LISTEN: 14 From 2014 Spotify Playlist

To accompany this year's AIM Awards, Luke Turner selects 14 tracks he's been loving released by independent labels on 2014

At The Quietus, we’re constantly fighting off the naysayers, doom-mongers, nostalgia merchants and sonic Tories who say that there’s nothing good any more on one hand, or on the other trying to force us to listen to anaemic indie groups, cack-handed psych, plaintive singer-songwriters warbling away in any format. This is why it was a pleasure to head onto Spotify and pick 14 tracks from 14 artists on independent labels who are releasing brilliant stuff at the moment. The recent AIM Awards judging panel that I sat on was a hoot as ever, with loads of artists, labels and releases to argue about and debate. Never mind who eventually emerges as winners at the awards ceremony on September 2, this is, as ever, a brilliant time in which to have ears. For more information on the AIM Awards, please visit their website.

FKA Twigs – ‘Two Weeks’

(Young Turks)

In a right world FKA Twigs ought break out right into the mainstream with her forthcoming debut album, but we do live in conservative times… a lot of what Tahliah Barnett does is unashamedly experimental and strange – her live set at Heaven last week, where she was joined by a bassist and two drummers, was the missing link between Enya, These New Puritans, and saucy post-industrial synth music of the 1980s.

Fat White Family – ‘Touch The Leather’

(Hate Hate Hate Records)

It’s only about a year since I saw Fat White Family live for the first time, in front of about 20 people in a former hospital (read John Calvert’s brilliant review of that here). Should we be surprised that they’ve taken off since then, with packed gigs of repute, rumours of gigantic publishing deals and the freedom afforded by the setting up of their own label? No – their success can’t be put down to the fact that their contemporaries in NME-friendly guitar rock are weak as amateur ale, rather their blend of politics, sex and deviant bangers are exactly what we tend to look for from a band.

The Bug – ‘Function’ (feat. Manga)

(Ninja Tune)

We’ve been looking forward to a new Bug album since he got the first Quietus LP Of The Year gong for the evergreen London Zoo, and Kevin Martin doesn’t disappoint. This is one of the best tunes on Angels & Devils, Manga’s "getinthebackofthevan" vocals laid over mangled space age brass and clanking, like disorder at a military parade in a future as yet unimagined.

East India Youth – ‘Dripping Down’

(Stolen Recordings)

Oh dear, there appears to be something in my eye… ‘Dripping Down’ has become my favourite track off of our first signing’s debut LP, conveying as it does a hell of a lot of sentiment into very few words – always a sign of a brilliant song, that.

Kasai Allstars – ‘Beware The Fetish’

(Crammed Discs)

Kinshasa’s finest return with a brilliant, sprawling album that takes inspiration from the band’s five different ethnic groups and their ritual music and ceremonies. ‘Beware The Fetish’ starts quietly enough, ends up with a fierce, buzzing racket and forward momentum, as if out cycling one day you suddenly ended up being chased by the furious bees of Beelzebub’s own hive.

Bronze Teeth – ‘Glass Tooth’


The new project of Dom Butler of Factory Floor, alongside L/F/D/M’s Richard Smith, has similarly abrasive intent, a high-frequency rattle over rolling robot bongo rhythms, a slightly looser, British take on the austere precision you’d commonly find on Alva Noto and Byetone’s Raster-Noton imprint. This is yet another great release from Powell’s Diagonal label.

Xiu Xiu – ‘Black Dick’

(Bella Union)

It’s often hard to keep up with Jamie Stewart’s prolific, incoherent outfit, though all of it reflects a refusal to compromise or batten down the hatches in favour of commercial success. When so much of the American leftfield music beloved by blogs has all the charm and inventiveness of an Instagram filter, Stewart’s intense, perverted music (as encountered on Angel Guts: Red Classroom, one of his finest albums to date) is welcome indeed.

Sleaford Mods – ‘A Little Ditty’

(Harbinger Sound)

Similarly unbending are Nottingham’s Sleaford Mods, with their minimalist, rapscallion basslines and backing tracks, melody roughly covered and treated by Jason Williamson’s vocals. Cynical and as unfriendly as you want them to be, they’re one of the most important musical outfits in the UK in 2014.

Yvette – ‘Cuts Me In Half’

(Tough Love)

As our regular readers will well know, one of the groups we’ve been banging on about for years for, unfortunately, seemingly little avail, are My Disco. Fans of that Melbourne trio ought check out Yvette, an American group who take nasty percussion as a means to make pugilistic dance music. This is like Liars raised on terrifying literature rather than weed.

Sandra Electronics – ‘As Above, So Below’

(Minimal Wave)

Veronica Vasicka’s Minimal Wave plunder the vaults of Karl "Regis" O’Connor for a reissue of his largely excellent post-punk and Brummie-gone-to-Europe misbehaviour-inspired work as Sandra Electronics. ‘As Above, So Below’ actually makes its way out twice this year – as reissued here, and also in a tooled-up version from the ‘final’ British Murder Boys concert performed by Regis and Surgeon in Japan a couple of years back. "COME ON COME GET HAPPY I’LL TAKE YOU TO THE PROMISED LAND."

Ibibio Sound Machine – ‘The Talking Fish’


We’re frequently to be found spending a decent amount of our limited coin on Soundway’s ever-excellently curated compilations from around the world… but it’s great to see them releasing and championing something from closer to home and bang up to date. Ibibio Sound Machine music brings in highlife, synthpop and the storytelling of the Ibibio people, along with a very unconscious sense that this is shaped by London.

Noura Mint Seymali – ‘Eguetmar’


Mauritanian griot singer Noura Mint Seymali’s voice ranges gloriously over the spidery guitar and traditional instrumentation, including the tidinite, a West African lute. It’s euphoric, positive stuff, as reflected in our interview with Seymali from earlier this year: "Faith, compassion, motivation, patience, love, strength. I want people to listen with their hearts and take from the music whatever piece of specific or abstract truth might relate to them."

Gazelle Twin – ‘Anti Body’

(Anti Ghost Moon Ray Records)

I first encountered Gazelle Twin’s new material at an event put on by Robin "Scanner" Rimbaud at the BFI earlier this year, an intense, memorable performance that was at times unsettling, all harsh sonics and musicians’ identities and forms hidden under sportswear. This track is taken from her forthcoming album Unflesh, out in September and pretty much a shoe-in for the higher reaches of our albums of the year list.

Swans – ‘To Be Kind’


One of the many recent Swans tracks that dispels that foolish notion that they’re in some way difficult, unpleasant, nihilist, etc etc etc. The title track from their long, wonderful new album, ‘To Be Kind’ is a heavenly lullaby the flies, gloriously uncaring, into the very bowels of the sun.

Head over to our friends at Drowned In Sound to see Turner’s fellow AIM judge Sean Adams’ selections here

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