Among the countless gigs we went to during 2016, we were lucky enough to be photographing as well as reviewing many of them. In the name of nostalgia (or something!), we thought we would pick out a few of our favourite shots of the year. Hope you like our little selection slideshow – and if you do, please follow us over on Instagram where we put lots of our other photos from gigs… and there are plenty more of those already in the diary for 2017.
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
We’ve bleated about this one over on Twitter a few times, but seeing as it’s actually released today we thought it should be here on the blog too. Go Ahead is the first track from Pillow Person – aka Hot Chip / NZCA Lines / New Young Pony Club / Technology + Teamwork drummer extraordinaire Sarah Jones.
Not gonna lie, the video properly freaks us out, but we’re still loving the work. Have a listen also to the similarly spot-on B-side track In My Game.
Pillow Person – Go Ahead
We’re more than slightly obsessed with music that we could never in a million years have ever dreamed up ourselves. There are several bands that fit a category of music that we consider shouldn’t in theory work or make sense, and yet ends up being pure genius.
Everything Everything, Hot Chip, Dutch Uncles, and Metronomy are a few examples of bands we consider leading exponents of this kind of stuff, and this new track from the magnificent NZCA Lines has some very Metronomy-esque qualities about it.
The highly inventive Michael Lovett and top drummer and all-round good egg Sarah Jones have become adept at making music that grabs the attention. Although it might not be absolutely everyone’s cup of tea, their recent album Infinite Summer is (notwithstanding the overuse of this phrase) a genuine creative masterpiece. This track however, is a little bonus that’s not on the album but was created especially for Guy Garvey’s Meltdown Festival which took place earlier this month at London’s Southbank.
Oh (Call Me Back) is awkward on first listen, intriguing on the second, and by the third go you’re hooked. Give it three spins and try telling us we’re wrong!
NZCA LINES – Oh (Call Me Back)
Having released what is arguably one of the best albums of the year so far in Infinite Summer, expectations were high ahead of going to see NZCA Lines in support of Teleman on their recent UK tour. Despite doing this tour slot minus Charlotte Hatherley (Ash, Sylver Tongue) – away with other commitments – main main Michael Lovett and drumming/vocalist extraordinaire Sarah Jones (Hot Chip, New Young Pony Club) certainly did not disappoint.
Dressed in all-white as part of a carefully stylised image that suitably reflects the ‘experimental’ tone of the album, the pair create a rich, all-encompassing sound. Lovett is a fairly reserved figure on stage, commanding attention with an unspoken aura rather than having the ‘gift of the gab’ relied upon by many frontmen. For her part, Jones makes singing and drumming simultaneously look easy – which it surely can’t be, particularly on a fast-paced, percussion-rich song such as Two Hearts for example.
Their atmospheric brand of synth-pop was immersive from the off, as they played several tracks from the album, although the small venue and static lighting at Norwich’s Open venue probably didn’t do much to add the sort of visual impact that the music deserves.
Jessica – with its slick, melodic undertones reminiscent of Prefab Sprout – and Persephone Dreams stood out, before wrapping things up with the thumping Two Hearts, a track that really should have been bothering the upper levels of the charts after its release early this year… perhaps it is right now in an alternative universe in which the masses depend on stores other than Tesco or Sainsbury’s for their music supplies.
Technically superb and engaging to watch, the hard-work and dedication to the cause of Lovett and his relatively recently-added NZCA Lines collaborators comes shining through in their live set. High hopes of much more to come.
London indie pop band Teleman have been getting some deserved support from the likes of BBC Radio 6 Music over the past year or so and there is no doubt their stock is rising.
Debut album Breakfast announced their punchy, upbeat sound with some great songwriting and invention, and follow up Brilliant Sanity, due out on 8 April, looks set to take things on a stage further. The second track from the album is Düsseldorf, arguably their best yet.
The band are on tour throughout April and May in the UK & Europe, including a headline show at London’s KOKO on 14 April. For the UK dates, fans will also be treated to the bonus of support from either Oscar or NZCA Lines – both of whom are well worth getting there early for!
Teleman – Düsseldorf
Our latest obsession is this brand new slice of synthpop from NZCA Lines, made up of London-based musician Michael Lovett and recent recruits Sarah Jones and Charlotte Hatherley.
Having switched to the Memphis Industries label – making them label-mates with the likes of Dutch Uncles, Outfit and POLICA – album number two arrives on 22 January 2016. Infinite Summer promises to be a must-have given this newly enriched sound that Jones and Hatherley bring to an already very enjoyable party!
In the meantime, check out Two Hearts, the lead single from the album.
NZCA Lines – Two Hearts