The Electronic Song-Writer
My tips for new year are two male singer-songwriters – on the surface hardly reinventing the wheel, but there’s a key difference: the utilization of electronics. Jamie Woon has been lurking for a few years but looks ready to break, having seen heavy Radio 1 support for his recent single ‘Night Air’. Other tracks such as ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ demonstrate a keen use of multi-layering and looping, being paradoxically both warm and chilling at the same time. James Blake has been far more versatile in 2010, having branched into ambient, jazz and electronic sounds throughout three EP releases. Blake’s reworking of Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’ was phenomenal during his recent appearance at Stealth and is being touted as one of the standout tracks of the year. Blake’s album sees release in February whilst Woon is putting the finishing touches to his debut LP, and both look set to leave an indelible mark on 2011.
2011 is truly shaping up to be a brilliant year for music. We have already been promised new material from reformed bands like No Doubt and Blink-182, hotly anticipated second albums from Fleet Foxes and Lykke Li, and the long awaited return of Aphex Twin. Speaking of long awaited returns, we mustn’t forget Dr Dre’s ‘Detox’, which has taken almost 10 years to complete. And if the hype surrounding his latest album wasn’t colossal enough, Kanye West is due to release an album with Jay Z entitled ‘Watch The Throne’. However for me, the music event of 2011 will belong to the unavoidable Lady Gaga with the release of her next album ‘Born This Way’. Other releases that deserve a mention include Cut Copy’s ‘Zonoscope’ which should build upon the synth-pop master class that was ‘In Ghost Colours’, Panda Bear’s ‘Tomboy’, and the currently untitled new release from The Strokes.
Manchester’s New Scene
Manchester has always had a strong sense of musical heritage; home to Factory Records, the Hacienda and ‘Madchester’, the city has certainly left its stamp upon modern music. The Radchester or Post-Parka scene is continuing the line left by Joy Division, The Fall and The Smiths, an addition that has been anticipated ever since Oasis’ peak in the late-nineties. This scene has produced such bands as Delphic, Everything Everything and Hurts; however, in my opinion the more interesting bands are yet to break through and are poised to take 2011 by storm. Firstly, Egyptian Hip Hop; their fusing of post-punk and new-rave echoes and merges the sounds of Late of the Pier, Foals and the Cure. Also we have WU LYF; they are as enigmatic as they are brilliant, melding the sounds of Nick Cave with Afrobeat. Once again it would seem that Manchester is on the brink of a new generation and genre of music.
The Return of the Guitar
The Vaccines and Mona lead a guitar-laden backlash against 2010’s fixaton with synth and automated drum beats. The Vaccines will be coming to Nottingham soon, playing the prestigious opening slot of the NME Awards tour that has previously been inhabited by bands such as Coldplay and Mystery Jets. They have been compared to The Ramones for their frenetic energy – their first single ‘Wreckin’ Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’ is two minutes of unbridled emotion and catchy as hell. Mona provide a throwback to classic rock, with catchy riffs and heartfelt lyrics; the band’s front man, Nick Brown, proudly claims “if it lacks passion, it’s not real.” The two bands take their stand against modern day music with The Vaccines refusing to accept cyber-space until becoming signed (by Marshal Teller Records) and Mona creating hype and intrigue by limiting their music’s publicity. In 2011, look no further than these two bands for epic rock n’ roll.