The Best Of Huw
The Best Of Huw
Need some new music? BBC Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens has got you covered in the second installment of his monthly column. Illustrated by Sophie Alda
I’m back with a world of new music. The BBC starts every year with its “Sound of” list, which asks music bloggers, journalists, and DJs about the artists they think will do well in the year ahead. Two artists I featured here last month—Chvrches and Laura Mvula, both uncompromising and very special—landed in the Top 5. I saw both of them play the Eurosonic Festival in Groningen, The Netherlands, recently, and they were awesome, playing to big crowds captivated by their stunning, precise sounds. A two-hour train journey from Amsterdam, the festival has been running for 27 years, bringing European artists together for an explosion of new-music goodness. Obsessed with the TV series The Killing (the Danish version, rather than the remake—it’s just darker, more miserable, and, being in a language I don’t speak, makes me concentrate more), I made sure to catch two rising stars from Copenhagen: Mø, a solo artist who comes across like a glitchier Lykke Li, and Indians (a.k.a. multi-instrumentalist Søren Løkke Juul), who recently signed to the legendary 4AD label. Both were mesmerizing and I recommend you check out their upcoming albums.
I know it’s clichéd to moan about the weather (especially where I’m from), but this is the perfect time to stay in, curl up, and get into some excellent new music. Here are 10 tunes that I reckon you will dig.
Amateur Best “Too Much”
About to play his debut show in London, Amateur Best is something of a pop oddball. An illustrator of fanzines and his own sleeves (check his Tumblr for the full works, and his music), his is a dreamy, slightly sexy pop that glides. He’s not shy of a saxophone either, which, even if you hate saxophones, won’t put you off his brilliant songs.
Night Engine “Seventeen”
The way music works these days, you don’t need to play any gigs before people say you’re the most exciting band in the world. That sort of happened last year with this excellent London guitar pop group; the slew of David Bowie comparisons definitely helped. Then David Bowie came back with that really good new song, and surprised everyone. Great, or awful timing for Night Engine? Who cares—they have the tunes to keep them going.
A little bit like Swedish psychedelic band Goat (who made a surprising, captivating album last year), here’s another surprising band with a great name you won’t forget too easily. Flamingods have scuzzy, Afrobeat-y jams aplenty, and have an ethereal, otherworldly quality to them too, which I’m addicted to right now.
The Drowners “Long Hair”
An irresistible, short, sharp, and frankly wonderful tune that makes me think of silly summer nights where nothing seems to matter. And the singer is Welsh! (Wales is home to Cardiff, rated best city in the world after Barcelona and New York, by me.)
I got into Horseman through Hollie Cook, a young singer on Mr Bongo records. Originally released in 1985, there’s added pizzazz on this reworking of the classic tune thanks to the ace Prince Fatty, and extra horse neigh-ing, which is never a bad thing. From the forthcoming album of original Horseman tunes, the exceptionally titled Dawn of the Dread!
Short Stories “Let it Go”
WATCH ON YOUTUBE
Short Stories is made up of two great U.K. electronic artists: Koreless, who released some stunning tracks last year, and Sampha, who frequently collaborates with SBTRKT. Together they have created a lo-fi, warm soulful number that properly gets under your skin. Magical.
Scrufizzer “Rap Rave”
The U.K. is not afraid to bring genres together to make monsters. Grime was big, dubstep was big, and this fast-flowed, sick emcee has brought the party with this pulsating, filtered track. He could well be the next to follow in Dizzee Rascal and Wiley’s rather large footsteps.
Parquet Courts Light Up Gold
LISTEN TO THE ENTIRE ALBUM ON BANDCAMP
Proud New Yorkers with a thing for ace hooks and sick lyrics, take note: Parquet Courts are ready to emerge from the underground. They’re the next cult American group who will find more and more fans because they sound like they mean it, walk it, and talk it. Which is what you want from your bands.
London Grammar “Hey Now”
Another stop-what-you’re-doing-and-gaze-into-the-distance song. New, mysterious, and mesmerising, this track emerged online recently and knocked me for six.
Ifan Dafydd “Celwydd”
A phenomenal young producer, Ifan Dafydd steps it up on this track from a new compilation of Welsh artists. He really gets the party started when he does his thing live on the decks, mixing his own tunes and some big bangers, and working with some emerging Welsh vocalists. The future is bright for Ifan, as this Welsh-language beauty proves.