This year has been a fantastic year for all sorts of reasons where music is concerned. I've discovered albums I normally wouldn't have heard due to both members of this site and becoming a "Member of Staff" (to both of which, I'm very thankful for), I've heard releases by artists that I have loved for a long time and they have blown me away and also heard new artists that have easily made their way straight into my Top 20. That being said, the list making process (at least this particular list) is always hard for me because I'm forced to slot albums into an order which causes me to have a mental fight with myself, but I can guess it might be similar for most people.
The other categories on this list are "optimistic collections", which is honestly very unusual and rare for me. God knows I'd love to sit here and list a bunch of things I hated and was disappointed by this year...but nobody is going to bother putting time and effort into checking something out that I loathe, plus I can assure you, it would take some time. So, I hope people read these and get something new from them. There's not a lot of outlandish artists on here that are really unknown by any means, but there are a whole bunch that don't get as much recognition as many other bands around here. So... enjoy and anybody that knows me, will know I cannot wait for the releases in 2011...
I seem to gravitate towards UK artists far more than I do American ones, maybe that's the case for a bunch of people and their respective countries of birth, but from my experience...it's not. I actually find it hard to enjoy an American vocalist a lot of the time, obviously there are plenty of occasions when this isn't true, but for newer bands it definitely seems to be the case.
So my list of "favourites" would undoubtedly be a majority of British acts, old and new (many of which I plug and speak about excessively on here, as those that take note of threads or know me will testify to). Here are some that are just bubbling under the radar with albums and eps coming out in the next 6 months which, I think, should be taken note of:
The band cite influences as diverse as My Bloody Valentine, New Order, Deerhunter, Scott Walker, Neil Young, Sonic Youth and Arthur Russell, though Bowman has stated that the group has never made specific plans pertaining to their songwriting. "[Because] everything has moved so quickly, our only real aim has just been to capture the first clutch of songs and get them out into the world. Then maybe we can take a few breaths and start to plan how to progress in future." Chapel Club's music has been described as 'moody, majestic and magnificent', while Bowman's lyrics often use imagery drawn from the natural world to explore themes such as love, loss and existential confusion. Global Editor of Billboard Magazine Mark Sutherland described the band's sound as "amazing… shoegaze but with songs and balls", while The Guardian described the band as "big rock meets perversion".
Chapel Club have stated on their Facebook page that their debut album will be released on January 31, 2011.
I saw these guys play one of their first ever shows in London less than a year ago and now they are playing NME sponsored tours, getting significant BBC Radio airplay and coverage as well as recently releasing a live iTunes Festival ep. It's strange seeing a band in a tiny delapidated-walls, back alley type venue to then being broadcast on Later...with Jools Holland months later. It's fantastic and I love that I managed to see them so early on, their use of the classic "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" as the chorus in their song "Surfacing" hooked me straight away. I cannot wait for their debut album. Check out some of their songs below.
Lyrebirds are makers of music that it is at once romantic, anthemic and full of optimism. Musically, this is pop on a grand scale, shot through with streaks of fraying, decaying glamour and filled with big, broad strokes of love, loss and hope. And, in Adam Day they have a frontman with the voice and the swagger to carry it off.
LYREBIRDS formed in early 2009 when Day, whose family had relocated from Manchester in his youth and who was at that point a solo performer of “acoustic, Leonard Cohen-type stuff”, spotted familiar faces from his Brighton local at a Pogues gig in Brixton. Day recognised kindred spirits in Dane Etteridge (guitar/ keyboard), Sam Baldwin (guitar), Dan Logan (bass) and Jackson (drums), and LYREBIRDS formed soon after. Taking their name from the bird whose song echoes the world around itself - famously seen in a piece of Attenborough film giving a bleak prophecy of its own demise - the band quickly gelled and made their live debut with shows at Club NME and in Brighton, where they’ve built a devoted following, before playing at last year’s Hard Rock Calling as part of a bill headlined by Neil Young.
LYREBIRDS - The Blondehead EP - Lotus Records, November 22nd
Another band I got to see a while ago, supporting The Maccabees. Their debut ep is out next month and it's another I am really looking forward to. THey put on a fantastic live show and sound incredible, it may not be what they were going for but I can't help but hear shades of The Doors on their new song "Shadow Boxer". Take a listen for yourself below.
The Chinese whispers that preceeded the arrival of The Vaccines was something to behold. For about a fortnight every 'in-the-know' music industry type I came across would speak of this mysterious new London rock'n'roll outfit who were set to be the future of everything. No one could resist losing their shit over them to anyone who'd listen, but refused point-blank to let slip any details about who they were. Key members had been in other known bands, so the legend went, some were family members of other notable acts, or something to that effect. iPod playlists had the artist name removed, or a comedy moniker stuck in. People were - probably quite justly - petrified of the hype-mill getting out-of-control.
Finally the pieces of the puzzle came together. They're called The Vaccines, it's Jay Jay Pistolet and Tom from The Horrors' little brother, Freddie. They make indie rock'n'roll that makes total sense after the biggest summer of sunny bubblegum lo-fi ever, but with something scorched and woozy sounding of its own. It's ace.
I'm really excited about this band, they sound kind of like a British Surfer Blood or something, there's little on them at the moment but they are realsing songs for free to download at their website here and have an album planned and a tour this year. Catchy, to the point and intoxicating.