Best Release of the Year – Overall
Votes were cast and their places tallied for a whopping 25 separate releases overall and seven of them received nominations from multiple members of the Brighton Noise staff. Esben and The Witch‘s superb A New Nature was the clear winner with three writers nominating it as their favourite release of the year. Hypnotized, The Wytches and Lutine were the other bands to to come out top of an individual writers list.
1. Esben and The Witch – A New Nature
Brighton Live Band of The Year – Overall
A less scientific approach was used to assess this category, bands that achieved numerous nominations were Slum of Legs, Negative Pegasus and Vincent Vocoder Voice. Whilst individual lists were topped by The Soft Walls, Spacenoid, Nordic Giants, Dog In The Snow, Blood Red Shoes and Sweet Williams
The Brighton Noise cabal met and decided that Slum of Legs were the finest live band the city had to offer this year, aided in no small part by an inspired ‘Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter’ at the Brighton Bands’ Covers Night at Sticky Mike’s, around the time of judging.
Stay tuned to the website for our readers poll and our hotly anticipated tips for 2015.
Read on if you want to see our individual lists
James McLarnon – News and Features Editor
1. Esben and The Witch – A New Nature (Nostromo Records)
The next step in Esben’s single-minded determination to do what they want was to leave Matador Records and self-release a stripped down, live sounding third album recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio studio in Chicago. Occasionally guilty of hiding behind complexity or obfuscation in the past, this is their take it or leave it record, direct and immediate but not without moments of subtlety. I said “it feels like a long time since a Brighton band released a record this essential.” And I’m sticking by that. I have absolutely no idea where they will go next, but it will definitely be worth hearing.
2. Gazelle Twin – Unflesh (Anti-Ghost Moon Ray)
This feels like music beamed in from a bleak future by a disturbed mind. Elizabeth Bernholz’s second album as Gazelle Twin has a cinematic feel throughout, apt given that her visual live performance uses an eyeless balaclava fashioned from a stocking to hide her face. Not cinematic as in that post rock description of widescreen vistas, but more the claustrophobic horrors of Cronenburg and Lynch. It received recognition as The Quietus’s album of the year – deservedly so.
3. Soft Walls – No Time (Faux Discx/Trouble In Mind)
It’ll come as no surprise to followers of Dan Reeves other band Cold Pumas and his brilliant label Faux Discx that he had a solo record this massive sounding in him. If the self-titled debut album sounded like a bedroom produced solo record, everything about this record was more ambitious. In a less strong year, this could quite easily have been the best.
4. Merlin Tonto – Tano Dragon (Self-released bandcamp)
If there was an award for most unfairly overlooked Brighton record of the year, Merlin Tonto’s outstanding debut album Tano Dragon would surely win it. A combination of Cinemascope’s rock-steady rhythm section and Owen of Speak Galactic and Japanese Sweets’ keyboard wizardry, they sound like someone went back to Cologne ’72 armed with a big bag of MDMA. Dance-floor informed krautrock to lose yourself in.
5. Lutine – White Flowers (Front & Follow)
It’s actually quite difficult to write about Lutine, their haunting, beautiful and minimal classical-folk really doesn’t have many contemporary touch points. Some critics have lazily compared them to First Aid Kit – yes there’s two of them harmonising and they are female, that’s about it – but it’s closer to The Unthanks or Joanna Newsom. It sounds like a dug up time capsule of medieval dream states.
1. The Soft Walls @ The Haunt supporting Hookworms
2. Esben and The Witch @ The Hope
3. Sealings @ Oslo, Hackney supporting Esben and The Witch
4. Slum of Legs @ Prince Albert supporting Ravioli Me Away
5. Lutine @ The Green Door Store supporting Stephen O’ Malley.
Kesh St Hewind – Sub-Editor and New Writers
1. Lutine – White Flowers
The ideal way to arrive at a Lutine gig is probably by horse, preferably one stolen from ‘The Lochmaben Harper’ or another Child Ballad. Late last summer Lutine returned to St Laurence church in Falmer, the place where they first magicked up this album of original and traditional folk songs, and for one night Sussex was an older, simpler place. I’m not sure if folk quite describes what they do, there are hints of early choral music here, as well as Indian drones. But if folk is our touchstone, then don’t think of the sugary excesses of an Anaïs Mitchell or the earthy posturing of a Mike Waterson (don’t hate me folk fans), as Lutine have the purity and the sweet melancholy of an Anne Briggs or a Vashti Bunyon, together with that peculiarly English otherness last seen around these parts in the songs of Mary Hampton.
2. Keel Her – Keel Her
I’m a little bit in love with Rose Keeler-Schäffeler. She’s the weirdo girl in school that no one would talk to, the one who was either infinitely cooler or infinitely less cool than everyone else. Inevitably she turned out to be infinitely more talented and prolific than anyone else as well. Of course I make this shit up, for all I know she was captain of the hockey team at Roedean, but if you want an object for your nerd crushes then Keel Her will at least ensure that you’re listening to the right music as you fail to connect.
3. Dog In The Snow – Factory
I’ve been following Dog In The Snow for years, and written quite a bit about them too. I’ve nothing to add except this was my single of the year by any band from any place. Oh, and if anyone has a copy of Mindless Shortcomings you can name your price. This shit is gold to me.
4. Momotaro – Lucky Window
Last summer’s earworm. The kind you’re happy to have. The kind you rush home to listen to, to make the internal external.
5. Collectress – Mondegreen
The strange, calm centre to Collectress’s debut album Mondegreen is the track ‘Owl’. Its chilly opening piano is immediately interrupted by quick foleyed footsteps and a gasping for breath. We have run from the music, but wherever we have run to we are met by the same simple theme, this time on synthesiser. Somebody here is endlessly riffling a deck of cards, someone else playing just two long notes on a flute. The frozen, claustrophobic sense of place in this music, of an action repeated until you are trapped in it, is the stuff of fairy, of enchantment in its most sinister sense. Now a saw is being bowed, and we know we are lost in a world where a saw is as likely as a cello.
1. Slum of Legs @ The Albert
Every time I see Slum of Legs I want to be in Slum of Legs.
2. Dead Cars @ The Albert
There’s definitely a lot of early Roxy Music going on in Dead Cars; the glam rock foundations, the electronic boffinry, the flirtations with folk, but instead of the loucheness we have passion and vitriol and banging tunes we can dance to. We also have keytars. This reunion at the Albert may have been a one-off and you may already have missed one of Brighton’s best live acts, but there it is.
3. Ensemble Lagan/Francesca Lisette/Sam Cutting @ (evenly and perversely 7)
Salon culture is alive and well in Brighton. The composer’s living room is the venue for Ensemble Lagan to perform an extract from Timothy Thornton’s opera ‘They Heavily Vanish’. Beautifully strange, and – one hopes – hollow and confused as well. Poems, including the devastating Fragment for Gaza, from Francesca Lisette. Lastly the bitter romanticism of Dylan and the eccentric fun of Jonathan Richman are somehow made one thing by Emperors of Ice Cream frontman Sam Cutting.
4. Vincent Vocoder Voice @ Campbell Road Studio
If you call one of your songs ‘A Cuntful of Wishes’ you’d better be brilliant. They were, and they are. Check out their bandcamp, replete with body-horror lyrics. Long live the new flesh.
5. Ecka Davies/Jacqueline Du Pre @ Horseplay at The Black Dove
A seance led by a cellist harnessed to her instrument and channelling the spirit of the late Jacqueline du Pre. Standard for Horseplay then. Now at the Black Dove, but running for years in various venues, always championing outsider music (and much else) by not accepting such a category exists. Ecka and Jackie gave us the oddest rendition of Elgar possible.
Chris Kuzmiski – Live Editor
1. Esben and The Witch – A New Nature
2. Hypnotized – Telesto
3. Merlin Tonto – Tano Dragon
4. Dog in the Snow – Africa
5. Battery Operated Orchestra – Incomplete Until Broken
1. Spacenoid @ The Blind Tiger
2. Vincent Vocoder Voice @ Campbell Road Music Studio
3. Blue Spectre @ Fitzherberts
4. Merlin Tonto @ Fitzherberts
5. Rooster Cole @ Green Door Store
Simon Brice – Photography and Promotions
1. Esben and the Witch – A New Nature
2. AK/DK – Synths + Drums + Noise + Space
3. Slum of Legs – Begin to Dissolve
4. Merlin Tonto – Tano Dragon
5. Our Girl – Our Girl
1. Nordic Giants – (Spirit) @ TOM
2. Slum of Legs – (supp Cosines) @ West Hill Hall
3. Negative Pegasus – (comeback show) @ Fitzherberts
4. British Sea Power – (DRILL) @ All Saints Church
5. AK/DK & Fire Eyes – (VU night) @ The Prince Albert
Suzy Moosa – Social Media
1. Hypnotized – Telesto
2. Fickle Friends – Swim
3. Tigercub – Blue Blood
4. VAIKO – Wounds
5. IYES – Glow
1. Dog in the Snow (Cloud Boat support slot) @ The Hope
2. Demob Happy @ Great Escape Secret Show (Nowhere Man)
3. Time for T @ 2000 Trees Festival
4. Murray Macleod (The Xcerts) @ Death By Gallery
5. Joe Dolman @ The Haunt
Sandie Levent – Photography
1. The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader
2. Bad for Lazarus – Life’s a Carnival, Bang! Bang! Bang!
3. Esben and the Witch – A New Nature
4. Morning Smoke – Hunger/Stephanie I (single)
5. Tigercub – Centerfold (single)
1. Blood Red Shoes @ Bleach (DRILL)
2. The Wytches @ Bleach
3. Bad for Lazarus @ Bleach
4. Dirty White Fever @ Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar (Late Night Lingerie)
5. Negative Pegasus @ Green Door Store
Agata Urbaniak – Photography
1. Sloath – Deep Mountain
2. The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader
3. Kick Nurse – Horse Conduit EP
4. Plurals – Bugenès Melissae
5. Broker – ARGUMENT/COUNTER ARGUMENT
1. Sweet Williams/I’m Being Good @ The Cowley Club
2. Wolf Eyes @ Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton
3. Workin’ Man Noise Unit @ The Cowley Club, Brighton
4. The Cosmic Dead @ Campbell Road Music Studio, Brighton
5. Mugstar @ Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar, Brighton,