TOTT 2014

With everyone from the BBC to the smallest grass- roots blogs compiling their own ‘best of’ lists at the moment, it’s understandable that many of us will quickly experience a serious excitement bypass and be tempted to fundamentally question what the point of all this crystal ball gazing is?

It’s true that the lists are in part, a prediction of those artists that will make a big impact in 2015. However, more importantly than that they are another way of reaffirming and celebrating the sheer quality of the UK- based emerging artists that have crossed our radars during the past year.

Ultimately there’s still something really exciting in discovering and sharing new music, catching bands and artists before others know about them and feeling the energy building as the music you love is just about to break into the mainstream. It’s about being passionate about new music and wanting to talk about it!

That’s why we all make these lists and it’s also why The Tipping Point chooses to compile its own countdown based on the suggestions of an innovative national Tippers Network. This secret society* of bloggers, new music DJs, promoters, artists, music writers and other music aficionados up and down the country regularly provide The Tipping Point with the freshest new music on the horizon . Over the last few years this unique model that relies on word of mouth over PR spin, has given our lucky, music loving Tipping Point readers advanced notice of artists like Young Fathers (back in 2012!), Eliza & The Bear, Moko, Sivu, Chloe Howl, Prides, Bipolar Sunshine, Royal Blood and Years & Years. Even NASA’s asteroid trackers would be proud of that impact prediction!

* NB: It’s not really that secret

Here’s a handy playlist reminding us of the longlist the voters had to choose from:

 

So after having listened to that… and with massive gratitude for the votes received from our far- sighted tippers and the contributions from our talented writers, we can now present (over the next 2 weeks) our very own Top of the Tips 2014 countdown!

Let’s get started! …

#10: JAGAARA

Jagaara 2

 

So, you know how Haim basically came and took the world by storm with their furiously infectious retro indie pop? Does anybody fancy hearing the British version? You do? Well, you’re in luck. Jagaara are three sisters – Jane, Cat and Ruth – from Finchley in London and, much like their American counterparts, they deal in sunny West Coast indie pop. Minus the R’n’B tinges.

The sisters grew up listening to Radiohead, Led Zeppelin and Kate Bush and more recently moved on to loving Blood Orange, Lykke Li and Bon Iver; their influences can all be heard on Jagaara’s polished sound, which blends elements of folk, rock and electronica. Their single Faultline earned them a heap of critical praise this year, including from Q, NME, The Guardian, GQ and Metro. Basically, everybody loves them. But with good reason.

 

 

Jane’s powerful vocals are the central focus of both their recordings and barnstorming live shows, with Ruth and Cat providing luscious harmonies and hypnotic, highly atmospheric instrumentation. Their heartbreakingly beautiful songs earned them a place at this year’s Latitude festival playing to a packed-out crowd. And why not? Their music is accomplished and polished and, while the comparisons to Haim are always going to be inevitable, they stand on their own feet as skilled musicians and composers in their own right. Take a bow, Jagaara, 2015 could well be your year.

 

Words by Eugenie and Tip by Hector Barley

Jaggara was originally featured on October 7th  with words by Neil Wood

 

 #9: EAVES

Eaves

 

One particular artist who’s attracted a significant amount of praise in the last twelve months is supremely talented folkster Eaves, otherwise known as Joseph Lyons.

The Leeds native has released several demos throughout 2014 that have left fans clamouring for more and it’s not hard to understand why.

 

 

Lyons’ songwriting prowess is quite simply stunning and his time spent working with numerous producers and playing countless gigs over the years are certainly starting to reap rewards.

Spin’ and ‘Timber’ are two fine examples of this and are only a hint of what’s to come from a young man still excitedly honing his craft.

Eaves has just came off a European tour in support of Nick Mulvey and if that’s not a sign of things to come we don’t know what is.

We’re predicting a big year ahead for this maestro.

Words by Matty Aston & Tip by Josh Dalton from Crack in the Road & Tom Cotton from Amazing Radio

Eaves was originally tipped on January 9th with words by Ben Blackburn

#8: BAD BREEDING

 

bad breeding

Bad Breeding exploded on to the Tipping Point this year with a spirit and fervour that hasn’t been seen for a while. In fact, as much as an almost-40-years-ago-kinda-while. ‘Age of Nothing‘ was the track that popped up on our radar, a tune full of passion and youthful ferocity, like a howl in the wind of this oh so bloody depressing Britain we currently live in. Masterfully produced by Spring King‘s Tarek Musa, it’s a track that not only gets your attention, but metaphorically grabs you by the balls and demands it.

 

 

Fast forward over half a year and things have continued in that fashion. With songs like ‘Chains‘ and ‘Burn This Flag‘, Bad Breeding keep spoiling us with guttural, adrenaline-fuelled tunes littered with Generation Y devastation. Stevenage’s top dogs are almost certainly a force to be reckoned with going into 2015, and with tunes like theirs, and a live reputation that’s slowly but surely garnering national interest, we have no option but to sit by and let them take over.

Words by Chad Male Tipped by Rob Platts

Bad Breeding were originally tipped on March 18th with words by David McDonald

#7: AZEKEL

 

Azekel2

When compiling Top of the Tips last year we tore our collective hair out trying to bring down our long list to just ten artists. One artist who really had us tossing and turning at night was Azekel, and now we’re proud to include him in this year’s Top of the Tips.

In March 2013 we first picked up on the London artist via his track “That Feeling”. There was, and still is, something so powerful about his video for the track. It’s simplistic and allows us to get up close and personal with what’s going on in Azekel’s head. He’s drawn comparisons from Frank Ocean, The Weeknd and Miguel but there’s something he has unique to those artists. He might be the UK’s first new soul superstar.

 

 

Before the end of the year he already had an EP out on Generator/Thunderlightning records called ‘Circa’, and dubs it as a collection of memories circa 2003-2013. It’s a must own, five track new-soul memory bank from which opening track ‘In The Zone’ appeared in our long list for last year.

That’s the past though. Azekel has had an even bigger 2014. We already knew he could sing, and his production on the Circa EP was impressive, but what was about to drop was out of this world. In June, Azekel released ‘New Romance/Holy Matrimony’, two completely different but equally groundbreaking pieces. ‘Holy Matrimony’ is a ghost story wrapped in cracked, dark bass and ghostly vocals and harmonies. A guitar lingers in the background too before it takes centre stage, completely unhinged.

On the other hand ‘New Romance’ is a straight up raw hip hop beat that you could mistake for a J.Dilla or De La Soul number. It’s the perfect showcase for Azekel as a producer and as a singer as his falsetto decimates. There are flickers of trumpets too, and the synth in the chorus adds a seriously cool sound to the mix. As a completed song, ‘New Romance’ is the track where Azekel feels like a superstar.

 

 

Just before the end of November we were treated to a new track called ‘Chronophobia’. It’s a Jazzy R&B number cleverly written about time. Chronophobia is the fear of time, and the theme is echoed through-out with vocal tick tocks adding to the beat. Time’s something Azekel shouldn’t fear though.

 

 

It’s easy to become smitten by Azekel and with new material planned for 2015, the rest of the country will no doubt find their new favourite voice too.

 

Words by Scott Hastie 

Azekel was first tipped back in 2013 with words by Ben Blackburn .

Since then Generator have supported Azekel with the releases ‘Holy Matrimony’, ‘New Romance’ & ‘No Ordinary Love’

#6: JACK GARRATT

 

Jack Garratt 2

 

Jack Garratt has had quite a 2014. After his debut EP ‘Remnants’ afforded him some well-deserved recognition, the London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist has performed at Reading & Leeds, received backing and radio play from the likes of Nick Grimshaw, Huw Stephens and Fearne Cotton, and supported Ben Howard on his UK tour. In May this year, writer George Shaw and tipper Rob Platts brought Garratt’s “Atlantic ocean levels of depth and song-writing maturity” on single ‘Water’ to the The Tipping Point.

 

 

Whether it’s the funky lurch of ‘Worry’, the glorious elegance of ‘Water’, or the delicate R & B of ‘The Love You’re Given’, Garratt dares to pick and choose elements from all manner of genres and unite them with such expert dexterity, and of course that beautifully-pitched, delicate yet soulful voice. His music sounds like he’s taken that staple of British music; the ‘singer-songwriter’, and gone on a very long and experimental walk with it. Comparisons to James Blake abound, but where Blake errs on the side of minimalism Garratt goes for sheer musical gratification, the kind reminiscent of dearly departed The Child of Lov.

Having built on the success of his ‘Remnants’ EP with a summer of compelling live shows, the time has surely come [if it hasn’t already!] for Jack Garratt to hit the studio and stun us with his full-length debut in 2015, and we can’t wait.

 

Words by Lewis Lister Tipped by Rob Platts at Junk City and The Great Escape

Jack Garratt was originally tipped back in May with words by George Shaw

#5: Little Simz

 

little simz

 

Simbi Ajikawo, better known as Little Simz, has found herself on many a list for the forthcoming year including, obviously, Generator’s own Top Of The Tips. One other particularly exciting endorsement, alongside the likes of Amazing Radio’s Tips For 2015 and Vevo DSCVR, is that of Red Bull and the new season of their Channel 4 late night music show Launched. In exceedingly good company, Simz has performed on a special show due to be aired in January and hosted by Annie Mac – aimed at shining a much needed TV sized spotlight on emerging artists.

 

 

If you’ve missed everything from Simz so far then you can catch up via her Facebook page, or better yet, get yourself along to a show and see her spit live. She’s won much acclaim from various corners of the music industry for the consistent quality in her raps and releases, pushing boundaries and winning new fans along the way. Currently on the Wireless Presents RE:Wired tour featuring Moosh & Twist: OCD, they also have M.O. in support.

Words by Ruth Kilpatrick and Tipped by Grant Brydon

Liitle Simz was originally tipped back in February with words by Lewis Lister

 

 

 #4: FICKLE FRIENDS

 

fickle friends

Fickle Friends have had rather a good year. No only are they appearing at the top of many people’s end-of-year “ones to watch” lists right now, US charting company Billboard has tipped them for big things in America, and they’ve grabbed a coveted spot on January’s BBC Introducing club night. Not to mention being endorsed by that well-known new music guru Jamie Oliver. And now, most impressive of all, a nod from your favourite tipping network. They must be doing something right.

 

 

That thing is primarily their January 2014 single ‘Swim’: an upbeat, blissed-out slice of indie-pop, the musical equivalent of a sunny afternoon on the beach in their native Brighton. Awash with synth stabs, melodic lead guitar lines, and a softly-spoken female lead vocal, ‘Swim’ neatly summarises the state of the art of bands playing pop music in 2014. The song’s well over half a million streams on Spotify suggests that their audience agree.

Their other two singles, ‘For You’ and ‘Play’, tread a similar path: two fluffy, uplifting, melodic vignettes of danceable, airy pop. It’s pretty lightweight stuff, but it’s worked to prick up the ears of the blogosphere. Tellingly, ‘For You’s video is an irony-free story of a young couple in the first throes of a relationship – they walk down sun-dappled footpaths, climb over a locked gate, huddle beside a brazier in a twilit quarry, get chased by security. Which makes it pretty clear who their target demographic is: those lucky souls yet to become jaded and cynical by the dating game, and who can still lose themselves in the romance of it all. Enjoy it while it lasts, guys!

There’s no doubt that Fickle Friends have hit on a sound that is exactly right for their time: one that carries the kudos of an independent band, but would still sit perfectly on the Radio 1 A-list. Don’t be surprised to hear their music all over your wireless in 2015.

 

Words by Martin Sharman & Tipped by Adam from Alphabet Bands & Simon from Sentric Music

Fickle Friends were originally featured back in January with words by Neil Wood

#3: ZOLA BLOOD

zola blood

 

‘Grace’ from the assuming Zola Blood is a catchy piece of minimal, melodic electronica, and with 230,000 soundcloud plays and backing from the likes of NME, Fake DIY, Q, XFM, The Independent, Lauren Laverne, Jo Whiley and many more it’s no wonder that the track has made it into the Top 10 Tips of 2014.

 

 

Wonderland Magazine and The Line Of Best Fit have already earmarked the foursome, and the band recently sold out the Shacklewell Arms in London, which is no mean feat.

Delivering strength of songwriting alongside a depth and intensity to their tracks, Zola Blood certainly make music that moves in the shadows and It’s looking increasingly likely that 2015 will be a great year for them.

Words by Patrick Swift and Tip by Rob Platts from Junk City and Tim Dickinson from The Blue Walrus

Zola Blood was originally tipped back in July with words by George Shaw

#2: GENGAHR

gengahr

 

Emerging late last year under the name RES, the now re-named Gengahr first pricked the ears of Tipping Point in March of this year with their track ‘Fill My Gums With Blood‘. Prior to this the first wave of bloggers had discovered the band with their debut effort ‘She’s a Witch‘, and while both tracks are now unfortunately no longer online, though we hope to see them both on the band’s debut album, they established Gengahr as one of the most exciting new UK bands in 2014.

 

 

Arching their sound around striking guitar riffs and infectious vocal melodies, they have drawn comparisons to the likes of UMO, Wampire, and The Doors. Their debut single , ‘Powder‘ and ‘Bathed In Light‘, released in September on Transgressive Records, was co-produced by James Bragg and mixed by whizz-kid Tarek Musa, and made a significant mark in demonstrating the band’s development and return on all of their early promise.

With tour dates planned supporting Wolf Alice and Alt-J, along with their own headline shows, Gengahr will be a key figure in the 2015 musical landscape.

Words by Ben Blackburn from Crack in the Road and Tip by Tom Cotton, Dan Carson, Rob Platts & Steve Davis

Gengahr was first featured back in March with words by Neil Wood

#1: LAPSLEY

lapsley2

 

We first tipped Lapsley back in January, and here we are at the end of the year, still talking about Holly Fletcher‘s music. With a huge year under her belt that saw her recently signing to XL – home to the likes of Adele, Jungle and The Horrors – and being included in the BBC Sound of 2015 longlist, we’re sure that next year is going to be even bigger.

Based in Liverpool, Lapsley counts Zane Lowe and Annie Mac amongst the long list of fans that have heaped praise on her brand of ambient electronic pop this year. After the beautiful and understated ‘Station‘ at the start of the year, Lapsley has been getting ever-increasing amounts of love from bloggers, press and radio throughout 2014, whilst her debut Understudy EP will be released via XL on January 5th. Stream ‘Falling Short‘, the lead track from EP, below and check out her live performance of the song from Maida Vale Studios for Huw Stephens and BBC Introducing here.

 

 

Words by Neil Wood and tip by Robin Seamer from Breaking More Waves

Lapsley was originally tipped back in January with words by  Ruth Edmundson

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