With Christmas behind us we welcome in a new year filled with new live shows to get immersed in. January certainly gets the ball rolling nicely for 2016. Our must-not-miss show this month comes courtesy of the moody folk and hushed electronic stylings of Daughter at the Corn Exchange. The trio play Cambridge on the day their sophomore LP is finally released, Friday 15th. Starting life in 2010 as an outlet for the musings of Elena and Igor, then fellow classmates studying music in college, they soon gained attention with their self-released four-track EP, His Young Heart, in April 2011, and the Communion Records sanctioned The Wild Youth EP, which followed that October (around the same time as Remi joined the band). On the strength of those two releases alone and their impressive early live shows, the trio quickly gained a loyal fanbase and a record deal which led to the release of their impressive debut record. 2013 marked the release of their debut album, the much anticipated If You Leave, a record that left many a fan and critic spellbound. Much then is expected of their follow-up, Not To Disappear. Tracks that have preceded the release suggest an advancement of their twinkling melancholy, becoming more sonically ambitious. Daughter might have diversified, packing as much punch with strangely organic swells of electricity as they do with goosebumpy plucked melodies, but Elena’s distinct lyrical voice remains in its element.
A “modern soul visionary” might not be the most enticing of descriptions but Matthew E White does things differently. A beguiling mix of the new and old, both musically and in appearance, he is one of a kind in a business full of imitators. White returned with his second album, Fresh Blood, in the spring of last year, making bold advances and gaining great critical responses in the process. He brings his band back to the UK for a blowout 2016 tour playing tracks from debut LP Big Inner and of course his 2015 release Fresh Blood. The tour reaches the Cambridge Junction on 29 January.
Alien Ant Farm’s 2001 album ANThology turns 15 this year and the US band will be playing it in its entirety at venues around the UK on a rare 15-date tour. Featuring InMe and The Dirty Youth as support acts, the tour includes a stop in Cambridge, arriving at the Junction on 17 January. ANThology includes the single Movies and the band’s famous cover of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal.
Teenager Tom Korni plays guitar, bass and sings whilst also playing the drums with his feet (all at the same time). No backing tracks, no loop pedals, no rhythm machine, no auto-tune – just pure, live organic music. He was the winner of Cambridge Has Talent 2013 as well as winning The Cambridge Buskers and Street Entertainers Festival in both 2014 and 2015. With his debut album currently in the pipeline, Tom will take to the Junction’s J2 stage on 17 January. The same venue also plays host to acclaimed Canadian singer-songwriter Lindi Ortega on the 18th. Possessing a tremulous vibrato that bears comparison with country forebears Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline, Ortega’s music is lush in southern Americana. Staying at the Junction, folk rock duo The Rails return to Cambridge on the 20th after impressing at the annual Folk Festival. Comprising wife Kami – daughter of folk royalty Richard and Linda Thompson – and husband James – the go-to guitarist for The Pogues, The Pretenders and Ray Davies – the duo released their impressive debut album in 2014, while their forthcoming J2 date is likely to focus on new material.
There’s a host of events taking place at The Portland Arms that should catch your eye this month, particularly the first Cambridge 105 NMG show of the year (22nd) which will showcase a handful of local acts. The RocSoc-presented night on the 16th is also shaping up to be a loud one with Obscene Entity in town to headline. Meanwhile John Wheeler, the man behind Hayseed Dixie, is playing on the 21st, and will be a good act to catch. Previously hand-picked to support the likes of The National, Sharon Van Etten, Iron & Wine and José Gonzáles, This Is The Kit play The Portland on the 27th. The band has been in existence since the 2000s, formed by Kate Stables who moved to Bristol to further her musical education before upping sticks to Paris. It was here that her debut album Krülle Bol took shape, recorded and produced by PJ Harvey’s long-standing musical collaborator John Parish. Her second album, 2010’s Wriggle Out The Restless, was made in France alongside members of François and the Atlas Mountains before final touches from TITK’s extended musical family were added in Bristol, Belgium and several points in between. A new record is due this year.
Our top Portland tip though takes place on 20 January when Eliza and the Bear take to the stage. Through support shows with the likes of Imagine Dragons and Paramore, the band have clearly established themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Their recent run of dates with Twin Atlantic included a 10,000 capacity sold-out show at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro, plus Brixton Academy and Manchester Albert Hall too. Big things are certainly expected from this promising indie-rock outfit.