Let us not forget that 2021 began in lockdown, with no live music and restricted movement in place. It has only been in the second half of the year that we have seen an opening up of the live music industry. And yes, the future is looking uncertain going into 2022 but lets start the year on an optimistic note. Here is our first selection of acts that look set to shine in the year ahead.
Leeds’ quartet English Teacher are Lily Fontaine (vocals, rhythm guitar, synth), Douglas Frost (drums, vocals), Nicholas Eden (bass), Lewis Whiting (lead guitar). They have released a run of superb singles in the last eighteen months, marking them as ones to watch if you like music that wittily and vividly unpicks the crushing absurdity and inequalities of modern Britain, for fans of Dry Cleaning, The Slits and Wet Leg. Their combination of vital elastic post punk and nee wave influenced noise is laced with the withering and searing spoken word polemic of Lily Fontaine.
The awesome bass driven ‘R&B‘ is an insiduous and visceral investigation of imposter syndrome and racial identity, that’s frantic rhythm descends with guitars into chaos in the final with a fierce spoken word and searing, caustic guitars. The simmering ‘Wallace‘ sea-saws with menace and Fontaine’s unmissable monologue that draws a parrells between the rise of the far right in Yorkshire and “what happens when people listen to Wallace Hartley, the band-leader of the Titanic, as a distraction to the sinking of the ship,”
While recent single ‘Good Grief’ shows off Fontaine’s clever riffing on the absurdity of life in lockdown, before a shift about two-thirds through with a building of chaos and confusion with an abrupt stop, and back to that fabulous guitar riff. There is a cheeky end to this song and it gives ‘Good Grief’ a thought-provoking finish.
On the basis of what we have heard so far English Teacher have alot of important things to say about the world plus tunes in abundance, 2022 could be theirs for the taking. (Bill Cummings and Julia Mason)
Having pricked ears as diverse Sleaford Mods, Frank Black and Elijah Wood last year, we’d expect 2022 to be a big year for Teesside’s Benefits. Having taken a little while to navigate themselves to musical alchemy- a triptych of ferocious singles (‘Traitors’, ‘Flag’ and ‘Empire’) tore into imperial nostalgia and institutionalised hypocrisy- drawing comparisons as wide as the aforementioned Mods to Whitehouse. Kingsley Hall pulls no punches- and writes gloriously cathartic songs that address the mores of the day with little need to resort to metaphor. Painfully, brutally direct, Benefits provide just the tonic for time.(Ben Lowes-Smith)
THE LOUNGE SOCIETY
The Lounge Society
Signed to Dan Carey’s Speedy Wunderground label (the producer of Fontaines D.C.s two albums), their debut single ‘Generation Game‘ was the fastest selling single for the label. They have gone on to produce their debut EP Silk for the Starving and had their tracks remixed by the likes of A Certain Ratio (‘Cain’s Heresy’). SXSW also beckons for The Lounge Society and with a whole bunch of new tracks played at their most recent gigs, 2022 is surely going to be a breakthrough year.(Julia Mason)
Memes sit in a genre all of their own, laptop punk rock. The Scottish duo have been quietly gathering new fans with their support slots with the likes of Sprints, Joe and the Shitboys and The Rills. December saw headline shows in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and with the likes of BBC6Music’s Amy Lame as one of their fans, national radio airplay is guaranteed. Having missed out on an actual trip to SXSW in 2021 with an online performance instead, they are delighted to have booked their ticket for a trip to Texas in 2022.(Julia Mason)
Dublin’s Sprints released their debut EP Manifesto and completed their first headline UK tour in 2021. Signed to Nice Swan Records the punksters made plenty of new fans on the road with their electrifying live shows. With a trip booked to SXSW in Texas in March 2022, a second EP scheduled for release, and a commitment to more headline shows already booked, Sprints do not look like slowing down anytime soon.(Julia Mason)
Poster Paints are the Glasgow duo Simon Liddell (Frightened Rabbit, Olympic Swimmers) and Carla J Easton (TeenCanteen). They released their infectious debut single ‘Number 1’ earlier this year, fusing together two burning talents who met initially through Carla’s work with The Vaselines.
Poster Paints followed it with ‘Never Saw It Coming’ via Olive Grove Records. It possessed a deft wistful, melodic earworm quality that gradually envelopes you. Carla J Easton’s enraptured and lovelorn melodies tumble forth and pierce holding you transfixed, swirling with memories of The Sundays or Camera Obscura. It’s framed Simon Liddell’s shimmering guitar work, stuttering Motown-esque drums and elegant instrumentation. It’s a understated gem. With a debut album promised support slots with Teenage Fanclub under their belts and a date with Belle and Sebastian slated for next February, Poster Paints look set to brighten up 2022! (Bill Cummings)
ZELA, pronounced zel-ah, appeared nigh on fully formed (albeit without the benefit of any live music during lockdowns) with a string of faultless singles throughout 2020 and early 2021 before July’s sold-out live debut proved the Durham-based electro-noir siblings are the real deal.
Further live outings supporting the likes of Venus Grrrls and Dylan Cartlidge has seen them go from strength to strength with their raunchy and dramatic electro-pop. Tracks such as ‘I Think I Might Have Killed Someone’ and ‘Sober Lovin U’ take the listener straight from the club to the dark and hostile streets of the early hours of the morning; for fans of Charli XCX, Big Black Delta and Baby Queen.(Steve Spithray)
Released earlier this year tendai’s debut single ‘Not Around‘ left an indelible mark, throbbing with a fever dream of heartbreak and isolation. Late-night pulses and sparse keyboards are riven with his exquisite tumbling vocal that skirts the lines of R&B and soul, redolent of early Weeknd in one sense but in another totally unique and enthralling. Haunting.
Signed to the 0207 Def Jam label, tendai’s formative musical journey started at the age of seven when he wrote his first song at the request of his mother. His music holds the blistering honesty of late-night laments, throbbing and pulsing with the energy of a London evening. It’s at once both cinematic (when pushed tendai speaks of his love of the art of filmmaking) and disarmingly intimate. In tendai’s own words, “This is music to feel in your bones.” Unbounded by genre and at once both nostalgic and totally contemporary, twenty-one year old tendai’s stories of being young and falling in and out of love in London have a universality that will resonate in cities around the world.(Bill Cummings)