Two years ago, I ran a series of guest posts from people involved in Irish music featuring their top 5 Irish acts at that moment. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to international and ask a similar question – “Who are your top 5 new artists of 2011?”. Musicians, bloggers, record shop owners, journalists, bookers and radio presenters will all be answering that question.
Una Mullally is a freelance journalist for The Irish Times as well as the TV presenter of TG4’s Ceol Ar An Imeall (watch tonight, Tuesday night at 9pm). Here are her five essential new artists of 2011:
(photo by Fuck ‘n’ Filthy)
1. Azari & III
They’re not a ‘new-new’ act, but one of my favourite albums of the year was delivered by these four Canadians. It completed one of the best tricks dance music can do, creating a sound that’s simultaneously nostalgic and futuristic, yearning for house sounds of another era while pressing a modern seal on its delivery. Tunes such as ‘Reckless (With Your Love)’ and ‘Hungry For The Power’ are already classics for me, but it’s ‘Indigo’ and ‘Into The Night’ that continue to give and give: that pulsating, rushy, intense emotional kaboom that can’t but make a club GO OFF. On top of that, as anyone who was at their Crawdaddy show can attest, they’ve got one of the best – and most importantly, fun – live shows going at the mo. All hail the House of Azari.
2. Kool Thing
I had only heard one track from Kool Thing – the Berlin-based duo of Australian Jon Dark and Dubliner Julie Chance – before I saw them play at Block T in June at the Frighten The Horses show. But by the time they supported Austra at Crawdaddy the following month, I was enamored with their menacing and frosty electronic sound. Brooding and morose, guitars slice sharply through beats, and monotone harmonies shroud everything in a swampy mist.
EAR WORM SIREN. I struggled with whether to include Azealia Banks over Kreayshawn or vice versa in this list. My head says Banks will impress more next year, but Kreayshawn is the person who made my feet move, delivering one of the tracks of the year with ‘Gucci Gucci’. Her tour videos are full of hilariously beyond parody weed-smoking prison story-telling antics, and it’s this badass don’t-give-a-fuck stance coupled with an undeniable femininity in both her lyrics and image that is so captivating. She’s also seems apathetic to the welded-shut closet that mainstream hip-hop is to so many queer-on-the-DL successful female MCs, which is refreshing.
What more can be said about the Kildare kid that hasn’t already been blogged about? Moths is fawned over, and with good reason. His chillwave (and yes, I’m still going to call them that) tunes are remarkably advanced, not just for his age but also for his stage of development as an artist. While the live show needs some work to make sure the sounds aren’t the sole things engaging an audience, Moths is obviously undeniably talented, creating songs that are as familiar as they are fresh, swanky as they are simple. He’s got it. Now, where will that get him?
I’ve probably listened to SBTRKT’s debut more than any other album this year. There’s an amazing deft gentleness to how the music is formed, but it still manages to be heavy when necessary. It’s hard to be meditative and tough, but SBTRKT is both of those things, and the dexterity throughout the record means it becomes one of those rare albums for all occasions. Even now, when I listen to it in different moods, I pick up different flavours and distill different sounds. I’m sharing the Essential Mix with this cos it’s one of my favourite of 2011.