Forget all those best-of lists from 2012, let's get into 2013!
One of the biggest buzzes out of this year’s CMJ Music Marathon in New York City was Savages, four London women whose punctuated attack on every song is every bit as vicious and thrilling as their name implies. Gemma Thompson plays guitar like she’s the runaway teenage daughter of The Edge. Yes, she learned a lot from her old man, but she’s still rebelling against him with the way she draws abrasive and occasionally atonal sounds out of the instrument. It’s not easy to make out the subject matter coming from singer Jehnny Beth, but it’s unmistakably angry, as she flails about like every convulsion is choreographed to the beats of drummer Fay Milton, who just wails on her kit. Holding down all the chaos is bassist Ayse Hassan, who closes her eyes and lets the beat coarse through her. The sound is what’s traditionally called post-punk (sounding like a cross between Joy Division and the aforementioned early U2 thing) but the energy is 100 percent punk. They’ve officially released a single and a live EP, but expect a full-length in the first part of 2013.
Winston Yellin has the sort of voice that could quiet a huge room. It’s not necessarily the Fleet Foxes/My Morning Jacket airy style of delivery that’s so effective as much as you can just tell that this is somebody who is saying something that he feels deeply, and there’s really nothing much more contagious than that. If his song “Even If We Try” is any indication, his album, “Country Sleep” which will be out on Dead Oceans in February is going to be a stunner. Plus, what a dramatic video!
Little Green Cars
The hook for this Irish band’s recent single, “The John Wayne,” is “it’s easy to fall in love.” And with LGC’s simple and authoritative harmonic songs, it really is easy. They can weave their voices together as beautifully as any esteemed practitioner of the traditional music of their homeland, but they combine it with a crushing angst and the joy of rocking out. The band are expected to deliver a full-length in the early part of the year.
Considering the oversaturation of bleeps and bloops lately, Joan Jett-esque grrl rock duo Deap Vally are a welcome change. Skimpy, sequined outfits, long hair and heavy rockin' are the name of the game for these L.A. women who are already signed to Island Records and have recently been opening for Muse in Europe. Throw on your jean jacket and get down with Lindsey Troy’s raspy vocals. Oddly enough, this song starts almost the exact same way as the Little Green Cars tune, but ends up in a very different place.
-Chris Leo Palermino
Mykki Blanco, the alter ego of Michael Quattlebaum Jr., mixes a helping of tribal beats with her radical rap. The solo artist follows in the nontraditional path of recent indie hip-hop a la Odd Future, successfully dipping into punk and electro while retaining individuality. Her profile is bound to go up in the early months of 2013 with the slow and steady reception of praise she is receiving from her November-released album, “Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss.”
—Chris Leo Palermino
MS MR are another act who released a great album this fall, and should earn more fans with live dates in the new year. With a sound that melds synth, Gregorian chant and a bit of Fiona Apple, MS MR make songs topped off by a singular voice that perfectly expresses how it feels to tackle the city alone with the lights out. The singer, who seems to go through great pains to not share her actual name, brings grit and vigor to lyrics like, “We fear rejection, prize attention, crave affection.” Her vocals are especially haunting on their single, “Hurricane.” Picture the conviction of early Sinead O’Connor paired with a lean, male power source generating a throaty, turbine engine of sound.