It has been an exciting year for brother and sister duo Ardyn. As well as stacks of live shows (see our review of their Bristol gig as well as our interview) both on their own, at festivals, and supporting Wild Beasts, Katy and Rob Pearson also released EP The Valley, which contained four cracking songs that demonstrate the diverse range of the pair’s talent.
For us, Over The River is the real highlight. From its slow, steady and almost other-worldly build-up to its accomplished and beautifully arranged conclusion, it is one we still keep on coming back to many months after first hearing it. Performed live it is equally mesmerising – we recommend you make it a 2017 priority to see the Gloucestershire-based band for yourself if you get the chance.
In the meantime, we’re proud to have this wonderful song at the top of our list of very favourite tracks of the year.
Ardyn – Over The River
Second in our list of favourite tracks from this year is the sublime Two Hearts by NZCA Lines. Ok so we admit, the track itself was released right at the end of 2015, but it made its impact in 2016 and appears on the band’s superb Infinite Summer album which hit stores in January.
It is alt-pop at its very best; a wonderfully complex piece of electronic music construction paired with good old fashioned strong pop hooks. In a sense, it is probably one of the more ‘commercial-sounding’ tunes from the album, but it represents just one strand of what is a impressively varied collection of songs. In Two Hearts, Michael Lovett’s lead vocals really chime with Sarah Jones’ chorus for a slick and catchy track that builds and builds. We never tire of listening to this one, hence its placing towards the top of our list of the best tunes of the year.
NZCA Lines – Two Hearts
It was great to have a second album from South-West London duo Alpines this year. Another River is something of a masterpiece in our eyes and this track – along with the album’s first single Completely – stood out on first listen when it was unveiled ahead of the LP’s release.
Such a wonderfully crafted song, Heaven is third on the list of our favourite tracks of the 2016. Catch Alpines in the New Year when they set off for a string of live shows across the UK and Europe in February and March 2017. See also our recent interview with the band.
Alpines – Heaven
We’ve tracked the progress of Brighton band Fickle Friends for some time now, ever since their fantastic song Swim first came to our attention about 18 months ago. This year, they’ve stepped up a gear in preparation for what is likely to be a big 2017 for them in which their debut album will finally see daylight.
One of their releases earlier this year though underlined the bands skill at turning out polished, accomplished, perfect pop. A former Sync Track of the Week, Cry Baby is superbly layered, full of hooks, and is an all-round cracking pop tune. It’s number four on our list of our ten favourite tracks of 2016, and as much as we love the video that accompanies the song, we’ve picked their Vevo dscvr performance of the song to underline just what a class act they are live too. (See also our review of the Exeter show on their recent UK tour.)
Fickle Friends – Cry Baby
2016 has been a bit of a breakthrough year for Pumarosa. The alt-pop five-piece from London have been showcasing their talents on the road both with their own tour and also during some high-profile support slots for the likes of La Roux, Everything Everything and Glass Animals.
We caught the band live in London earlier this year (see photo gallery) and can testify that their live show is atmospheric and totally engaging. The debut album is still awaiting a release date, but will be emerging in 2017. In the meantime, we still rate Cecile as their best track so far, earning its place in our top 5 tracks of the year.
Pumarosa – Cecile
US duo Phantogram burst back onto the scene this year with their third album – cunningly titled Three – and this lead single certainly grabbed our attention. Bursting with edge, energy and attitude, You Don’t Ger Me High Anymore marked a shift towards a more polished, highly produced sound.
Phantogram – You Don’t Get Me High Anymore
South Coast songstress Jerry Williams has been one that we’ve been following for a while. With a flair for catchy, emotive songs, Williams brings plenty of honest feeling and a sense of genuine fun to her music. She backs all this up with live performances that more than match her recorded material.
Jerry was kind enough to chat with us earlier this year – find out more about her here, and read our gig review from her Autumn 2016 UK tour. She’s also number 7 on the list of our favourite songs from the past 12 months with the brilliant Mother.
Jerry Williams – Mother
We couldn’t stop listening to this one from US trio Gothic Tropic, fronted by singer-songwriter Cecilia Della Peruti. Great vocals over a really cool quirky tune, with an overall effect that has a hint of Ladyhawke about it.
It made it on to the 4th edition of our Sync List and is also a worthy inclusion in our selection of the ten best tunes from 2016. The only shame is that we missed their London live dates this year but here’s hoping for a return to the UK soon.
Gothic Tropic – Stronger
It’s been a good year for London indie-pop band Teleman. Their second album Brilliant Sanity was released in April and was, for us, one of the albums of the year. They’ve also toured extensively and enjoyed growing TV and radio airplay including a slot on Later… with Jools Holland.
The band do their stuff in a fairly low-key yet wonderfully crafted way. They are also a superb live proposition too – see our review from their UK tour earlier this year for more on that.
Düsseldorf is a sparky and massively catchy tune, straight out of the quirky-yet-accessible box of delights to which bands such as Everything Everything and Dutch Uncles also have the key. It’s a cleverly constructed song that ebbs and flows, building to a neat crescendo. When they listen back to this, the band must be happy with a job very well done – and we’re proud to have it in our pick of the ten best tracks of the year.
Teleman – Düsseldorf
Way back at the start of 2016, Liverpool band Haarm put this debut beauty out and we’ve been listening to it pretty much ever since. At the time we said it carries a hint of Peter, Bjorn & John‘s Young Folks mixed with a bit of Saint Ettienne and listening to it today we stand by that.
Whatever the comparisons, Foxglove is a worthy inclusion in our top ten of 2016, and if follow-up track In The Wild is anything to go by, they will most certainly be ones to watch in 2017.
Haarm – Foxglove