Sure, it was great in 2008 but - despite what the 'papers might tell you - 2009 looks set to be equally as fine. Rather than let us rave at you about all the hot acts who might soon be pleasing your ears, though, DiS decided to get on the old electronic mail and ask our favourite labels what they've got in store for the year. From the horse's mouth, and all that.
The enthusiastic responses we got back suggest that maybe the record industry isn't all doom and gloom after all...
I am genuinely excited about this year as the general gloom surrounding the music business seems to have had the adverse affect on me. I have never been more hopeful and positive. We will start the year off with the stark beauty of J Tillman's debut for Bella Union, Vacilando Territory Blues. Some jaded cynics will, of course, think as Josh is playing drums and singing with Fleet Foxes that this is some kind of cash-in riding on the wave of their success. 'Fuck you' is my dignified response! As it happens, we signed Josh, who I incidentally rate to be one of the great American songwriters, before the strange and bizarre coincidences that lead to him sat behind the kit with the band of 2008. I genuinely feel privileged to be releasing such a stunning collection of songs. Josh's voice is one of the most romantic sounds I know.We also have a brand new young band from Canada called OHBIJOU, and basically they're just AMAZING. Already they have been offered a ton of festival dates here after word got out about their American shows with Bella Union stable mates The Acorn (on tour here in February as guests of Elbow). They're four girls and three boys, and I can only say that I think many Drowned in Sound readers will be very keen! I don't want to say too much and put pressure on them, cos they're just all excited to be releasing their album with us (we are more excited to be releasing their album though), and I just want them to come over and have fun here. But, yes, be ready. Their album Beacons will be out in June 2009. After that we'll be doing some other stuff but I don't want to give it all away! Simon Raymonde
Video: J Tillman 'Seven States Across'
Big Scary Monsters
Despite the scary, credit crunch and distributors-going-into-administration fuelled ending of 2008, we’re starting off the new year with some really exciting new releases and are somewhat nervously anticipating our busiest year yet. We kick things off with the brilliant ‘Bred For Skills And Magic’ EP from Copy Haho. They were one of my most listened to bands last year so it’s great to finally be able to put some new music out for them. In April we go a little bit Leeds mad with the debut EP from those crazy, ‘tips for 2009’ whores, Pulled Apart By Horses, as well as an album from their good friends, Wintermute. I might spend the month dressed as Compo from Last of The Summer Wine to celebrate Yorkshire. Blakfish, our rowdy Brummies, are over in Seattle right now recording their first album (due out in May) with Chris Common from These Arms Are Snakes. Judging by the slightly bizarre videos, they’re having a ball. Another new album I’m really looking forward to is Hand Reared Suburban Piglet by Shoes And Socks Off, AKA Toby from Meet Me In St Louis / Shield Your Eyes. It features ten tracks which are all full band re-workings of his acoustic album which we released in December. The two of us have so many exciting plans for SASO this year I wouldn’t be surprised to see six albums surface including a Russian ballet and a concept album about a small pig lost in a big city! On top of these we have about another seven releases already confirmed, but I’m going to keep those under my hat for the moment! Kevin Douch
Video: Pulled Apart By Horses 'Meat Balloon'
Most of the bands we're working with over the next few months are actually completely brand spanking new and we're really excited about this! We thoroughly enjoy being the best A&R people other labels have never had. Our Q1 '09 releases include stuff from: Brontide (ex I Was A Cub Scout), Holy State, Youves (formerly Mirror! Mirror!), Maths and more which is still unannounced. Brontide are probably one of the best mathy instrumental rock bands I've heard in ages and a perfect blend of Russian Circles and Battles/Don Caballero. Holy State came from litereally NOWHERE (sort of, well, Norwich) and got me really excited that there's a UK band doing the whole Fugazi/Hot Snakes post-hardcore-punk-rock thing so amazingly, so we're putting out their demo CD with hand screen printed amazing artwork. Youves had to change their name because a lot of people got confused with them and the American band, which is a shame, but we can move on and say we've got an EP from them out in March which is a proper post-punk dance party. We previously released a split EP from Maths with Throats but now they're working on a full length which we expect and hope will be more truly impassioned, visceral screamo. Ellen Godwin
- We'll have more insider opinions from our favourite labels later in the week...