So here we are then, at the expected end of year top band list thingies that everyone does, where we tell you who we loved in 2017, and who we think will go far in 2018. The choices have been tough to whittle down, as we heard some awesome new music in the past year.
2017 has been pretty bloody good, but seriously busy too, and we expect more of the same in 2018. That’s the story of NHC MUSIC though, which will be in another article coming soon. This article is about the musicians our team members loved listening to throughout the past year. Check out who we chose below and then give them a listen to yourself, and of course have your own say in the comments section... who did you love in 2017?
My favourite acts in 2017 were so hard to narrow down to just two acts, but I managed to get there eventually, through the fugue of Christmas drinking/sobering up/drinking again. (It is the season to be merry after all!) My personal favourite picks are two bands that get regular airplay on the shop playlist. I have their music on my laptops both at work and home, and I have also worked with both of them throughout the year on separate projects. The first band for my choice is the awesome Fallen Arches, who works furiously hard at being the talented musician that he is today. I don’t think I have met a harder working solo artist than Colin Bell to be honest (like, ever), and I think he will go far soon if there is any justice in the world of music. He has the talent for it. He certainly has the focus, and I hope he gets a wee bit of luck doubled up with both those things too. Check him out here.
Band two for me needs to be Savage Cut. Every song is different on their album, and there is absolutely no filler on there. A unique twist on the album is that different vocalists are used for each of the tracks that require one, the best of which, for me anyway, is Andy From Finance with the talented Leyla Josephine stepping into the singer/spoken word style role. Fucking hell, I think the copy of the album we have in the shop will be worn down to nothing soon; it really has had that much play from us. Check out Savage Cut on this link here.
Sneaky wee mentions from me need to go to The Big Nowhere, The Trongate Rum Riots, and Joe Bone and The Dark Vibes, as no end of year list would be complete without them. These three bands are also on our shop playlist regularly, and I count members of each amongst my friends. They exude talent, and have some of the finest live shows I have ever seen. I hope 2018 is great for each of them! - Jamie Mcdermid
The Glasgow rock scene is incredibly vibrant these days and is full of talented bands. The one band that really stand out though are Mason Hill. This year has been nothing short of glorious for these young guys, going from support band, to headlining sold out gigs in the Cathouse and the Garage, playing the newcomers stage at Download, and blowing the roof off the Barrowlands just recently as main support to Gun. It seems every time they step up to a bigger stage, they get even better. I've said it many times, I rate these guys as the best young band I've seen since a certain Iron Maiden crashed onto the scene in 1980.
The other band I have to choose here is the Swamp Born Assassins. Again, it has been a hell of a journey over the last 12 months, from the debut CD release, and first ever live gig at the end of last year, picking up some great gigs and support slots including Wildfire Festival, and winning a load of dedicated fans (The Swampers) along the way. A few line up changes haven't stopped the band from progressing, and we'll see them headlining at our next NHC Carnival of Dark Arts event in April. Get along to that and 'Smell the Mud'!
Honourable mentions - Deep Purple for the best album and live shows they've given us in many years. - Campbell Stewart
There’s a lot of good music around. Music that - by and large - isn’t being heard by the masses (or even the few). Music that still grabs you and takes you somewhere else. Music that screams and yells to be heard above all the rest of the twaddle. My favourite is straight-up guitar driven, spiky, tuneful rock’n'roll. Pop-punk. Powerpop if you like. A much-maligned term. Ignore the term (or rather those who sneer at it). So many bands; so many choices. Two bands stood out for me in 2017. Two bands who work so goddam hard on stage that you feel breathless watching them. Two bands who have my total respect.
First up, Duncan Reid and the Big Heads. I’m probably not entirely objective when describing this gang. I’ve seen them more than a few times over the past four years and watched them just get better and better and better. I think they’re the best live band I've seen. Ever. That’s how good they are. (I’m an old git. I’ve seen The Who, The Stones, Zeppelin, Bowie, Faces, Springsteen, Clash, Jam, Pogues and many others in their prime. I still think the Big Heads are the best.) They released their third album “Bombs Away” in spring.
Songs like Can't Stop, Lets Skip to the Good Bit and the title track have become highlights of the live set. Other more pensive songs like Confetti and Me Against the World will probably never be played live but are simply wonderful records. Search out Duncan Reid and the Big Heads. Go see them if they come to your town.
Second. The Tuts. This time last year I hadn’t heard of the Tuts. I stumbled across them when they played a 20 minute set, bottom of the bill at a Rezillos gig in January. I was blown away. They were amazing. The Tuts are three young women from London. One black, one brown, one white. Or as they describe themselves Three-Tone. Guitar, bass, drums, tunes and attitude. A lot of Attitude. Attitude a-plenty. I saw them a lot in 2017 and loved them. Anyone who covers The Clash and Spice Girls in the same set is onto something! Their Update Your Brain Album released in late 2016 is superb. Hear it. It’s a DIY job. They announced that Mike Chapman (!) may be producing their next one. No idea if that’s going to come to fruition but it will be an interesting move if it happens! He has a reputation for being dictatorial; they have a reputation for taking no shit.
Honourable mentions: Lux Lisbon, Soap Girls, Fuckwits, Heavy Drapes. If any of these bands are near you they are well worth seeing. And if you’re in Glasgow try to see The Spirit of Slim Chance. A set of Ronnie Lane and Gallagher&Lyle songs (and some other covers in the same vein). They’re at the Clutha on 14 Jan (7pm) - George Houstoun
My first choice band from 2017 is Allusondrugs! The Unsigned shoegaze-grunge band from Leeds are my favourite. They are the best live act you can see, and lovely people. These guys have written a few of my favourite songs ever. If you go see them, bring some Irn Bru!
Second band needs to be Curdle. I absolutely love Curdle! Their mischievous blend of gothic punk-rock can get stuck in my head for the whole day. They have an album out soon so stay tuned for that! Links to both bands are HERE and HERE - Jenny tingle
It’s been a funny old year, not been out and about as much as usual but when I have been it’s to catch some of the best Scotland has to offer. Here are my top picks of bands and gigs of 2017 - for very different reasons.
Favourite gig of the year - Trongate Rum Riots album launch, classic grand. The guys went all out for this one - great sound and light rig which made the evening visually as well as musically exceptional. The rum riots debut album has everything that makes this band special wrapped up in a neat little package - I highly recommend it.
Gone but not forgotten - The Puzzlers final show, vortex Cumbernauld. This one was a bit special. Not only were we losing one of the best bands around but they left with a bang. It was a great set by the guys, and there was a free copy of their album for everyone attending. Consistently writing some of the catchiest songs imaginable I’m hoping to see them in another form in 2018. - Martin McCann
The 12th of December marked the fifth anniversary of my joining NHC, and the 21st marked the fifth anniversary of the birth of the Gonzo Division. hundreds and hundreds of gigs, 90 articles, and over 200,000 words later and I'm still not dead, though a five day bout of the flu there nearly finished me off. I have however, with the aid of whiskey, managed to crawl to a desk and a computer to compile my staff picks for this year:
Anyone that follows the pharmo-picaresque adventures of the Gonzo Div. will know my album of 2017 was Steg G & The Freestyle Master's 'Freedom Frequency'. A gnosis bomb they dropped in the Scottish hip hop scene a few months back, an ontological-themed rap record which I'm still listening to repeatedly. Check it out for some of the freshest beats and lyrics in the genre today, fellow entheogenists especially should check out this album.
Other fave albums of 2017 included Joe Bone & The Dark Vibes' 'Goo-Goo Shoom'. There is no paucity of Joe Bone as they play regular outstanding showcases and are constantly writing new material through the conduit of Joe's twisted and genius brain. Goo Goo Shoom was chthonic and innovative, genre-twisting and darkly delectable. It also probably inspired my best article of 2017.
Trongate Rum Riots were another mainstay on my turntable this year with the brilliant 'Hyms of the Deep' and having played an electrifying set at Ivory Black's. On a more international note Abdominal & DJ Format made an incredible comeback with a brilliant tour and their opus 'Still Hungry'. Check out the sick, filthy beats and awesome video for 'Dirt'!
- C. T. Herron
So there you have it folks, some of our top picks of 2017 - Pop back in 24hours to see who we think you should be watching out for in 2018!