Since their self-released debut EP "33" landed in 2009, the Brighton trio Esben and the Witch have been pegged by pretty much everyone as "ones to watch" in British indie music.
The group make somewhat doom-laden but not excessively bleak arty rock, all led by Rachel Davies haunted vocals – it would usually be called atmospheric. Now their debut full-length LP, Violet Cries, arrives on the Matador label on 31 January. It's a fine, dark record, delivering on much of their early promise and you can hear it from Monday on our blogs, streaming at independent.co.uk/artsblog. Also at www.esbenandthewitch.co.uk, remixes of three of their tracks can be downloaded for free.
Jazz meets rock – in a good way
In 2009, Led Bib picked up a Mercury Prize nomination for their album Sensible Shoes. Token jazz record on the list it may have been, but it was a worthy entry nonetheless. Now the Walthamstow five-piece return with their fifth album, Bring Your Own, released in February.
On Monday, the first single from the album is released as a free download from www.ledbib.com. The track, "Is That a Woodblock", follows in a similar path to the last album, with the band in cacophonous jazz meets rock (but in a good way) mood. The track also comes with a surreal animated video – also available on their site from Monday – made by the Japanese film-maker Yui Hamagashira.
You hear less about chillwave than you did back in the hazy days of 2008 and 2009 – the kids are all over croonstep now, apparently. Some of the chillwave mavens did take some time out from being totally blissed out to actually make an album though. One such group is the LA duo Rainbow Arabia. February sees the release of their debut LP, Boys and Diamonds. Its first track "Without You" is streaming at ind.pn/fWR2UC. It ticks all the boxes of chillwave: from sun-drenched acid-house tones, to ambience and electro-pop, not to mention a general nostalgic mood. It's also rather lovely, which seems to have been one of the prerequisites of the genre, too.
The ego trip has landed again
In 1994 Ego Trip was launched in New York as an independent self-published hip-hop magazine. It was well regarded underground zine that dealt with hip-hop with humour and intelligence, but also took in satire and race issues as well as casting its eyes over other subcultures. It folded in 1998, with the brains behind the magazine moving into spin-off TV and book projects. Now Ego Trip returns, reborn as a website at www.egotripland.com, offering up hip-hop and humour and plenty more in between (you can also find some of its 1990s material there).