Never mind the here and now – presenting my tips for 2013.
By Pursehouse – Follow me on Twitter.
Yes, you’ve read correctly, it’s the now ‘regular’ (there have been three, how many until something becomes regular? Let’s say three) yearly blog where I look forward a whole twelve months ahead of other lists and give you my tips on who I think has a decent chance of being on the populous’ radar in 2013.
So what is the purpose of this list?
I started it a few year’s back when the ‘BBC Sound Of 20XX’ list was evolving from pretty much being a little feature on their site to becoming a fully fledged ‘thing’ in the industry which now receives a bucketload of attention from pretty much anyone who has anything more than a passive interest in music.
It’s widely acknowledged that the lists are usually ‘safe bets’. For example out of the fifteen artists on 2012’s longlist, only one of the artists doesn’t have a major label backing them (Friends). And whilst Joe Public might not be aware of that fact and therefore when they’re plastered all over BBC Radio 1 next year they will be genuinely ‘new’ to them, us lot (and I include you in this as you clearly have enough interest in the music industry to at least be reading this) probably already saw this coming.
There has been an alarming backlash towards end of year lists in 2011, so much so that ‘slagging off end of year lists’ has become the new ‘end of year list’, but as the ever knowledgeable Andy Malt said on the CMU podcast; “It’s just a list”.
So with that perspective in mind, read on and hopefully you’ll come across something you quite enjoy. At the end of the day and other such clichés, it’s all about the music isn’t it?
When DeadMau5 believes in you enough to take you under his wing then you’ve clearly got ‘dem mad skilz’ and London based Norwegian producer James Njie (which I believe is pronounced Nigh, as in; ‘The End Is Njie” – just think of the merchandising opportunities) has quite the ear for a catchy beat. I also went to university with him and he’s bloody lovely *AND* once completed a Rubix Cube, but you can make your own mind up by listening to Anti Crisis below.
Responsible for one of the best EP’s in 2011 ‘The AU EP’ (which you can listen to here) and after hearing a couple of their newer tracks set to be released early 2012, I can confidently say that Mammal Club are maturing beautifully. Their ‘sound’ is becoming more unique and accomplished and they’ve also just bagged themselves a rather brilliant manager, which always helps. Have a listen to ‘Hang’ below.
Despite it not being a competition; the North East is well and truly ‘winning’ when it comes to churning out talent at the moment and Cattle & Cane are up there as some of the best raw emerging songwriting talent the UK has to offer. Listen through their two EP releases on Spotify and you’ll quickly notice that when they get it right, they get it absolutely spot on. This track ‘Sold My Soul’ has BBC Radio 2 playlist written all over it.
North London based Nathan Anidugbe released his debut mixtape ‘Never Ask Take Everything’ (which you can listen to here) late 2010 to much acclaim amongst the blogosphere of that scene. After several features on SBTV and a string of live performances under his belt, if this young gentleman can carry on growing his reputation like he has so far then he shouldn’t have much to worry about. Listen to City Lights below.
Young. Beautiful. Voice that makes you realise life’s worth living. What more could you want? Her performance on the BBC Introducing stage at Leeds festival this year was one of the musical highlights of my year. A genuinely special talent. Have a listen to Wait A While below.
Self-confessed Sound Engineer/Producer rather than solo artist, this doesn’t change the fact Tarek Musa has penned some bloody catchy songs over the past twelve months. His ‘Kankouran’ EP is a hidden gem on Spotify with track ‘Rivers’ being my personal highlight. If all goes to plan you should be hearing his music on some rather high profile UK TV shows next year.
More geordies! I’m a sucker for a good bit of instrumental music and this track ‘The Line’ pushes my buttons in ways that only fantasies of time spent alone with Mila Kunis can. I’m informed their second EP is on its way early 2012 and I’m rather interested in finding out where they’re going to go next. Be sure to follow them on Twitter as well, they’re pun-tastic.
I’ve had Professor Penguin’s debut album sitting on my iPhone for a good few months now and I can assure you now it’s one to get your grubby little hands on as soon as it’s released in early 2012. Brian Eno likes it FFS, what other proof do you need? The brainchild of Jonny Abraham, Professor Penguin is a collective of various musicians who’ve genuinely created something rather special in the form of ‘Planes’ (the debut album) and you can listen to the lead single ‘Pilot’ below.
So they’re my picks for you. You like? You dislike? Let me know your thoughts via the usual channels.
As ever I’ve asked a few chums of my to contribute…
Natalie Shaw – Music Journo/Label Owner/DJ/Raconteur – Twitter
After writing last year’s tips for next year, something unbelievable happened – my top tip, Canadian duo Bonjay, ended up getting in touch. A few months later, I released their debut European single on my label One Bird Records, and ‘Stumble’/’Creepin’ attracted high praise from The Stool Pigeon, The Fly, The Guardian and heck, even people who don’t write about music for a job. A few copies of the single are still available here (the release is on a physical, touchable notebook – with a download code – don’t you know), if you’re that way inclined. It’s ace.
I made great friends in Bonjay, so if any of the below people want to get in touch this year, I’m at @natalie_shaw. Apart from that, treat it as silly:
Unbelievably, it’s the girl who appeared on B2K’s remix LP back in 2002 – nine years on, here with her own hauntologically eerie slow jams. Her pure, soft, understated vocal brings up the obvious reference-point of Aaliyah, but her sparse beats and swirling, crushed production are unmistakably present-day.
Beyonce’s ‘I Care’ is the nearest we’ve come to a crossover of ~obvious names~ The Weeknd and How To Dress Well’s spooked-out sounds into the big old proper mainstream. and with her off having a baby in 2012, we’ll have to wait for another while longer for the doors to open again for Jhené.
And besides: a free mixtape is a literal flash-card for “Hi, I’ll be big in two years’ time”, and you can even ask Daley if you don’t believe me.
The indiest activity I’ve partaken in this year has been closely following The X Factor USA. The stand-0ut for me was Astro, a 15-year-old rapper from Brooklyn.
His passion, drive and flow are impeccable, and it’s been fascinating to watch the kid deliver his own rhymes week in week out – but what he’s lacking at the minute is maturity. Given a year (or two – durrrr), he’ll turn up once again with something incredible.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of working with The Saturdays on their social media and digital properties, and getting to hang out with the girls for a while. Vanessa White is a lady who loves music, be it SBTRKT, JoJo’s new stuff with Drake, Marsha Ambrosius, Jazmine Sullivan…
Her vocal is the lynchpin of ‘Notorious’, ‘Issues’, ‘Forever Is Over’, ‘Higher’, All Fired Up’ and more, but I find that all too often now, she’s pushed into head voice to avoid taking over.
It’s inevitable that The Saturdays won’t go on forever, which is great because it means eventually, Miss Vanessa White will be given songs all of her own. Maybe that’ll be 2013, maybe not – but whenever it happens, it’ll be a bolt out of the blue.
Here is a two-year-old boy who I found on YouTube the other day, rapping with his dad.
He’ll be at least four by the end of 2013, therefore old enough to have either (a) expanded his repertoire of vocabulary, or (b) learnt a pre-existing language. The boy’s got flow!
Jim Warburton – Music Supervisor at Lime Pictures (Hollyoaks/The Only Way Is Essex/Geordie Shore)
Taking influence from the XX’s intricate sound scapes and Burial’s fractured way with samples and augmenting them with confident and powerful vocals, Dems create a mysterious and beautiful sound all of their own, which is very much a sound of the future.
Rabble rousing vocal chants, inspired lyrics, deft and subtle instrumentation, all coupled with a powerful rhythm section. For fans of Sunset Rubdown and Arcade Fire.Heart-Ships create songs with the depth and the power to take them to the top of festival line-ups around the world.
Boaz Sachs – Music Blogger, Dilettante Photographer and occasional DJ – Twitter
Its 2011 and this band don’t even have a twitter account or a “marketing strategy”. Strangely refreshing actually and having seen them live by complete accident in the build up to Halloween (dressed in full animal suits I should add) this Californian duo held my attention for their whole set (quite a feat considering the kind of costumes people were rocking out). Singer and drummer Lucy has a soothing and almost hypnotizing quality to her vocals whilst her guitarist Rocky showed some Jack White-esque fire. There are just a handful of songs available right now through their Soundcloud but the band suggested they have plenty more ammunition come 2012.
Londoners Tigercats continue in the fine tradion of twee British indie mashing Belle & Sebastian and Los Campesinos style sensibilities. Frontman Duncan Barrett, once with Hexicon, offers a slightly twisted viewpoint with his unmistakable vocal delivery while the rest of the band do a great job keeping it nice and keeping clean. The band have recently recorded new material with Darren Hayman from Hefner at the helm and I cant wait.
South East London’s Kick Up The Fire released their debut EP late in 2010 to great reviews but initial indifference from “the public”. Still, they plugged away playing the traditional London watering holes and beyond building a following. Tracks like ‘No Fun In London’ personify why this lot hold so much promise and arguably ‘These Canvas Shoes’ offers an even more outstanding single material. The band were recently reunited with producer Ben James and if the progress they showed under his tutelage last time is anything to go by we should expect some great new material soon.
Alana Stewart is another one of those artists that I knew very little about until she hit the stage and wanted to know everything about her by the time she got off. The West Coast native who relocated to NYC was first spotted busking in NYC before someone wisely whisked her off for that impromptu set of shows in London and what struck me right away was how sincere she comes off from the stage. With that comes a degree of vulnerability which endears you to her further.
Here is something a little different with this selection as The Difference are not actually an act per se but a pair of producers based out of LA. I started following their in my time in LA where I witnessed their collaborations and beats start to infiltrate the local scene. I had the pleasure to drop into their studio for a jam session they were recording and I have to say their production ideas where both meticulous and interesting. Clearly the twosome bring different qualities to the table that augment each other and it was a pleasure to watch. They’ve got a bunch of collabs planned for 2012 so we may hear them on our shores soon.