Top five bands to look out for in 2012

With 2011 proving to be such a fantastic year for new music, you may be thinking that  2012 can’t possibly top that? Well you’d be wrong! There are plenty of exciting records on the horizon, so I thought I’d run you through a handful of decent prospects to whet your appetite:

1.) Freeze The Atlantic

If, like me, your early 2000s were defined by Hundred Reasons and Reuben, then you should be chomping at the bit to finally hear the debut album from Freeze The Atlantic. Featuring the mercurial drumming talents of Guy Davis (Reuben) and the solid guitar work of Andy Gilmour (bassist for HR), this five-piece looks very promising indeed, especially given they have recruited a front man with a rather fantastic voice, by the name of Chris Knott. If this sounds like an intruiging combo, then check out the video for their upoming single Volcanoes:

 

2.) Baddies

One of the big success stories of 2009, Baddies are back with a bang in 2012. The Southend quartet have a highly distinctive sound, which is robotic, angular and very catchy – think The Futureheads with some beefier riffs and better outfits. New music guru Zane Lowe has been lauding their latest single Bronto and you can download it here for free.

3.) Fighting With Wire

This Northern Irish trio were possibly the most underrated band of 2008, as their debut album Man Vs Monster was packed full of top choruses and fantastic riffs. Put simply, they play rock and roll just like it should be done. They have promised big things for 2012, including a stint supporting US alt-metal legends Helmet on their UK tour in March and April. What’s more, FWW album number two is shaping up nicely, with the first track Waiting On A Way To Believe already committed to record. Have a listen, you won’t regret it!

4.) James Cleaver Quintet

If you haven’t heard anything by the JCQ yet, then they could well be your surprise package of 2012. Their debut album That Was Then, This Is Now was a complete shock to the system when I stumbled across it recently, blending together a wide range of styles from hardcore to swing and from ska to punk. I can only imagine how good they would be at a summer festival…

5.) Brand New

New Jersey’s most famous gloom merchants are going happy in 2012. After three fantastic records in five years, 2009’s Daisy was a distinctly sour note for a band that sounded like they had run out of ideas. However, with an upcoming UK tour and a new album planned, all this is about the change. The band recently said they are “tired of bumming you guys out. We’re trying to write something happy.” I’m intrigued…

Albums of 2009: Surprises and let-downs

Six months in and 2009 is looking like a great year for new albums, with so many coming out right now that my wallet can’t quite keep up; new records from Frank Turner, Placebo and Taking Back Sunday* are all on the horizon.

As a result of this veritable musical glut, I pondered the idea of doing a top 10 of the year so far, after my tutor Jason praised my top 20 list for last year. Instead, I thought I’d branch out and list my five biggest surprises and five biggest let-downs of the year so far, as powered by Myspace and my favourite new application, Spotify. So here they are, in no particular order:

brakes5 Surprise packages:

Brakes – Touchdown
A fantastically well-written album from a band who have grown beyond bizarre 1-minute tracks about porcupines and pineapples to produce some genuine indie-pop gems.

New Found Glory – Not Without A Fight
Florida’s finest return to what they do best; chugging riffs, massive choruses and enough energy to light up the national grid.

Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown
The jury is still out on this 18-track rock opera, but you have to admit (drab lead single aside) it certainly is surprising!

Fake Problems – It’s Great To Be Alive
An explosive third record from this Florida Quartet which makes you feel exactly what it promises. The thunderous vocals and uplifting melodies are simply irresistable.METN

Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing
I’m including this as a surprise, mainly because I’m astonished they they managed to top their fantastic debut, I’m Like A Virgin Losing A Child. METN is an astonishingly diverse record with crushing riffs and moving acoustic moments. I am giddy with excitement about seeing them at Reading Festival!

5 Serious let-downs:

Maxïmo Park – Quicken The HeartQTH
Not a patch on their first record, with the synth-led approach failing to deliver any big hitting tunes, but may prove to be a grower. See my live review on inthenews.co.uk here.

Hundred Reasons – Quick The Word, Sharp The Action
This turgid effort from HR is inexplicably getting a re-issue, albeit with B-sides as bonus tracks. Admit it boys, this was not your finest moment; move on and write some new material!

Thursday – Common Existence
After talk of an ambitious triple-record, for Thursday to come out with this samey record is quite a let-down. Chunky riffs abound, along with the odd flourish of inspiration, but it’s not quite up to their usual high standards.

Flight of the Conchords Series 2

Something of an inevitability, given how long they had to write material for the first series. I’ve Got Hurt Feelings and You Don’t Have To Be A Prostitute are particular highlights, but there is nothing to rival Business Time or The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room).

conoroberstConor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band – Outer South
A muddled second solo record from the former Bright Eyes man, who seems to have lost his sense of quality control. The MVB are afforded seven of the 16 tracks to exercise their vocal talents and none of them are particularly memorable.

As always, any thoughts/recommendations on any of the above are most welcome.

*I know New Again is out today, but I haven’t got it just yet. Steady on!