronological blog. And the people in between - journalism and media students, mainly - are reaching out to publications like DrunkenWerewolf for experience, rather than creating their own platform. No shade to them, that's certainly the easier option, but all things combined this unfortunately means there are less and less avenues through which to put out an original Ones to Watch in 2017 list.
What I'm saying is, perhaps new music is just less of a 'thing' this year?
Not for me. As always, DrunkenWerewolf's Ones to Watch in 2017 stands proud as a representation of the website's output and the artists Team DW believes in. The acts listed below aren't necessarily going to break commercial records by flogging a billion vinyl within one week in January. In fact, it's likely many of them won't even tour the UK in full in 2017 - which provides me with yet another reason to haul myself overseas, and pronto. What I at least hope they will do, is find the people they're destined to make fans out of and a few more, and capture hearts, hands and minds in the process. These 10 are making music to play on repeat, and I think they deserve a slap on the back because of it.
Read our Ones to Watch in 2017 below.
10// Forth Wanderers
A band of New Jersey teenagers, Forth Wanderers bucked the trend for disjointed coverage in 2016 by impressing a slew of blogs, including but not limited to GoldFlakePaint, For the Rabbits, The Line of Best Fit and When the Gramophone Rings. Carrying a 90s aesthetic despite their age, the lo-fi five-piece perfectly embody the sun drenched, long car ride inspired indie pop of the 21st Century, with a special twist of garage punk that lifts them above their contemporaries (including last year's tip, Saltwater Sun). They're signed to Marathon Artists, so expect a debut album in 2017.
One of the joys of virtually stumbling through Soundcloud on the hunt for new music, is liking random tracks only to rediscover their ingenuity at a later point. It was one such journey that led me to find Frith. A Los Angeles based band whose ominous Facebook header suggests something is a'brewing for 2017, the four-piece twist art folk into an alt pop mould, using distorted vocals and tales of resenting debauchery individuals on a night out. In fact, I'm going to create a new genre name for them: smart pop, and a welcomed addition to our Ones to Watch in 2017 list.
8// No Violet
Always a welcome home to new Bristol talent, No Violet have been on my radar since they supported Kino Kimino at The Cube back in the summer. (I actually curated the line-up, but after a series of unfortunate events, I totally relied on Jemima Surrender when it came to recommending a good, available support band for the night - FANGS GUYS.) Now preparing to release a debut video and with mounting support on the festival scene in 2016, their progressive experimental grunge lo-fi style (all of the descriptive words) is sure provide a beacon of hope for our shared city's music scene in 2017.
I'm 99.999% sure I've featured MARINE on a Ones to Watch list in the past and 100% too lazy to check, so here they are again on our Ones to Watch in 2017 list. These four deserve all the thumbs up a digital octopus can give. MARINE returned in 2016 with a concept EP to end all concept EPs, before releasing their exquisite, soul-feeding song, "Red Fruit" last month. I put it on at a party recently and everyone shut up and listened silently. And it takes a lot to make my friends shut up.
PS, MARINE's Ruby also makes some amazing earrings. I want them all.
6// Alice Jemima
After a long and sprawling career around the South West and beyond, Alice Jemima has moved to London to gather her reigns, which makes me think she's about to do something spectacular. Singles released in 2016 have documented a new found focus in her music, pushing the artist away from alt pop and into the electro arena. Though still downbeat and ballad-esque on breakthrough songs such as "Liqourice", as "Dodged a Bullet" proves, this lady only needs to flick her wrist to enter ethereal disco land.
5// Eliza Shaddad
Another artist who's hung around and long awaited her turn, Eliza Shaddad's Run has been a consistent on my playlist since it was released in early 2016. Between session recordings with Vic Galloway and performances at Union Chapel, the Beatnik Creative signee has built a solid foundation for her career in 2016. Think Sophie Jamieson crossed with the sombre tones of producer Chris Bond (Ben Howard) and you're half way there. As per our previous assertion, "believe the hype and for God's sake indulge in her excellent new music."
4// Bishop Briggs
Once Bishop, then I Am Bishop, then That Girl Bishop, now definitively Bishop Briggs - you've probably heard this musician's work without realising it. I've heard her pelted through the soundsystem playing on Pretty Little Liars, Scream and an advert on Channel 5. Now Pandora, Spotify and W Magazine have tipped her for success in 2017, and with good reason: her sky-soaring vocals match the biggest pop divas around, but she has an underlying affinity with classic r'n'b and 90s dance that stands her in good stead as a representative of black chokers in my music library.
Discovered online and then cemented as a favourite in a barn in Somerset for FarmFest, Glastonbury brother/sister duo Ardyn have moved to London and are prepping their wings for something glorious in 2017. The success of "The Valley" and its corresponding EP earlier in the year has certainly put the duo in front of some interesting - gulp, that word - tastemakers and access to information about their upcoming projects has become more and more sparse. All of this makes me think the soulful alt pop of Ardyn is about to pack a punch square in the face of aligned success, and rightfully so.
With so many PR emailing me on a regular basis, the difficulty of keeping up can quickly transpire into a sort of lackadaisical disregard for what's actually being sent to me - even if I recognise it's likely to be good. Sometimes however, PR prove themselves to be worth the time... Even if that time is sandwiched between sleep and eat. One such lovely lady sent me COTE's "Green Light" back in September and HMNNNNN, I'd give up a million sandwiches to hear more from her in 2017. The Brooklyn singer songwriter has a vocal that drips with honey, sitting somewhere between Caitlin Rose, Stevie Nicks and First Aid Kit, and making her a must listen on this Ones to Watch in 2017 list.
1// Middle Kids
And then there are the artists who make you want to sit up and scream "WHY IS EVERYONE NOT ALREADY LISTENING TO THIS, WHAT IS GOING ON?" Aussie band Middle Kids do this and more: they prove we've been idiots for not fully exploiting the alt pop scene in Syndey, because by crackers, if it's producing this then Christ knows what else we've missed. The trio are all Grates inspired goodness by way of glorious, glutinous melodies and a vocal that makes me wish fervently that I could hit the same notes so effortlessly. The only bad news is the three-piece currently only have two songs on offer. We've posted them below.