2011 in music - ones you may have missed
- By Nick Hagan -
- Jan 11, 2012
2011 was, like, sooo last year.
But, y'know, sometimes all of these end of year 'best of' lists we've become so accustomed to can sideline the little guys, the surfacing artists that are either already working miracles or promise to in the not too distant future.
So here's a salute to some of the best acts of the year that you might have missed, in no particular order. And no, it doesn't include the bloody Vaccines.
Girl from middle-of-nowhere suburbia makes thrilling grunge-inflected pop record you say? Why yes. While appropriately-named debut offering 'Hot New Trash' isn't exactly a masterpiece (even garnering a somewhat unimpressed Virgin Red Room review), it oozes promise, is stacked with ideas and sports some interesting production.
Elastica-tinged 'Tyrant Song' couples with 'Genie in a Coke Can' as crass electro-rock harpoons chucked at the windows of the pop porridge factory, while a dig through the back catalogue unearths the weird, serrated fantasies of 'Handsome Stranger Called Death' and 'The Fox'. Throughout, wig-fancier Hannah Clarke's punk siren vocals and dead pan lyrics provide the gloss that coats the barbs.
Foe's album 'Bad Dream Hotline' is out on January 16th.
Ipswich MC Dels was an unexpected highlight at Camden Crawl back in May, and made good this year with a handful of scorching tunes on debut record 'GOB'.
'Capsize', featuring veteran Roots Manuva, is something of a state-of-the-nation address, replete with some savvy lyrical insight. Elsewhere 'Shapeshift' is a manic, brilliantly entertaining ode to childhood inspiration and 'Trumpalump' offers a compellingly schizoid electro/rap hybrid.
Those Dancing Days
Unashamedly swoony, saccharine Swedish pop fivesome Those Dancing Days have been knocking around for a few years now, but honed their irresistible formula even closer to perfection in 2011 with second album 'Daydreams and Nightmares'.
'I'll Be Yours', 'Fuckarias' and 'Can't Find Entrance' are choice cuts of unpretentious, uplifting pop with an 80s-leaning, while seeing them live is an immensely fun night out.
The Naked and Famous
Continuing down the sugary pop yellow brick road, New Zealanders The Naked and Famous wormed their way into the playlists of 2011 with gutso, giving the year some of its best 'you know it but you don't' tunes.
While they made quite a buzz on arrival, debut album 'Passive Me, Aggressive You' didn't quite get the exposure it deserved, which is why it's on this list. Flagship tunes 'Young Blood' and 'Punching In A Dream' are as gorgeous and wintry as mulled wine ice cream, but the likes of the Nine Inch Nails-meets-Radiohead pulse of 'The Sun' offers a dense counterpoint and suggests this is a band with bigger ambitions.
Chicago's finest Smith Westerns served up a rather charming Britpop and classic rock-indebted record back in April with sophomore effort 'Dye It Blonde', living up to the hype surrounding the young band more than adequately.
While it pushes exactly zero boundaries, it's a joyful exercise in beautiful, sunny pop to soundtrack teenage loves and losses, with 'Weekend' and the euphoric, gospel-shaded 'Smile' joining a clutch of other feel-good anthems. And there's nowt wrong with that.
Aussie space cadets Cloud Control join Smith Westerns in having one foot firmly in the dad-rock camp, but this time with a more psychedelic angle. Regardless, they're ace live, combining heavy slabs of guitar with sultry girl-boy harmonies to conjure a unique, pleasingly quirky sound.
'Meditation Song #2' and the beautiful, melancholy 'There's Nothing In The Water We Can't Fight' are highlights from 2011's 'Bliss Release' album. They've also moved to London, which means the UK should be seeing a fair bit of them in 2012, kicking off with an NME Awards Tour in February.
There you have it. Did I miss anything truly mind-blowing? Post below if so.
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