Welcome to Tap Don't Talk, a conversational feature which pits 405 writers Rob Wilson and Mike Clark against each other to shoot the shit about current affairs in the world of music. This is more casual, personal and comprehensive than a typical in-depth feature, firing up ideas about a certain topic that might not all fit into a normal article but are still worth discussing. This is by no means a conversation limited to just us though, feel free to add your two cents in the comments section below or call us names on Twitter if you want - Rob is @robinamicrowave, Mike is @Pixleh and, of course, there's @The405. Enjoy!

Mike Clark: In the last edition of Tap Don't Talk, we decided that, based on nothing but conjecture, 2014 will be a great year as far as music is concerned. But we only made that call while focusing on established artists, so today we're going to discuss the new artists (with no album out yet) that have a lot of buzz surrounding them going into 2014, as well as the those we're personally looking forward to hearing more from. Unfortunately Rob can't be here today because he tragically passed away due to an acute case of being smelly. Or he's just busy doing university work right now. It's hard to tell. Still, the wonderful Gareth O'Malley (Echoes and Dust/Shout for Music/@meridiansquare) is joining me again today, so you lucky readers will be treated to some actual insight. Because we like spoiling you here at The 405.

Gareth O'Malley: Hello! Me again - apparently Rob likes me enough to let me take his place. So, Mike, as we're shining the spotlight on new artists today, there's really only place we can start. What might that be?

Mike: Well, I doubt everybody will agree with this, but the BBC Sound of... poll is still a very good way of exposing new talent to a wide audience, considering that it's heavily promoted throughout the BBC's various TV, radio and internet platforms, as well as the music press in general. There are of course many criticisms about the accuracy and validity of the poll -- given that it's often decried for promoting artists already on major labels with big marketing budgets, and that it's voted on by industry types who want to promote their artists -- but I still think it has an important place. You and I and the people that'll eventually read this, we consume music regularly and habitually seek out music that's new to us; we talk about it, write about it and think about it a lot. But for the less, uh, obsessive, the Sound of... poll represents one of the few ways of easily discovering a wealth of new music - fifteen new artists. In that respect, I think it's a good jumping off point for our discussion about the artists that may, in one way or another, shape the mainstream musical landscape in 2014. Would you say that's a fair judgement?

Gareth: Oh, absolutely. the Sound of... poll does have an impact and puts a brighter spotlight on the artists that already have a lot of buzz around them, there's no question about that. Take last year, for instance: the top 5 was CHVRCHES, Laura Mvula, Angel Haze, AlunaGeorge, HAIM. I'd call those predictions fairly spot-on (though unlike the others on that list, Angel Haze took another year to release her album, and that was by taking matters into her own hands). But as you alluded to, they do end up getting it horribly wrong sometimes: the 2012 poll, for example, which Michael Kiwanuka topped. He didn't exactly set the world alight that year. And remember The Bravery, who won in 2005? See what I mean?

Mike: Michael Kiwanuka's album sold a fair bit and I think he did quite well with the BBC Radio 2 crowd, but I do get what you mean. The voting body (is that the right word?) can come up with some odd orderings in retrospect -- I mean, remember when Little Boots beat Lady Gaga and Florence & the Machine? -- but ultimately I think the order of the shortlist is irrelevant compared to the amount of exposure each of the fifteen artists on the longlist gets from being included. I think it's fair to say that even the least popular artists from longlists over the year have benefitted in one way or another from their inclusion. There's a month between the announcement of the longlist and the shortlist/winner and that leaves plenty of time for the artists included to be exposed and digested. Really, I think everything to do with ordering, apart from the winner of course, is just a formality rather than anything of consequence.

Gareth: I've been looking through some of the lists from previous years, and there's a fair few I spotted who definitely didn't catch fire (Little Green Cars, anyone?), but as we said, it's definitely an important way of exposing to new music. There have been some strange choices this year though, haven't there? I mean, as much as I'm a fan of Chance the Rapper, I was surprised to see him on there considering how much exposure he's already received. Acid Rap was a big deal last year, even if it was only a mixtape.

Mike: Chance the Rapper's inclusion stuck out to me too. I think he's great, but he's an easy choice at this point considering how big Acid Rap ended up being. The guy worked with Justin bloody Bieber and toured with Eminem, he's hardly in need of an introduction to the masses or the music industry. He's going to have a huge year regardless of his spot on the list, so it would have been nice to see a comparatively obscure artist with huge mainstream potential have that spot, like Dornik or Raleigh Ritchie (not that I think those two are amazing or anything, but they would have been a good fit for the list). I guess it goes back to what I was saying before about the people casting the votes playing it safe because they want to look knowledgeable.

Gareth: Exactly - he didn't need it, but I doubt he'll be complaining - it all helps. Anyway, the top 5 last year didn't quite pan out like I hoped it would, but it thankfully did this year. Seeing Ella Eyre and Banks make the shortlist was particularly pleasing as I've been tipping them for a while now. They're both confident female solo artists who seem to have a great understanding of what goes into making interesting pop music. There's just a lot of potential there, especially with Banks, whose London EP ranked among of my favourites of last year. As for Sam Smith, who topped the Sound of 2014 poll, well, he hasn't released much so far, which is a bit of an issue (it's the same with MNEK, who made the longlist). Of course, there was the song 'Latch' he made with Disclosure, which is great, but there's not much solo material around. Still, he has an album pencilled in for May, and its lead single, 'Lay Me Down', was solid enough to suggest that he's only just getting warmed up. He arguably hasn't shown any signs of taking off in the way previous winners like HAIM or Jessie J did, but it's early days yet, so it'll be interesting to see whether his new material justifies the hype. But I think overall he's a worthy winner. Would you agree, Mike? And what are your thoughts on the top 5?

Mike: I don't think the longlist or shortlist were particularly strong this year. There's not much in the way of variety and it's mostly comprised of artists that reflect the current zeitgeist rather than suggest a new one. Very few artists strike me as anything particularly special (I count three, including Chance) and that's a great shame because I'd like the perceived future of pop music to be a bit more compelling. Sam Smith was an obvious winner because of his industry backing and the popularity of Latch -- he was a breakout star last year -- but he's not the one I'd choose and his new single 'Money on my Mind' is kind of awful. Who would I have chosen instead? Well, Jungle stand out to me as being ridiculously exciting. Despite all the buzz around them, I actually found out about them because of the Sound of 2014 poll (so it's done its job there), but I've fallen for them hard, Gareth, I really have. They sort of live in this weird crevice at the cross-roads between TV on the Radio, The Child of Lov, James Blake, The Invisible, Chic and even the Brian Eno/David Byrne collaborations. Smooth as fuck electro-soul built on foundations of heavy groove and vibrant instrumentation that lodges itself in your brain sort of demands that you dance along to it. They've only released two singles so far - 'Platoon' and 'The Heat' (you really need to watch the videos, by the way) -- so it's difficult to tell where they'll go, but they're both brilliant songs and I can't wait to see what a full album will bring.

Gareth: A friend tipped me off about Jungle earlier in 2013, and their singles ended up being two of the finest bits of new music I heard last year. I had no idea what to expect - especially not with a name like that - but they've made a lasting impression, in a similar way to how CHVRCHES captured my heart last year. It's no wonder they're being tipped for big things. Also from the longlist: I have high hopes for the likes of Say Lou Lou (one of the main reasons I'm super-excited about pop music in 2014) and Banks as I mentioned before (in an ideal world she would have won). Then we've got George Ezra, who has especially piqued my interest: I was in HMV in November (which is a thing I can do now, as the Dublin branch has re-opened), and spotted his EP on the racks when looking for some new vinyl. I picked it up, went home and played it, and was really impressed.

Mike: He has a decent voice, I'll give him that. But I haven't heard anything of his that really does anything for me. Just a bit too overproduced and conventional for me to really latch onto. I also get awful overtones of Jake Bugg for some reason; that he'll be championed by the crowd that laud the "authentic" (meaning 'it has a guitar in it') and spit venomous bullshit about the homogeny of pop music without realising that what they love is a product as neatly packaged as Little Mix or One Direction. Nothing against the guy, that's not to do with him personally and I'm sure he'll be very successful. Just not for me.

Gareth: Funny you should bring that up, as it's one of the reasons I went off Jake Bugg in a massive way after enjoying his earlier singles. Anyway, is there anyone else from the Sound of 2014 longlist that you're tipping for success? I'm also keeping an eye on Chloe Howl - with the right push, she could do great things this year. Meanwhile, Luke Sital-Singh, Royal Blood and Nick Mulvey are doing absolutely nothing for me; Royal Blood, in particular, strike me as a generic rock outfit that the likes of NME will probably salivate over - can't be just me who gets that vibe off them, right?

Mike: Irrespective of their inevitable popularity, Royal Blood are the product of a world that allows Muse to become a major influence on new bands and it's unacceptable. On a more serious note, as I said earlier, the longlist isn't a particularly brilliant one, especially considering that there are plenty of interesting new artists around. It's not that I don't think these artists won't be successful, I actually think the majority of them will, Banks especially, but I just couldn't give a fuck either way. To be fair, Chole Howl could grow into a very interesting voice in pop music with actual things to say like Lily Allen has, and FK Twigs is just so fucking weird that it'll be worth keeping an eye on her to see what she comes up with next, but I just can't say that I particularly enjoy what they're doing now. Sampha, though, I do like. Most of us were introduced to him via SBTRKT's self-titled album in 2011 and he's gone from strength to strength since then, working with the likes of Drake and Solange and putting out an EP, Dual, which showed that he has the compositional nouse and enough good ideas to carry his own material. And his voice is to die for. Regardless of popularity, I think he'll be one of the few artists on this list that can deliver on their promise.

Gareth: Yeah, I quite like Sampha too. He did this BBC session recently (which is no longer available online) that really caught my attention, and I agree, his voice is lovely. Anyway, as much as it can affect public perception, the Sound of... list this year seems to ignore that there's much more interesting stuff going on elsewhere that could cross over. There's FKA Twigs in there, of course, throwing a spanner in the works of a surprisingly conventional-looking line-up, but overall, it's a bog-standard list with one or two unusual selections thrown in. I'm much more excited about the likes of say, IYES, who absolutely floored me with 'Til Infinity' back in November. Who else has caught your attention, Mike?

Mike: There are actually quite a few other artists I'm very excited about. The top of the pile being Glass Animals, the first signing to Paul Epworth's label Wolf Tone. Although, Epworth's name might paint a false image here as they're really not like anything he's produced. Alt-J would be the easiest reference point for Glass Animals, and as with Alt-J you'll see phrases like "intelligent indie rock" thrown about them (although I wouldn't necessarily call Alt-J's music "intelligent"). While I can see why people would do that, I think the comparison does Glass Animals something of a disservice. From what I can tell from the singles they've released so far, they're deeply, hypnotically melodic in the same way that Radiohead or Wild Beasts can be, the latter especially being a more apt reference point. Hell, I can even hear a bit of Burial in their song 'Exxus' with its undulating bass. They're experimental and kind of haunting and I really expect a lot from them this year.

Gareth: I was a little slow to pick up on Glass Animals, but noticed the buzz around them when they unveiled the video for 'Psylla' last October. I wasn't sure which to be more impressed by: their visual flair (just so we're clear, that was my favourite clip of last year), or the song itself. I can imagine being equally entranced by both, though. I went back and listened to their earlier stuff, and yeah, there'll be a lot of people comparing them to the likes of Alt-J and Wild Beasts, but that's definitely a good thing, as bands like those have pushed boundaries and made sure to explore creating music without limits. Glass Animals are definitely one of the most exciting bands in the UK right now - they don't seem destined for crossover success, but they don't seem too concerned with that idea; given time to grow, they could become something spectacular.

Mike: I think they could become a crossover success, not that it really matters. As I said, I don't think it's necessarily fair to compare Glass Animals and Alt-J musically, but in terms of Alt-J's place in the music industry right now there is an interesting link to be made. I mean, to my ears Alt-J can be incredibly middle-of-the-road as far as indie rock is concerned ('Breezeblocks' and 'Tessellate' are as mind-numbingly standard as you get). However, I suppose they do have a tendency to be one of the weirder middle-of-the-road bands, and if anything they've shown that there is a place and arguably an appetite in the mainstream for music that's a tad weirder than what's considered 'normal'. Glass Animals could serve as a logical progression to that and I'm really surprised that they didn't make the Sound of 2014 longlist, given Epworth's industry connections and the success of Alt-J. Actually, now, here's a thing: there are no bands on the Sound of 2014 longlist, which is madness because there are plenty of great new bands around - Glass Animals being only one. Why do you think this is, and what other bands would you hold up as evidence that the lack of bands is kind of dumb.

Gareth: I can't really think of a reason why there aren't any bands on this year's list; in fact, it was one of the most surprising things about the Sound of 2014 longlist. But when put in the proper context, it really seems to be in line with the history of the poll, at least in terms of winners. It has been around since 2003, and in 10 years, only 2 bands have taken 1st place: The Bravery in 2005 and HAIM last year. This is the first year that no bands have actually made the list, but I don't think this means that bands are on their way out. People just need to look elsewhere. For instance - take Girl Band (oh, they're from Dublin, so this is the bit where I can feel a bit proud). They unveiled a new single recently, 'Lawman' (which is also a free download); it's not for everyone, being 6 minutes of abrasive, punky noise-rock, but my god, it's the most thrilling thing I have heard in months. It's a real shock to the system.

Mike: A friend in Dublin (hey Nate!) put me onto Girl Band's France 98 EP (you can also download it for free on their Bandcamp, and you should) when it came out and I now unabashedly love them. They remind me quite a bit of Health in terms of how punishingly loud they sound on record and their dance influences, but as you mentioned there is that punky streak there which gives their sound even more of an edge (the B-side to that new single, which I love by the way, sounds like Health doing a hardcore song and it's glorious). They're incredibly exciting and if that new single you mentioned is anything to go by, an album could end up being something kind of special. Definitely not for the Sound of... audience, mind you. And going back to the lack of bands in the longlist: if we gravitate towards a band like Girl Band first, maybe there's just a dearth of decent bands making Sound of... friendly music. Just a random thought there. Anyway, as we're repping Irish music, another band that Nate put me onto is 'Spies', who I think have a good chance of generating some buzz this year. I've known about this lot for years now because Nate has seen them a bunch of times around Dublin and knows some of them personally I think; he'd always go on about them to the extent that it came to be something of an in-joke, but I think he might have the last laugh here. They've recently put out an EP called Distant Shorelines and it has all the trapping of something could be quite big with the NME crowd, especially those who liked Chapel Club - sort of big, anthemic indie rock. I don't think they're anything particularly amazing, enjoyable but nothing special - but count this as me eating some humble pie after teasing Nate for liking them a lot. I don't suppose you've seen them around Dublin, Gareth?

Gareth: Funny you should mention Spies, Mike, because I saw them share a stage with Girl Band at one point. There was such a contrast between the two bands that I had no clue how they'd landed on the same bill, but they both stuck out to me as bands that had serious potential, and now, a year-and-a-half or so on, it's great that it's being realised and they have more people latching onto them. It's always a little weird when you see a band you've seen knocking about for years move on to bigger things - I've seen local (read: from anywhere in the Republic - it's a small enough country that I can do that) bands just as good as those two crash and burn before they even get a chance to release an album, so I hope things work out for them. Bleeding Heart Pigeons, from Limerick, are being also strongly backed for success this year - they've already signed to Virgin Records, which is HUGE. Any thoughts on them?

Mike: I don't know much about them, but I really like their song 'Catharsis', which is a weird little trojan horse of a euphoric indie rock song. The way they successfully play around with loads of different, seemingly unrelated sounds on that track reminds me a bit of Late of the Pier, actually, which is high praise indeed. Now, to put an end our small tour of Ireland, there's Rejjie Snow, a rapper who some of you may remember as Lecs Luther. It's fair to say that Ireland isn't exactly famed for its hip-hop output, so I guess Rejjie is blazing a trail in that respect. I first got into him with the track 'Dia Dhuit' he put out as Lecs Luther when he was about 17 (I think), but he sort of disappeared for a bit and came back as Rejjie Snow and is releasing some absolutely killer stuff. He's got a brilliant ear for a beat and has this sexy Irish baritone voice too. The tracks he's put out so far, especially on his Rejovich EP, have been kind disparate in terms of style, so it's hard to get a firm grasp of where he'll go with an album; but the versatility and willingness to experiment he's displayed indicate that he's worth getting very excited about.

Gareth: Rejjie's been around for a bit, but I still can't quite get my head around the notion of hip-hop from Ireland. I was asked to check out his stuff when he was performing under his old name, and was intrigued enough to give him another shot when he resurfaced with the Rejovich EP. Stylistically, he's a little bit all over the place like you said, but he wears that diversity quite well and hopefully we'll be seeing an album this year. Whatever form it takes, I'm sure it'll be surprising.

Mike: From what I can tell from his Twitter feed, an album should be coming soon-ish, so that's something to keep an eye on. Or an ear on. Whatever. Anyway, all this talk about Irish artists has sort of diverted us away from talking about bands. So come on, Gareth, fire more bands at me damn it!

Gareth: Well, one band I haven't been able to shut up about since I was shown them at the start of the month is Plastic Mermaids. They're from the Isle of Wight, and possess quite a cinematic sound - melancholic yet, paradoxically, strangely uplifting. They've only got one track out at the moment, but it's a keeper: 'Polaroids' builds from a whisper to a scream, musically speaking, culminating in a cathartic rush of sound; piano, strings, cascading guitar... genuinely spine-tingling stuff. They've got an EP out later in the year, which isn't soon enough, because they're the most electrifying band I've heard in a while.

Mike: Having just heard that song, I can sort of see where you're coming from but I can't exactly emulate your excitement about it. It's a song I'd describe as 'nice' or 'alright', but it doesn't particularly stand out to me as anything particularly compelling. The 'cinematic' sound you mentioned sounds a bit overproduced and overblown to my ears; it sucks any sort of life out of it.

Gareth: That's fair enough. I think it works for them though, and they can really go places with it. But I get what you're saying: sometimes, it's hard to do that sort of thing well, and there's a fine line between doing just enough and over-egging it. Still, maybe it's worth revisiting them when they bring out their EP?

Mike: Oh yeah, of course, I mean, it's only their first song and even though it didn't do much for me there's definitely potential there.

Gareth: What other new bands do you reckon have potential, then?

Mike: There are plenty of bands with potential around, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I love what they're doing now. There's Radkey, Woman's Hour, Wolf Alice [https://soundcloud.com/wolfalice], Childhood, Merchandise and so on; they're all fine, I guess, and while I can recognise why they all have buzz around them and see their potential, I won't really go out of my way to listen to them based on their current material. Still, if there's one band we haven't mentioned yet that I think can do big things that I actually want to listen to right now, it's LIFE. They may be better known as The Neat, especially if you listen to Steve Lamacq on BBC 6 Music, and they were a pretty great post-punk group that knew how to make a fucking tremendous racket inspired by The Fall and various other alt-rock bands from the 80s. Unfortunately The Neat broke up, but most of the members are now in LIFE. Their sound has changed a bit, they've released three songs so far and it seems that they're going for something closer to surf rock rather than post-punk. But they've still retained a few of the trappings of post-punk which gives the band an edge over a lot of surf rock, which often sounds kind of weak to me.

Gareth: I get what you mean - sometimes there needs to be more punch to that style of music. Take a band like The Drums; on their first album, at least, they were huge into surf rock, but I didn't particularly like the way some of it came across on record. Sure, the songs were good (I have 'Let's Go Surfing' in my head as I type this), but the mix was off. Luckily they fixed that on Portamento a few years back. All of this is a roundabout way of saying that I'm quite enjoying LIFE; they seem to be getting the balance right. I never really listened to The Neat, though, so I should probably do that. And out of the other bands you mentioned, Radkey strike me as really fun to listen to, and they would probably go down a treat live.

Mike: Oh yeah, I would not turn down a chance to see them live at all. And out of the bands I listed before, I enjoyed listening to Radkey most, so maybe it was a bit unfair to categorise them like that. They're fun; they're not much more than that, but I'm not sure what more you could want from their brand of punk/metal. The singer has a pretty great voice too, even though I'm certain he pilfered it from Danzig. The only thing is, they seem to generate a lot of goodwill by sounding like a load of older bands -- sort of like The Strypes, but not as egregiously shit or cynically marketed -- and that could run out very quickly. Admittedly, they're young and could easily grow into their own thing, but they seem so fully formed now and I'm worried that once their tribute-act shtick is done they might not really be able to go anywhere with their sound. I'd love to be proven wrong though.

Gareth: I totally get what you mean, but I'm going to remain optimistic for the album which should come out this year. They probably haven't played all their cards yet; and there's still room for them to refine their sound (insofar as music like that actually needs refining). Another band who seem fully-formed, in that they're just great at what they do, are Fickle Friends from Brighton, whose debut track 'Swim' has been blowing up the blogs for the past couple of weeks. Catchy-as-hell, 80s-influenced pop, with big harmonies, peppy hooks and borderline unstoppable choruses. It's far too summery a track to be listening to in January, really.

Mike: Okay, I think we've plugged enough bands now and proved to some extent that the Sound of 2014 voters are just a bit silly for ignoring them all. So, on the opposite side, are there any... Woah! What the fuck is that?!

The Ghost of Robert Wilson, Esq: Oh, hi guys! See, I'm a ghost now. Actually, ignore that exclamation mark; take it from a ghost, ghosts can't shout. Anyway, I was just floating above this conversation and this seemed like an opportune moment to butt in. There's a band I saw four times before my untimely death on Christmas Day (being smelly sucks, guys; shower lots): Sky Valley Mistress. They're a three-piece from Blackburn whom the 405 have already featured in the past, and, as their lead-singer Kayley Davies says, they "play rock & roll." Personally, I'd say they were more of a heavy blues, garage rock band on top of that, but you should have an image by now. Now, if you've ever been a student you've probably known some people in a wanky band or two; you go along to see them in a naff pub and you say all the right things to them, but when you leave, you slag them off to no end because they're just a bit rubbish, really. But Sky Valley Mistress are a bit different. I know the drummer quite well now because we were briefly on the same course at Uni, but back when I first saw them, I'd perhaps heard a couple of their songs from an EP they released last year, 'The Best Thing You've Never Heard' and enjoyed them, so I thought I'd pop down to see them play in Manchester's Printworks. Hell, I left with my ears ringing as though they were never going to calm down. Despite being a three piece they blew the place apart with only a guitar and a drum kit, while Kayley, who goes by the name of Hell Kitten on stage, strutted about the place with a confidence that looked as though she was playing in front of 30,000 people rather than 30. I genuinely believe they'll make it. It's not often I say that, but damn they're going to make it big, whether it's in 2014, 2015 or 2016. They seem like a dedicated bunch too. I'd also like to say that by the time you do this feature in 2015, another band I know two members from, folk-trio Troubadour's Grave, will be high on my plug list for when my ghost floats down to speak to you again. I must depart now, friends, the afterlife calls me. Or my university work does. Whatever.

Mike: Wow, okay, That happened. Um. Yeah. Anyway, now we've covered enough bands, are there any solo artists that you think are worth bringing up?

Gareth: Absolutely. One name I think we're going to be seeing a lot over the next 12 months is Lyla Foy, though you may already know her as Wall - she released an EP under that moniker last year, but she went down the eponymous route when she signed to Sub Pop in October. Her album's called Mirrors the Sky and is out in March, and there's some interesting stuff going on in its lead single, 'Feather Tongue': impeccable production and a stirring vocal are just the tip of the iceberg. What I've heard of the record is great too, so keep an eye out for her. Any solo tips from you, Mike?

Mike: There are quite a few, yeah. First, there's Lxury. I've not been a huge fan of the whole house/garage revival of the past few years, bar a few tracks from the likes of Disclosure, AlunaGeorge and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs. But something about Lxury really sticks out to me. He creates these incredibly warped, vibrant melodies that have me dancing all over the place. A lot of these artists that are part of the whole house/garage revival seem like they suit live settings more than anything, that it's either a big fucking sound system or die (that's not necessarily a bad thing, it just makes them sound a bit inert when listening to them on the bus), but the sounds Lxury comes up with are so effervescent and curious that his tracks sound totally at home through earphones as well as club sound systems. I'm actually listening to his remix of CHVRCHES' amazing single 'Lies' as I type this and my head is bopping more than a fucking Churchill dog. I can't really ask any more of him, really. Are you a fan?

Gareth: What I've heard has convinced me that he has a rather lxurious sound (and I make no apologies for that, DEAL WITH IT). I can't quite put my finger on what it is that I like the most about it, but I'm a sucker for a good sense of melody, and he has that in spades. Plus, now that I know he's remixed CHVRCHES, I must seek that out and play it to death. (I assume you're probably doing the same.)

Mike: There's no need to apologise, it's nearly 2am as we're writing this and I used the Churchill dog in a simile - all bets are off. Anyway, right now I'm actually listening to another solo artist I'm expecting big things from this year: Sohn. There's been quite a buzz around this guy for a while now, as both a songwriter and a producer. He's hardly the cheeriest chap around, but what I've heard of his music so far all sounds immaculate and inventive and seriously emotionally engaging. The guy is making beautiful stuff now and has the potential to be seriously great (his track 'The Wheel' particularly stands out to me). He's been signed up to 4AD and they're the perfect home for him to grow, they also have enough clout to make him a big deal with the broody section of the Radio 1 crowd, the sort that love Bon Iver and James Blake. I'm surprised that he wasn't included in the Sound of 2014 longlist, actually.

Gareth: Yeah, good shout on 4AD being the right label for him; they have one of the strongest rosters anywhere (The National, Iron & Wine, Lo-Fang, Daughter, Deerhunter, Future Islands etc. etc. etc.), so he finds himself in very good company. He collaborated with Disclosure, which is how I came across him in the first place, but his own stuff is fantastic too. I'm a particular fan of 'Bloodflows'; at the moment - I think his album's due in the first half of this year, but don't quote me on that. It should be great; as in, properly great.

Mike: It would be a great shame if it wasn't. Anyway, we've been here for ages and I doubt anybody is still reading at this point, so we should begin to wrap up. There are only three more artists I want to bring up so I'll go through them quickly: Charlie Cunningham, who makes 'person with an acoustic guitar' music that doesn't want me to burn things in boredom, which is an impressive feat only rivalled by the likes of Ty Segall; Empress Of, who makes brilliantly woozy, melancholic electro-pop with big ideas and is just all-round amazing, really; and Mapai, a singer/rapper whose experimental hodgepodge of all the genres (she's hard to pigeonhole and it's great) is incredibly refreshing and more importantly immensely listenable. She also had a killer spot on a track in Flying Lotus' recently released folder of ideas/drafts/loops, so she's clearly already hanging out with the right crowd.

Gareth: And everything comes back to Flying Lotus, something I'm not surprised about at all! Good job mentioning Empress Of, too; I've been a fan of her for a while, and reckon she could get up to some interesting things this year.

Mike: I agree, her song 'Hat Trick' from the fantastic Systems EP is absolutely gorgeous and one of the best pop songs I heard last year; it even reminded me of St. Vincent a little bit in her intonation and the song's progression ('No Means No' from the same EP is even more St. Vincent-like, although the rest of the EP is sung in Spanish, which is pretty neat). Anyway, I think we should bring an end to this seemingly endless self-congratulatory wankfest. What we can take from this is that there's probably too much new music around to gush over right now, and there are plenty of other new artists that we like or think will be big this year, but we just didn't have the space to fit in (I don't know about Gareth, but in preparation for this I listened to 60+ artists, so that should give you a good idea). If you're interested in seeking out more new artists, The 405, Drowned in Sound, Line of Best Fit, DIY and The Fly all have great features about artists to watch in 2014 that are all worth checking out. And If you've made it this far in this discussion, first I need to congratulate you, but more importantly, we hope you've fallen in love with a new artist or two that you weren't previously aware of because: A) it means we've done our jobs properly, and B) it means that more fantastic music is getting out there that we can share and get all excited about, because that's one of the greatest joys of being a music fan. So if you complain about there not being enough good new artists around, you're pretty much the worst person.