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Cork, Ireland
An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

2011: What To Look Forward To... The New Sound

Or should that be "new" sound. Depending on how close to the ground you keep your ear that is.

If you hadn't noticed, 2010 is well and truly over (musically) at this stage. We are currently sitting in that awful limbo period before the new releases begin again and the tours start rolling into town.

A few weeks back, the BBC published the longlist for their annual Sound of... poll, previous alumni include 50 Cent, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, Keane, Bloc Party, Corinne Bailey Rae, Plan B, Mika, Klaxons, Adele, Duffy, Little Boots, Lady Gaga, Florence & the Machine and Ellie Goulding, amongst others. Not exactly the cutting edge of talent discovery they like to think of themselves as, the Sound of... poll still remains an interesting view of who just might flood the airwaves in the next twelve months.

The order tends to be off though. Gaga finished behind Florence, Little Boots Empire of the Sun, La Roux and eh... White Lies...

As to be expected, the list for 2011 contains acts from all genres, some of whom can already be considered to have "made it", as such. The full list is:
Anna Calvi, Clare Maguire, Daley, Esben and the Witch, Jai Paul, James Blake, Jamie Woon, Jessie J, Mona, Nero, The Naked and Famous, The Vaccines, Warpaint, Wretch 32 and Yuck.

I'm not going to dissect each act as it isn't exactly fair: I'm simply unfamiliar with some, and overly familiar with others...

However it goes without saying that the BBC has certainly pinpointed some of the emerging talents for the next twelve months or so. Granted, I can't see them all taking equal airtime, though there are certainly going to be some success stories here.

Warpaint is a curious inclusion for me - they have already garnered a huge following and released a debut album, critically lauded and commercially successful... The sound of 2011? Sounds like latter half 2010 to me.

Of the list, (Warpaint excluded...), Anna Calvi, Clare Maguire, James Blake, Mona and the Vaccines should qualify as successful by this time next year.

I feel as though Esben and the Witch have simply missed the boat: a quirky, female fronted goth band? Dime a dozen my friend. The others... Well my crystal ball is less than clear at the moment.

If you have missed any of the soon-to-be-success-stories, plenty of info is flooding around the place.

  • Anna Calvi rocked Other Voices (or so I'm told...), and has toured with Arctic Monkeys and Grinderman. A classic looking lady, she falls deep into PJ Harvey territory.

  • Clare Maguire has her pretty staunch following already: yet another strong female vocalist (see Florence, Marina...), she became noticed for some quirky covers, including Antony & the Johnsons (again... see Florence and her Beirut and Lightspeed Champion covers).

  • James Blake... Don't make me tell you who James Blake is. You know already. Good Lord the whole world knows. His (apparently leaked...) debut album is set to drop in January and is going to be something very special if his EPs are anything to go by. Dubstep (of course) features strong, though Pitchfork (thanks for not switching off at the mention...) likened his style to classic jazz composers, as you can hear below. A genuine talent.

  • For Mona, let's simply sub in Kings of Leon. Nashville born, pastor father and regular in-fighting, they have a similar big sound to the third Kings of Leon album, as well as acts such as Glasvegas. They have the swagger, they talk the talk and they should attract legions of Followill fans pretty quickly.

  • The Vaccines are the second coming of the Strokes, or so the NME would have you believe. A garage guitar band that are set give the genre another badly needed jolt, following the emergence of folk and dubstep in the last few years, they have the energy and style of the Strokes, while the songs aren't wholly dissimilar to the Ramones. The second coming? Not quite, but not bad. Luckily, they are more Strokes than Razorlight and, let's face it, guitar music has taken a beating in recent years.

Moving on from the BBC, the consensus in general seems to be that the above will be the biggest names in town next year. Q throw in Brothers, Zola Jesus (another Warpaint-style faux pas), Transfer, Cults and Egyptian Hip Hop... One thing is clear: band names in 2011 are awful.

In Q's defence, however, (now it's not often I'll say that...) they pinpoint the rise of Katy B (also noted on state.ie recently) and the emergence of hip-hop's fresh new hope, J. Cole. Snapped up by Jay-Z pretty quickly, the German born North Carolina man (now there's an odd mix for a rapper) claims to rap about real issues such as relationships, rather than worrying about "keeping it real" like the majority of his contemporaries. It amazes me how many major publications have all but ignored the inevitable rise of Mr. Cole, whose debut album will be available early 2011.

The list goes on. Tennis, Yuck, Braids, Smith Westerns, Cloud Nothings, Young Magic, Lia Ices, La Sera, MNDR, Male Bonding... The groundwork was done in 2010, 2011 should be theirs. Briefly at least.

Personally, I can't wait for the debut full-length release from Memoryhouse. The Sleep Patterns EP released this year was among the best short releases I heard in 2011 and rumours of a full-length LP are gathering pace. Fingers crossed.

Florrie, too, should be pretty unavoidable in 2011. Already a well-known act, she has the following to make a splash and the sound is right for her.

Closer to home, there are two acts I'm keeping a close eye on right now. One is Sean Kangataran, a folk singer whose debut album (launched but not yet released, in his own words) made the top 10 of 2UIBestow's "Best of 2010" countdown and has his fans in Glen Hansard. Based in the US, Sean has put together an exceptionally talented band (members have worked with Outkast and Tom Waits) and could be yet another great addition to the Irish scene, should he get the exposure.

The second is Toby Kaar, a Cork based dubstep merchant. I caught Kaar before the trio of And So I Watch You From Afar, Jape and Fionn Regan, and he looked just as at ease on stage as any of the rest. A sound in a similar vein to Caribou, Kaar is one to watch out for.

Roll on 2011.


  1. Nice list and thanks for the mention!

  2. Lia Ices is the one to watch

  3. Good blog, Kevin! Greetings from Hungary!