TOTT 2016

Looking back over the last year we’ve seen some major things happen. From the loss of some beloved artists such as David Bowie and Prince, to political earthquakes like Brexit and the election of ‘The Donald‘. It’s safe to say that many off us have been shocked and saddened by some of these things; yet it might be mentioned that it’s often within troubled and tough times that great artists find the inspiration to make really important and memorable work.

2016 has been no exception!

At The Tipping Point we’ve seen a year that is rich with exciting new ideas and musical perspectives on the world and our Top of the Tips 2016 will provide a countdown of some of the best new talent that has graced our online pages over the last 12 months. All of the top 10 have been voted for by our national network of music industry professionals and music lovers from our top 40 longlist (featured below), which will hopefully provide a handy insight into who to check out and keep an eye on going into 2017.

As we’re a very small team, we rely on a unique, UK- wide team of Tippers to send us all of the new music we showcase and once we have the tracks, we bring in a crack squad of writers who construct the features for the blog. Without the generosity and enthusiasm of these people, the blog wouldn’t exist. So a big THANK YOU is in order.

Last year the Top of the Tips featured the likes of VANT, The Japanese House, C Duncan, & The Big Moon and this year we’ve certainly had some great artists come through so let’s see how these 10 amazing artists will get on..

Without any further ado …. we present

TOTT 2016 #10: BENEDICT BENJAMIN

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To use an apt cliché, it’s incredible what can be achieved with a guitar and a really great voice.

At #10 in our Top of the Tips 2016 we’re proud to include the very talented folk troubadour Benedict Benjamin!  If the name strikes familiar, Benjamin has previously been with Peggy Sue and The Mariner’s Children so he has ample experience of writing great music.

The singer-songwriter who is used to playing in bigger bands decided 2016 was his time to venture out alone and his venture has come with many successes. Whilst his usual gorgeous folk sound has shone through, working on his own record has given Benjamin more freedom to bring in his personal influences like dramatic 1960s pop such as Roy Orbison to craft an altogether new sound.

Using his new found freedom, he has experimented with recording in kitchens, bedrooms and Churches and has gone some way to giving us one of folk’s best and most honest albums in years in the form of the simplistic ‘Night Songs‘, released this year.

Musical impact is often spoken about in terms of creating a large sound but when listening to this record, where it succeeds is in the emptiness. That is empty spaces to ponder the songwriting, the questions asked about mistakes made and growing up. In some way, it’s a genius personification in sound of what the stillness of night is all about.

For all those out there who have sat at midnight and thought about life, you now have a soundtrack to accompany you.

Words by Scott Hastie and Tipped by Simon Pursehouse

Benedict Benjamin was originally featured on June 20th with words from Eugenie Johnson


TOTT 2016 #9: KERO KERO BONITO

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Today’s top tip for 2016 is London group Kero Kero Bonito’s (KKB). Their name comes from the Japanese onomatopoeic word for frog croaks. The music this trio create is not at all like the pond dwelling creatures they drew namesake inspiration from. Though KKB have an undeniable spring in their step, their tracks are squeaky clean and intensely pop.

When producer friends Gus Lobban and Jamie Bulled became increasingly interested in Japanese music, they wanted to collaborate with someone from the country. They put an advert up on MixB, an ex-pat community board for Japanese people living in London.

As fate would have it, one of the responses was from artist Sarah Midoiri Perry. After realising that they had a lot in common not only in music but in childhood nostalgia, Kero Kero Bonito was born. The trio have now safely established themselves as one of the most individual around.

Their first mixtape, ‘Intro Bonito’ was a showcase of all the music they had made together.  KKB encompass a lot of the stronger electronic based alternative trends, such as PC music, dancehall and 80s synth pop. It showcases their innocent, though slyly tongue-in-cheek hyper pop.

Another individual spin that KKB have lies in Midori’s bilingualism. She often flits between the two languages. “I prefer to write in both languages because in my head I see it as one while thing- I find it really satisfying when I manage to make English Rhyme with Japanese it feels like I’m connecting two different worlds.” Said Perry to Us Blah + Me Blah.

One the best examples one of the biggest tracks from the mixtape is ‘Sick Beat’ which tackles the issue of women playing video-games. Flitting between English and Japanese under some bouncy electronics the outcomes has some surprising comparisons towards MIA.

Lobban and Bulled are both self-confessed ‘synth nerds’ and there’s some serious polished production in KKB’s music. The vocals and the over saturated pop results in the sounding like a distant cousin of all PC Music. Fittingly Lobban also performs as PC Music signed artist Kane West.

‘Flamingo’ is about a girl wonder about how flamingos get their colour, with almost nursery rhyme chanting about shrimp, but it does have a more poignant theme of racial equality. It’s bouncy, with endless layers of snazzy keyboard featuring flutes and 8 bit it all comes together to make a surprisingly palatable sound. It’s sporadically fun which is much of what the group are about.

The groups debut album ‘Bonito Generation’ sees the expansion of their sound, into something even more polished and confident.

Lead single ‘Graduation’ is an uplifting, bass heavy and Mario-kart sampling banger about finally finishing university. Again having subtle critiques towards the education system, which let’s face it, we can all relate to on some level. It feels like there isn’t a topic that KKB won’t write about.

If you don’t take the time to understand what Kero Kero Bonito are about, it could be easy to dismiss them. When people take music so seriously, it’s fun to see an act teeter on innocence and fun but focus on some interesting, cultural themes with some saccharine production. It won’t be long until the trio are well known and have amassed a cult following. To top it all off their tracks also make for some pretty entertaining gym music.

Words by Tilly Dowman and Tipped by Kerri Mark Sharp

Kero Kero Bonito was originally featured on March 3rd with words by Adam from Alphabet Bands


TOTT 2016 #8: DAVE

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Grime and classical soundtracks are not really two things you would associate with one another. 18 year old Dave, the mononymous Streatham-based rapper, has never been one to stick to conventions however. Fusing his love of Hans Zimmer, Christopher Nolan’s composer of choice and most recently heard on Planet Earth II, with the attention grabbing South London grime scene, he’s as comfortable spitting fire in the booth as he is behind a piano.

A classically trained pianist, with a penchant for raw, heartfelt rhymes at a much slower pace to his contemporaries, Dave caused the buzz blogs (this humble blog among them) to go wild with the release of the heart wrenching JKL + HYD. And he’s only continue to capture hearts and minds with every track, session and feature.

It’s this dynamism that has already found him fans in the Godfather of Grime, Wiley, and Drake, who dropped a remix of Wanna Know this past October. He’s someone who looks for a challenge; aiming outside of what he knows to create something new and electric.  

Vowing to stay independent like his idols, the rapper’s rapper Dave is set to carve a wildly exciting path for himself in 2017. Currently in the studio with Fraser T Smith, while still working through college, it’s easy to predict that Dave is sure to be the next big grime name you need to keep your ears to the ground for.

Words by Chris Taylor and Tipped by Paul Gibbins

Dave was originally featured on February 17th with words by Callum Howard from Grey Tapes


TOTT 2016 #7: BONZAI

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BONZAI, the Dublin-born electronic/hip-hop talent, is a hurricane. She will blow you away effortlessly with her awesome, and sometimes terrifying, synthetic beats.

The British and Irish Modern Music Institute graduate has gone from strength to strength in the past year or so and her 2015 single KBG is a perfect introduction to what the artist is all about with the pop-like hook on this song dragging you into Bonzai’s crazy, colourful, drum and bass filled world.

2015 also saw the release of her first full EP: Royah. This effort is a collection of four songs, with Doses and Noise being a testament to Bonzai’s wide stylistic spectrum… the former kicking the EP off like a warehouse rave, while the latter sees us through to the end of night chill out session.

A promising 2015 quickly transitioned into 2016, and Bonzai raised the game with two more brilliant EPs: Lunacy and Sleepy Hungry. Lunacy boasts tracks like 2B, I Did, and Bodhran; showcasing her wide repertoire. ‘2B’ comes at you like a Scooter or Basshunter anthem as the electronic beat bounces alongside a dripping, sexy voice. ‘Bodhran’ mixes smooth afro-caribbean beats with what is fast becoming Bonzai’s signature disjointed beats; and ‘I Did’ allows her to fully spread her wings. The EPs first track is definitely the fullest song, as Bonzai sings gracefully about succeeding by any means, before seemingly allowing an over-excited Skrillex to take over the decks.

The Sleepy Hungry EP pulls out all of the stops once again and is by far the most ‘rave-y’ album yet (there’s a track called Ravemeister for God’s sake!). Stepping, Daniel Gets it Wrong, and No Rest set the bar incredibly high. A mixture of rave madness (‘Stepping’), dirty basslines and repetitive beats (‘Daniel’) is essentially what this album is-and it does it well. Bonzai even comes extremely close to emulating Dance and Electronic gods Daft Punk on ‘No Rest’.

This is very early stuff from Bonzai. It’s also very good! That’s why this female artist has strolled into this year’s Top 10. If this is what two years’ worth of EPs sound like, then I can’t wait for her next chart-topping single…or full album…or worldwide tour.

Words by Ben Bowes and Tipped by Kier from The Monitors

BONZAI was originally featured on January 19th with words by Adam from Alphabet Bands


TOTT 2016 #6: TEAM PICTURE

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They might not have exploded just yet but lo-fi rockers Team Picture look like a name to keep an eye on next year. You don’t want to miss them and get laughed at by all the painfully cool kids in the playground now, do you?

The self-described ‘group of polite individuals who live in Leeds’ might have only released three tracks so far, with this month’s Potpourri Headache following up September’s two-and-a-bit-minute belter CLASSIC:M and June’s six-minute throbber Birthday Blues, but there’s a bit of a buzz around them.

They can’t be accused of picking a formula and churning out identikit songs: newly-released Potpourri Headache is a fuzzily dreamy offering, darkly oozing and shimmering its way along, whilst Birthday Blues feels a bit like being stuck on a roadtrip in a psychedelic car and CLASSIC:M manages to be both blissfully disarming and slightly unnerving, often at the same time.

Giddy blog reviews have picked out a smorgasbord of snippets and sparklings of various influences ranging from the Beach Boys to Thee Oh Sees via Joy Division, but Team Picture are weaving lots of threads together with a sprinkling of their own magic dust to create something exciting.

On Birthday Blues they sing that ‘ain’t nobody wanna be friends with me’. We reckon that there’ll be a fair few people who will want to be friends with them in 2017.

Words by Tom Worley and Tipped by Rob Duffy from The Indie Curator and Rob Platts

TEAM PICTURE were originally featured on October 5th with words by Steven Farkas


TOTT 2016 #5: CATHOLIC ACTION

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This highly touted Glasgow quartet have been garnering praise almost since their inception back in 2014 drawing comparisons to other Scottish indie heavyweights like Teenage Fanclub and Primal Scream. The latter of those could lazily be put down to the fact that Chris McCrory’s journey from behind the kit as the drummer in Casual Sex (a position he still holds) to his place fronting Catholic Action follows the same path as Bobby Gillespie, who himself left the drum kit behind for East Kilbride noise-mongers Jesus and Mary Chain before forming Primal Scream. You could make an even lazier comparison to their similar hairstyles.

For me though, these comparisons absolutely hold water because Catholic Action are seriously that good. Their pop sensibilities intertwine seamlessly with catchy riffs meshing into a perfect storm of garage, post-punk and indie rock that simply doesn’t sound like anything else out there at the moment.

With a slew of new material out this year, including two killer singles in Breakfast and Rita Ora what Chris McCrory and his three bandmates Ryan Clark, Jamie Dubber and Andrew Macpherson have put together is quite special. Get out and see this band while they are still playing intimate club venues so when they start their inevitable rise up the festival bill slots in support of their debut LP due next year, you can be the smug one saying ‘I saw them play a tiny club back in the day’.

Words by Steven Farkas

Tipped by Matt Baty from Amazing Radio

Catholic Action were originally featured on March 29th with words by Chris Taylor


TOTT 2016 #4: BRYDE

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Bryde has undoubtedly been making a name for herself in the music world in 2016, especially after being a tip to watch at Green Man Festival earlier this year. Self confessed as just a “girl and an electric guitar”, Bryde proves that nothing more is needed for unapologetically honest and classic girl-powered rock. London born but now touring and being played on radio stations across the country, Bryde is enchanting everyone with her raw vocals, so no wonder she’s made this years Top Of The Tips.

With influences from PJ Harvey and Ben Howard, Bryde flickers between powerful guitar riffs and smoother melancholy acoustic sounds. In her earlier singles on EP1, Help Yourself and Feel have that garage pop-rock ambiance with classic electric, simple and unfussed melodies. In her later work EP2, Honey drives it forward with its short and sweet, pure rock guitar solos and Bryde’s honest vocals.

Transparent transports to a deeper sound: beautifully written, sung and delivered through a softness of guitar and simple drums simultaneous to Bryde’s uniquely smooth yet echoing vocals. Wouldn’t That Make You Feel Good is an eclectic mix of both sides, with an influence of Ben Howard’s raw guitar chords that crash into a deep and dark rush of electric rock head banging. Both sides are as powerful as each other, and perfectly represent Bryde’s honest, empowering persona.

Set to tour the US soon and flying high into the new year with her grunge-pop-rock-acoustic mix, for just a girl with her guitar, 2017 is looking pretty exciting for Bryde.

Words by Rebecca Jackson

Tipped by Jill Guthrie from When The Gramophone Rings

Bryde was originally featured on March 9th with words by Scott Hastie


TOTT 2016 #3: SKOTT

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As the story goes, Swedish ethereal future-pop artist SKOTT was raised in a Scandinavian forest commune ran by outcast folk musicians, only hearing contemporary music for the first time upon visiting the city in her mid-teens. Her off-kilter and elegant music evokes memories of something “pure, natural and wild” – a sense of pastoral empowerment relating to her early years growing up in the woods.

She exploded onto the scene in a flash. The haunting melodies and ominous depth of her debut track ‘Porcelain’ allowed it to charm its way into the hearts (and into the music libraries) of fans and skeptics alike, and garnered praise from the likes of Lorde, Zane Lowe, and Huw Stephens. She topped Hype Machine’s “Most Blogged Chart” (and has done so several times), and Annie Mac even named Porcelain her ‘Hottest Record In The World’. A strong start.

So far having unveiled four tracks; Porcelain, Wolf, Amelia and Lack Of Emotion, SKOTT has seemed to gain more and more momentum with each release. Her debut show was a slot at Way Out West festival in Sweden, and she has since gone on to play a string of sold out shows and festivals in cities such as London, Paris, and Brighton.

Drawing comparisons to the likes of Grimes, Nicole Dollanganger, and Florence And The Machine, SKOTT’s musical style of combining sweet harmony with dark, synthy setting is driving her from strength to strength, and her impressive run so far certainly cements her place amongst our Top Of The Tips countdown of 2016.

Words by George Rowan

Tipped by Robin Seamer from Breaking More Waves

SKOTT was originally featured on August 3rd with words by Louise Henry


TOTT 2016 #2: DREAM WIFE

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Dream Wife‘ is a 1953 romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, in which a businessman breaks off his engagement to his workaholic girlfriend to be with an “old fashioned” woman from the fictional country of Bukistan. Apparently the film is where Rakel Mjöll, Alice Go and Bella Podpadec took their band name from, but you might think that a Cary Grant rom-com doesn’t seem to fit their alt-punk mould? Then again, Dream Wife are all about subverting expectations.

In fact, Dream Wife weren’t even intended to be a proper band. The members got together while studying fine and visual arts in Brighton with the idea of forming a “fake girl band.” As well as writing songs and recording them, they made a mockumentary inspired by Spinal Tap (as you do).

But they were so successful at creating in-your-face riot grrl rock that they organically morphed into a “real” band, signed to Lucky Number and released EP01 back in March.

Inspired by everything from Bikini Kill to Blondie and Bananarama, it opened with the riotous riffs of ‘Hey Heartbreaker,’ and closed with the alt-pop power chords of ‘Kids.’ It showed off that Dream Wife could morph into any shape they wanted, experimenting by touching on different genres while always having a hook that’ll thoroughly nestle itself into your brain. If Sleater-Kinney and The Bangles formed a supergroup, they’d probably sound quite a bit like Dream Wife.

2017 is already set to be a huge year for the trio, as they’re already booked in to headline DIY’s ‘Hello tour’, taking their empowering tunes everywhere from London’s Old Blue Last to The Cluny in Newcastle and Manchester’s Night & Day Cafe. Get ready, because Dream Wife really will ‘FUU.’

Words by Eugenie Johnson

Tipped by Tiffany Daniels from Drunken Werewolf 

SKOTT was originally featured on April 12th with words by Linsey Teggert


TOTT 2016 #1: EAT FAST

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…and so we have it, our Top Of The Tips 2016 and most anticipated new band for 2017 is the incomparable EAT FAST.

In the year that I’ve decided to coin twenty shitxteen there have been few shining lights in most aspects of general being, but leaving aside humanity’s series of collective brain fades, one resounding positive has been the burgeoning music scene in the North East of our fair Isles (or East middle I guess if you’re from Scotland? Far East for Northern Island?… I digress). Leading the way, waving their acid-washed-TV-static flag is EAT FAST, purveyors of top of the range scuzzy garage-pop. Layers upon layers of distortion and reverb is the only thing stopping that from being pop with a capital ‘P’. And it also this double-fuzz glazing which immediately grabs the attention, spiking your aural sense in as visceral way as possible.

Bursting forth from their cocoon essentially fully formed (one required name change aside) in the crisp halcyon days of January this year, EAT FAST leaked a colourful stream of 4 invigorating singles that eventually formed the ‘Fenham Dreadlock‘ EP. Beginning with the understated yet infectious ‘Byker Drone‘, and following this with ‘Byker Lime Slicer‘, the stylistic similarities and total control of their sound went beyond the naming convention, delivering an opening salvo worthy of a band years into honing their craft. After these tracks came the punk duo of ‘Stammer‘ (personal fave) and title-track ‘Fenham Dreadlock‘, further stoking the not inconsiderable, and not unjustified, buzz.

A few months taking these tunes on the road at various festivals and support slots, notably Reading Festival and The Great Escape plus a run of dates with Honeyblood, prepared the quartet for a headline show in Newcastle. Having excited seemingly the entire industry with their refreshing sound and electric live shows, EAT FAST upped it again with the release of ‘Public Display of Affection‘ – initially less immediate than the previous releases, ‘PDA‘ proves to have a depth and relistenability which more than makes up for this.

This release also signalled the first time the act exposed themselves, rather than hiding behind Cody Sowerby‘s brilliantly engaging, yet nightmarish, artwork. With this we learn more about the group too; lead singer-songwriter Adam Pearson cut short a PhD in contemporary poetry to dedicate himself to this project, and who can doubt the poetic nature of dejected millennial anthem ‘PDA‘s line: “if you really love me then fuck me like you need me, let’s get married in a cornershop”.

Neatly spreading their wares over the last 12 months there is no doubt that EAT FAST are one of the most exciting acts to emerge in several years, let alone 2016; a sugary bright spark that will hopefully burn deep into 2017 and beyond.

Words by Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings

Tipped by  Rob Platts from Junk City, Charlotte Holroyd from Bitter Sweet Symphonies Joe Frankland

EAT FAST were originally featured as EAT on March 15th and as EAT FAST on November 9th with words by Steven Farkas

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