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Friday, 18 December 2009

The Monthly - December 09

In the words of the great Noddy Holder, and so here it is, Merry Xmas. To mark the last The Monthly of the year, I’ve decided to focus on new bands to look out for in 2010. There have been several of these lists recently, competing for space with the best of the year/decade run downs, and most notable of those is the BBC Sound Poll, which has an unnerving level of accuracy when predicting who will be the music stars of the coming twelve months. Here are the ones I know about, and more importantly, the ones I like. Don’t forget we’ve already had The Drums, Cate Le Bon and Music Go Music on The Monthly recently, all of whom have also been tipped by other places for big things next year. I’m not promising these will all be massive chart stars, but that’s never been what The Monthly is about, has it? So enjoy the Queen’s speech and happy listening. See you in the next decade.

1. Delphic - Counterpoint
Manchester three-piece Delphic are signed to Polydor, which speaking as a former employee of said hit-factory, does tend to offer certain assurances of success for a group (though it’s far from guaranteed). I’m a big fan of this track – lots of crashing drum patterns, euphoric synth riffs and catchy vocals. I can see they could be a bit marmite – you either like your indie danced-up like this, or you don’t, but until they’re proven to be the next incarnation of The Bravery, I’m playing this a lot.

2. Gold Panda – Fifth Ave
Brit producer Gold Panda (real name Derwin) is a little bit of a mystery, but probably only in the way that unsigned bands who haven’t had lots written about them yet are mysteries. He specialises in lo-fi, scratchy downtempo stuff, and does it pretty well. He was tipped highly by the BBC Sound Poll so there’s bound to be a record deal in the offing soon. Whether he’ll go down the anonymous route (see: recent Mercury nominee Burial) or the ubiquitous ad soundtrack route (see: Moby) remains to be seen.

3. Joy Orbison – Hyph Mngo
Pete O’Grady from Croydon doesn’t have ‘popstar’ written all over him, either from the point of view of his less than starry background, or the fact that he makes minimal electro that probably won’t come within a mile of a mainstream radio station in daylight hours. But he’s still picking up tips for good things next year, and I personally like what he’s doing. I also especially like the fact that he apparently doesn’t want to do music full time, preferring his mailroom day job, to keep his love for music from becoming ‘work’. We’ll see how long that lasts.

4. Giggs Feat. Mike Skinner – Slow Songs
The appearance of Mr Streets on this track of course immediately frames Giggs before you’ve even heard him, but he sounds more gritty, more serious than The Streets. He’s from South London but sounds American in his delivery and subject matters, right down to the fact that he’s already ‘done time’ for gun charges. Whether the UK is ready or willing to accept a rapper who lives the thug life they rhyme about, I’m not sure. There’s something removed, almost movie-like about the US rappers that do that, so I can see Giggs coming a-cropper of the “you’re glamourising crime” brigade. But perhaps for that reason alone, I can see him getting a lot of column inches in 2010.

5. Marina and the Diamonds – Space And The Woods
First of all, there are no Diamonds – it’s a play on Marina’s surname, Diamandis – and that’s not the only thing she’s got in common with Florence and her made up Machine. Marina’s a striking, attractive singer who has just the right amount of eccentricity about her, and more importantly, some killer tracks. I’ve included this track as you’ll probably hear the singles a lot soon. It’s a cover of a song by indie also-rans Late Of The Pier, which in itself is an interesting choice for Marina to do.

6. Ellie Goulding – Under The Sheets
Of all the artists here, Ellie’s easily had the most exposure so far. She’s already been on Jools Holland and had a major broadsheet supplement feature, and they’re just the things I’ve noticed. She’s 21 and from Hereford, and has Polydor behind her, and the media seem to be really warming to her combination of good looks, edgy-but-accessible pop songs, and of course the not inconsiderable fact that she fits very nicely into the current trend for female solo performers.

7. Daisy Dares You – Number One Enemy
By far the most pop song on here, Daisy’s super young – only 16 – and still at school. She’s precocious and cites people like Karen O and Courtney Love as role models, though that’s not really evidenced in the feisty pop that she’s writing, such as this track, which is about as teenage as it gets and is aimed at Scarlet, Daisy’s sister, with Chipmuk rapping on here too. Cute.

8. Owl City – Super Honeymoon
If you’ve ever listened to one of the great one-off bands of the past few years, The Postal Service, you’ll spot the similarity between them and Minnesota’s Owl City right away. The combination of indie writing and electronic instruments is almost retro in its harking back to the early noughties but Adam young’s voice here is so similar to Ben Gibbard’s (the Death Cab For Cutie singer who fronted The Postal Service) it’s bizarre. Still, I like the Owl City record a lot and it’s good to see him getting some attention on this side of the Atlantic too, after scoring a #1 in the US with his single, Fireflies.

9. Mayer Hawthorne – Let Me Know
This preppy white guy was in Rolling Stone recently, and I don’t know if he can be said to be a 2010 tip proper, but I like him and he’s new, so he’s on here. His love of Motown and the like is obvious, but this is one of the less classic-soul carbon-copy tracks on his album, A Strange Arrangement.

10. Frankie & The Heartstrings - Possibilities
I wrote glowing things about FATH on the blog when I saw them support another of 2010’s big tips, The Drums, and for my money Frankie et al blew The Drums off the stage. Coming from Sunderland, they have indie creds galore in the form of Pete Gofton – brother of Lauren Laverne and former Kenickie and The Week That Was member – but the band as a whole are using the 50s as their styling reference and this rocking little number is just a hint at how good they are. Bring on the album.

11. Everything Everything – My Keys, Your Boyfriend
This has got more than a dash of 80s about it, but on the other hand there’s something (I’m not sure what) that reminds me of a more upbeat and layered version of The xx, one of this year’s best new bands, so that’s no bad thing. Like Delphic, these guys come from Manchester, and in a nice nod to arty pop of yesteryear, on their Myspace page they each list their surname as Everything.

12. Beach House – Norway
Like Mayer Hawthorne, Beach House aren’t being tipped for great things in 2010 as such, but they are getting a lot of people chattering on the music blogs, especially for this new track. I saw them support Fleet Foxes at one of their first UK gigs a while ago, and I have to say I thought they were terrible (Beach House, not the Foxes, who were great). But this track’s lovely, so perhaps live just isn’t the best way to enjoy this French/American duo. It’ll be interesting to see if the album can continue with the quality of this track.

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