12 genuinely exciting things for music fans to look forward to in February

January 2016 brought us some amazing gig nights from bands like Slaves and The Libertines, Independent Venue Week reminded us why we all love our local small venues, and we had some cracking albums from the likes of Hinds, Savages, Suede and Bloc Party.

Sadly, it also saw the passing of music legends David Bowie and Glenn Frey, prompting a wave of tributes and retrospectives.

To help you make sense of what’s coming up in the world of music this month, here are 12 reasons for music fans to be excited in February.

1. It’s NME Awards Tour time again

bloc party

It’s that time of year again. Just as the film industry has its awards season, so does the music industry, and the NME Awards are the awards if you want to know what’s hot in the world of British alternative music. Before we get to all that though, there’s the small matter of the annual NME Awards Tour, which takes an eclectic line-up of four bands up and down the country.

Whatever your views on the music bible turned freesheet, the NME’s gig nights always have at least one band that will take you by surprise. Bloc Party head up the bill fresh off the back of the release of fifth album Hymns, with Sheffield’s Drenge, the WOW247 tipped Rat Boy, and Bugzy Malone in tow.

February 1: O2 Academy, Bristol
February 2: Rock City, Nottingham
February 4: O2 Academy, Newcastle
February 5: Barrowlands, Glasgow
February 6: Academy, Manchester
February 8: O2 Academy, Leeds
February 9: Corn Exchange, Cambridge
February 11: Brixton Academy, London
February 12: O2 Academy, Birmingham

Read more: 

The rebirth of Bloc Party: ‘We weren’t sure the band was going to carry on’
We can do what we want: Drenge on another breakthrough year

2. And there’s the NME Awards themselves

Wolf Alice

After the empty pints glasses have been swept away, and the Converse lost while crowdsurfing have been claimed from lost property, it’s on to the business of the NME Awards themselves.

This year’s ceremony takes place at Brixton Academy in London on February 17, and will no doubt be broadcast on late night Channel 4 a couple of nights later (they usually are so keep your eyes on the TV listings).

Check out the full list of the nominations

3. And of course the BRITs too

At the other end of the musical spectrum we have the annual BRIT Awards bash, which looks to celebrate the very best in popular music once more.

Whatever your opinions on the BRITs, watching each year’s awards show is an event in and of itself, and something memorable is sure to happen when you least expect it (Madonna falling over her cape anyone?).

The ceremony will take place at London’s O2 Arena on February 24 and will be broadcast live on ITV, and there are some pretty unusual nominations this year, from Aphex Twin to Amy Winehouse.

Plus, with a host of big names set to perform live (and that rumoured, stomach churning David Bowie tribute), whether you agree on the winners or not you’ll at least be in for a show.

Check out the full list of the nominations

4. We get to go Painting With Animal Collective

Animal Collective, the esoteric art and music project that includes musicians Avey Tare and Panda Bear, have been making a slow burning comeback for a couple of weeks now, in the way that only they know how.

Most recently, new track ‘Lying In The Grass’ was hidden within an iOS finger-painting app of all things, and ‘Floridada’ hinted at a band back to their electronic and experimental best.

It’s all leading to the release of the group’s tenth album Painting With, due for release on February 19

5. Kanye will finally release Swish/Waves/[insert title here]

Kanye West’s been all over the news recently with Twitter tirades, numerous album changes, and declarations that his new music isn’t “the best of the year” but “the best of the life”. That can only mean one thing, that ol’ Yeezy’s long awaited seventh record is on the horizon.

He’ll be launching the whole thing with a lavish, live broadcast from New York’s Madison Square Garden on February 11, as part of a Yeezy Season 3 presentation, itself part of New York Fashion Week. Sounds more like something out of Zoolander by the second.

It’s called Waves at the moment (though we’re hoping he continues the inadvertant sea theme some more), and the show, which is sure to feature a host of celebrity cameos, will be streamed online for the world to see.

Kanye West’s new album: What we know so far

6. Yuck release Stranger Things

Yuck’s debut was one of the better moments of 2011, a searing mix of 90s indie that blew away the pretenders. They went off the boil a little bit with follow up Glow & Behold, relying too heavily on lazy shoegaze tropes (‘Rebirth’). It seemed as if they’d lost their mojo in losing founding member Daniel Blumberg.

Comeback single ‘Hearts In Motion’ suggests a return to form, and we’re hoping third album Stranger Things – out on February 26 – continues the trend.

7. BBC Radio 6 host their 2016 festival

Maximo Park perform at BBC 6 Music Festival / Photo: Kate Westmoreland

If Radio 1’s Big Weekends are festivals for teenagers fresh off their A-level results, the 6 Music equivalent is for their chin-stroking uncles.

This year’s edition takes place in Bristol on the weekend of February 12 – 14, and you can see the full line-up below:

Full line-up so far:

Underworld • Foals • Suede • Laura Marling • Roots Manuva • Primal Scream • Roni Size • Tricky • Bob Mould • Mystery Jets • Hinds • Savages • Roisin Murphy • Misty In Roots • John Grant • Ezra Furman • Yeasayer • C Duncan • White Denim • Field Music • Kurt Vile • Beirut • Turner & The Sleeping Souls • POLIÇA • Julia Holter • Buzzcocks • Everything Everything • Guy Garvey • Mount Kimbie • Matthew Herbert • Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve

Listen to our Bristol Sound playlist of 20 essential tracks

8. Savages adore live

Ferocious post-punk types Savages recently released their second album Adore Life, and we really really liked it (so much so we listed our reasons why you too should listen to it).

They’ll be taking the new record out on the road in February for a pretty extensive tour of the country, taking madcap Japanese psych-rock buddies Bo Ningen along for the ride. Not one to be missed, and your ears are sure to be ringing at the end of it all.

The dates are as follows:

February 18: De La War Pavilion, Bexhill
February 19: Junction, Cambridge
February 21: Art School, Glasgow
February 22: Albert Hall, Manchester
February 23: Irish Centre, Leeds

9. Foals prepare for the big time


They’ve just been announced as co-headlining the Reading and Leeds festivals in August alongside Disclosure, and it looks like Foals are slowly ascending to their rightful place atop the mountain of British guitar music.

Never ones to rush things, the Oxfordshire five-piece will be taking in a six-date arena tour this month to get themselves acquainted with the huge crowds they’re set to expect this summer.

The dates are as follows:

February 10: 3Arena, Dublin
February 12: SSE Hydro, Glasgow
February 14: Arena, Manchester
February 16: SSE Arena, Wembley
February 19: Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham
February 20: First Direct Arena, Leeds

10. Suede hit the road

Suede released their second album since the big comeback of a couple of years ago in Night Thoughts just last week, and it take the band’s usual, big-chorus’d schtick and manages to lather an amazingly cinematic production across the whole thing.

The end result sounds pretty epic, and we can’t wait to watch the true survivors of Britpop do their high-camp thing on tour this month.

The dates are as follows:

February 8: Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
February 9: Albert Hall, Manchester
February 10: Olympia, Dublin
February 12: Forum, London
February 14: O2 Academy, Leeds

11. The return of Wild Nothing

If you like music to lose yourself in – y’know, that kind of warm, dream-pop style that’s repetitive without being boring – then look out for the new record from Wild Nothing. After two critically acclaimed albums the US band release Life of Pause on February 19.

To whet your appetite, check out the video for double-sided single ‘To Know You  / TV Queen’ above.

12. A surprise album – or three?


Increasingly, the biggest music stars are dropping albums with little or no warning. Last week Rihanna posted Anti on Tidal in full after months of speculation but not a single announcement, following in the footsteps of Drake, Wilco, Beyoncé and U2.

This month, could we have a new album from Radiohead (pictured), or Frank Ocean, or Jay-Z? All three have form in the surprise album stakes, and all three are rumoured to be readying new material.

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