For our regular Future Is Now column we profile the hottest artists who are climbing the charts, breaking the Internet or just dominating our office stereos.
SOUNDS LIKE: Moody, introspective indie rock that gets right under your skin.
FOR FANS OF: Elliott Smith, Neutral Milk Hotel, the Flaming Lips
WHY YOU SHOULD PAY ATTENTION: Championed by taste-making label I Oh You (home to Violent Soho and DZ Deathrays), Brightness is the solo outlet of Alex Knight, who suddenly found himself back in his native Newcastle after years in London drumming for English/Australian act Kins. Recorded on borrowed instruments and gear just before he left the UK, his debut album Teething is the culmination of home recording he's been doing since he was a teenager. Sloshing between intimate musings and thorny distortion, the richly layered record echoes the extremes of his own diverse taste, which finds him listening to everything from Nails and Code Orange to k.d. Lang and Sade. That's clear in the organic contrast beneath unguarded ballads (the romantic "Waltz"), exploratory instrumentals ("Blow Fly", "Reprise"), dreamy pop ("Surrender", "Holy John") and brooding rock-outs ("Silver Birch", "Queen Bee").
HE SAYS: "I learned a lot about the craft during that time," Knight says of his run in Kins, which included tours of the US and Europe.
Apart from some pedal steel and bass, he played everything on Teething himself, though he's since assembled a four-piece version of Brightness that honours the album's textured blend of acoustic and electric guitar. As for the personal rawness of certain lyrics, which track the difficulties of getting through everyday life, he saw no reason to shy away from it at the time. "I honestly didn't anticipate that many people hearing it," he admits, though he now feels better "for having these things on record". With another album's worth of songs already written and demoed, he's ready to work with a producer in a proper studio next time. And while he had doubts about returning to Australia, Knight acknowledges that the move has worked out nicely for his one-time bedroom project. Laughing, he says, "This is the most seriously I've taken it since high school."
HEAR FOR YOURSELF: "Oblivion" unites all of Teething's varied impulses into a roughly pretty earworm that both lilts and lurches.