Tuned In: Ones to watch in 2016

Rebekah Rennick takes a look at some of the bands that should have caught your attention in 2015, and if not, here’s your chance to start 2016 with your finger firmly on the musical pulse.[br]Upcoming bands and musicians have always been a cornerstone of music, continuously reigniting the energy of the sound that characterises a moment in time. Yet from one year to the next, bands come and go, and it takes a unique voice or melody to shatter our acquiescence and make us sit up to take note. It’s rare to come across a new Bowie or Morrissey, but in the past twelve months the music sphere has conjured up a billowing plethora of bands in every shape and size, both homegrown and abroad. Some have toed the radar of recognition, while others have gone somewhat unnoticed. The following bands undoubtedly deserve a place on your playlists this year. Pleasure Beach: Following their supportive slot with The Vaccines in December, the Belfast quintet are on a steady trajectory of success and general buzz. Drenched in synth and layered vocals, Pleasure Beach conjure up images of expansive and echoing landscapes, while simultaneously creating a sense of closeness. The intensity that flows steadily as an undercurrent to tunes such as ‘Hayley’ and ‘Go’ strengthen their impact. While young, Pleasure Beach project an authenticity that allows them to side step any preconceptions and stride confidently ahead. If you’re not humming that closing melody of ‘Go’ by the end of the month you’re simply missing out. Quilt: Not a new or upcoming band per se, Quilt have been hanging around since 2011. It wasn’t until 2014’s Held in Splendor, however, that this dreamy psychedelic group really came into their own. Originally from Massachusetts, Quilt are a band from the ‘60’s finding 21st century living a little uncomfortable. While it’s easy to fall into the blasé characterizesation of retro-pop, the shared vocals between band members Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler and John Andrews are a refreshing gust of dream pop wind. Tracks such as ‘Saturday Bride’ bounce with frenzied enthusiasm, while ‘Just Dust’ tints the listener’s viewpoint with a soft-focused filter that’s difficult to shake. While the album as a whole is a hypnotising experience, transporting you back to a summer in the swinging ‘60s, follow-up record Plaza, to be released in February, will undoubtedly hold as much promise, if not more. Saint Sister: Morgan MacIntyre and Gemma Doherty comprise the otherworldly essence of Saint Sister. Formed in 2014, the past 12 months have shone a soft but vivid light on this duo and their ethereal, atmospheric music. It’s almost difficult to believe the textures created by these two, as distinct vocals beautifully compliment the plucky punctuation of harp. Saint Sister allow the silences in their songs to make as much noise as the haunting folk-infused musicianship created by their partnership. While their EP Madrid is a beguiling cauldron of beautiful songwriting and tonality, they truly shine in live performances, defying all expectations and enchanting us all. Me & My Dog: If you like your tunes with a healthy dose of wry humour and West of Ireland accent, then look no further then Me & My Dog. Hailing from Westport Co. Mayo, these dogs have been around the block, but with surf-pop melodies acting as the backdrop to Luke Healy’s honest observations they’re slowly but surely becoming steadfast veterans of the Irish music scene. Whether it’s hip-swaying ‘Always All Alone’ or retrospective ‘Better Than I Thought’, this quartet mould together in a quirky, unique way. Look out for Me & My Dog on a line up in Whelans or Bello Bar soon to experience the intoxicating energy and good time vibes that emanate from these four. And if you’re lucky enough, they might even share a can with you. Field Trip: Four Galwegian ruffians, birthed from a milky cauldron of woozy vocals and toe-tapping garage pop melodies. Now under the guise of Field Trip, let the tandem union of Wayne Foy’s sharp lyricism and Sean Walsh’s smooth guitar with a sucker punch bring you for an enjoyable ride. Although somewhat under the radar, Field Trip’s swaying, infectious tunes are not without energy; coupled with engaging words and plucky guitars. This cheeky quartet are a refreshing mixture of all the juicy bits of Irish garage pop music today. Throw in some Mac DeMarco, a bucket hat, and a catchy hook and you’ve got yourself a trip to remember. Hinds: If these Spanish niñas, with their sun-drenched tunes and unbounded energy, haven’t caught your eye yet it’s time to come out from under that rock. Previously recording under the name Deers, the band originally comprised of Carlotta Cosials and Ana Perrote, before they were forced to change to Hinds due to legal issues. They then recruited bassist Ade Martin and drummer Amber Grimbergen to complete the quartet. While their relaxed demeanour and quirky style embodies their unit as a band, don’t let the goofy personalities detract from the solid repertoire of fuzzy garage pop that makes up their debut, Leave Me Alone. Opening track ‘Garden’ is a warm welcome to a hazy record that reminds you of those lazy summer days. Cosials and Perrote’s mix-matched vocals interact perfectly, dancing around one another, yet it’s instrumental gems like ‘Solar Gap’ that capture the woozy, positive essence of Hinds, making you wish you were one of their gang by the end of the record. Bully: Alicia Bognanno is the femme fatale of Nashville punk rock group Bully. Just as the darkened roots merge into her characteristic bleached blonde hair, Bognanno’s vocals undulate between an endearing whisper to a ferocious snarl. The band’s brash approach is perfectly counteracted by Bognanno’s unflinching honesty, noted most candidly in her lyricism. Their debut Feels Like, released in 2015, is a tangy cocktail of perfect pop and punch-throwing indie rock, as Bognanno channels the essence of grunge, one emotive howl at a time. In an age obsessed with nostalgia, Feels Like is the perfect 90s revival and coming-of-age soundtrack for those still holding onto their flannel-shirted adolescence.