Whoever wrote the script for 2011 deserves an Oscar. Riots, revolutions, the collapse of global capitalism, POTENTIAL TIME TRAVEL…this year has pretty much had it all.
2011 was also a year of great music, with fantastic records from some of our favourite established artists and exciting early salvos from some newfound loves – and next year promises to be even better.
We have spent the last 12 months falling in love with a host of new artists, each of which is doing something new, something exciting, something audacious, or sometimes just something really fun. Every day for the next couple of weeks we will be telling you about one of those artists. 12 new acts for 2012.
Each of our editorial staff has nominated an act they think you should be keeping an ear on next year. The remaining slots were filled through a mixture of motorbike jousting and a vote. One of them lost a hand. Bear that in mind while you read.
Over the course of the last two weeks we’ve introduced just some of the artists we think you should be paying attention to over the next twelve months. Think of it as our class of 2012.
In that lovely bunch we’ve veered from the loud to the languid, from the beat-based to the string-plucked, providing what we hope is a decent glimpse of the extraordinary breadth of talent on offer today.
We can think of few better ways to end than with a band that will collectively be vying with Dave Grohl for the title of Nicest Guys In Music – the lovely Theme Park.
Theme Park are delightfully short on pretention. The tooth-grinding self-absorption that characterises so many guitar bands is entirely absent here – and in its place we are given grin-inducing fun. They’re not trying to reinvent guitar music, but actually, with tunes this compulsively good that really doesn’t matter.
The last couple of months have seen Theme Park grow from a nice little pop curiosity into a band that we can see playing every festival stage in the world next year. For now, though, they’re still writing in their parents’ basement – which is where we caught up with them, just before their debut live show, for this exclusive interview.
There seem to be two broad strands running through contemporary electronic music. In one, producers are striving for the perfect sound: the best-captured, most expertly EQ’d, roundest piece of audio achievable. In the other they are taking a more impressionistic, less clinical approach, in which technicalities are subordinate to feeling.
Dauwd represents the point at which those two strands converge. Each of the handful of tracks he has released this year have been startlingly well produced: witness the clicks and breaths around which ‘Ikopol’ is constructed, or the perfectly formed synths that act as a common thread holding each of the songs together.
But despite Dauwd’s obvious talent for the technical, the quality of the recording is never the first thing you notice. Rather, it’s the gushing, unapologetic emotion that seeps out of every track. Whether it’s the elation of ‘Could It Be’ or the straight-to-the-gut sadness of ‘Shimmer’ (which appears today in our 50 tracks of 2011), Dauwd’s work is primarily about feeling. The beautiful production is a bonus.
Dauwd’s first physical release, ‘What’s There’, came out earlier this year on Pictures. We spoke to the producer about capturing the perfect sound, writing music full time, and his plans for 2012.
Hi Dauwd. What are you listening to right now?
I had Falty DL’s Atlantis EP on again the other day, really into that. Manuel Tur’s ‘About to Fall’ has been on repeat recently – such a great track. I had some Mauritzio out this morning, those simple yet ingenious grooves never get old.
Much has been made of the intricate nature of your production. How do you go about capturing sounds? How important is this part of the process to you?
Capturing sounds is always interesting; I do a lot of sampling from records, from found sounds, from anything really, as long as it can work with an idea. I record a lot of sound; percussive sounding hits. I don’t have any good synths of my own so I’ll go round to a mate’s and record some of their analogue gear. For me it’s the most important part of my music, and it’s what I enjoy the most – turning a pretty arbitrary sound into an idea, and bringing it alive in a completely new context.
I sometimes like to use field recordings of various spaces, and build a track over them instead of working with just silence. It sometimes gives what you’re working with a new environment, and can really help with inspiration and ideas.
What is your studio setup like?
My studio setup is fairly simple – some microphones, a bunch of midi controllers, and then the laptop. I have some old Casio keyboards, and loads of different percussive instruments I’ve collected over the years. I have always been intrigued by using some solid analogue gear, but not could never afford it. I really enjoy my setup, and it works with how I like to make music, but I’m always interested in change.
Tell us about your day-to-day life. How does music fit in?
Since finishing uni this summer just gone, I’ve gradually moved to doing music full time. So I find I spend most days messing around in the studio, or just listening to music. I’m also building up to this live set, so I’ve been spending a lot of time working on that. A lot of the music I make comes from experimentation, and playing with samples until I find something, a sound, that has potential. It can come straight away, or it can take ages, I suppose depending what mood I’m in.
What does 2012 hold? Any chance of a full-length?
Just finishing off an EP at the moment ready for an early 2012 release, and playing out as much as I can. Always liked the idea of doing a full-length, and have started amounting ideas for one but no official plans just yet. Wait and see I think.
Can you recommend something we probably haven’t heard before?
Maybe not a specific track but I’m really into this new label Public Information, who have been putting out some really amazing electronic music from as early as the 1950’s to now. Really amazing sounds, definitely worth checking out if you’re into that kinda gear.
Pop’s coming back then. Following a period characterised by introverted, drowned-in-reverb dullardry, it seems pretty clear that the West’s cripplingly shy bedroom-dwellers are gradually discovering the joy of arena-scale melodies.
Some time around 2013 we will probably be whingeing about Soundcloud being clogged up with amazing pure pop tunes. Now, though, we’re in something of a no man’s land between the bedroom and the stadium, between the point at which the synth was being used for ‘80s reductivism and the point at which it will be used (please god) for 22nd Century Pop Hits. Amusement are the sound of that no man’s land – the sound of the liminal space, you might say, if you were an undergraduate with pretensions.
Amusement wear the vestiges of the ‘80s-aping bedroom scene, but they have their eyes set firmly on the future. ‘Why Does Nothing Grow’has all the haziness of their backward-looking peers, but marries it with the sort of intuitive melody that begs for big venues. Meanwhile their remix of previous One To Watch Outfit’s ‘Two Islands’ recasts the dour original as the sound of a speed-flecked ride around a particularly odd club.
The scrappy, clipped recordings on their Soundcloud suggest a band with ideas bigger than their kit can facilitate. Give them a few months and they’ll be crafting pop tunes on an infinitely larger scale.
It’s been a difficult year, eh? The apocalyptic rumblings just won’t stop. In fact, if anything, they seem to be getting rather louder, and rather closer.
In an increasingly terrifying world, then, I Ching are a pretty delightful antidote to the ceaseless impracticalities of living. They seem to exist in a place completely apart from ours; a world in which material concerns probably aren’t a concern at all, and in which people are free to ponder life’s intricacies without being bothered too much.
Standout track ‘Drive’ is a good indicator of the glossy, softly metallic sound that I Ching have polished. It’s hazy without being (god help us) ‘chillwave’; breathy without descending into feyness.
That’s not to say, though, that everything is alright in the world of I Ching. The ‘everything was beautiful and nothing hurt’ aesthetic is offset by lyrics full of jealousy and melancholy; a combination that hints at bittersweet things yet to come from the hexagram-loving duo.
Photo credit: Sebastien Dehesdin
‘Slacker rock’ is a misleading term. With job prospects as bleak as they are and cider as cheap and delicious as ever, it’s a wonder kids today have the energy to get up and do anything, let alone write a bunch of songs and start a band. And, for them to be a band as good as Fanzine, that’s quite something. Effort rock, that’s what we’ll call it.
Jock, Ed, Billy and Kit are four school friends from London who formed Fanzine when they realized that they were the only people their age who knew what a Dinosaur Jr. was. Their chosen monkier entirely appropriate, as this is precisely the kind of music you can imagine being written about in a home-printed publication found on the floor at the back of the second stage at All Tomorrow’s Parties. Clearly knowledgeable of their target audience, they even author Fanzine fanzines, an excellent merchandising trick that would be akin to Pavement giving away signed concrete slabs with every copy of Slanted & Enchanted (a record that, between them, we reckon these lads own at least 12 copies of – just to be on the safe side, you know?).
If you want to make a scene out of it, The History of Apple Pie and touring partners Yuck are on hand. But don’t feel you have to. Indeed, with noticeable nods to Graham Coxon’s most raucous solos and Weezer’s ballsy Pinkerton-era riffing, Fanzine prove themselves as capable with cacophony as they are melody, and are carving something very much their own. Their sporadic releases thus far – including the Low EP and ‘Roman Holiday’/’My Stupid Brain’ AA side – hint at a greatness their forthcoming debut record might just achieve.
We’re heading to Bergen, Norway to track down the latest of our selections for The Line of Best Fit’s ‘Ones To Watch 2012′. Bergen is home to a thriving music scene. The most recognisable name to hail from these parts would probably be that of Kings of Convenience, and Sondre Lerche is from around here too – perhaps there’s something in the water surrounding this scenic city that helps aspiring musicians on their way to creating harmonious musical magic. The music made by our next selection Young Dreams most certainly falls into this category. Having recently been signed by Modular People, this dynamic 12 piece are proving themselves to be one of Norway’s most exciting and inviting musical prospects for the new year.
So what kind of music are we talking about here? Well, it’s hard to pin down. Young Dreams describe their style as “fusing Tropicália, psychedelic rock, classical, symphonic arrangements and traditional pop recalling the classic sounds of Brian Wilson and Phil Spector.” It’s a pretty fitting description, and goes a long way in defining the genre busting stylistics that have made us so eager to follow the progress of this group. What we’ve come to love about Young Dreams, having tracked pretty much their every movement over the past year, is the pop grandeur, the epic orchestrations, the lush layering and the absorbing vocals of their music. A hundred elements are poured into each song, but each track retains a serene sentiment and a simple statement. With a debut album due to drop in the new year, we highly recommend that you keep a very close eye on this lot. We certainly will be.
– Francine Gorman
The band’s Matias Tellez and Rune Vandaskog talk to The Line of Best Fit about what’s coming up for Young Dreams in 2012, and tell us to expect “ear, brain and spiritual candy” from their debut album. We’re not entirely sure what that means, but we’re excited to find out.
Can you tell us a little bit about Young Dreams – who are you and where did you meet? What do Young Dreams sound like, for someone that has never heard your music before?
We are a band from Bergen, Norway. We kind of met each other all around Bergen. Some have known each other for eight years, some for one year. And two have know each other their whole life. Big sound with a lot of musical details.
Can you tell us a little about the music scene that you hail from? Do you feel that Bergen has a good, healthy music scene?
The music scene is quite big when you think of the amount of people that live here. And people are open and including. Everyone knows everyone and everyone wants to help everyone. Probably because of the size of the city. But also because it has a music tradition and art history that goes way back. Also since the city is so small everyone knows what the others are up to and if they make something really good, it makes you want to make something that is better and the other way around. So it’s like a healthy competition where there is pushing and pulling.
Which artists, or what in general has the biggest influence over the music that Young Dreams creates?
People who have crossed boundaries. And have had ambitions of making something more, not just inside the frame of their time but “something more”. And people who have drained and used their brains for what they’re worth. Composers like Igor Stravinsky, Edvard Grieg, Juan Garcia Esquivel and Brian Wilson.
What musical backgrounds do you have and what do these backgrounds add to the sound of Young Dreams?
We are a lot of people and the youngest one is 20 and the oldest is 32 so we have all grown up in different musical times and trends. Some have a classical background, some have learnt to play the guitar at the local music school and some developed their music skills with the computer in their bedroom. All these different backgrounds form the instrumentation and the sound that we have.
As a collective featuring 12 musicians, how does the dynamic of the group work?
The music is written by Matias. Usually he gets the band members into the studio one by one for recording sessions and then he kind of puts it all together afterwards. When that is done Matias brings the sessions up to Njål’s studio (the one with the computer in the bedroom background) and they record the synthesizers. He has a lot of nice vintage gear. Then the song is sent to either the one who is going to sing the song or to one of our lyricists for lyrics to be written. Then the vocals are recorded and the track is done.
Congratulations on your recent signature to Modular People – what can you tell us about how the label found you?
The same week we uploaded our songs up on our BandPage we got booked to play a party in Oslo, hosted by the Norwegian blog Smug. They also had this band called The Swiss playing who are signed to Modular as well. They really liked our concert which was three songs long. When they got home to Australia, they said to Modular that they really had to check us out. The week after we got a mail from them.
Can you sum up 2011 for Young Dreams? Did you achieve everything that you wanted to?
2011 has been great. We had our one year anniversary as a band, we played a lot of great festivals in Norway, we played with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, toured Europe and signed to Modular. I guess you can say it was a good year.
What should we look forward to on an album from Young Dreams?
Ear, brain and spiritual candy.
What are your ambitions for 2012?
Play around the world and reach as many people as possible. Record a new album. Have fun. Afford to pay bills.
What are your plans for the new year?
Tour Scandinavia, UK, Europe, USA and hopefully Australia by the end of the year. Release a couple of singles and our debut album!
Are there any records you’re looking forward to hearing in 2012?
Put Your Hands Up For Neo-Tokyo’s debut album, Chris Holm’s debut album, Matias Tellez’s third album, High Llama’ if they are releasing something, Flaming Lips.
If you had to offer one piece of advice for next year, what would it be?
Take care of your ears, brains and souls.
It’s hard to keep ahead of the curve in this musical world of mixtapes dropping daily from the sky (or Soundcloud, at least) and Thom Yorke recording whole albums while you sleep. Thus it was a bit of an annoyance (if we’re going to be selfish here) to see Friends listed in the BBC Sound poll on Monday when we’ve had these bad boys (and girls) up our sleeves for months.
Oh, we’re only kidding. Friends are a band of such sultry proportions that it’s no shock that everyone seems to be falling for them right now. If anything, it has reinstated our belief in human being since the X-Factor viewers went and voted off poor Misha B last weekend.
With three of the most seductive alternative-R&B hits of 2011 (‘I’m His Girl’, ‘Friend Crush’, ‘My Boo’) already under their belt, it’ll be interesting to see (or should that be “hear”) what their next move will be in the new year.
We talked to the band’s singer Samantha Urbani earlier this week about being tipped for big things, the band’s actual plans for 2012 and, err, being 50 Cent and having babies with Azealia Banks…
As well as being listed in our picks, you’ve also been long-listed by the BBC in their Sound of 2012 poll. How does it feel to be tipped for big things over the next year? Is it nerve-wracking at all or just a pat on the back for all the promise you’ve shown so far?
Oh, it’s a total compliment. It’s so surreal though, for everything to be picking up so fast. We feel like we’ve put out so little for people to see or hear and the fact that people are responding so strongly is really great.
Were you aware of the BBC poll before hand?
Fairly, but it wasn’t until the article came out that I realised how the list was actually produced. I think it’s really cool that the picks came from a wide variety of people – industry-types and grassroots – submitting their favourites and it being calculated from there. That makes it seem a more genuine, across-the-board thing about what people are actually excited about.
You’re in good company too, shoulder-to-shoulder with the likes of Niki & the Dove and Azealia Banks. The first winner back in 2003 was actually 50 Cent, those are literally huge shoes to fill.
That’s so funny. We could so be a huge guy with lots of muscles and precious metals in our mouths, why not!
But I do think Azealia Banks is really cool, she definitely deserves all the hype she’s getting. All my life, since I was kid, I’ve been into female MCs – women who are empowered and confident in what they’re doing. So I hope she becomes really inspirational to young girls.
Are you actually the type of band that pays much attention to your own press, whether it be jovial things like the Hipster Runoff posts or end-of-year tips such as this?
I have to admit: I do get Google alerts. But that’s just for fun rather than any egotistical motives.
‘Friends’ must bring back some off-topic results of a certain popular 90’s sitcom, no?
The name on it’s own, we’re pretty un-Googleable. But I get things like ‘Friends band’ or ‘Friends – I’m His Girl’, even my own name. That last one has been a lot more popular since those Hipster Runoff articles you mentioned – which we thought were really funny by the way.
I guess you know you’ve made it when Carles writes about you, that’s the best kind of publicity right there. Who needs these polls after that?
Totally. I can’t wait to see what he posts next, I wonder what kind of internal drama will be speculated or who we’ll be spotted “canoodling” with.
You’ve only been together since September last year and were never in bands before this, and – as you mentioned yourself – only have a few tracks out. How has it been getting so big so quickly?
Well, what is “big” really? I don’t think we’ve had that realisation yet because it’s all been very surreal. I think the internet can blow things out of proportion a bit at times.
I think it’s better actually talking to individual people who have their own personal opinion – insightful things from people who actually “get it” and hear the same things we do – rather than just a professional opinion, because some websites or magazines just post stuff without necessarily having any feelings on the actual music.
You recently came over to London on tour with Caged Animals, that must have been a good feeling though, right?
Oh yeah. Actually, I think this upcoming show in London during February will be a moment of realisation for us, because it’s sold-out and people in another country and city actually paid solely to see us play.
So we’ve labelled you as one of our ‘Ones to Watch’ – what exactly should we watch out for from Friends in 2012?
There’s going to be a debut album, which we’ve almost finished tracking and are going to master once we get off tour. It should be out in March. And then we’re going to be touring extensively. We’re going to go all over the planet, which is scary because after all that we would have seen the entire world and will be bored with everything.
Maybe one of us will have a baby too. Who knows. Actually, I stayed at the same hotel as Azealia Banks in Amsterdam once. I should have tried to have her babies!
-Luke Morgan Britton
If you have any sort of musical pretentions, coming from Liverpool is probably a bit of an albatross. Calling home the same few hallowed square miles as the greatest pop songwriters the country has ever produced (“Ooh, Ringo probably sneezed around here somewhere”) probably hangs heavy. And, I imagine, you probably get pretty sick of it being brought up in interviews.
Outfit are indeed from Liverpool, and the history of the place looms large over their output. Theirs, though, is the sound not of jangly, major-chord pastiche, but rather of industrial decline, collar-up pensiveness, and tiny tragedies.
The proud European Capital of Culture dwellers enjoyed an exceptionally warm welcome for their Double Denim release ‘Two Islands’, a track that oscillates between Aztec Camera-esque arena melodicism and macabre, doomsday rumble. It’s an arresting song; assuredly theatrical, while never descending into melodrama.
But it’s early track ‘Every Night I Dress Up As You’ that really demonstrates Outfit’s potential. Placing their heritage closer to the pristine, Genesis-birthing fields of Charterhouse than to the murky Mersey, the song gives an indication of the remarkable breadth of source material from which the band look set to draw.
They might be separated by a few hundred miles, but their reference points all fall on the same landmass. Outfit are a determinedly English band. They understand the country’s musical heritage; they know its topography. It will be exciting to see what they map out next.
What exactly defines the term ‘pop music’ in 2011? What characteristics make the perfect ‘pop star’? We’re living in a crazy, marketing fuelled world where the internet hype machine can break an artist overnight with snippets of unintelligible guff made viral (hello iamamiwhoami), paper thin songs are disguised with faux emotion and an identity crisis (I’m looking at you Lana Del Rey) and ex-talent show fodder with ‘bags of attitude’ and the ability to ‘do credible’ fills the airwaves (thanks for dropping by Cher Lloyd, you can leave through the emergency exit, yeah?).
Of course, you can’t please everyone – there’s no such thing as ‘universal’ anymore (maybe there never was) – but the whole aim of pop music is to appeal to a general audience rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology. Both ends of the spectrum should meet in the middle – finding a common ground within three and a half minutes of well executed tuneage. Where the bookish hipster who has disdain for pretty much everything can meet in a holy communion with the “…well I like pretty much anything that they play on Radio 1″ type of person we secretly all loath. We all love say, ‘Like A Prayer’ by Madonna right? Right. It’s impossible not to adore or ignore.
Enter Icona Pop. A duo from Stockholm that have been no strangers to these pages for the past 10 or so months; Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo craft a type of pop where sophistication and intelligence is delivered by the bucket load and hone enough natural sex appeal, flare and grace it’s borderline impossible not to be spellbound. From the sweet kiss-off of debut single ‘Manners’, the cocksure swagger of ‘Top Rated’ (due out in February) or the call to arms of ‘Nights Like This’ – everything they touch is essential and more to the point: totally accesible on every level imaginable. With a debut album being worked on this very moment and a freshly inked deal with Universal Records, 2012 will undoubtedly see these two former DJs rise to the ranks of Sweden’s most respected.
Devilishly romantic, ridiculously sexy. Say hello to the new queens of pop.
Photo credit: Fredrik Etoall
In 2010, British guitar music was ailing. It started to forget its own name; occasionally it would convince itself that one of its children had died, and it moved into sheltered housing. Around the first half of 2011 it started experiencing little shooting pains up its left arm, but it soldiered on regardless while its friends gradually forgot about it. Then, some time around July, it slowly keeled over with a heartbreaking little sigh, collapsing under the weight of its own irrelevancy. No one really noticed.
It turns out, though, that the six string corpse may yet be reanimated. Just to complete this tortuous metaphor, if guitar music is in its death throes, Crushed Beaks sound like its final, guttural groan. The London duo make scuzzy, half-yelped pop that sounds simultaneously rapturous and petulant; like an elaborate religious service in a tiny, damp basement. It’s fantastically tuneful and yet almost totally unhinged – and all the better for it.
Crushed Beaks’ debut single ‘Close Ups’ was released on Too Pure just last month. We spoke to the duo about guitar tones, recording in Abbey Road, and…DJing Topman.
Hi Crushed Beaks. What are you listening to right now?
Alex: Right now or in general? Right now I’m listening to ‘And Dreams of Sheep’ by Kate Bush. More generally, we both listen to lots of different stuff. We listen to a lot of electronic music as well as guitar stuff. Recently I’ve been listening to Liars, Mindustries, The Outside Agency, the soundtracks of Goblin and Ennio Morricone, early 90s Scandinavian black metal..
Matt: I’m looking forward to the Tashaki Miyaki EP coming out, because the two tracks I’ve heard from that are really nice. Also, their cover got me discovering loads of stuff by the Everley Brothers that I’d never heard, pretty much every song is amazing. Saw NZCA/lines playing a show last night and totally loved it, first time I’d heard anything by them. I got Mountain Battles by The Breeders the other day, and I’ve been enjoying that. I like Youth Lagoon’s record too, and that The History of Apple Pie video for ‘Mallory’ keeps cropping up. There’s too much!
Tell me a bit about DJing Topman. Hellish?
A: Not exactly hellish. Alienating and slightly embarrassing but still really fun. When was the last time you heard Dracula Mountain by Lightning Bolt in a high street shop? When we got there we asked the guy running it if there was any limit on what could be played and we received the response ‘play what you like’. So we did. We didn’t want to start off with anything too heavy (we had a few Ministry, Darkthrone and NIN records lurking at the bottom of our bag for later on in the set) so we started off quite poppy until we got told by a member of staff that what we were playing was on the normal Topman playlist. After that we put on a Black Dice track (which got turned off) and Thunder by Vex’d (which got turned off as well). I don’t think our choice went down too well but it was a pretty good setlist, we mixed a gabba track with a Boredoms track at one point. I don’t know about you but that is definitely the kind of thing I’d want to hear when buying skinny jeans or a nouveau-tweed jacket.
From the outside there seems to be a bit of a scene growing up around you, Corpse Lights, La Shark, and so on. Is that accurate from your perspective?
A: I think we have realised that the London music scene is actually pretty small. It’s true we seem to be musically connected either by friendships or previous musical projects to a lot of great bands that are making their mark at the moment: Torches, Corpse Lights, La Shark. We have played with all these guys at some point or in some form and it is inspiring to see everyone evolve and develop musically. What is really great about it as well is that everyone is making really different music from everyone else, even though it is that we listen to a lot of the same things and go to a lot of the same gigs. There is a vast difference in terms of output but it appeals to people across the board because everyone is releasing and performing great material.
Abbey Road sounds like the least likely place to work on a Crushed Beaks record. Tell me how that happened.
A: It was part and parcel of the Too Pure contract. They contacted us after we played at one of their single launches and asked us if we’d like to put a record out with them. The mastering session at Abbey Road was part of the deal.
M: There seems to be a rumour floating about that the mastering engineer at Abbey Road described us as ‘irresponsibly loud’. This is not true. I think he was actually quite liked the recordings, or at least understood what we were trying to achieve with them, and he was a super nice dude. Also, he was in control of the volume… It was a sound guy at one of our shows that said that. Thought I should just clear that up.
Matt – you’re obviously a big guitar enthusiast. Who has the best guitar tone ever?
M: That’s quite a hard question to answer. I don’t know who has the best tone ever. I like the sounds that the guys from Health are getting out of their guitars, I’ve never heard anything like it. Kevin Shields is a favourite. The guitars in Burzum have this hypnotic effect on me. Eye from the Boredoms’ ‘guitar gong’ monstrosity makes pretty much the most incredible noise I have ever heard. It’s made from eight electric guitars somehow melded together on a stand; with four necks coming out either side, like a spider. Each neck is tuned to a chord, so he doesn’t have to fret. He plays it with rods that he uses to hit multiple necks at the same time.
Can you recommend someone we probably haven’t heard before?
M: My housemate introduced me to a record called That’s Not The Way, It’s Got To Be, by Leon Rosselson and Roy Bailey. They were part of the folk revival in the sixties. It’s a brilliant record. The vocals and the guitar playing are flawless, the lyrics are great. And it’s so English! It’s tricky to find much of the music on the internet though. Put this into Google: ‘leon rosselson ant and the grasshopper’, and follow the first link. It’s the only song up on that account but it’s one of my favourites.
- Josh Hall
Photo credit: Johanne Fick
Emerging from their enticingly mysterious moniker Just A Number 05272011 back in May of this year, Battlekat have spent the rest of 2011 expertly justifying the initial flurry of intrigue. Revealing a steady stream of remixes from the likes of Hyetal and Dreamtrak Diamond Sound throughout the summer, the Danish noir pop quartet’s brooding, glacial sounds saw their first official release this October courtesy of Good Tape Records.
Alongside the six-track 05272011-10242011 EP, October saw the first UK performance from the band at The Line of Best Fit’s very own stage at SWN Festival – a debut performance in which the enigmatic four-piece exceeded expectations with their tightly wound beats and entirely mesmerising stage presence. Joining the ranks of the emerging bands who are finally realising the importance of a tight live show from the off, Battlekat have gone from strength to strength, the dark often smoky settings of their live shows only serving to enhance their blustering beats.
Much like yesterday’s ‘Ones To Watch’ Niki & The Dove, Battlekat tap into that slick, Knife-like Nordic pop sound but opt for a much darker, grittier aesthetic than their more mainstream inclined contemporaries. With Matilde Katinka Böcher’s almost abrasive, oddly stunning, shrill vocals set to warped, down tempo beats and momentous percussion, the sassy, effortlessly seductive snippets of avant-garde electro pop the band have unveiled so far definitely deserve as much attention as they can get.
As for 2012? We can safely say we expect more of the unique, industrial pop beats that have made 2011 such an exciting year for the Copenhagen natives.
- Lauren Down
We tipped Niki & the Dove as break-out stars in last year’s Ones to Watch list but they threw us a curveball. Instead of putting out a full length record in 2011, they dropped a couple of incredible EPs and used the time to shape their live show into an event worthy of both stadiums and nightclubs alike. Anyone who saw their headline slot at London’s Cargo a few week back – which was ambitious in both arrangement and execution – will testify that the slow burn of the Swedish duo in 2011 was well worth it.
We’re certain that 2012 will see them emerge as the great hopes of classy pop music with a stunning debut album to boot.
They’ve captured the hearts and ears of music fans far and wide but the allure of Malin and Gustaf is central to the band’s appeal. While lazy parallels always put Kate Bush, Robyn and Karin Drejir Anderson into a messy pop stew, I think that Malin’s ascendence to the role of formidable front woman and vocalist has a more obvious and mainstream lineage. She easily projects the same handmade mysticism-by-way-of-vulnerability that made Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin such memorable talents. There’s more than a hint of mid-80s Madonna too if you look hard enough – it’s there in the stage-craft and connection, the evolving persona we see in interviews, through artwork, photos and shows. She is becoming a Pop star with a capital P. If you don’t believe us, just check out the video for The Drummer.
We’re also big fans of Gustaf and his emerging role as musical director. At the Cargo show – our fifth time seeing the band in 18 months – we felt his presence and role more than ever before. The band’s live shows have changed so much since they first hit London for our Ja Ja Ja clubnight in 2010. Gustaf isn’t simply Chris Lowe to Malin’s Neil Tennant. He’s an equal partner in one of the most exciting pop enterprises we’ve seen in years. Our boy Josh Hall caught up with him and Malin on a windy day during their stint on the autumn NME Radar Tour to find out more about their upcoming record and how 2011 has been for them so far:
We’re beyond excited that Niki & the Dove have agreed to come and play at our inaugural Ones to Watch show on 15 December at Hoxton Bar & Kitchen. They join fellow Ones to Watch Outfit, Theme Park, Fanzine and Amusement in what we think is one of the best line-ups of any show you’ll see this year.
- Paul Bridgewater
For further details on the show, including ticket link, head over here.
Check back tomorrow for the next artist in our Ones To Watch 2012 feature.