The Best Local Released of 2015

by Matt Hacke

The One That Everyone Knows About Already

You definitely know who Semi-Toned are. Having finished 2nd place in the British ICAAs and 1st in The Voice Festival UK, the all male a cappella group have a real national pedigree, consistently performing a diverse and entertaining repertoire. This success was well and truly cemented by the release of Rich Man in early August, a slick mash up of Gwen Stefani and Fiddler On The Roof which achieved recognition from Buzzfeed and practically the entire Internet as a result.

As the group gear up for competition in 2016 you can check them out performing at various events in Exeter. But, having performed big gigs such as the CU Carol Service last December, there’s a pretty high chance you know and love them already.

The One That You Probably Know About Already

If you’ve been here for more than a few months, chances are you’ll have some vague idea of who Bloom are. Having won the Campus Bands Battle Of The Bands last year with a series of highly engaging sets, their stock has continued to rise in 2015.

With the release of their latest single, Voices in December, the band have received a series of rave reviews from various blogs, both local and national - whilst BBC Introducing Devon continue to spin the track on local FM. Equally, their other available track online, the April release Oceans, performed similarly well locally, and the band are now widely regarded as one of the most exciting young bands performing in the South West at this time.

As aforementioned, on the off chance you haven’t heard of Bloom, check out Voices and Oceans on SoundCloud now. Both are awesome pieces of shoegaze-influenced alt, and well worth adding to your early 2016 playlist.

The One That Slipped Under Your Radar

Whilst Bloom are the undoubtedly the biggest student band in Exeter at the moment, there’s been a lot of other promising work this year. Sam England, as covered by PearShaped previously, continues to cement his position as one of the premier singer-songwriters in the city, whilst Splitsville released a solid debut punk EP, Blackouts in early November. Elsewhere, the arrival of promising live acts such as Chebs and National Acrobats bolsters an already strong gig scene, adding valuable depth in 2016.

Yet one of the most intriguing releases this year came in Jonny Harrison’s debut EP ‘Don’t Remember.’ Having gigged with Drive In Saturday for the past two years, the four-track EP is completely different to Harrison’s former Bruce Springsteen and Pulp-influenced work. Indeed, the closest reminiscent I can think of is Sufjan Stevens, and tracks such as the opener Little White Flags are extremely immersive in their introspectivity and scarcity, making Don’t Remember  well worth a listen. Aside from picking it up on BandCamp, you can catch Jonny intermittently gigging in Exeter. Having graduated in the summer, he joins a group of talented alumni, including Tom Elliott, who return to the city to perform regularly

The One That You Danced To

As an aside, there’s been a real surfeit of atmospheric electronic music this year, the sort you wouldn’t expect to find pumping out of the speakers at Cellar Door. Delmer Darion have rightly received a great deal of acclaim from both PearShaped and Exeposé Music for their thoughtful sample-heavy releases. Equally, Takao’s shift towards more ambient influences has been productive, and his subsequent inclusion in BBC Introducing Devon’s 2015 Playlist was well-deserved.

Duplex Sound however, having released floor-filler Nobody in late 2014, have built on their online success this year, culminating in a massive remix of Lights On by XY&O which promptly received airtime on Radio 1, and 40 000+ listens on SoundCloud. Meanwhile Theon Bower’s Feel It, which is but two months old, is already receiving a lot of attention, with an astronomic 34 000 listens already. As Exeter continues to produce highly talented producers, you should expect their tracks and bootlegs to be making more and more appearances in mixes both local and national.