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Flickr CC Cabaret Voltaire

Our pick of January gigs

2 January 2014 Chris Mugan

Fancy enjoying some live music over the next few weeks? Of course you do!

The period after New Year's Day can seem a fallow one for London's music scene, as if the live circuit has undergone its own detox just when many of us embark on diets and abstentions after Christmas and NYE debauchery. This may be the case for the larger establishments that worry about filling larger spaces, but look closer and you find plenty of venues that refuse to wind down.

In tribute to their commitment to live music, here is our pick of gigs coming up in the first half of January! If you want to catch a hot tip for 2014 before the hype gets too loud or bag some living legends ahead of their retirement, this is where to start early.

Fortuna POP! Winter Sprinter, The Lexington, Jan 7-10

This exemplary indie stable's annual showcase promises a fine way to blow away the cobwebs. Highlights include local outfit Let's Wrestle (Jan 7), who look to be maturing nicely on their third, eponymous album of sweet guitar pop set for a February release. Also worth checking out are the sunny anthems of French duo Herman Dune (Jan 8) and a much noisier attack from Cardiff young guns Joanna Gruesome (Jan 9).

New Blood Festival, Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, Jan 7-16

Artrocker Magazine's annual hot-tip marathon returns to Hoxton Square over eight nights with the tastemakers' hand-picked selection of new talent. We have already been impressed by the catchy hooks and emotive intent of Dalston's Deaf Club (headlining Jan 15), with plenty more intriguing names keen to make their mark.

Cass McCombs, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Jan 13

This enigmatic singer/songwriter is one to let his music do the talking, building an impressive oeuvre over seven-and-a-half albums. McCombs quietly bares his soul over folky arrangements bathed in a warm Californian haze – perfect, then, for a winter's night when we may still feel a little fragile.

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Forum, Jan 16

First mega name of 2014 to visit London is the former frontman of slacker pioneers Pavement. Perpetual teenager Stephen Malkmus continues to hone his visionary take on garage rock with current collaborators The Jicks on new album Wigout At Jagbags due out in January on Domino Records.

Darren Hayman's Occupation, The Vortex, Jan 16-17

Studious Essex boy Darren Hayman's residency at Dalston's jazz hangout extends into the new year with a double helping of wry wit and wisdom. This month, the prolific artist returns to his 2011 January Songs project, wherein Hayman wrote, produced and released a song for every day of the month. Expect some jazzy spoken-word excursions, but also glam-disco stomps, folky laments and acapella hymns.

ESG, Koko, Jan 17

New York's punk-funk legends, sampled by everyone from Public Enemy to Mark Morrison, ought to be on everyone's musical bucket list. Apparently this is a farewell tour for the all-girl group formed straight out of the Bronx by the Scroggins sisters Renee, Marie and Valerie in the early eighties and signed to Factory Records, so this is especially urgent. Their stripped-down bass 'n' drum sound has aged barely a day since.

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