I love music. I own hundreds of CDs, have an iPod full of tracks and a vinyl collection to rival my dad’s. I love rock, indie and metal. I’m a fan of pop, RnB and hip hop. I enjoy a bit of country, listen to a fair amount of classical and love early rock and roll. Basically, I love to hear just what’s being produced in various genres from right around the world.
But being a Brit, I have a particular fondness for the talent we produce musically as a country. I’ll be the first to hold my hands up and say we’ve delivered some atrocities over the years, but I also believe we’ve produced some absolute gems.
In recent years, the British music scene has seen a huge revival and we’ve got companies wanting to invest in young bands and artists. Technology is becoming cheaper and more available which means DJs and producers can create finished tracks in their bedroom. Venues are realising once again just how fantastic it can be to have a band playing live.
A big believer in sharing quality, there are so many great, new British bands and artists on the verge of making it huge that it’s difficult to pick just a handful. However, here are the five I’m listening to most at the minute and which I would really recommend you start to follow (and just for information, these artists / bands aren’t necessarily brand new in the sense they got together last week. They haven’t had any form of major mainstream success, but are either tipped to see it throughout 2013 or are at least destined for much bigger things than they’re achieving at the moment).
One of my favourite bands of the moment, The 1975’s latest song ‘Sex’ has just started to get airplay on mainstream British radio after their first EP, ‘The City’, was played by Zane Lowe on Radio 1 back in May and it’s really helping the band to establish a name for themselves.
Setup and fronted by Matt Healy, The 1975 hail from Manchester and undoubtedly have that Manc approach to music. It has that raw punchiness, with strong foundations in rock and roll. A slightly quirky voice speaks out over guitars with lots of treble and a solid bass line. Throw into the mix a few modern day indie touches and you’ve got a band that while suited perfect to 2012 (and beyond), wouldn’t be out of place in the early 2000s, 1990s or even 1980s.
I can’t think of just one band that their sound replicates directly and it seems obvious to me that they draw on a range of influences, from Bloc Party and The Kooks through to Oasis, The Strokes and the Libertines (they’ve got that rawness and catchiness of the Libertines that makes you want to just hit replay every time you hear their songs, as well as the ability to reach out to you and pull you in for the ride).
The 1975 have actually been together for around five years, but they’ve gone through a multitude of name changes (The Big Sleep, Drive Like I Do and Talkhouse to name just a few). With their second EP due out on November 19th in the UK and November 20th in the US (you can pre-order it on iTunes now), I’m already addicted to this band and can’t wait to see what the next few months holds for them.
Up until I heard The 1975’s ‘Sex’, the Palma Violets were my favourite new band. I heard their song ‘Best Of Friends’ a month or two ago and it just blew me away. It’s not revolutionary in the sense that you sit back and think “OK, this is up there with Lennon and McCartney’s work”, but they offer something new. Blending the catchiness of indie rock with the driving force of full out rock and roll, although The 1975 and the Palma Violets are both classed as indie bands and are both obviously influenced by the Libertines and The Strokes, the Palma Violets have a little something that I think will make them appeal to a wider, more mainstream audience.
And considering they’ve outright said they want to bring back that rock and roll feel with a thumping bass line, appealing to a wide audience is no easy feat, yet they’re managing it oh so well.
In fact, that influence from the Libertines is more apparent they more you hear and see them. Carl Barat and Pete Doherty had that famous relationship that just made you a) want to watch them constantly and b) be a part of their friendship. Sam (guitarist) and Chilli (bassist, singer) from the Palma Violets have a very similar relationship and it’s a joy to see. You can almost feel and hear the passion for the music radiate off them as they perform, even if you’re only listening on your iPod or watching on YouTube.
Their debut LP ‘Best Of Friends’ is out now on iTunes, but if you buy the limited edition 7″ vinyl or CD from their label Rough Trade (and for the record, yes, this is the same label that was the home of The Smiths, the Libertines, et al), you’ll get them signed – a future collector’s item, perhaps?
My music tastes are pretty varied and I honestly do like most types of music. However, I’ve always drawn the line at electronica / dubstep-type artists and bands. Not because I think it’s a load of nothing, but because it just hasn’t appealed to me.
And then I heard Jakwob’s ‘Blinding’ and my eyes were opened to just how good this type of music I’d failed to listen to properly can be.
Real name James Jacob, he’s actually been on the scene since 2009 and released some great remixes of popular, mainstream songs (most notable Ellie Goulding’s ‘Starry Eyed’). Given his first radio play in November 2009 when his remix of Ellie Goulding’s ‘Under The Sheets’ was Zane Lowe’s ‘Hottest Record In The World’, it’s only in recent months that he’s really started to gain traction with mainstream audiences.
Having been involved in music for over a decade, playing with bands in everything from jazz through to metal, it’s no real wonder why you can’t really pin his own work down to any one genre. Yes, it does lean more to the electronica / dubstep side of things, but take ‘Blinding’ as an example (which again caught the attention of Zane Lowe and became his ‘Hottest Record In The World’ three years after ‘Under The Sheets’). It’s definitely got that dubstep feel to it, but you’ve got some classical piano in there. A bit of right out pop. Some indie rock if you imagined what would happen if you took away the guitars. There’s a fair amount of acoustic singer songwriter in there, too, particularly in terms of the emotion.
With ‘Blinding’ released on November 18th, you can currently pre-order it on iTunes and if you’re planning on going to Val Thorens, Val D’Isere or Les Arcs in France to ski before Christmas, you can catch him live.
I’m a huge fan of singer songwriters. While I adore everything from classic rock through to early 1990s hip hop, I would argue the songs that transport you to another world are written and sung by acoustic singer songwriters. They can express so much emotion in their voices and offer so much with just their voice and a guitar or a piano that it’s magical.
Gaining a relatively expansive knowledge of such artists over the years, I heard Keaton Henson – I think by mistake – a few months back and I’d say he’s easily the most emotive singer songwriter of recent times – and as huge of a statement as this is, possibly in history.
Plagued by such bad stage fright that his live appearances are few and far between, Henson’s songs cover every emotion you can think of, from pain, suffering, love and anguish right through to fright and panic. Take his song ‘You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are’. The story of a man speaking to an ex-partner who is now with another man, he essentially explains how he knows everything about her, how he cared for her so intently and he questions whether her new man knows the same things.
Such a simple song, the accompanying video is the same – just a woman who becomes increasingly upset – yet it’s one of the most emotional songs I’ve ever heard. If there’s one song that could bring me to tears, it would be this one. You can just feel his pain as he sings about losing his partner to another man who he knows doesn’t love her as much as he does.
A lot of Henson’s songs follow this simplistic approach, but he has one in particular that is worlds apart. Called Kronos, it’s just haunting. Watch the official video on YouTube. I was mesmerised.
Having released two EPs to date, they were both recorded at his home in London, right under the Heathrow flight path. Tale has it that he worked out the flight time table and recorded the songs in the short gaps between departures and arrivals. Oh and any percussion you can hear on ‘Dear…’? Yeah, that was made with a cupboard (slamming the door, knocking on it, etc).
An eccentric, creative, reclusive, passionate, fascinating and extremely talented young man, I’ve only known of Keaton Henson for a few months, but he’s already down as one of my favourite artists of all time.
Like The 1975, Everything Everything are based in Manchester and also like The 1975, they’ve been together for around five years. However, that’s where the similarities end, as aside from the fact Everything Everything have come out and said they consider themselves to be pop (with a bit of a twist), they’ve also said they want to make sure they don’t meet people’s expectations of “white men with guitars from Manchester”.
I think it’s probably worthwhile pointing out that Everything Everything aren’t classed as a new band by many. They’ve been around since 2007, had some success with a few singles (most notably ‘Cough Cough’) and you’ll hear them occasionally on alternative / new music shows on mainstream radio. They also had a great year in 2011 with several award nominations. However, I wanted to include them as outside of the loyal fans they’ve gained over the last few years, they’re relatively unknown – but they’re expected to really break through in the next 12 months.
Showcasing their own take on pop, they class Destiny’s Child and R Kelly amongst their influences (along with Nirvana and Radiohead) and cite a laptop as one of their instruments. Add into this the traditional mix of guitars, bass, drums and the occasional keyboard and you can already start to imagine the eclectic mix that is proving to be so popular with Everything Everything’s fans.
Their second album, ‘Arc’ (a follow up to 2010’s ‘Man Alive’) is due out in February 2013 and they’re out on tour for most of the same month promoting it.
Everything Everything aren’t my favourite band on this list, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they saw the most success next year.