Check the new NME and you'll see it's full of Radar bands. Yup, tis our first full issue of the year, and we're all about new music. I spent most of December overseeing things, and of all 100 new acts we're featuring in the issue, today's tip Willis Earl Beal is one of my favourites.
A friend told me about him in hushed tones around August, imploring me to Google him straightaway, which I duly did. I read his long, winding and ultimately quite sad backstory via a couple of blogs from the other side of the world (they're too personalised and good to paraphrase so I'll break all internet rules and advise you to go here and here), and I was instantly won over.
Thankfully, post-all those blogs, Willis' actual music lived up to expectations too.
To read his first big interview with us, in which he talks about his background, his hook up with XL Recordings' new imprint Hot Charity and what happened when he was introduced to Damon Albarn recently, pick up this week's issue.
Oh yeah, check some of his songs out too, of course. At present only a handful are online, along with a couple of odd but striking videos. Here's one, of Willis performing to an invisible audience somewhere in Chicago:
And here's one of him singing alone in a shelter somewhere else. His voice is shithot:
Willis' first album is called 'Acousmatic Sorcery'. It's a collection of super lo-fi soul and melancholy-tinged recordings he made himself while living in New Mexico a couple of years back. It's undoubtedly rough, and raw as hell, but I think there's a huge talent underneath everything, particularly in tracks like 'Monotony' and 'Blue Escape' (both of which are online on the blogs mentioned earlier) as well as new single 'Evening's Kiss' (check back on Wednesday to listen to that on our frankly ace 100 New Band's Soundcloud player).
Hot Charity are releasing the album in March – after which Willis will head into the studio-proper to start work on his second album. And that, as you'll read in the mag, is where the fun will really begin.