- The Goldilox Zone – “Gravity”
There has been a great evolution of The Goldilox Zone’s sound since the release of their debut EP Bump In The Night. “Gravity” is an indie track with certain Jazz-funk elements which shows that the band is maturing gradually and coming into their own. Well wishes towards Jarred Wood (vocalist) who is recovering from a life threatening brain ailment as The Goldilox Zone will definitely be one of the artists to watch in 2016.
- Lunatic Wolf – “The Tallest Tree”
A few years ago we were under the impression that folk died a slow death brought on by the success of bands such as Mumford & Sons. Lunatic Wolf’s debut album To The Adventure, demonstrates that it is difficult to overlook music based on genre if the music is good. “The Tallest Tree” is a coming of age testimony. A reflection on the innocence of youth and how it dissipates as life moulds us into maturity, “ as described by Eben Roelofse in our review of To The Adventure here.
- The Brother Moves On – “Shiyanomayini”
The Brother Moves On kept us waiting almost two years since the release of the sophomore album, A New Myth, before the official release of Black Tax. The collective kept busy taking their artistic social commentary on South Africa to other countries in the globe. Black Tax will see a staggered released over a period of time with the Shiyanomayini EP being the first release of the project. “Shiyanomayini” sees Zelizwe Mthembu drawing from personal experience where he was mugged several times in Johannesburg’s CBD on his way back home from band rehearsals. Shiyanomayini means ‘leave whatever you have’ and it is a term used by criminals when asking their victims for everything they have. The term is used from the perspective of various characters throughout the song but perhaps the most interesting is that of the beggar who pleads for anything, which is described by Thozi Sejanamane in our echo of the track here.
- Hellcats – “Well I Never”
If it sounds like this track was recorded in an empty room with a mic in the middle of it, that’s because that’s exactly how it was recorded. Hellcats first came onto our radar after witnessing them live at a Rock Paper Scissors event hosted at The Bohemian in March 2015. The band immediately became favourites and it was dumbfounding how a two-piece could transfer so much raw energy. After seeing them live, it will make perfect sense why bands records their tracks live and raw. “Well I Never” is the perfect example of their raw and filthy rock and roll recorded.
- Andy Islands – “Crashy”
Following the break-up of Beach Party, I was surprised that one of the bands members, Andy Islands, was so good at producing electronic music with the release of his debut EP Andy Islands 1. Andy Islands eventually started performing live and his performance at Grietfest 2015 was arguably the best set of the evening. “Crashy” is the standout track on his second offering, Andy Islands 3, released June 2015. The track is founded on a hypnotic drum rhythm with chopped vocal samples and crisp synth work.
- Al Bairre – “Bungalow”
We’re not sure if commercial radio relaxed their stringent guidelines on playlisting or indie bands have just gotten better at creating radio-friendly music without selling their souls. Nevertheless, each time “Bungalow” was heard on radio, it filled our hearts with the joy of teenagers making out on school camp. More cowbell please.
19. The Plastics – “Alona”
The Plastics have come a long way, evolving since they came to prominence on the back of “Caves” off their debut album SHARK, released in 2010. “Alona” off their third studio album In Threes is a clear departure from their previous material as The Plastics trade in high energy indie for streams of psychedelica. While quite different from their early material, “Alona” still sounds like a The Plastics song, which suggests that their evolution took place naturally rather than forcefully.
- Early Hours – “Dance Along”
It’s a shame that Early Hours were mostly under our radar only to be discovered late in 2015. We are humans and sometimes that first South African artist to reach a million plays on Soundcloud can slip through our sonar. Maybe it was because the band sounded like the love-child of Arctic Monkeys and The Strokes, but the indie-pop band are from Cape Town, South Africa. We dare you not to tap your foot or shake your hip when listening to “Dance Along”.
- BOXER – “R2D2”
Nothing Major alumni, BOXER are really coming into their own with their high-energy brand of indie-crunch, balancing just the right amounts of indie and rock and roll. “R2D2” was the first release off the bands sophomore EP, Animals, and it was a complete coincidence that the song was released around the same period the latest Star Wars episode was released. “The high-tempo single brings some attitude to the sometimes tepid indie genre. It’s difficult not to get infected with delight when listening to the single and “R2D2” discloses that the band is here to have fun and they’re getting really good at drawing the listener into their ecstasy, says Thozi Sejanamane in our Echo of the release here.
- Muzi – “Vuka”
A skater with a keen fashion sense from Durban; you’d be forgiven for thinking Muzi was a Major label gimmick, but the music speaks for itself. After all, it is his production talent that sees him now residing in Berlin, the epicentre of electronic music, to further pursue a career in music. It is the same talent which got him onto the Nando’s Music Exchange program where he brushed shoulders with and exchanged ideas and influences with UK grime stalwart Stormzy. “Vuka” is a track off his latest EP Fire FX, which sees Muzi getting to terms with the kind of music he makes, losing many of the embellishments of his previous releases in order to dial into only that which is necessary unique fusion of Kasi-bass.
- Stilo Magolide – “Mr Party”
The Boyz n’ Bucks member made big strides in 2015 towards being respected as rapper over and above his status as a street style icon. It’s difficult not to respect Stilo’s growth as a rapper and “Mr Party” is an explicit demonstration of that growth. Somehow, Stilo manages to seamlessly merge hip-hop – the biggest genre in South Africa currently – with gqom – which is the fastest growing electronic genre from Kwazulu Natal – for an underground summer anthem.
- Sol Gems – “Standing With The Sun”
“Standing with the sun” can easily claim the title for the most likeable lyrical and composition pairing. Conjuring up an alluring chant for the evolving Psychedelic scene in South Africa, this track, along with the attitudes of the band, seem to have inspired a whole community into an audible connection with shoegaze again. It doesn’t hurt that they have taken an organic approach to making the music, giving their songs passion, tonality and creativity instead of creating a technical performance that only allows for one finite vision.
- BEAST – “Healer”
Championing their craft with their mood, Beast emerged onto the scene when there was a need for a filthy elegance, which constructed sounds from eras before us and introduced them in a contemporary and current vision. Fuelled by bass, varying elevations of vocal symphonies and an up tempo progressive balance of savage and seducing hymns, we see their second album Bardo as a step into shifting the industry standards. “Healer” is described by Tamara Arden in one of our reviews as “heavy echoed tapping bass chords, accompanied by strong, and at times, erratic percussion, vocals rip the rock n roll out from its primary influence, and pushes it to elevate further than its genus.”
- Rudeboyz – “Japanese Sax”
Gqom has been a staple for taxi drivers and street bashes in Durban for a long time now and Rudeboyz are the ones who have been tasked with taking music to the rest of South Africa and the rest of the globe. The trio from Durban townships has taken the responsibility well within their steed releasing an EP off UK based imprint Goon Club Allstars with a feature in Fact Mag and various global publications. True to the genre, “Japanese Sax” is a steel-cladded tribal banger with a pounding rhythm.
- Felix Laband – “I’m So High, I Swear I Could…”
We are very fortunate to be in close proximity to one of the most uniquely sounding producers of our generation, where our country, its inhabitants, politics and people have inspired the nature of his original journeys of sound. In his latest album Deaf Safari, released a decade after his last album, Felix Laband has shared his fusion of darkness, insecurities and withdrawn softness with his audience. “I’m so high, I swear I could…” is another outlet in which he gets to reinvent the process, the feeling and the form, and he does it with great instinct, at his own pace, with his insight leading the way.
- Kyle Watson – “Back To You”
Kyle Watson has been producing electronic house music for some time now, but it was in 2015 that the producer broke through with the release of “Back To You” which was playlisted on various commercial radio stations and received tons of airplay. With a vocal feature from Kylah Jasmine it’s no surprise that Kyle’s innovative blend of deep and tech house saw “Back To You” competing with some of our biggest South African musicians for the title of summer anthem.
- Sipho The Gift – “Phanda More”
With hip-hop being the biggest genre in South Africa, how did a fairly unknown rapper from Kimberly make it into our Top 25 alongside Okmalumkoolkat and Stilo Magolide? The 22 year old rapper and producer may have been unknown to me and you but his works have been recognised by XXL, Complex and even Pitchfork. “Phanda More” is a track off his debut full-length offering which exhibits both his production and lyrical dexterity. Keep an eye on the kid this year because it’s clear that uzophanda more.
- Chee – “Bottom Feeder”
Arguably the most underrated electronic producer, Chee came to the fore with the release of “Bottom Feeder” and “Charlie”. The technical prowess on the tracks suggested a vivid understanding of the complexities of glitches. Underslung Audio appreciated Chee’s talent to organise glitches into perfect dark arrangements, re-releasing “Bottom Feeder” in January 2015 on one of their compilations.
- Savage Lucy – “Despot”
There really is not better representative progressive rock on our Top 25 than Savage Lucy. “Despot”, is the lead single and opening track on their latest release “Reverie”. Where some of the band’s music is too complex or challenging for some, “Despot”, is a gentle introduction to Savage Lucy neatly packaging their genius into a bite-sized offering. “Despot” narrates the album with its intricate beginnings when a single instrument grooving its way into the entrance of the song. “As the guitar doubles up while the drum taps away, complimenting the curated sensation of the chords, access is breached and the momentum swiftly elevates with elasticity, congruency and a formula for togetherness,” says Tamara Arden of the track in our review of Reverie here.
- Omar Morto – “Daffy”
Omar Morto, came onto our radar when he remixed DJ Khaled’s “Hold You Down”, giving it that Jersey Club spring. Around the same time, we received a pre-release link to his original composition “Daffy” which immediately became a Fuss favourite. It was the toughest challenge not sharing the link with others, as his management was in talks with various labels and would eventually release “Daffy” a couple of months later on TOO LUSH based out of LA.
- Trancemicsoul – “Emotions On A Piccadilly”
Trancemicsoul began his relationship with Red Bull Music Studios in 2013 being a part of the Red Bull Music Academy alumni. The relationship resulted in the Pretoria based DJ sharing his talent on a stage at Sonar in Barcelona the following year and a 3-track EP titled Emotional Canvas last year. Each track off the EP deserves a spot on our list, but the standout has to be “Emotions On A Piccadilly”. The track chugs along kin to a Ten Walls production with melodic flares sprouting throughout to keep the listener curious.
- Nonku Phiri – “Things We Do On The Weekend”
Nonku Phiri was arguably the break out vocalist of 2015 laying her sultry vocals on some of our favourite tracks released that year including a feature on Branko’s “Let Me Go” alongside Mr Carmack. “Things We Do On The Weekend” was her only solo release of 2015, and after listening to the track, it’s easy to see how she was able to build hype off the back of a single track. You’d be forgiven for thinking the track was produced by Card On Spokes, but it was actually produced by Narch, providing a lull alternative production outlet for the PHFat producer. ”Things We Do On The Weekend” is based on a modern day romance/relationship gone wrong, – it’s basically a narrative of a girl going through the motions of courtship. “I wanted to create something cheeky and very honest,” Nonku Phiri describes on the track’s Soundcloud description.
- Buli – “Love Experiment”
Released shortly after his debut The Inner Space EP, “Love Experiment” is an emotive experiment in the relationship between space and sound. Buli has somehow managed to avoid complexity whilst still pulling at our emotions with sonically sparse but emotively dense music. “Love Experiment” is Buli’s coup de maître, poignantly balancing the relationship between space and sound. He is definitely one of the artists you should keep an eye on in 2016.
- Card On Spokes ft. Okmalumkoolkat and Nonku Phiri – “On The Low”
2015 was a magnificent year for Card On Spokes with the release of the Sunwalker EP. The EP saw Card On Spokes once again collaborating with various artists. This time however, he included collaborators in the song writing process as opposed to writing the vocals and melodies himself. He says the following of how “On The Low” came to life: “On The Low” happened when Okmalumkoolkat wrote his verses over an old unreleased track of mine and then we got Nonku to write a chorus. I took the track home and felt the instrumental was too busy underneath so I wrote a new instrumental to suit the lyrics and hook. I wanted something simple and sexy, with lots of space.”
- Petite Noir – “Best”
La Vie Est Belle / Life Is Beautiful was a debut album release we all anticipated at The Fuss. Petite Noir exceeded all expectations with his ground-breaking brand of noirwave. It’s not that he is creating a sound which has never been heard before, the innovation comes in how authentically he fuses all that influences him. We’d feature more tracks from La Vie Est Belle if it were possible, but “Best” is a great representation of the noirwave with what is arguably the best music video released in 2015 to show for it.
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