North London four-piece Wolf Alice caught the attention of NME with their self-titled debut EP, and were subsequently named radar band of the week back in April 2013. Their second EP, ‘Blush’, and their first single, ‘Fluffy’, also went down favourably; similar to Haim, but a lot louder and packing a lot more grit. With their standard setlist encompassing the grungy riffs of ‘Moaning Lisa Smile’ and the soft vocals of lead singer Ellie Rowsell on tracks such as ‘Bros’, it’s no surprise how wide their following is. After filling the crowd to full capacity during their slot at Dot to Dot in Manchester, the band continued to make appearances at festivals such as Reading and Leeds back in August, often being picked out as the act not to be missed. Coinciding with the release of their latest single, ‘Giant Peach’, and with their debut album slated to arrive mid-2015, the quartet are embarking on their first headline tour this spring. This features 14 venues across the UK, including the Oxford O2 Academy on the 4th April. – Caitlin Edwards
Lee “Scratch” Perry
Lee “Scratch” Perry is the legendary godfather of dub and reggae music production. His astounding career includes working with Bob Marley and the Wailers, the Clash and the Beastie Boys, being named in Rolling Stones Top 100 Artists of all time and winning a Grammy for Best Reggae Album Jamaican E.T. His personal life is equally outrageous. During one of his most creative periods in the 70s, he took to adorning himself in mirrors – claiming to be the receiver of extraterrestrial influences at his mixing board. His latest LP, Back On the Controls aims to recreate the legendary style that came out of Black Ark studios, typified by basic equipment and madcap production techniques – Perry often incorporated ghostly echoes and breaking glass to his records, producing a distinctly surreal sound. The result is a collection of heavyweight dub tracks filled with Perry’s typical reverbs and delays. His past live performances have been described as “a mind boggling experience” by The Guardian and his childlike enthusiasm for his own singing and his incredible backing band leave the stage aglow. He comes to the Oxford O2 Academy on the 11th April. – Naomi Southwell
The NME Tour comes to Oxford on 27th February, and this year’s line-up features some of the most exciting live bands of the current UK punk scene. While headliners Palma Violets are more of the traditional NME affair, the rest of the bill pushes the tour in a radical new direction.
Fat White Family are prominently a political band. They organised the anti-gentrification direct action group ‘Yuppies Out!’ and are known for their constant criticism of all manner of societal issues. Their sloppy, sleazy and visceral music totally amplifies all this, alongside their famously unadulterated stage presence.
Slaves, while not as overtly political as Fat White Family (although they’ve become more so in recent single ‘The Hunter’), keep up the punk ethos in different ways; reminiscent of Royal Blood but not mind-numbingly boring, the Kentish duo deliver their short, loud songs with a chaotic energy and charisma that’s totally infectious.
Finally, The Amazing Snakeheads are an angry Glaswegian garage rock band whose debut album Amphetamine Ballads was hailed by many as one of the best albums of last year. – Henry Holmes
You’d think The Staves would be fed up of touring by now. They’ve been on the road for three years straight, supporting the likes of Bon Iver in Canada and headlining their own tour of America – coast to coast. Apparently not. The three ethereal sisters from Watford are bringing their unmistakable brand of indie folk music back to the Oxford O2 Academy in February. Promoting their latest EP, Blood I Bled, and with their sophomore album If I Was on the horizon, this promises to be an evening of charming harmonies and soothing melodies.Arguably, their live performances outshine their records. The Staves are a band which has been moulded and shaped by years spent on the road. Their music reflects this mature soulfulness gained from travel and independence – something rare in people who are only in their early 20s.Having honed their craft across the Atlantic, this homecoming tour will please not only current fans of the girls but also intrigue anyone who has an interest in well-crafted, honest music. They can express what it feels like to be young and free, with a thirst for every experience and an ear for storytelling. – Kate Bickerton
Photo: Wolf Alice at Heaven by Paul Hudson https://www.flickr.com/photos/pahudson/