January may be known as the month of post-festive comedown and [insert latest health fad here], but it doesn’t have to be all self-punishment and home-made smoothies.
There are actually quite a few things to look forward to on the music front, from new albums galore to tours from acts like The Libertines, Slaves, The Maccabees and Massive Attack.
So cancel that gym membership and crank up the volume… here are ten musical highlights we’re excited about in January 2016*.
* The Corrs comeback only narrowly missed out.
1. Slaves hit the road
2015 was a very big year for Slaves. Sure, their debut album Are You Satisfied? may have missed out on the Mercury Prize, but it was a powerful introduction to the best band ever to come out of Tunbridge Wells. Wasting no time on digesting their Christmas dinner, the punk duo are out on tour this month at venues across the nation, including a double-header in Manchester.
10 Jan: O2 Academy, Leeds
11 Jan: O2 ABC, Glasgow
12 Jan: O2 Academy, Liverpool
14 Jan: O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
15 Jan: O2 Ritz, Manchester
16 Jan: O2 Ritz, Manchester
2. Bowie is back – and back at his risk-taking best
Career hiatus, what career hiatus? Since his surprise, triumphant comeback album The Next Day in 2013, David Bowie has enjoyed one of his most fruitful periods of creativity and, judging by the two singles released so far, Blackstar (or ★ to give it its proper styling) is set to be an intriguing listen to say the least.
The music icon has reportedly been listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar, Death Grips and Boards of Canada during recording, so it will be anything but conventional. It’s released on January 8.
3. Bugged Out! Weekender
Why stage a festival in Bognor Regis in mid-January? Why the hell not?
The folks at London clubnight Bugged Out! prove the doubters wrong this month: they’ve amassed a line-up of electronic stars, including Armand Van Helden, Bicep and Jackmaster, for the Butlins festival, which takes place over the weekend of 15-17 Jan.
More info at buggedoutweekender.net
4. New albums from Bloc Party, Daughter and Suede
As well as the Thin White Duke, there’s a decent amount of new music to wrap our ears around in the first month of the year.
The folky Irish indie delicacy that is Villagers release their fourth studio album, going up against Bowie on the 8th, while Daughter follow up their acclaimed debut with Not to Disappear a week later, and London indie favourites Mystery Jets drop their sixth album on the 22nd, when they’re joined on the shelves by the suitably named Savages and Britpop dilettantes Suede, who are back with their long-awaited seventh album Night Thoughts.
One of the biggest records of the month is set to be Bloc Party‘s Hymns, the first record they’ve made since shaking up their line-up and exploring a more electronic sound. Last month guitarist Russell Lissack told WOW247 the new material is “more atmospheric”, especially in a live setting.
Here are just some of the album release highlights this month…
8 Jan: Villagers – Where Have You Been All My Life?
15 Jan: Daughter – Not To Disappear
22 Jan: Mystery Jets – Curve Of The Earth; Savages – Adore Life; Suede – Night Thoughts
29 Jan: Bloc Party – Hymns; Sia – This Is Acting
5. The return of Massive Attack
The return of one of Britain’s most seminal (in this case that over-used word is justified) bands after a seven-year hiatus is cause for celebration in its own right, but when they’re joined by support act Young Fathers, it makes for an unmissable occasion. See Bristol’s finest in action across the country later this month.
22 Jan: Glasgow, Scotland – O2 Academy
25 Jan: Leicester, England – De Montfort Hall
27 Jan: Leeds, England – O2 Academy
28 Jan: Manchester, England – The Apollo
30 Jan: Birmingham, England – O2 Academy
31 Jan: Portsmouth, England – The Guildhall
01 Feb: Brighton, England – The Dome
03 Feb: London, England – Brixton O2 Academy
04 Feb: London, England – Brixton O2 Academy
6. The Libertines go large
After the release of comeback album Anthem for Doomed Youth last year, The Libertines are playing a clutch of arena dates later this month, with shows in Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and London. This should make up for those cancelled ‘club dates’ last Autumn. They likely lads play the following dates:
21 Jan: SSE Hydro, Glasgow
23 Jan: Arena, Manchester
25 Jan: Capital FM Arena, Nottingham
26 Jan: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
27 Jan: Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
29 Jan: BIC, Bournemouth
30 Jan: The O2, London
7. Independent Venue Week
Wolf Alice – photo: Anthony Longstaff/WOW247
As we reported recently, Wolf Alice have been announced as this year’s ambassadors for Independent Venue Week, which makes a very welcome return this month.
From 25 – 31 January, 120 venues across the UK will host gigs with artists including Everything Everything, Matthew E. White, Eliza and the Bear, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, Georgia, and Edwyn Collins, with the aim being to highlight the importance of small gig venues in the UK.
Check out the full details www.independentvenueweek.com and look out for plenty more coverage on WOW247.
8. Celtic Connections lights up Glasgow
John Grant – photo: Bjørn Giesenbauer via photopin cc
Scotland’s premier winter festival returns for the second half of January with another impressive, genre-crushing line-up. The festival, which is rooted in Celtic music but always welcomes artists from around the world, will run from January 14-31 and feature performances from Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant, US singer-songwriter John Grant and Scottish Album of the Year winner Kathryn Joseph.
The full programme is online at www.celticconnections.com.
9. They Might Be Giants come to the UK
Their 1990 record Flood featured in our list of 45 forgotten albums from the 90s you need to revisit, and with good reason. Now the Grammy-winning TMBG, formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell, are back for a run of rare UK live dates.
27 Jan: Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
28 Jan: Riverside, Newcastle
30 Jan: Limelight 1, Bristol
31 Jan: O2 ABC, Glasgow
1 Feb: Academy 2, Manchester
3 Feb: The Junction, Cambridge
4 Feb: Electric Ballroom, London
10. The Maccabees round off their all-conquering tour
The Maccabees – photo: Anthony Longstaff/WOW247
After a well-deserved festive break, The Maccabees reprise their UK tour of recent album Marks To Prove It this month, and it should be pretty special. Check out our recent interview with guitarist and songwriter Hugo White for a taster of what to expect.
15 Jan: Glasgow, Barrowlands
16 Jan: Dublin, Olympia Theatre
18-19 Jan: Manchester, Albert Hall
21-23 Jan: Brixton Academy, London