The Best Of 2012 / Ones To Watch 2013
Remember that image up there? Made that about a year ago on Paint. In fact, almost exactly a year ago, when we were typing something like this up for the very first time. Like a virgin or sommat. So much has happened this year that we’re finding it damn-near impossible to figure out where to begin – and by that we mean not just for us personally, but, like, the world in general. So thank your lucky stars that we’re not putting this bitch into maximum overdrive and listing up everything of significance that went down in the last 12 months, because quite frankly nobody has the time for that bollocks. That’s what New Years telly is for. Music, however, is of course our thing. 2012 in our mind has been possibly the best year yet in terms of yeilding some of the most interesting and incisive new music and artists as far as we can recall. We are glad that guitar bands seem to be envelope-pushing to the point where its pretty difficult to categorise them in any event; additionally, albeit as a late bloomer in this respect, we have discovered the pleasures and joys of electronic and urban music, not least down to hanging around with two of our closest friends Draper and Sam Faulkner more often than not. Other good stuff has happened, which has largely revolved around meeting some of the coolest people we’ve ever met, not only in our now-alarmingly-professional capacity but also in respect of our personal lives (we have found the two often cross over to one another). We adore our new family at Turn First. We’re chuffed as shit to be working with Racing Glaciers. Niteflights are writing their best material since we agreed to manage them because they simply wouldn’t leave us alone. We’re more pleased than a dog that has pissed on its master’s leg to be working with Monstercat on putting out Draper‘s singles. We had an absolute ball working on releases with Worship (sniff sniff), Strangers, Bluebell, Eye Emma Jedi and Duologue. 2013 is going to be fun. Just you wait and see.
We’ve just realised we could actually go on for days. Instead of writing all that jazz up there we could have just plonked up this video that more or less sums up exactly how our year has gone. We’re just gonna go ahead and do that anyway. Those who know us personally might be able to make some sense out of this.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWXmj5W1uJ4]
Anyway, going back to what we’re actually supposed to be doing, here’s our top 20 Track Of The Days that have pretty much made our year and we reckon you lot might want to keep an eye out for next year. We’re aware there are a ton of lists out there. That’s kinda the point of running a blog to be honest. It is so we can find bands and artists that give us a musical boner, and then inflict that musical boner on you all. Will these bands be massive? Maybe. Depends how into it you are we guess. We certainly hope that they will be. We’ve spent the last two days whittling the below list down from over 100 Track Of The Days. It was hard to choose; so make sure you check out the honourable mentions bit at the bottom (which includes stuff we’ve written about and stuff we really wish we did write about) and read up on other best-of lists on other websites and blogs, because there is seriously a whole bunch of good shit out there right now.
Here we go (in no particular order):
What We Were Doing That Day: Remembering the time we formed a SludgeKore band with our buddies Daniel Nicholas and James Hall at The Taste Of Chaos Tour circa 2006. We were called “Phlid”. We broke up after 3 months citing musical differences.
What We Said About Them: We think they sound like Arctic Monkeys having been all rocked up by Queens Of The Stone Age, which is funny because that actually happened a little while ago didn’t it? The other thing to point out here by way of context is that Drenge are two brothers, and hence this short, stabby, crunchy groove may well be the platform to join the ranks of the other fraternal superstars out there; the Cohen’s, the Mitchell’s, the Mario’s all being prime examples. On a much more serious note, we can’t wait to hear more from these.
What We Were Doing That Day: “We had fun. This weekend. As if seeing Draper shake his booty-hole to a shitload of people, many of whom were crying uncontrollably for fuck-knows what reason, wasn’t quite enough excitement, we also took ourselves over to the complete opposite side of London (20 stops on the Jubilee line in just over half an hour has GOT to be some kind of record) to catch our possibly-generation defining pop-punkers Blink 182 bouncing around a lot more than the last time we saw them at Reading Festival”
What We Said About Them: Soundtracking our trail of glory and fundom is demo-submitter types The Family Rain and their quite-frankly game changing new tune Trust Me…I’m A Genius. The sonic booms of bluesier rock outfits like Band Of Skulls, Cold War Kids, Black Keys, Broken Hands and Kings Of Leon (yeah, we are playing on the whole brother thing now) may be similarly explainable by the early involvement of producer Tom Dalgety, although we’re pretty certain this doesn’t account for what an impressive introduction this is for a new band all on its lonesome. There’s something in the water indeed.
What We Were Doing That Day: “Mid-week-gotta-bust-a-move real quick cha-cha-real-smooth style kids. Translation: we’ve got to be in Brixton in about an hour (from Ealing – we like those odds), as our mates over at Laissez Faire Club and/or 9PR have been
bugging asking us very nicely for quite some time if we’d like to go and see their US indie hot-shots The Static Jacks do their trademark crazy rock’n’roll thing at Brixton Academy tonight where they will be supporting The Wombats. It shall be glorious.”
What We Said About Them: The band have successfully managed to transpose their personalised format of tunage, vis-a-vis akin to the stylings of contemporaries Wild Beasts, Stornoway and a bit o’ Dry The River, into a tasteful and expansively-themed promo that, unlike a lot of bands in the genre, doesn’t actually overshadow the delivery of the song itself at all – rather, somewhat pleasingly, it amplifies the semtiment perfectly (we’re not going to tell you what that sentiment is, mainly as we’re pressed for time, but also because you really need to listen to it in order to get it).
4. HOLY ESQUE
What We Were Doing That Day: “A day of colours and contrasts yesterday. In the morning, despite some sporadic blue skies breaking through the London greyness, we were very much seeing red as we finally buckled under the pressure of the working week. Well, we say buckled, really we just sat for several 15 minute interludes just doing what we really do best; sulking. We then hung out with our buddies at Amazing Radio, then hit up Bodeans and felt much better.”
What We Said About Them: Regardless of career prospects, these guys are seriously tugging on some heartstrings, with their Jimmy Eat World-via-We Were Promised Jet Packs moodiness, topped up with one of the most interesting singing voices we’ve heard in a spell, as well as that guitar riff. Guttingly it looks like we’ve missed them skipping down to London back in October of last year, but we’re very much hoping they’ll swing by again soon.
What We Were Doing That Day: “Feeling noticeably more relaxed on this lazy Saturday evening – this may have something to do with us having been bed-bound in some shape or form for most of the day – at one point you may have found us snoozing, at another intensely watching the first series of Sherlock.”
What We Said About Them: On the topic of sound, we’re talking the best of 80′s guitar stalwarts like The Cure and Fleetwood Mac with some Cyndi Lauper Time After Time girl/boy vocal exchange all with a punky twist not too dissimilar from that of Shebang‘s Crash and some Martha Wainwright moments chucked in. If we’re looking for a more modern contemporary for comparison purposes, we might say this has gripped us in the same way Scanners did tow or three years ago. No details on gigs at all, but believe us when we say we’ll find out pronto.
Maker – Nonbeliever
What We Were Doing That Day: “A pretty fly-by style Track Of The Day for youse guys this shiddy February afternoon. By way of news, we’ve announced that we will be joining forces with Manchester’s Beatwolf Records on the upcoming Strangers release; we’ve got a new dude on board the good ship Killing Moon (everyone say hey to Adam); we’ve got a meeting in Old Street in a couple o’ hours which should preclude our next big and exciting announcement; we’ve got a bad back, most likely owing to having one of those memory-foam mattresses that has turned our spine into a massive pussoir.”
What We Said About Them: By way of music, we’ve got Manchester’s Embers who are currently vibing us hard and freaking us out at the same time with their personalised brand of shoegazey-noise rock. we think the sound places itself somewhere in between the likes of The Fall, The Jesus & Mary Chain, My Vitriol and a bit of Perfect Circle. If you’re an outspoken ofnear-orchestral, apocalyptic doom-music (and let’s face it, which real music fan wouldn’t be at least a bit interested in that?), we’d suggest you get yourself down to Sounds From The Other City in Salford on 6th May .
7. SIR SLY
What We Were Doing That Day: “This may well be the first time we’ve posted about a band/act/thingy/artist recommended to us via our Facebook page. Aren’t you lot just the gift that keeps on giving? Well, a guy called Nathan Hill is anyway. He was the bloke that made said recommendation, almost like the cool-yet-not-a-bastard kid (i.e. him) who everyone loves at school helping the muppet-child-oddball kid (i.e. us, but in reality we’re really not that bad) so as to help them save face and not be embarrassed for not knowing the answer to the “what’s good?” question posed to the muppet-child by their Cutting Edge Sweet Tunes tutor in front of the whole class. Nice save there, Nate. We owe ya.”
What We Said About Them: We’re particularly digging the Johnny Foreigner-style aesthetic of adopting the outline of those ghostly characters from Pac-Man (sans sad ghost-faces though), as well as a keyboard track that doesn’t sound worlds removed from Salt Peppa and Spinderella. Also, and by no means to undercut just how much we’re feeling this tune, we’re noticing the same vibes that ring true with our person when we listen to Empire Of The Sun, Foster The People, Work Drugs and The Neighbourhood. Zane’ll play this on Radio 1 soon enough, trust.
8. NIGHT ENGINE
What We Were Doing That Day: Fuck knows.
What We Said About Them: We’re talkin’ about Bowie (well, he was around in the 80′s anyway, and you’ll know what song we’re thinking of when you give the below effort a good listen or three). We’re talkin’ about Kool & The Gang. And we’re sure as shit talkin’ about them Heads ,of the Talking variety. If there was indeed a modicum of justice in this world, this will ignite dancefloors in indie clubs across the land and beyond.
9. BLANK MAPS
What We Were Doing That Day: “We’ve been having a barney with one of our buddies recently. In fact, we seem to be in the habit of upsetting our friends recently. Completely unintentionally, of course. This particular dispute, concerning something generally quite irrelevant as these things so often do, stems from a lack of communication. Sticking one’s head in the sand. Not talking. Going incommunicado can often lead to assumptions made by any and all parties concerned, and as we all know, assumptions are indeed the mother of all fuck ups. Turns out in this instance, the ensuing angst, strife and misunderstandings could have been avoided by the simple ring and answering of a device known as a telephone.”
What We Said About Them: There’s quite a lot to say about these dudes, but we’re obviously not going to say it because we have somewhere we need to be right now. Let’s talk music. On the established-big-boy end of the spectrum, there’s elements of a much more shoot-from-the-hip style Radiohead and a birra Foals – from the reet-cool indie end of the spectrum, we feel this is something bridging together the sounds of Worship and Duologue, which is obviously a big deal to yours truly.
What We Were Doing That Day: Probably whining about this, that or indeed the other. You know how we do.
What We Said About Them: We are mighty grateful indeed for tracks like Certain Taste and Between Us for soundtracking what otherwise could have been just a really grindey kinda day. Further props are due for successfully sounding quite a bit like Paws, a bit like Pavement, a little bit like Weezer and a lot more like Let’s Wrestle.
What We Were Doing That Day: Debating when it is and is not appropriate to boast about stuff. Also we were probably watching the Olympics, or at least thinking about it if it was over by this point.
What We Said About Them: The former – complete with arty/sexy beach video below – dominantly displays a commercial aspect to the band that would most likely make an A&R kill a friend to get a look-in with these boys on account of riding Biffy Clyro and Snow Patrol wavelengths; the latter, however, sweeps away doubts that may otherwise be cast on the band’s indie-cred points by showing a darker edge to their songwriting abilities, and throws in elements of Bastille, Sound Of Guns and Escapists into the mix, as well as serving as evidence that these guys are amongst the best stoic-starers we’ve encountered, and further giving credence to our above-mentioned idea that you can say something quite clearly without actually saying it if you’ve the means to do so. If there is indeed a line between commercial popstardom and a genuinely profound aptitude to write songs that people could and probably should give a shit about, then MMX may well be the band that will walk it, and on the basis of these they’ll walk it rather well.
12. FAREWELL JR
What We Were Doing That Day: Taking a dig at Amazing Radio for basically being better than us at pretty much everything. The bastards.
What We Said About Them: Combining elements of lo-fi with acoustic pop, as well as some digital/orchestral sounds, we’re left with images of Bon Ivor shooting the shit with Oberhofer when it comes to this lot, with Alt J (damn, we named them AGAIN) supervising proceedings. Which, having just written that, confirms to us that we are indeed losing our minds slightly. Still, as long as we’ve got stuff like this to soundtrack such mental degredation, going mad might not be so bad after all.
[Somewhat annoyingly, the track in question ain’t there anymore. Something’s going down kids]
What We Were Doing That Day: We got in to Falmouth around 3pm-ish on Friday afternoon. We have been drinking ale and, interestingly, a lot of jaegermeister (plus the obligatory energy-bombs that commonly accompany them thus rendering their sale in studenty-towns such as this a lot more economically-viable. We don’t understand the logic behind that, but it is bloody brilliant all the same). The last 24 hours have been spent taking it a bit more easy than that as we are reminded via consecutive hangovers that we’re supposed to be relaxing, and not simply living the life we already live just in a different region of the country. For example, we stayed in last night. We watched the Sex and the City film as we were spoiled for choice in terms of what shitty films to watch.
What We Said About Them: We’ve sat in the middle of our cottage living room, currently surrounded by our mates who are watching Team GB destroy the world in all manners of cycling, and we’re still quite happy to write about this sassy gal who seems to have built up quite the buzz since the start of this year owing to just how incisive her quirky brand of pop is. This incisiveness in terms of catchiness is only matched in magnitude by the sheer range and number of influences we can hear in this – starting with the Santigold-MIA-Gwen Stefani end of the spectrum and gradually ending up in more Mr Little Jeans–Bebe Black–Sleigh Bells territory, coupled with the undeniably familiar aesthetic of Foe, is as lethal to the status quo of pop-world as jaegerbombs are to our mental health. We dig.
FEMME – Sirens
What We Were Doing That Day: “We’re certifiably exhausted. We didn’t even see it coming this time. See, what usually happens, or rather what has been the case for the last 3 or 4 weeks, is that we burn ourselves at not just “both” ends but several that we didn’t even realise we had. In normal-speak, that means we’ve been overdoing it slightly. This wasn’t a problem before; or at least for the last 7 or 8 years, we could rage it up as much as we damn well pleased. Then again, back in those days, we ate far more than we currently are (who loves ya now, Dixies?), we seemed to have more time on our hands to sleep during the daytime, and we guess at that point we didn’t have the same resources or willingness to knacker ourselves to quite the same extent as we are at this point.”
What We Said About Them: And there’s a fair few bits and/or bobs on offer here – in fact, this guy’s whole online repertoire is littered with a number of underlying elements that we seriously dig – in one instance, you have something along the lines of Tune Yards via Young Dreams, then in another you have Fleet Foxes, Alt J and The National. While that might sound rather formulaic (it’s not, by the way), there is nevertheless the presence of something much more endearing and, well, unique to this. It gets better every time we hit the play button. It energises us. Makes us a bit hopeful about shit than we were before.
KHUSHI – Magpie
15. CHAIN OF FLOWERS
What We Were Doing That Day:
What We Said About Them: Free-to-downloaders Spit and Chained can be found in similar yet seperate areas of the guitar music sphere under the broad heading of rock – the former would not look out of place perched next to Dead Confederate or Manchester fire-starters Embers; the latter would probably look much more comfortable hanging around Johnny Foreigner or Sub Pop flagbearers The Thermals. And Pavement, of course. We can never leave Pavement out of a blog post.
16. VISION FORTUNE
What We Were Doing That Day: “Let us tell you about Ikea. In our heads, it is a wonderful place populated with innovative designs of things that we don’t know how to use, flatpack boxes full of joy and wonderful utensils, and meatballs. Lots of fucking delicious Swedish meatballs. In reality, the main thing it is populated with is shitloads of cars all scrambling for the one parking spot that isn’t lightyears away from the actual shopping bit, and even shitterloads more people wondering about in a perpetual state of gorm (apart from the psychic bastards that seem to know precisely where in the warehouse bit all the good shit is that clearly 90% of attendees are after), and more meatballs than we could possibly imagine. And orange soda. So, that pretty much sums up the last 48 hours for us.”
What We Said About Them: Perhaps this could be the spawn of a bodily collision between The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and Focus that we’ve always wished for. Perhaps, in a more modern context, this could be the dream combination between Islet, Temples, and Three Trapped Tigers (albeit in regards to the latter, less digital vibes, less so-insanely-complicated-drumming-that-you’ll-never-be-able-to-emulate-it, and way more bunning). Who knows. It’s just a real sweet trip to listen to from where we’re sitting.
Vision Fortune – Heavy Saddles
What We Were Doing That Day: “We’re having a posmo phase right now. That’s positive emo to you lot. We’re defying the winter blues. We’re feelin’ fuckin’ great. Might be all the berocca we’ve been imbibing on a daily basis; or perhaps that of late we’ve started to feel a lot more confident about shit that used to keep us up at night via the medium of storming our brains with far too many questions than we found answers for.”
What We Said About Them: What you definitely need to know is that this is a fucking tune, and this has been independently verified by Sam Faulkner who we played this to just right in the office, ergo it is objectively not just us that rates this. What you might want to know is that they’re Australian (we seriously need to get our butts down there huh?), they look like a modern-day Pixies, and they sound like Jimmy Eat World doing Silversun Pickups (JEAH) doing Hell Is For Heroes repping Foo Fighters. Shit, this may as well be the soundtrack to the US Presidential election, if our guy Obama’s thing is getting his lot to actually go to the ballots.
What We Were Doing That Day: Getting ready to go to Power Down at Metropolis Studios, and getting excited to meet some dude who reckoned he could get every Killing Moon band a variety of clothing endorsements. This later turned out to be bullshit. The gig was good though.
What We Said About Them: Keeping us hanging on from the brink of self-imposed mental dispair is the soothing dulcet tones of the enigmatic C.H.A.M.P.S. and his/hers/their gradually-creeping-up-the-blogosphere tune by the name of St. Peters. How did we come across this songwriting mastery? We have absolutely no idea. For we lost any recollection or insight into our own musical discovery methodology a little under a year ago, and every now and then we lose a little more. But we’re not complaining. Oh no. Why would we, when we’re presented with calmingness akin to the best works of the likes of Alt-J (well, at least the vocal here sounds pretty close) delivered in the same way as you might find, hypothetically speaking of course, at a Tracy Chapman show with all the bitter-sweet finesse of Keaton Henson? St Peters has already picked up a tad of support from Radio 1′s ever-on-it Rob Da Bank and we’re pretty confident in saying that this will not be the promotional peak this wonderful song will reach before the year is out.
19. GEORGE EZRA
What We Were Doing That Day: “It hasn’t really stopped raining once for two days straight in London, albeit with intermittent showers; much like we feel our spectatorship of certain football fixtures, and in particular any and all that Chelsea participate in, very much influences the outcome of the game generally (i.e. Chelsea always lose in ridiculous fashion when we’re watching, hence why in a converse manner we’re basically responsible for the recent qualification to the Champions League final seeing as we had Club Killing Moon on at the time. No really, it’s no problem. We took one for the team).”
What We Said About Them: As a point of relevence, this is likely the best male vocal in the genre we’ve heard since Jamie N Commons and Jamie Ley. All the Jamies, in fact. The guitar finger-picking’s pretty impressive too, and there’s a little bit of Daughter layered in the songwriting, so we really wouldn’t be surprised if folky-stalwarts Communion were involved in this. In absence of a recorded version proper being available, live with this session clip from the dudes at Bristol Couch. It works really well if you’re gazing out at the crappy weather outside whilst listening; but just as well if you watch the clip in tandem.
20. THE WYTCHES
What We Were Doing That Day: We are typing this up with varying degrees of speed. There are two reasons for this. One is that we’re about to embark on an evening which will quite possibly see shit getting so very real, in that we have to calculate whether it is indeed possible to be omnipresent – well, maybe not being present everywhere at all times, like frigging Apple or something, but at least no fewer than four. We may well start recruiting for a clone soon like Kevin Klein in Dave, so if this sounds like you don’t hesitate to get in touch, on the proviso that you are (a) a cool dude (nothing wrong with that), (b) bearded, or happy to be bearded and (c) rarely sleep.
What We Said About Them: We’re thinking these guys have a lot in common with Bleach-style Nirvana, The Horrors, recent psychadelic buzz-boys Temples, and Just Because MANG Sam Faulkner has just tipped up saying that they remind him of Spinal Tap, in the best possible way. Jeah. We also whole-heartedly endorse the phrase Wytches Boner, and do solemnly swear to incorporate it into at least one serious business chat before the year is out.
Honourable Mentions (or those who we wish we had capacity to write about, or wish we had written about at all)