Tonight, this year’s edition of the AIM Awards will be taking place and - following on from their successful virtual version of the ceremony last year - they’re once again going to be streaming the entire thing direct to your living room.
Not only that, but this year’s Awards will be celebrating some of the finest independent talent going: from the incredible Arlo Parks - who’s up for four awards! - to the ‘Peng Black Girls’ star herself, ENNY, via the likes of Working Men’s Club, Tkay Maidza, Fontaines DC, and Lava La Rue, it’s set to be a night jam-packed with brilliant music.
To celebrate properly, we’ve gone back through DIY’s records and picked out some of the standout tracks to come from a selection of tonight’s nominees. So, get yourself comfortable, dive in, and revisit what we had to say about some of the last year’s biggest and best tracks.
Arlo Parks - Caroline
Cast your mind back, dear reader, to when things like ‘catching the bus’ and ‘seeing other people’ were regular occurrences. Most of us (or perhaps it’s this particular avoider of confrontation talking) would, on seeing a potential breakup about to occur within our gaze, promptly direct our eyes in another direction completely. Not Arlo Parks. ‘Caroline’, a tale of a breakup watched from not-very-far is as dreamily told as we’ve come to expect from the Londoner, regaling a quite ordinary story in such a gorgeous way that we’re gripped as to the story, and listening with a sigh. (Emma Swann)
Arlo Parks is nominated for UK Independent Breakthrough, Best Independent Track, Best Independent Album, and Best Independent Video.
Bicep - Saku
Belfast electronic duo Bicep should probably be standing trial in the Hague for the amount of WMDs they’ve dropped since 2009. With new single ‘Saku’, Andrew Ferguson and Matthew McBriar team up with vocalist Clara La San for one of their most understated cuts to date. Inspired by footwork, ’90s R&B and classic IDM, it strikes an elusive sweet spot between two distinct energies: the dizzying buzz of getting ready for a night or two out (remember those?) mixed with the private relief of finally getting home. This one’s on repeat. (Brian Coney)
Bicep are nominated for International Breakthrough and Best [Difficult] Second Album.
Dream Wife - Hasta La Vista
One of the newbies teased back last summer - when we’d have been able to throw a lukewarm overpriced pint around to its earwormy chorus (sob) - ‘So When You Gonna’ is the second number shared from Dream Wife’s second LP ‘So When You Gonna…’, and as well as showing off the trio’s knack for noodling riffs and pop hooks - gets a bit meta: “How many ways to say goodbye?” asks Rakel Mjöll. Er, according to its own lyrics, it’s… three? (Emma Swann)
Dream Wife are nominated for Best [Difficult] Second Album.
Dry Cleaning - Scratchcard Lanyard
A full year since our Class of 2020 cover stars released any new material, with umpteen speak-sing bands having monotone-d their way onto the scene in the interim, Dry Cleaning are finally back to show them all how it’s done. Propelled along with their tautest, most direct riffs yet - and even a proper guitar-hero solo to boot (!) - the band might be musically aiming bigger, but vocalist Florence Shaw’s inimitable lyrics are, thankfully, as wonderfully odd as ever. “I’ve come here to make a ceramic shoe… I’ve come to join your knitting circle/ I’ve come to hand-weave my own bunk-bed ladder in a few short sessions,” she intones, like the ghost of all our failed lockdown craft projects: “Do everything, and feel nothing”. (Lisa Wright)
Dry Cleaning are nominated for Best Independent Album.
ENNY - Same Old
Following October’s huge hit ‘Peng Black Girls’, ENNY is once again teasing her highly-anticipated debut EP with sleek new bop ‘Same Old’. With her impressive lyricism and flow at front and centre, ENNY’s mesmerising bars soar over the sunshine-soaked jazz-flecked backing as she tackles subjects including Brexit, love, social media and gentrification (in her own words: “Fuck you and your gentrification!”). Another impressive glimpse at the kind of powerful and poignant tracks the rising artist can effortlessly conjure, ENNY’s definitely not just the “same old”. (Elly Watson)
ENNY is nominated for Best Independent Track and One To Watch.
Fontaines DC - I Don’t Belong
The recently-released title track from hugely-anticipated forthcoming second album ‘A Hero’s Death’ might have rattled in on needling guitars and cries of “Life ain’t always empty,” but don’t go thinking Fontaines DC are the same hopeful young whipper-snappers that dreamt of being ‘Big’ not so long ago. Instead, ‘I Don’t Belong’ shows a bleaker, more battle-worn side to the Dubliners, Grian Chatten’s maudlin vocal laced over guitars that weave together to create a rolling atmospheric wave, lapping gently at the toes of both defiance and despair. It’s easy, given the quintet’s rapid rise, to read into the repeated titular assertions of their latest as a purposeful ‘fuck you’ to the shackles of success; perhaps it is a little too, but ‘I Don’t Belong’ also shows a band resistant to pigeonholing, whose second full length looks set to surprise in more ways than people might have imagined. (Lisa Wright)
Fontaines DC are nominated for International Breakthrough and Best [Difficult] Second Album.
Phoebe Bridgers - Garden Song
There’s a pulse that runs throughout the entirety of Phoebe Bridgers’ ‘The Garden’, the first single to emerge from a highly-anticipated second full-length. It acts like a heartbeat, harking at the unstoppable passing of time. Much like its namesake, ‘The Garden’ chronicles growth, from the notches on the door-frame to her time in college, to her eventual realisation: “I have everything I wanted”. Accompanied by a deep, rumbling male vocal, with ‘The Garden’, Phoebe offers a twisting journey through frustration and anger, to acceptance and even happiness, played out through her characteristic beautiful melancholia. (Ben Tipple)
Phoebe Bridgers is nominated for Best Independent Album.
Working Men’s Club - Valleys
It’s an unfortunate time to be fined £10k for having an illegal rave because the latest from Manchester’s WMC is literally crying out for people to lose an important part of their brains somewhere in field (alright). All Haçienda vibes, glitching electronics and ’90s keys, you can practically see a sea of jaw-chewing bucket hat-wearers with every spiralling drum pad beat – and if that’s a somewhat dated image then it’s also one that fits. Working Men’s Club make dance music for the era of Es and whizz, for when Deadmau5 was just a thing you found making a horrible whiff behind the fridge. Pass us the baggy. (Lisa Wright)
Working Men’s Club are nominated for UK Independent Breakthrough, Best Independent Album Best and Creative Packaging.
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