Read our five-point guide on the best new sounds from the periphery
Content fatigue? Let us do the heavy lifting by compiling the five new acts worthy of your attention span. This month, the mythical wild trio named Snapped Ankles, caramel-smooth bangers from newcomer IAMDDB, psych punk outfit Weeping Icon, Jabu’s RnB autopsies and, finally, there’s the Gucci Mane enthusiast Lil Wop pushing his reckless, hardcore rap.
Snapped Ankles make most bands seem a little dry by comparison. Even label-mates The Comet Is Coming, with their intense, knotty cyber-jazz and intergalactic shaman dress, seem vanilla next to the East London four-piece.
The band perform dressed as ‘woodwoses’, mythical wild men of medieval Europe – essentially walking hedgerows. They build their own instruments, including what they call log synths. Paddy from the band describes how they recently created a ‘forest’ of them in a sort of electrified drum circle: “Essentially percussion synths and individual amps [were] attached to old logs, and then we held a workshop that worked a bit like a bell ring peal, with random people that had signed up for it”.
The shows they play happen anywhere, rocking up as they do with their own rig. “Our favourite has to be Epping Forest car park where we serenaded the doggers one night,” reckons Paddy. “The people in the cars weren’t our warmest audience, they just sat there chain-smoking, and fiddling with their head lights.”
Of course all of this would be pointless if they were a shite band. But they’re not, they’re fucking great. Post-punk grooves spiral into synthesised tangents with a free energy palpable even on record. You might expect music made jamming on synths made of logs, recording everything and flinging as many ideas at the wall to be po-faced and impregnable. Not so, melody and a pop sensibility are present throughout their upcoming debut album Come Play The Trees. Of the tracks available to listen before release, I Want My Minutes Back is tight, fuzzy, lo-fi pop, and Hanging In The Room a polyrhythmic stomper; while on album centrepiece Jonny Guitar Calling Gosta Berlin, a grubby motoric bassline and impish synths lead a nine-minute wig-out conceptually based on a Jean-Luc Godard film.
Costumes and pagan mythology, epic live shows and home-made instruments all contribute to the band’s performance-art-based conception of what bands are for. On the subject of the woodwoses, Paddy the Snapped Ankle sums this up nicely: “Woodwoses, or Krampus and Trolls, or even Christian Angels, all bore similar relevance to people back then as today’s fertile pop stars, outrageous celebrities and rowdy (old) rock stars. They represent the same hopes and fears of the past and the costumes go back to idea of what makes a pop band, and what people expect a pop band to be: something magical, otherworldly and sexy… like a hedgerow!”
Animal Collective / Devo
Manchester soloist IAMDDB is one of those artists who makes the whole thing look easy. Her blissfully unbothered brand of caramel-smooth neo-soul exudes a kind of laid-back energy that eludes a lot of newcomers. In short, she doesn’t sound like she’s trying too hard but the tunes are still phenomenal. On Vibe, Volume 2. – a stylish suite of understated bangers which she unveiled in May – she demonstrates a vocal flexibility and lyrical dexterity that belies her young age. She tucks complex lyrics into short phrases and sings with a cool vibrato that some spend years perfecting.
Kelela / Bryson Tiller
Weeping Icon are a Brooklyn-based four-piece that spin wide, fucked-up, webs of noise that crash and squeal in a chaotic maelstrom, equal parts abrasive punk and coagulated psych. On their first EP, Eyeball Under, these harsh, confrontational tunes are marked by groove, to the point of incessancy. Individually veterans of the New York scene for years, the four women that make up the band channel their live nous into one of the city’s most revered shows. Tracks are drawn out to epic lengths and their cacophonous squall has recently enveloped famous spots like the Brooklyn Bazaar and ALPHAVILLE.
Siouxsie and the Banshees / King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
RnB isn’t the first genre you would associate with Bristol’s Young Echo collective. The Bristol crew’s 11 members and multifarious collaborative projects, including grime producers Kahn and Neek and Björk favourite Vessel, are known for taking what could loosely be classed ‘soundsystem music’ and blowing it up, producing reggae, dub, ambient, noise and techno along the way. The latest project to toy with this formula is Jabu, made up of members Amos Childs and Alex Rendall as well as vocalist Jasmine Butt. Their debut album Sleep Heavy, which finds a home on London-based label Blackest Ever Black, weaves tripped-out, post-rave murk and vocals with soft gravitas fit for moody, introspective listening. An autopsy of RnB.
ANOHNI / serpentwithfeet
Lil Wop loves Gucci Mane so much he went and got his own ice cream tattoo on his right cheek. Seemingly impressed, Guwop recently announced that he’d signed the young Atlanta-via-Chicago rapper to his Eskimos 2017 label. Lil Wop is part of a new generation pushing the sound of hardcore rap music to new extremes. His style is like a reckless, codeine-spiked concoction of Chief Keef’s deadpan menace, 21 Savage’s pained croak and the horror movie aesthetics championed by artists like Ohio’s Trippie Redd. Lil Wop’s put out two projects this year, and while the Wake N Bake EP – reportedly recorded in six hours – was too messy for repeated listens, the Wopaveli 2 mixtape proved that Wop has got plenty of gas in the tank.
21 Savage / Lil Silk