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5 of the Best: Indie Artists to Watch in 2011

20 Dec

So I’ve just done the electronic list, here’s the indie one.

1) French Films – Golden Sea

The best thing to come out Finland since Jari Litmanen, or quite possibly ever, are French Films, a band who resemble The Drums and other such West-Coast acts. They also have a really nice cover to their CD.

2) Gypsy & The Cat – Jona Vark

These Australians first came to my attention after they were insulted by Scrobius Pip at a gig of his. He was wrong, they aren’t ‘Gypsy & The Shit’ they are in fact one of the most exciting new bands of the day, producing music that reminds the listener of 70s LA pop, all lush and layered.

3) The Sans Pareil – Morning Wine

They have a French name and make ‘folk-punk’ need I say more? Okay, I will. It’s not too folky, nor is it too punky, it’s at a nice medium in the middle, which is pretty good.

4) Crystal Fighters – Plage

The Barcelona band have just released their first album, with (to me) a surprising lack of critical acclaim. Clever tunes and sing-along words make Crystal Fighters one of the most enjoyable bands of the moment, and one you should keep an eye out for in the future. Also watch out for a number of good remixes which their music has given way to.

5) Gloria Cycles – Religious

I originally intended to include moody Londoners The Vaccines here, they are after all pretty much guaranteed to be successful, especially with the amount of free lovin’ NME are giving them. However, Gloria Cycles, from just down the road in Brighton produce something that is, in my eyes far better. Happier and more upbeat, this is what good indie sounds like.

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5 of the Best: Electronic Artists to Watch in 2011

20 Dec

A lot of blogs like to try and predict the artists that they expect to make it big in the coming year around now, so I thought I’d give it a try. As the two focuses of the blog are electronic and indie music, I thought I’d compile a list of five for each.

1) Jai Paul – BTSTU

Highly tipped by everyone, the Hounslow based artist has drawn comparisons from  M.I.A. to Prince and to everything else inbetween. His music is undoubtedly good though, a great meeting of falsetto and deep bass, which shouldn’t work but does.

2) Jamie Woon – Wayfaring Stranger (Burial Remix)

The ‘prince of post-dubstep’ has been around for quite a while, this remix dates from 2008. However, people are now looking for an escape from the relentless sound of dubstep, and his style which is much closer to the dub roots from which the genre came is now most certainly in vogue. Like Jai Paul, a mix of soul and dub isn’t something you’d expect to work but it does here.

3) Dom – Living In America

Dom last year released a short EP, Sun Bronzed Greek Gods, the highlight of the six tracks being Living In America, a sexy, synthy, no-fi tribute to the land of his birth. More tracks like that and stardom beckon for the former orphan.

4) Toddla T – Hold Yuh (Remix of Gyptian, featuring D Double E)

Toddla T has released a full album, to moderate success and as such perhaps shouldn’t feature here. However, since then his style has matured greatly, and bleeps and bangs are replaced with housey keyboard sequences which surely mark his entry into the mainstream. Labelled by some as the new Major Lazer, the bashment anthems of Toddla, destined to eternally be labelled as a white-kid-from Sheffield are something to watch out for.

5) Conner Youngblood – Monsters

Probably the least heard of artist here, Conner Youngblood mixes bass into tracks that would otherwise be dubbed indie/pop. However, it is far more subtle than what Jai Paul does. Both have their individual merits and both are artists to watch for next year.

5 of the Best: Atmospheric Songs

17 Dec

1) Burial – Raver

This entire post could be Burial tracks, he is in my eyes the king of this type of music. This one is my personal favorite. If you like it I urge you to check him out further.

2) Yeasayer – Madder Red

Readers may be slightly surprised by this entry, but in the right circumstances it is pretty atmospheric. I remember last January, walking in the snow with a pink sky above, listening to the tuneful howling of Chris Keating. It was hugely atmospheric.

3) Brian Eno – An Ending (Ascent)

This comes from an album named Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks, and so you’d expect it to belong a list like this. It certainly lives up to that billing.

4) Jamie Woon – Night Air (Ramadanman Refix)

Originally dubstep was all about great atmospheres, it felt dark and brooding. Then Mary Nightingale, Rusko and the chavs got stuck in. However, Ramadanman is slowly making it more listenable once again, and this remix of post-dubstep prince Jamie Woon is an example of where I hope it will go in the future.

5) Burial – UK (Jolie Filles Edit)

Now I did try and limit this to just one Burial track but I caught this new remix as I was writing, and I want to share it with you. It fits in here well, the atmosphere’s awesome… so why not?

5 of the Best: Sad Songs

30 Nov

Today I’m starting a new feature, called five of the best, in which basically, I’m going to choose a certain topic, be that a feeling, a situation, or something else entirely and bring you my personal favourite five songs from it. To make things easy, I’m starting with sadness. I hope this will be theraputic. I’m not claiming these are the five best songs ever to listen to when you’re feeling a bit down in the dumps merely that these are my personal favourites.

Here goes:

1) Michael Andrews & Gary Jules – Mad World

Obvious? Yes. But who cares? This is hands down my favourite song to listen to when I feel upset. Literally everything about this song is perfect, from the beautiful piano melodies to the stirring words. I don’t think anyone could argue that this isn’t a good sad song.

2) Barber’s Adagio For Strings

Possibly even more cliched than the last choice (imagination comes later) this is probably the only song that can reduce me to tears. The one I want played at my funeral.

3) The xx – Intro

Not so much as a sad song, but a song I find useful for reflection, close your eyes and just listen.

4) Thomas Newman – Any Other Name

You may recognise this from American Beauty. The piano really resounds with me. When I listen to this I feel like I’ve just witnessed something awful and I’m stood there, watching everything move and literally not being able to move.

5) Eminem – Stan

The first and absolutely the last Eminem song I’ll ever post. I’m not trying to be controversial, but I can’t stand the guy. This is a work of art though, really can’t argue with it.

Am I happy with this? Not really. I don’t feel like I’ve put anything particularly revolutionary or new out there, but I guess these are the songs I listen to when I’m feeling shit, so that’s my best effort.