2011 is already looking pretty exciting. The cupboards may be bare, the rent may be late, nights out may not be being had, the salary may continue to make me weep at the end of each month BUT my iPod remains fairly chipper at the prospect of this years playlists. So far, its going to be built around:
The Mariner's Children. Their 'New Moore Island' EP has been obsessively on repeat since November. The 7-piece alt-folk band's blend of soft folk melody, beautifully layered harmonies and haunting lyrics really hits the spot. Seeing them live, their musicianship is damn impressive, completely silencing a crowd in awe. You will be left with goosebumps.
Trophy Wife. The new kids on the “Oxford set” block. 'Microlite' tracked 2010 and after touring with Foals, 2011 is likely to see them big. There's something subtle and intelligent about how Trophy Wife have managed to melt their pop disco beats with melancholy vocals and cutely inoffensive guitar. Rythmic beauty to get lost in. Get your feet moving to these guys soon – I recommend getting your tickets to their upcoming tour with Esben and the Witch NOW.
The Lowly Knights. I had to slip in a nod to the homeland boys. Their third EP, 'Even Keel' was ironically not really on an even keel with a couple of weaker tracks. But they have moments, particularly live, where their bold vocals, soaring orchestration and sole focus on the craft finds moments of real purity. I think they've got something special.
Lucy Rose. If Jack Steadman gives the gold star, I will always jump on board. And I wasn't disappointed. She's annoyingly young (or its really more that I'm annoyingly old) and annoyingly talented. Her London March gig sold out ridiculously fast and anticipation is growing for her EP. I hope it will live up to the heartfelt and husky tracks we've been tempted by already.
Dog Is Dead. Heads up, get them now before they appear on the new series of Skins and get ruined by fourteen year olds. I didn't want to include them but they're too good not to. With a little bit of everything fused with youthful longing, be prepared to get hooked.
Boy and Bear. Australian rock's “hidden gem” apparently, although they're not exactly hidden any more. If you managed to catch them when they were touring, you've probably been playing their folky, sepia-toned indie pop ever since. Quite simply, they make me feel warm and fuzzy.
Einar Stray. Utter, utter bliss. Exciting use of instruments, orchestration and textures which gives an almost cinematic experience. Go and indulge yourself NOW.
Definitely not comprehensive, but hopefully happy iPod will equal happy mind. More suggestions are most welcome.