12 New Acts For 2012!!!!!

14 Feb

For the past few years, every January, I have gone on a trawl through the internet to find the best new music being made. This year the search has been considerably more treacherous than in years gone by (hence the delay in me putting this list online). Vines have strangled the stumps of rock n roll, the electro river has well and truly run dry, and the heavy quick sand that they call dubstep (but isn’t the dubstep I remember, and liked) has claimed mainstream pop as its biggest victim yet. All in all there seems to be a lot more waste and a lot less gold.

I must have listened to close to 150 new bands over the past month (no exaggeration) and much of that times was spent getting thoroughly depressed. Maybe the bands I heard were really good and I’m just getting increasinly old and out of touch. But Surely not?! Maybe it’s me, or maybe, just maybe, it’s the current state of music. Still, there are some lights in the dark, and the 12 most promising acts are presented for you here.

I’m expecting big things from all these artists, but obviously it’s far too early to tell just how good (and popular) they will turn out to be, as many of them have only released a couple of limited edition 7 inchs. Some of the acts I put on this list two years ago STILL haven’t released their debuts (those bands are Kindness and Egyptian Hip Hop club, who, they assure us, will be releasing albums, at last, this year). So, early days, but last year my top acts were The Vaccines and James Blake, both of whom had spectacular years. Lets hope for similar success for this year’s acts.

12. FACTORY FLOOR

Ok, Factory Floor aren’t really a new band (they released their first e.p a couple of years ago), but they’ve been away for so long, and their sound is so radically different (and improved) that they may as well be a new band. They’ve gone from noisy post-punk irritants to a slick, DFA produced dance act. There are still hints of the band they were, especially in the twisted basslines and eery vocals, but their sound is more accomplished and way more fun. Factory Floor make direct, well produced dance music for 2012 and a full length release should be out fairly soon.

11. Little Racer

Lo-fi surf guitars, lyrics about heading for the coast and pretty girls – Little Racer are hardly the most original act on this list, but there is something irresistible about them nonetheless. They remind me of The Drums, when they were still singing about summertime and surfing, but without the hype and the distracting obsession with aesthetics. Their debut single ‘Split For the Coast/The Town’ was released in December, and it’s bound to be followed up in the coming months.

10. Bleeding Knees Club

Bleeding Knees Club are one of several Australian bands making frantic and fantastic garage rock in 2012. I could easily have chosen DZ Deathrays or Step Panther, but Bleeding Knees Club make it above them, simply because they are funnier. They make direct garage-punk songs that have catchy melodies and focus on classic teenage obsessions; Their e.p is called ‘Virginity’ and their songs include ‘Teenage Girls’ and ‘Have Fun’ – you can kind of work out they’re all about. Listen to this band and you certainly will have some fun.

9. Toy

This next band have certain connections; two members used to be in the mocked ‘indie landfill’ group, Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong (who were much better than they were given credit for); Lead singer Tom is the brother of the wonderful Rose Elinor Dougall; The Horrors and Mojo magazine are massive fans already. These things could be beneficial for the band or they could be a curse, either way these soundbites are likely to dominate early discussion of the group. Once you move on to the actual music you realise that Toy don’t need to rely on these connections to get by, they are a group with their own identity and sound (although they are still very much in development). They push boundaries visually as well as musically, putting on strange light shows at their gigs that compliment their psychedelic sounds. Expect to hear more from them in the coming months.


8. Lucy Rose

Lucy Rose’s voice may be familiar to you; she lent her vocals to Bombay Bicycle Club’s excellent 2010 album ‘Flaws’. There her harmonies added depth to the group’s laidback acoustic tones, and here she goes for a similar sound whilst thrusting her own voice firmly into the foreground. And it really is this distinctive voice that’s her main calling card. The songs are simple and unfussy, mainly acoustic, with some sparse folky instrumentation as back up. An album is being recorded at the moment, which is sure to include early fan favourites ‘Middle of the Bed’ and ‘Red Face’.

7. Willis Earl Beal

Willis Earl Beal is soulful, street-wise singer from the Chicago, who joins The Weeknd and Frank Ocean in this year’s unexpected r&b revival. Beal’s sound is less radical and more bluesy though; the songwriting is tender and honest, and the songs were recorded onto a cheap cassette years ago; his label (no less than XL, probably the biggest and best indie label in the world right now) have no intention of making him re-record. His debut album, ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ is out later this year and if it’s as consistently good as his debut single, then it’s one to look forward to.

6. Being There

Being There have released a single on the influential label Lost and Found Club, and they’ve just completed a fairly big tour supporting Noah and the Whale. Despite this, it’s not hard to notice that they are fairly fresh-faced, and still very much finding their feet. Their sound is a bit rough around the edges, a bit predictable, and a bit too twee, but on the strength of these songs I predict that they will mature into a great band. They pay homage to 80’s indie pop and college rock, fusing influences like R.E.M, Field Mice, The Wake and early Primal Scream into condense 2 and a half-minute pop songs of some depth.

5. Friends

Remember Black Kids? They had a couple of big hits a few years ago, and then got eat eaten up by hype and spat out into oblivion. Friends are in a similar position to the one Black Kids were in at the beginning. Both trace a line between funk, indie, and r&b, and like Black Kids, Friends are in danger of being overwhelmed by hype. Early singles ‘I’m His Girl’ and ‘Friend Crush’ have been getting some serious attention from blogs and Radio 1, and with good reason, they are extremely catchy songs. That said, they are not the second coming, they are just yet another exciting new group coming out of Brooklyn. So get ready but don’t get carried away.

4. Michele Stodart

Michele Stodart is 1/4 of Magic Numbers; I adore this band but they seem to have gone a bit off the rails recently. Their last album ‘The Runaway’ was a disappointment, and recent live reviews have been mixed. I was therefore excited but slightly skeptical about hearing new solo material from Michele, the bass player. This project has been in the works for years (I first recall her mentioning a solo album in 2008) and at long last the album will be released in 2012. I needn’t have been worried; I always knew Michele could sing but now she has the opportunity to take lead it’s obvious just how good she is. The poppy and infectious first single, ‘Take Your Loving Back’, could easily have fitted onto Magic Numbers debut album, whilst other songs sound quite different and unexpectedly folksy. It’s subtle and inoffensive but as a big Magic Numbers fan this is right up my street.

3. Azelia Banks

Azelia Banks is funny, rude, a skilled rapper, decent singer, and according to NME the coolest person on the planet. All of this is confirmed by her debut single ‘212’ which, as far as I can recall, is the best song by a female rapper since Missy Elliot released ‘Get Ur Freak On’. It really is hard to express just what a great tune it is, but anyone whose heard it will be sure to agree (I must have listened to it thousands of times now, in all kinds of situations, and it’s yet to lose it’s appeal). That Banks has nothing else close to matching it, that I’ve heard, is no real surprise, but songs like ‘Liquorice’, ‘Runnin’ and a cover of Interpol’s ‘Slow Hands’ suggest there is a lot more up her sleeve. Recently signed to Interscope, a debut album recorded by recent grammy winning producer Paul Epsworth (Bloc Party, Adele, The Rakes, The Big Pink) is  being worked on at the moment.

2. Citizens!

I don’t know much about Citizens, but that doesn’t matter; this photo tells me 90% of what I need to know. These guys are seriously stylish. They cite Michael Jackson as an influence. They aren’t afraid to dance. Their debut single was produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand. They have a video directed by the High 5 Collective. The are signed to Kitsune. This should be enough to tell you that Citizens! are going to own 2012. In case it’s not enough, check out their singles ‘Reptile’, ‘I’m in Love With Your Girlfriend’ and ‘True Romance’ and that should seal the deal. Amazing.

1. Spector

How nice it is to hear a band with choooons! It’s an increasingly rare thing these days; I mean as good as Toy and Factory Floor are they aren’t going to get you whistling along to any of their songs from dusk till dawn. No other act on this list has a choooon to rival Spector’s ‘Chevy Thunder’, let alone ‘Never Fade Away’ or ‘What You Wanted’. The band are a throwback to 2004, when groups made shiny indie-pop songs that penetrated the top 5 and got played on daytime radio. Spector aren’t the coolest band on this list, nor are they the most innovative, but they are the most likeable by a country mile, and they have charm and style by the bucketful. They top this list because, right now, they are the hottest new band on the planet. The debut album is out on Fiction at the end of April.


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