Anticipated: 20 Acts To Watch in 2016

By Ben Tipple

A quick glimpse at the release schedule for 2016 already has our collective mouth watering. The start of the year sees the release of material by artists we have been championing for some time, and by the looks of things, it’s only set to continue as the months go on. As in previous years, our team have brought their musical brains together to provide a list of the bands we will be keeping a close eye on over the next 12 months.

Some of these acts are reasonably well established, at least in the underground, but are looking to explode into the mainstream in 2016. Some are brand new, but have the obvious potential to achieve just that in the very near future. Avid readers may even recognise some names from last year’s list, ones that we think are ready to take it even one step further. There are countless other bands that we are closely following, but these are the ones we consider on the brink of a breakthrough.

Here is our list of 20 acts to keep an eye on in 2016, in alphabetical order.

Bellevue Days

Bellevue Days had a cracking 2015; they released their stunning EP ‘The Sun Came Up When We Were Young’, and have had their single ‘Ripped Jeans’ played as Single Of the Week by Beats Radio DJ Zane Lowe, alongside various gigs with the likes of Let’s Talk Daggers and Red House Glory. Pretty impressive for a band that only really came into their own last year! Their blend of powerfully organic riffs and soaring vocals create bittersweet tracks that’ll have you singing along in next to no time whatsoever. Keep your eyes on these guys; they’re going to be huge. [JT]

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Big Ups

New York based Big Ups released their excellent debut album in 2014. ‘Eighteen Hours of Static’ showcased their audible mood swings, from ferocious punk to toned down sludge, experimenting with everything in-between. With an extensive UK and mainland European tour in the books for March and April 2016, and the assumed release of new album ‘Before A Million Universes’ set to up their game even further, a band who met learning all about category 5 cables are preparing to truly put that past behind them. [BT]

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Black Foxxes

Although Exeter trio Black Foxxes didn’t release any substantial new material in 2015, it’s forgivable when the reason appears to be a huge record deal and hands-on championing by Daniel P Carter himself. Having signed to Search and Destroy Records, home of Mallory Knox, While She Sleeps and Don Broco (none of which they share musical similarities to), 2016 is likely to see a huge push forwards. Their live shows are already cataclysmic, with a particularly haunting set at Reading Festival last year, and their soundscapes stunning. Anything that follows 2014’s ‘Pines’ EP is destined to be equally mind-blowing. [BT]

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Black Peaks

Black Peaks introduced us to some new material in 2015 through a series of explosive live shows and as epic as these new slabs of technical alternative rock are, it’s made waiting for an album even more agonising. That’s all about to change in April when their debut album ‘Statues’ gets its long awaited release. The band have been hard at work trying to tame their massive sound for long enough to capture it on record and we can’t wait to hear the results. For the sake of other touring bands, Black Peaks need to follow the release with headlining shows of their own, as theirs is a set that no-one wants to follow. [MJ]

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Major record label deal? Check. Critically acclaimed EP? Check. A cultish fanbase, ecstatic live shows and a triumphant Radio 1 live session? Check, check and check. Southampton’s favourite sadness salesmen have been on fine form over the last twelve months and we enter the New Year excited both for new EP ‘The Stranger’ and their tour with Neck Deep… and that’s all just in February! We’re holding our breath for a full-length album in 2016 – hopefully we won’t suffocate. Although given the band’s gothic aesthetic, that might be strangely apt. [RB]

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Crooks’ debut album ‘Are We All the Same Distance Apart’ earned them the number seven spot on our Best of 2015 list for its relentless energy, power and emotion. As a late 2015 release it might have been overlooked by some, but when the band take to the stage alongside Coheed and Cambria and Glassjaw at the end of January, nobody will be looking away. With a live set that’s somehow even more emotionally impactful than their stunning debut album, we’ve got no doubt Crooks will be gathering legions of new fans with every performance. 2016 will be a big year for the new champions of British post-hardcore. [MJ]

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The Dirty Nil

The Dirty Nil have been taking their time. They’ve existed for a decade, but didn’t release their first 7” single until 2011. After self-releasing a couple of singles and an EP, the raucous trio from Ontario, Canada began serious touring and released a single via Fat Wreck Chords in 2014. 2015 saw them on the Vans Warped Tour and playing The Fest, in Gainesville. To start 2016, they’re finally releasing a long-awaited full-length LP, ‘Higher Power’, via Dine Alone Records, and will be playing dates in Europe and the US. They’re not taking their time, anymore. [PS]

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When we put Faux on our London Christmas Party bill towards the end of 2014, the reaction was refreshing. Heads turned at the sound of vocalist Lee Male’s dulcet tones, yet an air of confusion reverberated around the room. Those looking to pigeonhole the band struggled to find an appropriate genre. Is this pop? Is it alternative rock? Could it even be emo? Does it really matter? No, it doesn’t. Especially when the hooks are this catchy, the vocals stunning and the style ever-surprising. With the band having clearly upped their game in the latter part of 2015, and a debut album underway, Faux have got the crossover appeal to see them looking more than promising come festival season 2016. [BT]

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Happy Accidents

When we tipped Happy Accidents as ones to watch back at the start of 2015, we were desperately hoping for their debut album, and follow-up to 2014’s ‘Noy Yet Jaded’ EP. That full-length didn’t materialise, but that didn’t stop Happy Accidents continuing their upward trajectory. As well as teaming up with Austeros, Isaac and Young Attenborough towards the end of the year for a notable split release, the London trio’s touring schedule is likely to pay off as 2016 unfolds. We wouldn’t be surprised to see a record deal and a more substantial release in the coming months. [BT]

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After switching their name from Baby Godzilla to HECK due to some icky copyright based business (the less said about that, the better), aggressive experimental hardcore quartet HECK are due to drop their debut record at some point during 2016. Known for their chaotic shows which involve stepladders, stage diving and stacks of amps strewn out in the audience, the Nottingham crew have kept their fan-base waiting for a full-length LP since their inception in 2009 despite releasing singles on both Venn Records and Enter Shikari’s own Ambush Reality. With latest single, The Breakers, the band continue to polarise the hardcore scene with their unique blend of Dillinger-esque math-core riffs and aggressive vocals in the vein of old-skool Pulled Apart By Horses. Here’s to hoping that the band can emulate their phenomenal live performances with a stellar record. [JHW]

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Losing Sleep

Losing Sleep will blow us away early this year with their new debut album coming out in January on Beach Community. We are all for strong starts to the year. Their split with T-Shirt Weather had emo songs that made you sing at the top of you lungs and their debut album is sure to continue with the upbeat, sunshiny emo bangers which will brighten up your winter and soundtrack your summer. [MH]

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Milk Teeth

2015 saw them sign to Hopeless records, re-release the storming ‘Sad Sack’ EP and play their first festival main stages, so it’s fair to say 2016 had a lot to live up to for Cotswolds kids Milk Teeth. However, only a week in it’s already proving to be an eventful year for the quartet’s rapidly-growing fanbase as they announce the sudden departure of guitarist/vocalist Joshua Bannister. With Hindsights’ Billy Hutton stepping up to take his place less than a month before the release of début album ‘Vile Child’, What Happens Next May Shock You. But more likely, it’ll just make you headbang like a lunatic. [RB]

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Muncie Girls

An Exeter-based punk rock band once described as “catchy as the plague”? Meet Muncie Girls, your new favourite band. Sparkling guitars, thunderous drums, and thoughtful, intelligent lyrics from frontwoman Lande, Muncie Girls throw shades of emo and upbeat punk rock with a light dash of mid-‘90s grunge – with a lifelong guarantee to make your damn face smile and your head nod. With debut record From Caplan to Belsize out on 4th March, Muncie Girls make music so nice they might as well be an area of outstanding natural beauty. [CR]

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Pinegrove are about to explode. 2016 is going to be a huge year for this indie rock band and they’re going to be your new favourites. Recently signed to Run For Cover and with an impending debut record, ‘Cardinal’, following up their ‘Everything So Far’ compilation released at the tail end of 2015, along with a ton of shows planned, these young kids from New Jersey are about to dive head first into a year that will win them the hearts and minds of thousands of music fans. Take note now, or feel like a dummy when they top everyone’s Album Of The Year lists come December. [CM]

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Pretend Happy

While more and more bands are venturing into a more experimental world these days, sometimes you need something a bit more instant and inviting. Thankfully, Pretend Happy are the perfect solution. They effortlessly blend driving riffs and rhythms with sweet melody, and brutally honest lyrics. We gave you the first play of their excellent track ‘Save Me’ in November, which showcases their ability in the best way. It also serves as the perfect precursor to their forthcoming – and fantastic – debut album ‘Tired Eyes’, which is due out in February. Expect to see the name Pretend Happy on more and more line-ups throughout 2016. [GB]

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There has already been some buzz around Rain over the last year. They have played numerous shows, and also released a handful of music videos – including one for the glorious ‘Slur’. Their woozy brand of alternative rock is dripping in reverb and fuzz, and redolent of the spirit of the 90’s. More than just a nostalgic trip down memory lane, the Swindon quartet have injected a new lease of life into the modern shoegaze sound. They have just announced their debut EP ‘Symphony Pains’, which is due for release imminently through Close To Home records, and will undoubtedly see Rain really make their mark on the scene over the next twelve months. [GB]

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Safe To Say

The Canadian quartet Safe To Say have big plans for 2016. In a recent conversation with vocalist Brad Garcia, we were enthralled by his talk of change; his undeniable passion to offer the world something new. An unashamed drive to find the unique, whether Garcia believes the ultimate aim is a true possibility or not. With that, whatever the band release over the next 12 months will be worth listening to. The understated ‘Hiding Games’ EP has already provided a glimpse into their diversity, cemented by their alternate version of EP track ‘Zoey’ towards the end of last year. Pulling all that together into a coherent sound is not an easy task, but with Garcia’s fire leading the charge, it might just be possible. [BT]

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Two Houses

We talk about Two Houses a lot. There’s a reason for that and it’s because they are incredibly special. We don’t really know how to place them in a genre, yeah it’s punk rock but it’s garagey, shouty, dirty, lo-fi sort of punk rock with an absolutely electric live show. The new album is a step up from the EPs. The songs are strong, lyrically and musically and they wedge themselves in your head so you can’t shake them out. We’ve been waiting for this album for two thirds of 2015 and know when it comes out in 2016 it’s going to blow everyone away. [MH]

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“Imagine the bass line from ‘Longview’ had a grungey love child with Jamie Lenman of Reuben. AND the milk it was fed was laced with infectious pop punk melodies.” That’s how Bristol four-piece Weatherstate described themselves back at the end of 2014 when we spoke to them about their debut EP, ‘Dead Ends’. It’s this winning formula that has served them well through 2015, leading them to the brink of releasing their ‘Dumbstuck’ EP through Failure By Design in early 2016. With 11 more months to build on ‘Dumbstucks’ undoubted success, there’s so much more in store for this lot before the year is through. [BT]

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Combine guttural riffs with a charismatic live-wire frontman, and you get the glorious chemical reaction called Zoax. With their ability to throw heavy and beauty pretty much seamlessly into the same song, Zoax have been a band worth your attention for a couple of years now, but with a new album due in 2016 it’s this year where the world will be forced into noticing them. But be warned – whatever they put on record will only be amplified and showcased to its highest potential on stage, as Zoax are known and well-respected for their theatrical live shows and a Jason Butler-esque performance from frontman Adam Carroll. Our recommendation? Get ready for Zoax. [CR]

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