I laugh when I hear good music. Not everytime, but often. It’s probably a little unnerving if you’re standing nearby me, but I try and keep it to myself. It just escapes me – sometimes I just can’t take in how much music can affect me. The last time we did it was last night, and the time before that was a week and a half back. Some might say that we do the Hg Prize here at We Write Lists just to leech off of the success of the Mercury Prize. I don’t think that’s it. I mean, it is. Obviously it is. We’re shameless hussies for that sort of thing here. But it’s also because I want to celebrate the music that affects me so much that I laugh, or cry, or feel slightly better for the rest of the day for it. The twelve albums nominated for this year’s award have all affected me in one way or another. They’ve changed my mood, or even on a deeper level, maybe. So, come the 6th of September one of these albums will be voted, by our panel of music experts, as the best British album of the last twelve months. Incidentally, those two acts who last made me laugh – both of them are nominated. They deserve it, too. And who knows, maybe one of the will win the grand prize. One pint, courtesy of We Write Lists.
Adele – 21 The UK hasn’t managed much by way of big soul music for some time. In fact, it’s never really been able to compete with the grand sounds and big vocals of the American greats. Until, that is, Ultimate Londoner Adele Adkins came along. This year’s Hg is punctuated regularly with second albums that have made a big step up in quality, and Adele is a perfect example of this trend. Where her debut was undoubtably soulful, it presented itself very much as the lost-in-love, the hurt-and-mourning. 21 blasts forth with anger and spirit and, above all, relish. The British soul scene has never been so commanding.
Matt Berry – Witchazel Generally ignored by the press, no doubt as an unintentional result of the artist’s primary connection with comedy series like The Mighty Boosh and The I.T. Crowd, Matt Berry’s wonderous first record deserves a second, third, fourth and fifth listen. Taking folksy inspiration from the earliest works of David Bowie and the solo music of Syd Barrett, Berry’s curiousity of an album draws the listener in to something that is both remarkably original and instantly evocative of Great Britain, in a way few acts have managed since The Kinks at their prime.
Josienne Clarke – One Light Is Gone Josienne Clarke’s haunting debut is one that has escaped most ears. A fugitive amongst trad folk, Clarke’s original compositions would not feel out of place amongst tracks a few hundred years older, so timeless are her lyrics and so perfect is her voice. A beautifully sung and beautifully played folk record that defies so many of the stuffier ideals that have formed around the traditional end of the genre. A spring of fresh water bringing life to the dry ground about it.
CocknBullKid – Adulthood It’s almost impossible to describe CocknBullKid’s debut record with any sort of accuracy. It’s not quite pop – possessive of much more soul and wit than most anything currently troubling the charts. It’s not hip-hop, though the elements of the genre are all present and correct. To call it R&B would undermine, perhaps, it’s universal and contemporary natures. Whatever it is, Anita Blay’s debut album is the sort of record for which the word ‘romp’ was originally conceived. That and the phrase ‘really bloody brilliant, thank you very much’.
Elbow – Build A Rocket Boys! If Bono is the universal pariah of our time, Guy Garvey is the new national treasure. It’s a rather wonderful collision of collective emotions – where once musical heroes were awarded affection according to how easy it was to chant their lyrics while holding a pint in one hand, Elbow have achieved the status based around their undeniably lovable and hard-working personalities. Their fifth studio album matches the pop hits of their last record with the slow-burning post-prog rock of their first two albums. The result is a credible alternative rock album that is also intensely listenable – perhaps the first time this has happened since Radiohead’s The Bends or Coldplay’s A Rush Of Blood To The Head.
Emmy the Great – Virtue There’s a moment remarkably early on in Emmy the Great’s second record at which the listener can’t help but feel a little nauseuous. It’s not a bad thing, we promise. Rather, the swooning guitars that open the first track (incongruously titled ‘Dinosaur Sex’) have a hauntingly vertiginous tendency to them. This is the effect of Virtue – often you feel overcome with joy at the simple beauty of Emma-Lee Moss’ painfully honest lyrics, and occasionally they catch you delirously, affecting you and stealing control of your emotions, like alcohol, or the end of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. A sort of happy/sad that it is impossible not to welcome.
The Leisure Society – Into The Murky Water We were big fans of The Leisure Society’s debut album The Sleeper – it found itself the runner-up in our inaugeral Hg Prize. Still, as we said in our review of the new album, The Sleeper was all about Nick Hemming’s wonderful lyrics. On the band’s endearing sophemore record the accessible-but-not-cliched lyrics strike a perfect balance with orchestrally-minded, charismatic instrumentation. It feels as if the band are spreading some sort of a cult amongst their listeners. But like all the best cults, the deeper you are drawn into it, the more you want to stay.
James Vincent McMorrow – Early In The Morning Opening with the stark and devastating ‘If I had a Boat’, James Vincent McMorrow’s mainstream debut has drawn many a comparison to Bon Iver. In our opinion he’s actually a little better – unafraid of pop melodies and slow-build ballads, McMorrow’s record is as accessible to Radio 2 listeners as it is to fans of For Emily, Forever Ago. Through a perfectly balanced mix of Coldplay pianos and smoky high vocals, McMorrow builds a record that almost suffers from its own listenable nature. Ignore any instincts that poorer singer-songwriters have instilled in you, and you’ll struggle not to fall in love.
Noah and the Whale – Last Night On Earth Noah and the Whale have been at the receiving end of a fair amount of slack since the release of Last Night On Earth, mostly from fans disappointed in the further departure from the band’s folk roots. But Noah and the Whale have proved one thing over their three albums to date – they have no fear of change. Where their debut album struck at the folk pop sound, and their Hg-nominated follow-up was a bold and varied break-up record, Last Night on Earth is a Roxy Music-inspired record of pop hits. An instantly engaging and wonderfully curated collection of radio-worthy singles, Last Night On Earth is as intelligent as it is inclusive.
Rumer – Seasons Of The Soul Perhaps a little more mainstream than much of the albums on our Hg shortlist this year, Rumer’s debut album is nonetheless a wonderful collection of songs. The comparisons with other acts are unavoidable, and there is no doubt Carpenters/Bacharach sound of the record has helped sales tremendously. Nevertheless, Rumer’s record is much more than a coy tribute to a long-lost sound. Writing all her own music, Rumer creates a record as ripe with originality as it is with homely nostalgia and warm, cosy tones.
Sound of Rum – Balance Consider ‘Random Hip-Hop Entry’ the Hg Prize equivalent of ‘That Jazz Album Even The Band’s Mothers Hadn’t Heard Of’ in the Mercury. Take this, and Speech Debelle’s wonderful album of 2009, and you’ve got the makings of the most exciting new scene in the world. Sound Of Rum’s debut album is impossibly engaging, and likeable; the Jake Gyllenhaal of London-based music. We haven’t quite found the words yet to describe how we feel about Sound Of Rum, but hopefully this nomination is a start.
Aaron Wright - Aaron Wright Perhaps 2011′s most unconventional pop star, when we interviewed Aaron Wright for a forthcoming WWL feature he admitted to being wary of writing grand pop hooks. It’s a shame, because his self-titled debut comes to life most of all during the songs that closest resemble singalong moments. ‘Go On Yerself’ remains a hundred times better than anything fellow countrymen The Proclaimers released, and bringing in members of Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura as his backing band only lends to the subtler pop tendencies of the record.
Twelve albums there. All worth knowing. Give them a listen, and on September 6th we’ll honour the best with the grand sum of one pint. But, you know, at London prices that’s a heck of a thing to be offering.
July 19, 2011 1 Comment
We’re watching the skies nervously, hunting in the loft for our air beds and foot pumps, looking to the skies once again, and twitching excitedly every time someone mentions The Wombles and Michael Eavis. It’s Glastonbury once again, and come the end of this week there will be two types of people at train stations across the country: wellie-clad folk with cumbersome tents getting in everybody’s way, and business people who think they are frustrated now, but will be looking back with sweet nostalgia when the same punters return four days later to cause all the same havoc once again – only this time covered in mud and sweat and dust and mud (again).
Needless to say, we’re all rather excited over here at WWL Manor. We were lucky enough to be involved in this year’s Emerging Talent Competition at the festival, and so we’ll be checking out a few of the acts from that and a few folk acts and a few big acts and… you know, there are too many to mention. We’ll whittle it down to a list of our must-see acts at Glastonbury this year, with a few recommendations from some of our very favourites…
1. Emmy the Great (14:00, Oxlyers In West, Friday) - Winner of our inaugeral Hg Music Prize, Emmy the Great’s debut album was an album that flickered between beautiful sounds and stark, sad lyrics. Her second album, Virtue, was released just this month and is in many ways the more thoughtful of the two records – Emma-Lee Moss’ imagery is grand and verging at times on a sort of apocalyptica (though we aren’t sure if she’d necessary agree with that diagnosis). Catch her set in hope of hearing the two dramatic stand-outs from the record – ‘Trellick Tower’ and much-less-like-The-Darkness-than-the-title-suggests ‘Dinosaur Sex’.
Emma-Lee Moss’ Recommendations: “I am looking forward to Wild Beasts, Lykke Li, Summer Camp, Guillemots, Wu Tang Clan and above all my major grown up heroes Suzanne Vega and Billy Bragg.” – Wild Beasts close The Park stage at 23:00 on Saturday, Lykke Li plays The Park at 20:00 on Sunday. Summer Camp and Guillemots sandwich themselves around Emmy the Great on Oxlyers In West on the Friday, and Wu-Tang Clan play the Pyramid Stage at 15:00 on the same day. Moss’ heroes headline their respective stages – Bragg closing Leftfield at 21:00 on Friday and Vega finishing up the Acoustic stage’s festival at 22:30 on the Sunday.
2. Bright Eyes/Fleet Foxes/Mumford & Sons (from 17:35 on The Other Stage, Friday) - Last year our festival hit its folk peak with the double whammy of Laura Marling and Midlake on Saturday night at The Park stage. This year it’s the turn of the Other Stage to folk us all up. With Connor Oberst playing his last festivals as Bright Eyes this summer, it might seem cruel to put him on so early in the evening – but he is followed by two of the poster boys for modern folk. Robin Pecknold’s Fleet Foxes will showcase the best America has to offer, with majestic harmonies and their new albums really-quite-like-Paul-Simon lyrics. Immediately after them Marcus Mumford and his (not actual) Sons take to the stage, in what will best be described as a ‘romp’. Three very different examples of folk, each as good as any other, over the course of four and a half hours. Not to be missed.
3. Stornoway (11:00, Pyramid, Saturday) – Potentially the most exciting thing about Glastonbury this year for us will be seeing two former Six Albums guests playing the festival’s main stage on the Saturday. Rumer makes her appearance at half three, but not before Stornoway. Their debut album, Beachcomber’s Windowsill, was one of our favourite records of last year (our ninth, if we’re keeping count), and if anyone should be given the duty of coaxing the sun out on a Saturday morning, we reckon Stornoway are the boys for the job.
4. Emily and the Woods (16:00, Acoustic, Saturday) – We love Emily Wood. Over the past year she’s been gracious enough to headline our Folkroom gigs on more than one occasion, always using her last performance as a benchmark she has to top. Incredibly versatile, we’ve seen her perform live with a half-band, a full electric set up and – best of all – completely and utterly unplugged, her audience enraptured around her. Though she didn’t win the Emerging Talent Contest this year, we’re ecstatic to see she’s playing the Acoustic stage and will be dragging most everyone we know to see her. And probably a few we don’t know. We will literally be dragging people up from the Theatre Fields to see her. So if you go, and there’s a surprising amount of trolls and stilt-walkers present, you’ll know we’re there too.
Emily Wood’s recommendation: “Beyonce is totally amazing… She has it all. The voice! The tunes! The moves! Wow- I seriously can’t wait.” - Beyonce headlines the festival on the Pyramid Stage, Sunday night at 21:45
5. Elbow (20:15, Pyramid, Saturday) – We’re actually just doing you a favour here. No, really. There isn’t a single band in the world today who know how to use a festival audience better than Elbow. Take their appearance at the Reading festival in 2005, in which they asked the crowd to partake in a ‘Mexican crouch’, and to point at the sky as if they had ‘just seen a massive alien’. Footage of these actions were used in their music video for ‘Leaders Of The Free World’. Almost ten years ago the band recorded thousands of Glastonbury revellers singing ‘We still believe in love, so fuck you’, and used the cast of thousands first as a choir on their song ‘Grace Under Pressure’ and then as the inspiration for their second album title… Cast Of Thousands. The sleevenotes for that album feature credits for anyone and everyone they could get the names of at that performance. Their last appearance at Glasto culminated in a mass string section, formed of ‘anyone we could find’ gathering on stage for the most audacious performance of One Day Like This yet seen. With recent performances with the Halle Orchestra and in the crypt of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Elbow are a band that – in the live arena, at least – are impossible to second guess right now.
6. CocknBullKid (13:00, Oxlyers In West, Sunday) - Anita Blay, aka CocknBullKid, might just have released the most underrated album of 2011 so far. Intelligent and soulful pop music that almost nobody seems to be listening to. She’s only recently been announced for the festival, but anyone catching her at the odd little live-music venue in the heart of the Dance Area will be in for a treat. ‘Hold On To Your Misery’ is potentially the year’s best pop song. If ‘Asthma Attack’ isn’t. Or ‘Yellow’.
Anita Blay’s Recommendation: “Beyonce of course! I’ve been a fan, ever since Destiny’s Child released ‘No, No, No’. I have all her albums and think she’s an incredible live performer. I’m literally dying with anticipation!”
7. Laura Marling (15:00, Pyramid, Sunday) – It’s possible that the festival’s iconic Pyramid Stage has never been as eclectic as it will be on the Sunday of this year’s festival. It’s also quite probable that Laura Marling will never find herself acting as one of Beyonce’s support acts ever again. It’ll be interesting to see how she’ll fare on what could fairly be described as the biggest stage in the world – it will be the biggest crowd Marling has ever played to, and that isn’t including any television audience sitting warm at home. There was a time when Laura Marling was renowned for shuffling quietly offstage mid-performance, such was her shyness. Her set at The Park last year was both commanding and arresting, though, and we’ll be there for what might just be her crowning achievement.
8. PAUL BLOODY SIMON (16:30, Pyramid, Sunday) – The half of Simon and Garfunkel that actually mattered, Paul Simon is the undisputed Once In A Lifetime act of Glastonbury 2011. The same title held by Stevie Wonder last year, or Leonard Cohen back in 2008, Simon has made a name for himself unlike almost any other in the 47 years that have passed since he and Art Garfunkel released Wednesday Morning, 3am – an album widely regarded as being We Write Lists’ fifth favourite Simon and Garfunkel studio album. We are, of course, dreaming of a reunion with Art – but we’ll settle for a mix of S&G hits, tracks from Graceland, and eighteen consecutive performances of ‘Me and Julio Down at the Schoolyard’. Yes, that’ll serve us nicely please.
9. John Grant (18:30, The Park, Sunday) – Every time we see John Grant’s name, we see a flash of warm pride remembering his appearance on Six Albums last year (it’s still one of the most interesting reads the series has seen). You see, back then we heard his debut solo album, Queen of Denmark, and we really liked it. Now though – now we love it. We hold it close to us, both sonically, sentimentally and physically. We can’t sleep unless we’re hugging the vinyl tight to our chest. Intense and witty, Queen of Denmark is an incredibly emotive album that is also surprisingly funny throughout. Better still, his slot on The Park stage come Sunday night is just long enough that, if he wanted, he could perform the whole damn thing in order. (Please do this, John, and we will forever be your bessies).
10. Bellowhead (15:30, West Holts, Sunday and 21:00, Leftfield, Sunday) – Though Bellowhead are playing two sets at the festival this year, it will be their second set that you’ll find WWL at. We’ll be eschewing Beyonce’s headline set for their two-hour headline slot at Leftfield – likely to be the biggest, most unashamedly fun party that the festival has to offer this year. There are hundreds of trad. folk acts across the UK right now, but Bellowhead’s popularity is born out of the sheer zeal of their performances. Nobody has ever left a Bellowhead show with anything less than a massive bloomin’ smile on their mug. And our mugs will never turn down a massive bloomin’ smile.
Pete Flood of Bellowhead’s Recommendation: “Robyn Hitchcock is performing the whole of Captain Beefheart’s brilliant Clear Spot, an album that rocked my teenage years, at the Spirit of 71 tent – I think he’ll be just the man for the job.” Robyn Hitchcock plays the Spirit of 71 stage at 18:45 on Sunday.
There are, of course, dozens of excellent bands playing the festival across the weekend, and these are only some of the acts we’ll be catching. If you’re lucky enough to be going, keep an eye out for The Worry Dolls, The Portraits, B.B. King, Caitlin Rose, Johnny and Jenny, I Am Kloot, Twin Brother, Beth Rowley, Tame Impala, Dry The River, DeVotchKa, Aloe Blacc, Janelle Monae, Thea Gilmore, The Low Anthem, Sea of Bees, Dan Mangan, Cocos Lovers and Eels. Happy festivalling, y’all!
June 20, 2011 No Comments
The adulthood of CocknBullKid has been a slow and often anachronistic process. One album in, and there’s already been a reincarnation: when riding a wave of East London hype a couple of years ago, armed with Metronomy-produced material and a Jools Holland appearance under her belt, twenty-five year old Anita Blay ditched all her existing songs, and went back to the drawing board. And though countless industry bods no doubt tried to convince her to come back under a different guise and pretend the whole affair hadn’t happened, like getting a coat back from the dry cleaners and claiming it was in fact brand new (Hurts, White Lies, The Ting Tings – the list is endless), Anita is still operating under that ‘difficult’ name. We wouldn’t have blamed her for starting afresh – we probably would’ve been one of those dickheads encouraging her to do so- but the message appears clear: Blay is what she is. Take it or leave it.
It is her refusal to do things by the industry book that has given CocknBullKid the clean air to create one of the year’s most dense and intelligent pop albums. Whereas her early songs – ‘On My Own Again’, ‘I’m Not Sorry’ – had a quiet, brooding charisma, they sound positively cold next to a record that feels as inspired by early Sugababes or TLC as it does the lyrical melancholia of The Smiths, or the grand, kitchen-sink production of Brian Wilson. It’s all there in the album’s first single ‘Hold On To Your Misery’: half Motown stomp, half Morrissey lament, it’s a brilliantly wry slice of Happy Pop, and the entry point to countless other high points. ‘Asthma Attack’ sounds like Boney M’s ‘Rasputin’ via the Notting Hill Carnival (who knew such a middle ground existed?), whilst ‘Yellow’ boasts an infectious girlish swagger; think Destiny’s Child by way of Dalston.
These sound like chart-conquering hitz, but they come shrouded in a sense of lyrical unease, anxiety and depth: there’s something not quite sure of itself here, which is ultimately quite pleasing. You also sense Blay has dated some crap guys in her time, and the narrative of heartache that does emerge upon revisits is touching, and refreshingly terse. “I can’t go back to Mexico”, she claims on the hip-wobbling track of the same name, which is a neat metaphor for a doomed relationship, but perhaps not a particularly encouraging sign for Anita’s Latin American fanbase. The sinister indie thump of ‘One Eye Closed’, meanwhile, includes lines such as “I’ve already poured my bleeding heart out on your floor / And I’m coming back / So keep one eye closed and one eye on your door.”
‘Adulthood’ is an immaculately produced and painstakingly detailed record. Rather than point to a torturous conception, what marks CocknBullKid out as special is the way in which her particular brand of Pop come packaged: with marimbas, steel drums, baroque strings and almost classical, arch piano underscoring most tracks, you’ll struggle to pinpoint quite what Blay does so well. Her synthesis of influences is seamless, and credit must go to the album’s producers for bringing this somewhat chaotic vision into life (Gonzales’ flamboyant fingerprints are especially evident on the album’s highlights).
Due to the sheer volume of Stuff Going On, though, you occasionally wish Anita would strip it back more often. The downbeat title track and dubby, string-laden ‘Dumb’ feel a bit lost amidst the perfectly capabale but ultimately self-fulfilling ‘Distractions’. Blay is quickly becoming an established writer for other artists – see 679’s delightfully rowdy new girl band, Oh My! – and so it’s occasionally tempting to feel that songs like the straight-up pop of ‘Hoarder’ might best serve acts other than herself. Anita’s voice, meanwhile, doesn’t soar as often as you sense it could, but to have a new female singer who doesn’t seem intent on singing twelve notes when one will suffice is actually quite refreshing, so we’re definitely getting too picky now (‘NEXT!’).
Anita Blay has created a thoroughly modern, multi-faceted pop album that reflects on both herself and the industry in which she wishes to enter. She might not be straightforward enough for the mainstream, but you sense she’s arrived at where she should’ve probably been all along, and has reached ‘Adulthood’ in more ways than one. Relentless album closer ‘I Deserve It’ concludes with a brief spoken word piece by CocknBullKid herself, perhaps putting it best: “I deserve everything I get, but go easy on me, yeah?”
Words by Rob Chute
April 21, 2011 No Comments
There’s a few things we’re excited about this Spring. The Great Escape festival. The first day of the year where we can go outside without a coat. Eating our weight in chocolate on Easter Sunday. Eating our weight in chocolate every other Sunday, too. Oh, and Adulthood, the debut album by CocknBullKid. From what we’ve heard of it, Adulthood promises to be a contender for most danceable pop album of 2011. The songs are fantastic, the hooks irresistible – ‘Asthma Attack’ is the first truly original song about London since The Clash sang of it calling way back in 1979; CocknBullKid’s own self-titled track sounds like the showstopper from a musical produced by Lily Allen. But above all else that we’ve heard, one song stands out. Next Monday sees the release of the album’s lead single, ‘Hold On To Your Misery’ – an incredible burst of the sort of pop music Kylie wishes she was making today. Danceable and singalongable, it’s everything that we love about CocknBullKid rolled into one burst of three minutes and eighteen glorious seconds. We invited Anita Blay, the CocknBullKid herself, to write about her favourite Six Albums with us, and we couldn’t be happier to be sharing it with you today:
Björk – Debut Probably the most perfect debut album ever made. It doesn’t outstay it’s welcome with too many tracks. It’s innovative and ambitious at the same time without alienating the audience. For people who find Bjork too ‘out there’ or ‘weird’ this is the definitive introduction to her.
Destiny’s Child – The Writing’s On The Wall This was a concept album based around the twelve commandments- it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel but listening to the album from start to finish you really feel like you’ve gone through a journey. Even if that journey resembles a Latin American soap opera. Some of the production on this is really exciting too. It showcases some of the best of the late 90s super producers- DarkChild, Missy Elliot, She’kspere and Timbaland. Everything from the songs to the vocal production, to the production was done to near perfection. You listen to songs like ‘Jumpin Jumpin’ and ‘Bugaboo’ and they were really quite experimental. It was one of the first times I’d heard R&B flirt with synths. 10 years later everyone else was onto it.
The Buggles – The Age Of Plastic Trevor Horn is one of my heroes and this album has influenced me hugely. This album is probably more relevant now than ever as it explores the fears of modernity and technology. There’s dialogue in parts, interesting use of synths and vocals. In many ways it’s quite filmic. You can tell there was a concerted effort made to create a narrative. It’s bittersweet, tense, colourful, clever and pop all at the same time.
Jeff Buckley- Grace I remember hearing this when I was about 17. I was working with a guitarist and went over to his house when he sat me down and asked if I’d ever heard this song, then he played me ‘Lover You Should’ve Come Over’ . It was one of the few times I have been stunned into silence. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.
This album got me through some really dark times. I can still listen to it now and it takes me back there. Jeff Buckley is one my favourite singers. His voice was pure, and felt completely unaffected. This album is incredibly special to me- I’m not sure what I would have done without it.
Madonna – Like A Prayer When making Adulthood, I wanted to make an album like this. This reads more like a greatest hits. Every song is huge. Even hidden gems like ‘Dear Jessie’ that people seem to forget was a BRILLIANT Madonna song. It’s not just a two dimensional pop album either. I love how it goes from the bouncy ‘Cherish’ to the melodically strange and sombre ‘Oh Father’.
I have to say ‘Love Song’ (with Prince) suffers the Superstar Syndrome. You put two great pop stars together but the song falls catastrophically flat. It’s quite disappointing. But we won’t dwell on that. This is a fantastic album and that’s all you need to know.
Alanis Morissette – Jagged Little Pill The soundtrack to my teen angst and beyond! God, I love Alanis so much. I’ve recently got back into her and this album in particular. I forgot how lyrically deft she was. I believe she was one of the first artists who really got me into writing. She always manages to capture the futility, melancholy, irony and joy of life in one line. Amazing.
Anita Blay, better known as CocknBullKid, releases her debut album, Adulthood, this Spring. In the meanwhile, the album’s first single ‘Hold On To Your Misery’ comes out on Monday and is just about the best thing since the invention of the scotch egg.
March 4, 2011 No Comments
Another new year has dawned, and We Write Lists is sitting back considering the things we’re grateful for in life. Our new record player. The continuing use of our ears. The fact that yet another New Year’s Eve has passed hangover free, despite our very best efforts. Oh, and the music yet to come. 2011 is already shaping up to be a year worth hearing, and we thought we’d give you a little preview of six of the new musicians that will be exciting us over the next twelve months. There are, of course, dozens of acts we could feature here – but no six better represent the future of our year in music than these six.
We had the pleasure of catching Cocknbullkid at XOYO last month, and were completely caught off guard by her set – nine or so songs, any of which could have been a single. There’s a definite influence from Kylie Minogue on some tracks, and if you ask WWL we’re likely to tell you that’s going to be a big sound across the board in 2011. But Cocknbullkid stands above the rest. Known to her gran as Anita Blay, there’s something of a soul to both the music of Cocknbullkid, and Blay herself. Expect to hear ‘Hold On To Your Misery’ every time you turn on Radio 1 for a while. And expect to love it.
Dry The River
There has, in the past few years, been a real rising movement in the British folk scene. It is one unlikely to falter across the next year – Laura Marling releases her third album (which we’re predicting a third Mercury nomination for), there’ll be a second effort from the wonderful Leisure Society and more than a fair share of new acts. Expect Dry The River to head the pack. Their music is gentle but meaningful, and will perhaps better satiate purists put off by Mumford & Sons’ bigger pop success (just don’t include us in that, we bloody love them). Don’t expect to find Dry The River taking over the bigger radio stations though – their sound is more moving than it is mass-marketable. Beautiful, nonetheless.
It seems cruel, but is probably fair, to say that Aaron Wright will never be chart-topping successful. In all honesty, there’s a risk you might never hear him – unlikely to trouble mainstream radio, and perhaps not even the alternative stations. There would be no bigger shame, though, than a year spent without Wright in your life. His self-titled debut album, due out in the spring, is damn-near perfect. A Scottish singer-songwriter with forgotten tones of Dean Friedman in his voice, and a wonderful sense for melody, Wright boasts members of Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura in his backing band. His music is much less twee than that of the men and women behind him, though – angular piano pop that excites endlessly. ‘Origami Me’ is quite possibly the modern Come Together, if purely for its ability to match non-sensical lyrics with irresistable music. But the key track will be ‘Go On Yer Self’ – a storming pop ruckus that has the potential to become one of the biggest festival anthems of the summer.
There’s something irresistable about Katy B’s dubstep/garage sound. WWL has 2011 down, for better or worse, as the year that dubstep goes truly mainstream. For the most part, we’re anti-all-that, but if even half of the dubstep released this year sounded as fresh as Katy B, we wouldn’t complain. The key, perhaps, to Katy B is the variety she works with. Her collaboration with the almost-forgotten Ms. Dynamite, ‘Lights On’ was brilliant pop dubstep, but songs like ‘Louder’ have more in common with R&B and, dare we say it, Lily Allen.
We’re kind of cheating here – The Pierces have already been around for almost eleven years now, and when we first came across them three years ago they played quiet bluesy folk that was utterly lovely, a little bit haunting but utterly unlikely to make an impact on a wider scale. So perhaps less folk, more rock. Less vocal harmonies, more dark and contemptuous guitars. Their new sound is a revelation, best demonstrated on the fantastic ‘Love You More’. The Pierces promise to be the most interesting female-led rock band since… Blondie? Possibly Blondie. Interesting female-led rock bands are few and far apart, unfortunately.
James Vincent McMorrow
Folk singer-songwriter. Draws comparisons (quite rightfully) to Bon Iver. But we haven’t quite been here before. James Vincent McMorrow’s brand of heartbroken folk is a rare breed – music that would be equally at home on 6 Music as it would on Radio 2. Take the opening track from forthcoming album Early In The Morning – ‘If I Had A Boat’ starts softly, building to an irresistable climax. Perhaps it’s songs like ‘Sparrow & the Wolf’ that will serve him best – chamringly upbeat folk drawn from the same influences as Mumford & Sons, with a little less euphoria and a little more soul. As accessible to mothers as he is to young men in knitted jumpers, keep an ear out for JVM these next few months – he’ll prove to be one of talking points of the year before long.
January 1, 2011 No Comments
CocknBullKid, aka Anita Blay, faces a problem. It’s a big one, too. Of the ten or so tracks that she’s played to the audience tonight, which should be released as a single? Every single song is a contender – Blay’s set is not just s0lid, it’s polished, and perfected, a diamond in the rough warehouse-feel of XOYO’s downstairs room.
Taking to the stage under a tacky plastic cherub, CocknBullKid already understands stage presence – she comes on amidst a grand musical introduction, addresses the crowd frequently throughout the evening and moves about the stage in a way that somehow avokes both Aretha Franklin and Kylie. The latter of those is brought to mind once again during ‘Hold On To Your Misery’, a fantastic song that could quite easily storm the charts with its big pop chorus and hold us all hostage with its irresistable charms.
Elsewhere the set is filled with songs just as worthy of mass release – ‘Asthma Attack’ steals hearts (and our empathy) with its love-letter to London. ‘The Hoarder’ and ‘CocknBullKid’ and ‘Yellow’ and, oh, just about everything played all sounds fresh, and different and belonging not just to now but to right now, to right at this moment, standing in this dingy basement with overpriced cider washing up against my foot and down my throat and everything, briefly, is excusable, because for the brief time that CocknBullKid holds the stage everyone in this room is sharing something special, something new and different and exciting. It’s not enough anymore to simply have songs. You need singles – songs that the world will go out (or, more likely, stay in) and buy. On that front at least, Anita Blay need not worry. CocknBullKid trades only in singles.
December 9, 2010 No Comments