Beneath is Part II of our massively drawn-out Twenty Tips for 2013 feature – Part I can be found here. As we said then, we can’t honestly give you that popular hyperbolic introduction which promises you that you will listen to nothing else in 2013, and that they will usher in a new era of trans-national harmony, they’ve made some great music and are very likely to go and do the same again pretty soon.
It was pretty frustrating that Dante, the source of what could arguably be our most understandably overplayed song of 2012, “Won’t Go”, spent the rest of 2012 staying quiet, save for an announcement in October that he’d signed a management deal. Well, the manager had better be bloody revolutionary, because after months of waiting, quite a lot of Dante’s soulful hooks would make the first few months of 2013 much better.
Whilst we’re on the subject of Europeans who are making a good case for us staying in the EU, Berlin resident Dan Bodan is another who appeared from seemingly nowhere to release some truly exceptional music. The perfect poise of melodrama, subtlety and vulnerability made the muted LCD-Soundsystem-meets-Bon-Iver of “DP” something really special. Anything resembling an album full of his sentimental electronics would be much appreciated.
The general feedback from the Palma Violets/Childhood tour was that the NME-endorsed Violets were slightly upstaged by the more considered and melodic romance of Childhood. Whatever be the comparative merits of the two bands, the carefree tones of “Blue Velvet” bode well for Childhood’s future.
Simply the fact that Syron managed to make her skewed garage work at Fear Of Fiction Festival, watched by no more than eight awkward onlookers, is proof enough of the quality of the tracks that she’s got up her sleeve. There’s no shortage of artists attempting to capitalise on the simultaneous success of pop and bass music, but the intricacy of her production and the integrity of her vocals puts her miles ahead of the rest.
I cannot lie; Pete and the Pirates never were for me. Yet in Teleman’s introductory track “Christina”, three-fifths of the now-musically-deceased indie outfit seem to have landed somewhere between euphoria and melancholy that surpasses their previous work. It’s hardly shockingly innovative to wistfully describe amorous encounters, but Teleman seem to do it with a disarming innocence and simplicity that is something approaching timeless.
Benjamin Garrett has got to be the definite buzz band by now; he has been oscillating in the pages of blogs with some constancy for over five years now, and it’s about time that his odd pop music was given the breakthrough it deserved. And though I am still not the oracle that other outlets may profess to be, I have to admit that it looks like Fryars may at last break through to some degree, based entirely on the patiently built brilliance of “In My Arms”, which will apparently see a release in the Spring, backed with the equally inventive “Love So Cold”.
There’s nothing more gratifying than seeing a genuinely good band, a band whose appeal is so nuanced that it seems likely that the 21st century’s microscopic attention spans may pass it by, actually succeed. Anyone who’s been watching will tell you that the reaction to Ninetails’ “Slept And Did Not Sleep” EP has been nothing short of unexpectedly rapturous, so much so that it actually might restore some of your faith in the world. Perhaps it is still possible for a band to quietly get on with making thoughtful and slightly polarising music, and still swivel enough heads to make a future out of it. Ninetails are definitely making a good case for it, and will hopefully continue to this year.
Arriving with a startlingly fully realised sound isn’t a bad way to introduce yourself to the world, and there’s no doubt that London & Vienna resident SOHN had everything worked out before he unveiled “The Wheel” three months ago. The glitchy marriage of the synthetic and the cerebral was pitched exactly right, and even landed him a deal with Vagrant, ensuring that we’ll hear more from him.
What more is there to say about AlunaGeorge? Since the London nightlife-drenched duo were included in the BBC Sound Of… poll everything that could have possibly been wrung out of the short career of two young people has been professionally over-analysed and spun out as if they’d released a succession of genre-defining albums. Perhaps at this stage it’s better just to let the music do the talking until you’ve got interesting to say, especially when your music is worth letting speak for itself.
The shadow that The Knife cast across Scandinavian music becomes more obvious the more surly and dramatic pop music that you hear from the area. And if Kate Boy’s “Northern Lights” is anything to go by, that influence can only be positive, especially if it leaves you with fiercely individual music like this that can safely be described as pop without subscribing to any of the lazy philosophies which help artists get near the charts these days. This is painstakingly and passionately constructed pop music with a dark, beating heart.
Haim have been at the top of everyone else’s lists so it’s only fair that they sit at the bottom of mine, if only to restore some balance to the universe and because their appeal and path to success is so obvious that it isn’t even worth describing, rather than because I don’t actually like them as much as the others here (in truth, I’m still foolishly infatuated) – all I can do is refer you to their Soundcloud which should tell you all you need to know, if you don’t already: