IoS Sounds of 2013: Pop, rock & Americana
There are now so many ways to access new music and spot the stars of the future (Spotify, YouTube, multinational TV talent competitions) that it is generally left to the likes of this sort of column to sweep up the pieces others leave behind. Fortunately, either those other sources have not been doing their jobs properly or my own radar works on a different frequency, because there seem to be all manner of artists and releases planned for this year that I've seen little mention of elsewhere.
Let's get the more obvious things out of the way first. At the end of next month, Caitlin Rose releases the follow-up to her sensational debut Own Side Now. The Stand-In is poppier and less country, but in what Rose calls her "high-kick" moments ("Dallas" and "Old Numbers" to name two) she delivers a startling reminder of the enormous potential she is still, at 25 years old, just starting to realise.
Before that, one of the best debut albums of last year finally sees its UK release. Matthew E White's Big Inner has been described as chamber-pop country-soul, and while that might be a mouthful, anyone looking for the missing link between Bon Iver and Stax need look no further for their new favourite artist.
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's recent albums, meanwhile, have not always measured up to the man's maverick, mercurial past, but his collaboration with Dawn McCarthy on a collection of Everly Brothers covers (What the Brothers Sang, out 18 February) is a lovely and quietly spiritual collection.
New acts to get excited about? Though overshadowed by fellow West Coasters and BBC Sound of… winners Haim, Milo Greene's self-titled debut album (out this month) is a shiny slice of sunshine pop that would work better were it to be released in the summer.
Liverpool quartet Ninetails debut album is, to my knowledge, as-yet unscheduled but if last year's "Slept and Did Not Sleep" EP is anything to go by, it will, when it arrives, be unpredictable guitar-led rock that calls to mind the more atmospheric side of Radiohead and the oddball songwriting genius of XTC.
Look out, too, for Leeds' Dancing Years, an "indie-folk" outfit whose "Rise Up the Sun" EP suggests a Mumford & Sons it's OK to like, and the Tennessee-born Valerie June, whose appearance last year on Later … has only heightened anticipation for her debut album, Pushin' Against a Stone (due out in May).
Outside my genre confines, LA roots-reggae band The Lions release This Generation in March (and who could fail to love an album whose title track opens with the lyric, "Can't roll a spliff on no MP3"?), while the ever-wonderful reissues label Light in the Attic will brighten up anyone's February with four rereleases from the 1970s by the king of esoteric, David Axelrod-ish Brazilian pop, Marcos Valle.
To end, a prediction for further into the future. One of the joys of the many ways that there now are to access exciting new musical talent is that you occasionally come across something so startling you have to tell the world about it. So, when you get the chance, go to YouTube and watch the 13-year-old Yorkshire-based singer-songwriter Billie Tweddle. The BBC's Sound of 2023, perhaps?
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