The Best Of 2011 / Ones To Watch 2012
Despite our crappy graphics (yep, we sure did use Paint. There really is no substitute) and sort-of ambigious title to round up our musical coverage of 2011 thus far, even comtemplating one of these Best Of and/or Ones to Watch list was a mindjob in itself. You might think that we’re struggling to discern between a summary of what we think are the samples of the best new music we’ve heard this year, in contrast to what we reckon will be massive this time next year, but then you’d be missing the point of this huge exercise in self-indulgence entirely. Let us tell you a little story. We started up the Killing Moon Limited blog a little over a year ago in order to actually do something with the shedloads of bands we obsessively look up via one source or another, at the time having been shat out of the dying arse end of one particular “indie” label, that rather frustratingly seemed to be the one record label in the world that really wasn’t that interested in releasing any records, let alone having anything pro-active to do with the bands that were laid bare on their banquet table by yours truly and a couple of other guys (they paid us well though). Since then, a re-born record label has been formed alongside our very own full-time hobby, as well as a pretty cool clubnight series that has seen various peaks and troughs. The one constant has been, and is likely to remain, the blog – and so, rather selfishly a few of you may well think, we have simply picked 20 of our own blog posts that we feel represent the best of this year. We really have no idea if these bands are going to be “big” in 2012. Chances are that you know better than we do what is going to be commercially successful in the years to come. We do, however, hope some if not all of these acts will make some decent headway in 2012, simply because we believe they deserve to be heard.
Also, we’re sorry we’re not featuring more bands. We’ve actually mulled over this list for the last two weeks and changed it more times than we’ve had KFC, which is a lot. 20 bands is actually loads, isn’t it. But hey, it’s our fuckin’ blog, so we can do what we like. But note our self-indulgence has not extended to banging on about two of our in-particular favourite acts, namely Strangers and Worship, in light of the fact that we released records by both of these fine specimens. No sir, we wouldn’t do that. Impartiality and all that jazz.
Finally, as a by-product of attempting to soundtrack every single day of 2011 (we already know we failed to do that exactly), we shall describe these acts in terms of what we were blathering/whining about at that exact point, alongside giving a brief description of how we summarised our thoughts on each respective posts’ subject matter. Take note, PR people. Where our ramblings are unclear in terms of providing some background context, we’ll try to reconstruct just what the fuck we were on about in plain English.
So here we go – in no particular hierarchical order (meaning 1 isn’t the best, and 20 isn’t the least-best), these are Killing Moon Limited’s Top 20 Bands of 2011 (or something like that):
What we were doing that day: Another hectic day. JESUS CHRIST. A productive one at that though; we haven’t just sat around watching a video of a guy’s pet dog called Benton running riot in Richmond Park and driving a substantially large herd of deer into oncoming traffic whilst he blashpemises and attempts to give chase – nope, not JUST that. We laid the organisational foundations for what will become Killing Moon TV, as a means of finally delivering on our promise of live sessions running out of our Club Killing Moon series with Club Fandango.
What we said about them: We don’t think we’ve been this enthralled by a guitar band since way back when we used to roll deep with Little Death. More likely than not to be lamped in the resurgent shoegaze online assault, we cannot help but feel there is more wheat than chaff to this ridiculously-cool three piece – sure, there’s elements of Yuck, No Age, Wet Paint and/or Male Bonding, but there is nevertheless an undercurrent of something far more intelligible and outright-amazing at work here.
What we were doing that day: Despite having done this for what at certain junctures feels like far too long, we’re very happy to report that we still get more gleeful than Gary (aka Joaquin Phoenix) in Parenthood receiving his first ever boner when we discover bands that make music that is unique, truly moving and believable (or unbelievable, depending on how you’re looking at it) – So, essentially, we were doing bugger all that day, or something we really shouldn’t be talking about on the internet.
What we said about them: Quite frankly, finding bands like Anothers Blood makes everything we do worthwhile.
What we were doing that day: Good god y’all. We’re amazed. No, seriously folks, we’re really fucking awestruck. A typical Thursday night for us means either being out at a show, or at a pub, or any number of locations that might provide sufficient distraction that we are still facing one more day of the working week, whether it be visual-based or alcoholic-based (or both). Yet somehow, here we are watching Batman on ITV2+1, which everyone knows makes ITV3, and sifting through the alarming amount of new music we have to get through.
What we said about them: Despite being a project so new that it has literally only just surfaced online, Vela is storming bubble-gum dance-orientated pop music that has already got industry chimps pulling out their biggest bananas to lure the signature of this bright new spark.
4. BEBE BLACK
What were were doing that day: We’re feeling a bit emo here today at KMHQ. We’re still feeling a bit funky after this weekend’s antics (involving a moonlighting session at the glamourous Dolphin pub in Hackney, and/or a large meat and chips), the weather’s crap, and generally there’s a cloud of gloom-a-loomin’.
What we said about them: After catching sight and sound of Bebe Black, things don’t quite seem so bad. On first listen you’ll get essences of Florence and Adele; on second and third you’ll see the signs of something far more unique.
Bebe Black – I’ll Wait
What we were doing that day: We actually don’t have one flipping idea. We didn’t write anything down, you see.
What we said about them: “Tonight”; a rather groovy little number, which perhaps would not be that dissimilar to the noise that a resultant love child would make after being spawned forth from the respective love-making bits of Justice and Prince (plus perchance Stardust, if they were conveniently floating about in those areas), should they ever decide to get their shit together and make a little tiny baby all Men style. And, boy oh boy, how great that would be.
What we were doing that day: Bit of a silly one yesterday kids. A somewhat complicated start to the Saturday – grand parental inquisitions to kick things off with as to what our precise movements for the weekend were, as a means of formulating a rudimentary plan to celebrate Pater Killing Moon Familias’ 60th birthday. We were originally informed, after yeilding to said inquisition, that a celebration would take place on Sunday. Upon acknowledgement of this plan, we duly embarked on our journey to muck around in Enfield. Mere minutes after entering the Enfield-bit of the north circular, we were contacted by the parental planning committee (i.e. mum), who informed us that they were actually going to head out for a Chinese in about 15 minutes. Not cool, we thunk.
What we said about them: BLACKEYE came to our attention following a recommendation from one of our mateys, and following further investigation we genuinely believe this to be one of those artists that is quite clearly destined to be a big deal once the music has properly surfaced – combining the aesthetic and sound gives the resulting culmination of the songwriting brilliance of Foe, the pop sensibilities of Vela and the grit-Brit guitar tones of Republica, plus an edge of punky teenage rebelliousness that no doubt will get the A&R lot very excited indeed.
7. PALE SEAS (formerly known as NETHERLANDS)
What we were doing that day: So, there we were, 5 of us huddled together, drinking beers, smoking smokes and cracking jokes, when from out of the tent-canvassed wilderness came a voice calling for help. The voice, as memory served, was primarily enquiring as to whether we could spare any food; for the owner of this voice, later identified as one Matthew Bishop, had consumed so much cereal-based foodstuffs over the course of the weekend so far, that, they claimed, their “shit had turned into straw”. After having a rather extensive giggle upon hearing this proclaimation, young Matthew Bishop and co were provided with the remenants of some sort of cake that one of our number happened to have on their person. Fast-forward to this very day, Matthew Bishop, all growed-up and done-gone to University, has formed a band by the name of Netherlands – so, reminiscing about Bestival it looks like.
What we said about them: “Amour” displays a talent for songwriting penmanship far beyond the young years we assume this band to be; think blotches of Turin Brakes mixed with Good Dancers-style The Sleepy Jackson, and perhaps elements of Alt-J (we called them Films when we featured them on here bloody ages ago) in a more modern context.
What we were doing that day: We had our very first complaint-via-email today, which nicely followed our first cease-and-desist order from some lovely lawyers yesterday.
What we said about them: If you can imagine disco-era Madonna swinging on a roundabout with
disco-era Prince on the film set of Coming To America, not only are you really cool, but you’ll find yourself in a similar position to where this music sits.
What we were doing that day: Last night, we were caught, and soon after suitably bollocked about, watching Hot Shots: Part Deux on Film Four, described by one of our close relatives as a “silly film” during the whole 5 minutes that they found the good patience to try and engage the late 90′s/early noughties spoof.
What we said about them: A firm favourite of ours (yes, we are getting to the point, keep reading…) was a taped recording of a film called Flight Of The Navigator, the synopsis of which in brief concerned a young lad called Daryl who gets picked up by an eyebally-robot thingy and gets to fly a spaceship for a bit. LA2019, were the film to be remade, and by gum we hope it will be, would be prime candidates to soundtrack this. In mainstream musical terms, comparisons may well be held to Time To Pretend-style MGMT, as well as more recent Pitchfork darlings Dom, and future-of-music-types Wu Lyf.
What we were doing that day: It was the Q Awards today [to which we were not invited]… Quite frankly, we’ve misbehaved every single time we have been fortunate to have been invited along (well, it DOES say free booze after all), and we’re not so good at undertaking the glamourous connotations that commonly go with the music industry.
What we said about them: These bright young sparks – again, from our spiritual home of Brighton, which seems to be kicking ass in terms of musical exports right now – recently caused a stir with the punters of the annual SWN festival this weekend just gone, with their emotive guitar music that sounds like the perfect mix between, say, Alkaline Trio and Alt-J, or perhaps Gaslight Anthem and early-to-mid Biffy Clyro.
Holland – Lovely Bones
What we were doing that day: We read somewhere and heard on more than a few occasions that “guitar music is dead”. Or, to perhaps better addressing the issue in a more acute manner, Radio 1 won’t play guitar music. The ostensible reaction from the masses to this might be something along the lines of “guitar music is whack, yo”. – Presumably, this means we were either reading, listening, or possibly both. Can’t be too sure.
What we said about them: “Poster Boys” exemplifies a breed of penmanship in terms of both lyrical content and musical composition that would have most dubsteppin’ tourists quaking in their booties; a creeping, unsuspecting intro with equally non-assuming vocals suddenly exploding all over your earlobes, which may well herald in the best era of British indie for quite some time. References to The National, Joy Division, Symposium‘s proudest bits and My Vitriol are rife throughout this little number, and Belgrade may well be on their way to their comparisons’ respective places in guitar music’s rich tapestry.
Belgrade – Olympic Heights
12. THE LOW SUNS
What we were doing that day: A couple of days ago, we received an email containing information regarding our new Track Of The Day addressed to “Michael”. Now, we’ve been called many things, but Michael is a new one. Thankfully we opted not to forward said email to one of the two chaps named Michael that we actually do know, and instead sent an electronic communication back to the sender, in order to clarify whether indeed the message was intended for us, and whether in any event they would mind us using the material contained therein for blogging purposes.
What we said about them: Taking influence from Jeff Buckley, Flaming Lips, English romance and a whole load of ambition, they have recently posted up this incredible video for the track Never Gonna Care, which is in fact so sleek and catchy that Gary Barlow will be a bit fucked off he didn’t come up with this first.
13. FOXES (formerly known as LOUI ROSE)
What we were doing that day: God knows. Thinking about life most likely.
What we said about them: Loui moved from Southampton to London at the critical age of 18 to do the done-thing of attending a university. Because apparently that means you get a better life. Not wanting to wait around for something amazing to happen out of thin air, Loui got out of dodge in 2010 and focused on creating music entirely, much to her own personal risk as an immediate life of living out of a suitcase and couch-surfing was contemplated. Suffice to say, we think it was totally worth the effort and risk – cue tunes boasting of strong Nina Simone-meets-Bat For Lashes vibes, and we have here a fistful of songs that would have fans of Adele looking away from her chart-topping success and in Loui Rose’s general direction.
What we were doing that day: We’ve actually been waiting for a little while to blow the proverbial lid on this very exciting and bright sparkling gem. Although guttingly, a number of music sites have since beaten us to the punch. You see, we’re relatively new to the bloggerising game – we were all print or die before we realised this is in fact a much quicker medium to discover new music, latch onto it and ostensibly take credit for it all by boasting to our friends and the world at large how WE BLOODY FOUND IT FIRST SO YOU’RE NOT ALLOWED TO LIKE IT AS MUCH AS WE DO. – Can’t be too sure here, but it looks as if we’re whining about…something.
What we said about them: Bluebell is simply the best thing to happen to alt/electronic pop music since Imogen Heap stepped up to the plate giving it all “Mmmmm, watcha saaaaaaay”. In another life she was a member of a rock band. Then she moved to California, discovered MTV, came back, and Bluebell was born.
15. GRASS HOUSE
What we were doing that day: Longer than just over a year ago or so, we rolled into work at a certain Acton-based-now-probably-defunct-so-called-indie label to find one of those “not enough postage” slips that Royal Mail give you when they basically want more money. – Again, whining. This time about the post.
What we said about them: Since self-releasing the aforementioned EP circa early 2010, supported strongly by the lead track “A Cockroach”, the band have gone from strength to strength, landing some sweet radio play on 6Music, and being championed by the likes of Artrocker, A New Band A Day, and a whole bunch of other tastemakery-online-scenester types. We’re also rather happy to say that, in our view at least, the band have used this time to develop their own sound – this is not to say this is a rapid departure away from the Nick Cave and/or Grinderman stylings that made them appealing to us in the first place, but rather they have honed their craft to become very much their own band. And they’ve got beards.
16. NEW IVORY
What we were doing that day: Today is a day of firsts. Our pater familias, or Prof. Dhillon to the rest of you, has grown a beard for the first time in his 60 year career as a person (is it strange to feel like a proud parent of your own father? Nah. Feels GREAT!). Today is the first time we have managed to stay in for approximately seven days straight; quite a feat, we’re sure you other musical buggers will agree.
What we said about them: For descriptive context purposes, we’ll say for this beaut right here, you’ve got the brattish techno-rock power of Canterbury, rolled up in the sleek indie vibes of Franz Ferdinand, and peppered up with the challenging lyrical flowingness of Arctic Monkeys. Bold words indeed.
What we were doing that day: We ventured down to the Camden Crawl for both the Saturday and Sunday afternoons, where primarily we caught up with some old friends and even made some great new ones. We did see the occasional band, but mostly we drank booze – this being the first time we actually qualified for the freebies that usually everyone else except us gets – and spent an awful lot of time trying to work out which wristband does what. We would otherwise feel inclined to take the whole experience a bit more seriously and perhaps post a review. However, we did not get press acreditation, so that’s the end of that chapter.
What we said about them: Hailing from Norway, these colourful four are gaining a strong reputation in the rock artist community based on their frenetic shows, and have been described musically as the perfect crossover between Mesuggah and Klaxons, with some prime Panic At The Disco style vocals layered on top and the punk ethic of Refused spread throughout.
18. BEING THERE
What we were doing that day: We unleashed Club The Moon 001 with our main men [STRANGERS] and good buddies The Operators last night at The Wheelbarrow…Not at all holding up for a second, we’re off to Latitude Festival this weekend so we can get some actual sleep (there. We said it), so right now we’re compiling tracks for the inevitable road trip due to take place tomorrow.
What we said about them: Storming in at number one with a bullet on our playlist is new kids on the block Being There, who release this summer corker of a motorway cruisin’ beast in September on the world-famous Young & Lost label. Sonic Youth? Yep. Yuck? Uh huh. Male Bonding? Indeed. Good times ahoy? You bet your ass. We simply can’t get enough of this.
19. IFAN DAFYDD
What we were doing that day: Preparation are well under way for [Strangers]‘ single launch tomorrow at The Wheelbarrow – not sure if we’ve mentioned this before. We’re also locking in some pretty splendid Club The Moon nights and developing some bloody brilliant plans which we can hopefully announce very soon. – As you might not be able to tell, we were probably bored out of our minds that day.
What we said about them: With a brilliant remix of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know You’re No Good”, Dafydd showcases his clear natural ability to take the best parts of something a make it even better – a bit like Killing Moon homeboy Skies, but in a very different manner: a 6 minute minimal, glitchy mix of garage vocal samples, jazz piano chords and complex programmed clicks, blips and beats, it is quite a journey of his clear talent.
20. ILL FITS
What we were doing that day: Mid-to-late week fatigue is settling in y’all. Last night we raged like narcissistic bulls in some kinda china shop to the really-not gentle sonic booms generated by the likes of Whitemare, Hold Kiss Kill, Tyrannosaurus Dead and Trim The Barber. We had some whiskey. Shit got real, as the man said. As a result we don’t feel our usual 110% this ridiculously-warm September evening – It looks like….hold on….yep, we’re whining about something.
What we said about them: New TOTD’ers Ill Fits might just be able to answer that particular query. Already bigger than a bread box in the NYC area for certain reasons – along the lines of this band contains members from the likes of MGMT and Amazing Baby, as well as having a rather stalwarty frontman in the form of one of our favourite songwriters of, well, ever, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson. We will go on record to say this sounds like Bowie doing Vampire Weekend doing The National in a massive doing-threeway.