The following acts are from all over the place, two are from the Midlands. Most of these are acts I've seen live and I suggest you do yourself. Part two may or may not follow soon
PIXX are a newly 4AD signed trio. 4AD is famous for signing the Cocteau Twins and Grimes, and I think PIXX will fit nicely on the label. They're hugely hip and very cool, but actually pretty good as well. Their minimalist sound isn't too far of from The XX, Daughter, or 2:54. Their music is intimate yet delicately played and woozily offbeat. Their songs are full of gently picked guitar, looped beats, strange keyboard melodies and darkly atmospheric tones. Basically PIXX are a very NOW kind of band. I've never seen anyone seem quite so 2015. I think in 2016 they're only going to get bigger
Hanz is a mysterious American producer. His music defies categorisation, shuns melody, structure and genre. It's like Aphex Twin but without the subtly or perfectionist streak or Death Grips without MC Ride's ranting. The songs have no beginnings or ends and the samples dropped in between are equally nonsensical. 'Reducer' was released for free in early 2015 and as proved one of the years best and strangest records. There are some nods to trip hop, yet Reducer has a grittiness to it that much trip hop lacks. Hanz has already put out a follow up tape. It's likely that there will be plenty more HANZ in 2016
Car Seat Headrest
Finding Car Seat Headrest's band-camp was like stumbling on a treasure trove of free music. In only 5 years Will Toledo has produced 11(!) albums. Apart from the 'Not Very good' numbered albums. All of them are worth listening too. All of them are different and ape different styles. CSH is impossible to categorise into one genre. Will's discography takes includes his epic double album, his experimental, yet lovable 'How to leave town' and the incredible yet rough as fuck 'Twin Fantasy'. The new album 'Teens of style' is an LP of re-recorded older songs. Now that CSH have finally discovered decent recording techniques, the world is theirs for the taking. https://carseatheadrest.bandcamp.com/music
Despite all the fuss about rock n roll having a revival, the trend for 80's synth pop that started in the last decade still hasn't really died out. Of course there is a fine line between aping retro sounds and taking them forward. Which Field Harmonics seem to know. Despite only being a duo they make a huge wall of sound out of their synths, beats and sampling of their own vocals. Their take on 80's pop feels amazingly fresh and and easy to immerse yourself in. I reckon fans of Grimes, Crystal Castles and Chvrches will love them.
It's not very often that a song played on Radio 1 will cause my ears to prick up and listen, but 'Paris' by Zibra did just that. It's slightly naff, features rapping, and is very danceable. It's full of funky guitar riffs, bongos, and keyboardy bits. For all the damning by faint praise, it's actually nice to hear a band who make music that's fun. They remind me of the old Nu Rave days. Back when Friendly Fires, Fenech-Soler and the like were not only active but actually cool. Sometimes a bit of fun is what you need.
For some stupid reason the band formerly known as Baby Godzilla, are now known as Heck. The band reassure that "We are exactly the same. The same band under a different name. To be honest, it did reinvigorate us, it has made us all never want to stop doing this." Which is just as well because Heck were one of the best live bands I saw all year. I saw them play on a little wooden bridge above a pool in the corner of the custard factory. The band played their insane mix of punk and metal while screaming into peoples faces, going for a dip in the pool, casually walking into shops, and climbing up onto the roofs of local businesses. They've yet to release an album but the band have won a large and loyal following of fans.
Crime and Punishment 2011
At first it seems that Crime and Punishment are a bit of a joke. A band who take prop chainsaws on stage, and don't seem to realise that NU metal ever died. Yet like all great Hip Hop groups they all have unique personalities. Their DJ "Jason Pink Violence Cassius Neon Tyler" makes the beats. Joey Sniper is a professional metal screamer. Glitch is the bands GZA, the straight talking MC. While D.A.N is the ODB. One of the funniest guys I've ever met. Jokes aside they're all great rappers. Put them together and you've got an amazing live show. D.A.N says their taking over next year. With that confidence who can doubt him?