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New music: January’s most outstanding moments

January is a month for musical discoveries, the kind that will last all year long. We've already had the annual Sound of 2016 list and 1Xtra's Hot for 2016, so as it's New Music Month over at Radio 1 - who have been hosting the Future Festival and cramming exciting new acts into the Live Lounge - here are just a few of the month's finest musical moments from across all of the BBC:


We all know someone that likes to bemoan the state of pop music these days, the person that wants proper guitars back, that wants bands to rock out, to play songs with real choruses and loud riffs, to bring back the glory days of the early 90s grunge but to also be a gang of snotty kids who dress like they just got out of bed and sing like they've just woken up. Good news! That band is VANT and they are here.


There's a probing edge to Huw Stevens's Piano Sessions, in which songs are taken apart, stripped of their fat beats and exuberant guitars and reduced to their melodic core. Electronic soul duo HONNE took to the challenge rather well, stripping Gone Are The Days of its digital frostiness and giving it an intimate Las Vegas supper club warmover.


Rationale's stately groove creations are the natural heirs to that mature soul sound that Jungle made their own a year or so ago, only instead of a collective voice, we have his remarkable pleading wail instead. He's an enigmatic and humble man, which makes the emergence of that strong and emotive sound from such an unassuming frame (as heard in his Future Festival set) even more startling.

Clean Cut Kid

Most bands come into the Live Lounge to play their latest single and then a cover version of a beloved hit. The extravagently-bearded Clean Cut Kid are far more concise than that, having worked the riff and final refrain from David Bowie's Ashes to Ashes into their jittery Stitches. We live in busy times, this kind of efficiency should be applauded.

Mura Masa

At 19, Alex Crossan is already a one-man Disclosure. He makes beats that sound direct and slightly otherworldy at the same time, throwing an odd bendy flute over steel drums or bendy synth trumpets and odd squeals over a heartbeat bass drum and fingerclicks. He's also savvy enough to bring in some startling vocalists to help flesh his songs out, and this Future Festival set is blessed with appearances from Bonzai and NAO.

Loyle Carner

A Sound of 2016 longlister, Loyle Carner's laid back and conscious hip hop is a step away from the aggro bravado of grime, with his laconic delivery lending itself better to telling thoughtful stories than taking potshots at his MC contemporaries. Small wonder that he first made a splash with the jazzy Guts, a 2015 collaboration with the poet Kate Tempest.

Pretty Vicious

Caution is advised: If you hear a wet thunk after turning up the volume on this Future Festival set from Merthyr Tydfil's young and rowdy grunge-metallers Pretty Vicious, that'll be the sound of your face having been melted clean off by the disruptive power of rock. Sensitive and introspective little petals they are not.


Section Boyz may be getting a lot of attention, especially after their visceral Future Festival performance, but they're not the only grime collective burning up microphones right now. In one 20-minute-long breathless freestyle for 1Xtra's Logan Sama, YGG (or Saint P, PK and Lyrical Strally, if you want to address them directly) chew up more lyrics than all of the other performers in this list put together. Twice.

Billie Marten

Another Sound of 2016 longlister, Billie has been the subject of a lot of incredulous chat about her age (she's been singing since she was nine and is will be 17 in May), which is worth noting, but also beside the point. Her soft and aching songs have the ability to stop time, so she's had a lot longer to get it right than it would first appear. This performance from Future Festival will take years off you too.

Guy Garvey

Yes, we all know who Guy Garvey is, and it's debatable whether him covering a David Bowie song counts as new music, but this is special. Guy took the triumphant funk of Let's Dance - a song not previously known for its subtlety - and turned it into an intimate little spin on a deserted dancefloor. Rather than make a happy song sad (the trademark trick of every acoustic balladeer), Guy makes a funky song swing, but gently.

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