Sometimes, cranking up the volume to 10 is just not good enough, especially when the music’s gone stale. It’s times like these when we’re thankful for all the Coachellas, Big Day Outs, Glastonburies and SXSWs from past, present and future. Cos every year new acts get discovered through the internet and at festivals, with a little help from the tastemakers of course, in hopes to be the next big thing. Whether they’ll be the next Artic Monkeys or another Milli Vanilli is anyone’s guess. So without any fear or protective earmuffs, JUICE brings you our list of hot names for the year. Listen loudly!
THE NAKED AND FAMOUS
Representing the hope that’s always associated with young bands are these precocious Kiwis. Leaving no room for glooming around, The Naked & Famous are the sort of band that haters will blame for being too positive or not-real-enough. Their uplifting melodies, led by the co-ed vocals of Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers, are irresistible especially during post-clubbing afterhours. A nominee for the recent BBC Sound of 2011 poll, the quintet is currently riding high on their debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You. With singles like ‘Girls Like You’, ‘Punching In A Dream’ and ‘Young Blood’ (which has been covered by everyone from BBC Sound of 2011 winner Jessie J to Chiddy Bang), The Naked and Famous are relocating from the shire (ie: New Zealand) to the city of London for their shot at the bigtime! What do they have to loose, right?
Again with the ironic names… These bunch of London school friends are hailed to be The XX of 2011 more so because of their young age than their musical style. Max Bloom and Danny Blumberg (who were both in another hyped-band back in 2007, Cajun Dance Party) lead Yuck with New Jersey drummer Jonny Rogoff, Japanese bassist Mariko Doi and Danny’s sister Ilana. As with any musician on a quest to find their “sound”, Danny met US drummer Jonny at a kibbutz in the Israeli desert. Persuading the American to ditch his college education for London’s indie music scene, it wasn’t long before Japanese friend Doi joined them on bass and Ilana took a break from her A-levels to provide back-up vocals. Such dedication and youthful exuberance are once again ironic coming from a band that borrows their sound a lot from slacker rock acts such as Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. If you were too young to get into Teenage Fanclub and all their fuzzed up romance, here’s your chance to start again.
Looks like the ’80s synth thingy is going to be around for a while. But instead of getting lost in a sea of nostalgia amidst injecting modern pop qualities, Mirrors keeps it ol’ skool with their entire no-nonsense image. From their perfectly parted hair to slick business suits and ties to influences from barely pronounceable 19th and 20th-century authors, directors, composers, poets and philosophers; Mirrors take themselves seriously. And it works when their retro starts sounding more honest than most modern noise/chillwavers. After winning praise on tour supporting Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark, the English quartet released debut album Lights and Offerings this year and thus marked their brainy territory amongst the likes of Kraftwerk, Hot Chip, Hurts, Depeche Mode, Blancmange and Tears For Fears.
The new hope for West Coast rap, Odd Future (full name Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All – OFWGKTA) comprises of ten or so skate rats from LA. Aged from 17 to 23, the leader of the pack is rapper-producer Tyler the Creator. Other members include Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, Mike G, singer Frank Ocean, producers Left Brain, Syd tha Kyd (also the group’s in-house engineer), the Super 3 and other non-musical members. Youngest member, Earl Sweatshirt, was recently sent away to boarding school by his parents (according to Esquire). Though there are 3 other sub-groups in the Odd Future collective – MellowHype, The Jet Age of Tomorrow and EarlWolf – not to mention some members are also solo artists, most of their back catalogue (from 2007 onwards) can be downloaded for free on their website. To show you how real they are, Odd Future’s live performances are un-choreographed and often akin to punk gigs with stagediving, moshing and insult-ridden bantering. They rap about drugs, sex, rape, anarchy, brain damage and deeper self-consciousness while maintaining a rather f*cked up worldview just as teenagers do. Critics have labeled their music horrorcore on the account of the spooky vibes and vicious uber-Eminem lyrics. But as the outro of ‘Sandwitches’ goes: “And we don’t f*cking make horrorcore, you f*cking idiots / Listen deeper than the music before you put it in a box.” With support from the heights ranks of the hip hop world including The Roots’ Questlove, Mos Def and most recently Mr Big himself, Jay-Z, and with Tyler signing up with XL Records to release his new album Goblin later this month, it looks like the future will indeed be an odd one. Swag!
BASS DRUM OF DEATH
Picking up where destructo-bands like 1979 Death From Above left off is Mississippi duo Bass Drum Of Death. Don’t let the corny name fool you, John and Colin make joyous, blistering garage rock with the simple set-up of guitar-drums-vocals. Single ‘Get Found’ is a testament to their raw power as is ‘Heart Attack Kid’, which makes you wanna rip up everything in sight. Indie label Fat Possum has just released the duo’s debut album GB City. The band also performed on Fuel TV last month as the backing band for Odd Future’s MellowHype. Apparently, John was Fat Possum’s worst employee 3 years ago, which is probably why they recorded the whole album by themselves from the comfort of their beerbong-stained home…
If Phil Collins were 40 years younger and had been raised on a diet of dark ambient techno, dubstep and Steve Wonder, he might have been James Blake. This 22-year old UK composer fuses electronica with soul to create his sound – Aphex Twins ambience mixed with melancholic soulful vocals. James’ career kicked off when he released his debut EP back in 2009 entitled Air & Lack Thereof which was picked up by BBC Radio 1 DJ Gilles Peterson. Though he came a close 2nd behind Jessie J in the BBC Sound Of 2011 poll, he was awarded Single Of The Year for the track ‘CMYK’ from his 2010 CMYK EP at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards. Not long after that, he unleashed his self-titled debut album which received positive reviews from NME and Pitchfork. The album was written solely by him except for the first single – a cover of Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’.
Avant-garde, starkly guitars and a ghostly vocal with dark emotions are the qualities that best describe Anna Calvi’s music. The London singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was another one of BBC’s Sound Of 2011 candidates along with the likes of Yuck, Jamie Woon and Warpaint, although she didn’t make it to the top 5. Well, boo to that cos polls mean sh!t half the time anyway! Having Wong Kar-Wai and David Lynch as influences is way cooler in our book! And it’s not just artistic film directors that get Anna’s goat. The towering siren has caught the attention of fashion houses including Gucci and Chanel, fashion mag Vogue, and made even Karl Lagerfeld a fan. Her self-titled debut album was released early this year and entered the UK chart at #40. Her born-to-be-in-opera voice made her one of the big surprises this year and NME dubbed the album as the first great record of 2011.
Making dupstep accessible for the masses is a daunting task. It can be said that all forms of music suffer from commercialisation. But for North Londoners, Modestep, keeping the raw unnerving qualities of dupstep while expanding it to incorporate elements from rock, Motown, 2 step and drum n bass seems like park life. Honing their sound this way, the 4-piece live band made of Josh, Tony, Oz and Matt offers a radio friendly format of dubstep with Josh’s deep and soulful vocals mixed with dirty basslines. Starting as a YouTube phenomenon (don’t they all?), Modestep have been performing live over the past few years, combining DJing, remixing, drums and synths with infectious choruses (yes, dubstep with choruses) and remarkable visuals. These guys are currently gearing up for the release of Sunlight on A&M and Interscope Records which will be coming out in July this year. As a tease of their upcoming album, they have unveiled their first massive choon entitled ‘Feel Good’ on YouTube. With over 4 million views in 4 months, it looks like the monster called dubstep has finally been tamed.
He’s an actor, a musician, a stand-up comedian and a Writer for 30Rock. Now, Donald Glover has added his alter-ego to his impressive curriculum vitae. Always with a sense of humour, Donald’s moniker came from a Wu-Tang Clan name-generator over the internet. As Childish Gambino, he has released 3 albums – disowning his 2002 album, The Younger I Get, cos he thinks he sounded like a “decrepit Drake” – and a couple of mixtapes featuring clever punchlines and high-octane rap skillz. His latest single ‘Freaks and Geeks’ off his deceptively titled EP moves away from his standup-rap routine and into more serious stuff. Touching on more personal matters such as his family, ragging and bullying, love problems, suicidal thoughts and alcoholism, his 5-song EP was released as free downloads on his website earlier this year. Donald also rapped over Adele’s ‘Rolling In The Deep’ which was remixed by Jamie of The xx and received massive plugs over the blogosphere. Get wired to his music cos Childish ain’t no kid. Fo’ shizzle!
DOMINIQUE YOUNG UNIQUE
Breaking out from SXSW, 19-year old Dominique Young Unique is a fierce rapper who landed a deal with Art Jam Records after her early YouTube success. Coming from Tampa Bay, she has performed alongside the likes of NERD, Big Boi, Die Antwood and Gucci Mane. This edgy ghetto princess is also a sucker for high-speed electro beats. With a helium-pitched voice and an incredible sense of rhythm, she will crash onto dancefloors and throw angry raps at ‘cha. She has already recorded a collection of tracks including the raunchy ‘Show My A$$’ and party anthem ‘Music Time’ for her Blaster EP last year followed by a mixtape called Domination. If you want to be on team Dominique, then grab a copy of her latest Glamourous Touch EP and get down on the floor, y’all!
More thumpin’ music at juiceonline.com/music.