At Sound-Revolution our main aim is to to promote independent bands and artists – and to show our readers that there’s much more to music than the regurgitated and generally unimaginative chart music that’s enforced on our everyday lives.
2011 has already been an exceptional year, with more artists than ever emerging from both sides of the musical spectrum – continuously reshaping the landscape of music. The fast paced nature of new music is what makes the future interesting, but getting access to this can be difficult – so we’ve done that for you. James Murray has explored and selected some of the best offerings of the year so far.
20 // Thomas Dybdahl – From Grace
Perhaps this first choice bends the rules a little. From Grace was originally released as a single in 2009 – and will be making another appearance on the new album Songs in July. Okay, you caught us out, July’s the seventh month of the year – but From Grace is a sublime demonstration of heart-warming acoustic music; it would be offensive not to pick out a track from the forthcoming LP for this feature. It’s not often you come across a voice as unique and solid as Dybdahl’s – and it’s even less common for such a strong vocalist to be so instrumentally competent.
19 // Underground Railroad – Russian Doll
On June 13th Parisian three-piece Underground Railroad proved that they could offer a whole lot more than the raw, omnipresent indie rock sound of their past. White Night Stand is an experimental, forward-thinking rock album – and no track showcases their transformation as well as stand-out single Russian Doll. New-found influences from Radiohead and Liars shine through, and that’s never a bad thing. When a band can switch styles, involve all kinds of different musical elements and boost their captivation at the same time, it’s pretty obvious that they’re doing something right.
18 // Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks
There’s a bit of love floating around at the moment for back-to-basics indie pop. As interesting as futuristic, experimental sounding productions can be, sometimes it’s nice to relax to something a little less intense. LA five-piece Foster The People have mastered the stripped-down pop sound, most notably with their highly successful debut single Pumped Up Kicks. Simplistic guitar riffs, steady drums and chirpy whistling make up this cheerful single – and it’s contagious, feel-good nature makes it practically impossible to hate.
17 // Various Cruelties – Neon Truth
Every so often you come across a band and just can’t understand why they aren’t more widely recognised. And there are few collectives that warrant this complement more so than Various Cruelties. Sharing similarities with successful pop bands of the 00’s, most obviously Jamiroquai and Maroon 5, Various Cruelties seem to have adopted the successful musical formula of their predecessors. Although not the most innovative of tracks, Neon Truth is a refreshing pop song with no loose ends. For a slice of effortless, enjoyable listening it doesn’t get much better than this.
16 // The Tamborines – Black and Blue
And now, introducing this feature’s ode to lo-fi – no, it’s not Wavves – it’s London’s own The Tamborines (minus the ‘U’). Band name spellings aside, Black and Blue is fast-paced, fuzzy, up-beat shoegaze. For too long our friends on the other side of the Atlantic have been leading creators of the distorted-pop sound. Exagerrated distortion of vocals and guitars can transform a good pop song into hipster ‘garbage’, but with good clarity to the vocals and carefully thought out production The Tamborines need not worry about elaborate media criticism.
15 // The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Heart In Your Heartbreak
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have made an impact from absolutely nowhere. Their debut album released back in February resulted in universal acclaim, and lead-up single Heart In Your Heartbreak put the limelight on this New York indie-pop collective. Although their self-titled debut received favourable reviews, the infectious power-pop outfit that we know of today are still a fresh addition to the music world. With a chorus that just has to be sung aloud, Heart In Your Heartbreak is a highly memorable single from a band revelling in their breakthrough satisfaction.
14 // Funeral Party – Where Did It All Go Wrong
Although not yet a single choice, Where Did It All Go Wrong is one of the many highlights of debut LP The Golden Age of Nowhere. It’s rare that a mid-album track is produced with such intricacy – and intros and outros don’t get much better than this. Beautiful keys introduce the track in contradictory style – as lyrics focus on inadequacy and despair. And an intense vocal conclusion ties up a solid track well-worthy of recognition. Funeral Party have well and truly hit the ground running – and their radio-friendly style won’t be leaving playlists for some time.
13 // Atari Teenage Riot – Rearrange Your Synapses
If Sound-Revolution appeals to a niche readership, then ATR are probably the odd-one-out in this feature; but that’s exactly why we love them. No artists or collective is musically comparable to the pioneers and masters of ‘digital hardcore’. The first LP in a decade entitled Is This Hyperreal? is without a doubt a fan pleaser, but as they say “why fix something that isn’t broken”. Musical evolution is a great thing – but manipulating a sound already somewhat overwhelming would be quite a task; it seems wise to leave that to another generation of musicians.
12 // Young Legionnaire – Chapter, Verse
Yourcodenameis:milo and Bloc Party are two bands with very different influences (despite Moakes making an appearance on a YCNI:M track in 06). In a rather unusual but so-far intriguing band formation, Young Legionnaire were born. From the ashes of one of the most influential post-hardcore bands of the 00s, Paul Mullen seems to have rectified that unmistakable Yourcodenameis:milo sound and given it a refreshing twist. Chapter, Verse is quirky, choppy, heavy and typically post-hardcore – it’s no surprise they’ve made an impact in such little time.
11 // The Vaccines – Wolf Pack
What Did You Expect From The Vaccines? Honestly, we expected a lot. When it comes to hype, The Vaccines were pretty much the rock music equal to Justin Bieber. The lead up to this debut LP really did verge on ridiculous. Luckily, it lived up to most people’s expectations. The highlight of a raw-sounding, at times country influenced rock album comes under the name Wolf Pack – an upbeat, typically indie track with hard-hitting guitars that exert an undeniably infectious aura which will lead to two minutes and 24 seconds of uncontrollable toe-tapping and head-nodding.
10 // SBTRKT – Wildfire
Just this week various websites put up the stream of the self-titled debut album from EDM innovator SBTRKT. And the lead single delivers one of the most deadly basslines of the decade so-far. Melodic vocals from Little Dragon keep this track’s appeal on the surface – tender female vocals overlay a deep and grimy instrumental – and it works. There’s no question that SBTRKT is a good producer, but his self-titled album will surely make him yet another of the reputable artists emerging from this new wave of early-hour dance music.
09 // Emmy The Great – A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep
If you’re not yet aware of the new Emmy The Great album Virtue, then you need to get out from under your rock and introduce your ears to a female vocalist destined to change the face of folk. Virute is one of the most lyrically significant releases of the year, and A Woman, A Woman, A Century of Sleep is no exception. Along with deep lyrics packed with imagery and powerful messages comes a genuinely beautiful voice and an all-round talented musician. It’s only a matter of time before Emmy The Great captures the imaginations of women and music-lovers worldwide.
08 // Friendly Fires – Hawaiian Air
The kings of feel good indie-pop, Friendly Fires, finally released Pala in in May – the follow up to their critically acclaimed debut album. It was never going to be easy to follow-up an album that’s already lead to festival headline slots – but Friendly Fires couldn’t have got it any more right. Hawaiian Air conforms to the typical Friendly Fires style; borderline silly basslines and synth-effects give us a taster of what to come before Ed Macfarlane’s eccentric vocals put the icing on the cake. Friendly Fires are simply one of the most fun and dance-friendly bands around.
07 // Dutch Uncles – Cadenza
Incredible keyboard loops, infectious basslines and one of the most diverse voices in new music – it has to be Dutch Uncles. Yet another export from Manchester’s recent outflow of incredible new bands, this five-piece have created one of the most exciting surprises of the year with their beautifully crafted self-titled album. Dutch Uncles are one of few bands that can convert incredible talent and musicianship into genuinely good music – Cadenza is everything you want from an indie-pop record: refreshing, memorable and as a result of it’s intricacy – enduring.
06 // Burial / Four Tet & Thom Yorke – Ego
And now for the most exciting collaboration of the year. Fans of new music got understandably excited when rumours started going around that these three were working together – and rightly so, as the results were incredible. The sublimity of Burial’s productions are no secret – add the quirkiness of Four Tet and the calming voice of Thom Yorke to the equasion and you’re left with an end-product that you can’t bring yourself to take off repeat. We’ll just have to hope that this single wasn’t a one off – as more material from these three could potentially be highly influential.
05 // James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream
When James Blake started to make his name known outside of the vast, underground dubstep landscape there was simply nothing comparable to his productions. Until the likes of Jamie Woon swiftly followed, soft, vocal dubstep was a completely new concept – but a concept taken on-board with open arms. He might not be alone now, but there’s no doubt that the London producers debut LP changed peoples perceptions of dubstep forever. Love it or hate it, James Blake is an innovator of forward-thinking music – and The Wilhelm Scream is a beautiful example of his talent.
04 // Yuck – Holding Out
It’s a rarity for bands to become as established as Cajun Dance Party once were, pack it in and come back with a new band – but it’s even less common for an established band to come back with an even more polished and potentially successful sound. Holding Out is one of many perfectly composed rock tracks on their self-titled debut album, released earlier this year. Lo-fi guitars, continuous high energy levels and widespread comparisons to Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr looks pretty promising on the eye, and it’s equally satisfying to the ears.
03 // Wild Beasts – Albatross
Boasting one of the most elaborate falsetto voices in music, Wild Beasts have brought their indie rock sound back once again with Albatross, the lead single from their new album, Smother. Previous full-length Two Dancers was welcomed with critical acclaim, and Wild Beasts have kept up the good form with Smother. Albatross is a fine example of how to create a raw and edgy indie record with an overall tranquil sound. The Kendal four-piece have wrapped-up the beauty of Britain’s Lake District and transformed it into a universal piece of musical nature.
02 // Jamie xx – Far Nearer
The xx are an incredible outfit, and their 2009 release was one of the best received albums of the year. Since then The xx have lost a band member and stayed relatively low-key – except for Jamie Smith, who goes under the individual pseudonym of Jamie xx. His incredible productions were brought to the public eye when he remixed Gil-Scott Heron’s latest and last ever full-length I’m New Here. With Far Nearer Jamie xx proves that he’s more than a remix producer – capable of pushing the boundaries of dance music production to exciting new highs.
01 // The Antlers – I Don’t Want Love
It wasn’t until The Antlers released their third album, Hospice, that they got much recognition – but since Peter Silberman transformed his solo project into a collective The Antlers have started to make their mark on modern music. I Don’t Want Love is a beautiful composition lyrically, vocally and instrumentally – an all-round faultless single from yet another incredible album. Vocals so dynamic are hard to come across, especially in indie rock, but when they can be implemented to such hauntingly beautiful effect the results are outstanding. The Antlers just keep on impressing.